Washington–US authorities charged an American woman known as "JihadJane" with recruiting jihadist fighters via the Internet and conspiring to kill an unnamed individual in Sweden.
The Justice Department unsealed the indictment Tuesday against Colleen LaRose, who was arrested in October 2009, hours after Irish police arrested seven people accused of plotting to kill a Swedish cartoonist.
LaRose faces charges of "conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, making false statements to a government official and attempted identity theft," the indictment said.
Over the course of at least a year, she is alleged to have used the Internet to recruit men in South Asia, Europe and the United States for terror attacks.
She is also accused of recruiting women "who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of violent jihad," and of having stolen a US passport "and transferred or attempted to transfer it in an effort to facilitate an act of international terrorism."
The indictment alleges LaRose received two messages in March 2009 from an individual in a South Asian country instructing her to kill an unnamed Swedish resident.
"Kill him… this is what i say to u," the indictment quotes one message as saying. "Kill (the individual) in a way that the whole Kufar [non-believer] world get frightened," the second said.
"I will make this my goal till i achieve it or die trying," LaRose allegedly responded.
The Justice Department declined to comment on whether LaRose was connected to the arrest of four men and three women in Ireland Tuesday over an alleged plot to kill Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks.
An Al-Qaeda-linked group has placed a 100,000-dollar (74,000-euro) bounty on his head in response to a cartoon he drew depicting the Prophet Mohammed with the body of a dog.
The indictment alleges that LaRose — born in 1963 — last March "sent an electronic communication to the Swedish embassy asking for instructions on acquiring permanent residency status in Sweden."
She is also said to have "traveled to Europe with the intent to live and train with jihadists" in August 2009.
In September 2009, LaRose allegedly sent a message reiterating her commitment to kill, adding "only death will stop me here that i am so close to the target."
LaRose, also identified by the monikers "Fatima LaRose" and "JihadJane," faces life in prison if convicted.
A MySpace page under the name "JihadJane" features a biography of a Pennsylvania woman who describes herself as having "reverted to Islam."
"I live in Pennsylvania, originally from Texas. I have recently (a couple months) reverted to Islam and I can safely say that of all the things I have ever done in my lifetime, becoming Muslim is what i am the proudest of."
Elsewhere, the user lists her as "Skeikh OBL," an apparent reference to Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, and "The brothers in… Jihad."
The indictment and material released by SITE, a US group that monitors extremists, suggest LaRose had an active online presence, despite being repeatedly banned from websites including YouTube and harboring fears she was being surveilled.
SITE released a message purportedly posted by LaRose on an English-language jihadist forum that directly addressed those she thought were monitoring her.
"We are and have been aware of you and your infiltration in here and in other forums… i hope you enjoy the videos and pictures of your comrades being blown to hell by the brothers well placed IED’s and the brothers sharp shooters blowing off the heads and other limbs of your comrades."
The case "demonstrates that terrorists are looking for Americans to join them in their cause, and it shatters any lingering thought that we can spot a terrorist based on appearance," said US Justice Department attorney Michael Levy in a statement.
In communications detailed in the indictment, LaRose is alleged to have said her appearance would allow her to "blend in with many people," adding it "may be a way to achieve what is in my heart."
Profile pictures on the "JihadJane" MySpace page include one showing a fair-skinned woman with blue eyes, her hair covered by a headscarf.
David Kris, assistant attorney general at the Justice Department’s National Security Division, hailed the indictment and said the government would remain vigilant.
"Today’s indictment, which alleges that a woman from suburban America agreed to carry out murder overseas and to provide material support to terrorists, underscores the evolving nature of the threat we face," he said.