'Jihad Jane' gets 10 years in plot to kill artist

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 6, 2014 at 12:52 pm •  Published: January 6, 2014
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A troubled Pennsylvania woman who called herself "Jihad Jane" online and plotted to kill a Swedish artist was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison after telling a judge she had been consumed by thoughts of a Muslim holy war.

Colleen LaRose, 50, faced a potential life term. But Chief U.S. District Judge Petrese B. Tucker gave her credit for her guilty plea and her help in the indictment of two others.

Prosecutors asked for decades in prison, fearing she remains highly vulnerable to manipulation. But LaRose told the judge, "I don't want to be into jihad no more."

LaRose became obsessed with the cause after meeting a Muslim man on vacation in Amsterdam, when she was out one night after a fight with her boyfriend, her lawyer said. She pursued it online when she returned to her home in rural Pennsburg, Pa., where she cared for the boyfriend's elderly father at home nearly full time.

"That's all I would think about is jihad, jihad, jihad," LaRose said Monday, telling her story for the first time in court. "I was in a trance."

With her blond hair, blue eyes and U.S. passport, she forever changed the face of terrorism in the United States, prosecutors said.

"It was scary for many people to think that Ms. LaRose could be radicalized, just online, in the United States. She was lonely. She was vulnerable," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said. "There are other people like that out there in the country, and in the world."

Prosecutors said LaRose sought excitement through her shadow life and was flattered to be told to kill a foe of Islam.

"He honored me," LaRose said of her online handler in Pakistan. "I'm a sister. Sisters don't get these assignments. But later on, I realized that he may have taken advantage of me."

Defense lawyers called her the perfect target after a childhood marked by rape, incest, hunger and alcoholism at home. She was raped from the time she was 8, became a prostitute at 14 and lied about her age to marry a customer. Her marriages were marked by abuse, and she came to use crystal meth and other drugs, public defender Mark Wilson said.

He attributed her radicalization to "carrying around the demons that she did, and wanting to feel good about herself."