Colleen R. LaRose, 50, who converted to Islam online and has
maintained her faith, was given credit for the four years she has
already served. LaRose, who pleaded guilty to following orders in
2009 from alleged al Qaeda operatives, could have received a life
"It's a just and reasonable sentence," her attorney, Mark Wilson,
told reporters after the hearing. "She's pleased. Ten years is about
what we were hoping for all along."
U.S. District Judge Petrese Tucker called LaRose's crimes "gravely
serious," adding: "The court has no doubt that, given the
opportunity, Ms. LaRose would have completed the mission."
Tucker also cited the significant cooperation LaRose has given the
Federal Bureau of Investigation in other terrorism cases since her
2009 arrest, as well as the sexual and other abuse she suffered as a
child. That abuse was chronicled in a 2011 Reuters investigative
LaRose, who used the name Jihad Jane as she became involved in the
Muslim online community, traveled to Europe in 2009 intending to
participate in a militant plot to shoot artist Lars Vilks in the
chest six times. But LaRose became impatient with the men who lured
her to Europe and she gave up after six weeks and returned to
Philadelphia, where she was arrested.
At Monday's hearing, LaRose apologized for blindly following the
instructions of her handlers.
"I was in a trance and I couldn't see anything else," she said. "I
don't want to be in jihad no more."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams had sought
"decades behind bars" for LaRose, arguing that despite her extensive
cooperation, she still was a danger to society. Prosecutors also had
pointed out that LaRose — a blond, green-eyed, white American — did
not fit the stereotype of an Islamic militant.
"This is a sentencing that people are watching," Williams said on
Monday. "Ms. LaRose had such a big impact in the public and press
because she really did change the face of what the world thought of
as a violent jihadist. It was scary for people to hear that Ms.
LaRose could have been radicalized simply online in the U.S."
Wilson told the court that the plot to kill Vilks was "more
aspirational than operational" and that LaRose had never even fired
He had described LaRose as a lonely and vulnerable woman easily
manipulated by others online. Her behavior, while not excusable, can
be explained in part by deep psychological scars from her childhood,
[to top of second column]
LaRose's biological father repeatedly raped her from about age 7 to
13, when she ran away and became a prostitute, according to court
documents. At age 16, LaRose married a man twice her age and later
became a heavy drug user.
"I survived a lot of things that should have rightfully have killed
me," LaRose told Reuters in a 2012 interview.
While LaRose was in contact with an al Qaeda operative in Pakistan,
her conspirators repeatedly bungled a plot that never moved much
past the planning stages. Vilks, the artist, had told Reuters that
he believes LaRose has spent enough time in prison and should be
"That's a pretty tough sentence," Vilks told the Swedish news agency
TT on Monday.
Under U.S. sentencing rules, LaRose likely will serve 90 percent of
her sentence, which means she will be eligible for release around
2020. She has requested imprisonment near her sister, Pam LaRose, in
the Fort Worth, Texas, area, but a final decision will be up to the
Bureau of Prisons.
LaRose was in solitary confinement for four years but recently moved
to the general population at a Philadelphia jail.
Ali Damache, LaRose's alleged handler in Ireland, remains jailed
there, fighting extradition to the United States on terrorism
charges. Jamie Paulin Ramirez, who flew from Colorado to marry
Damache in Ireland, has pleaded guilty to related terrorism charges
and is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday.
The sentencing for another co-conspirator who has pleaded guilty,
Mohammad Hassan Khalid, has delayed in order to complete
psychological evaluations. Khalid, who grew up in Pakistan and was
an honor student in suburban Baltimore, committed his crimes when he
was 15 and 16. He is the youngest person ever charged with terrorism
inside the United States.
According to a November report in the Guardian newspaper, documents
leaked by Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the U.S. National
Security Agency, to the British newspaper show that the FBI became
involved in the Jihad Jane case after the NSA intercepted
(Reporting by John Shiffman; editing by Bill Trott, Doina Chiacu and
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