United States v. Colleen LaRose (E.D. Pa. Mar. 9, 2010) (material support indictment)

* United States v. LaRose (E.D. Pa. Mar. 9, 2010) (indictment alleging conspiracy to use the internet to recruit in support of violent jihad)

Indictment attached (thanks to the folks at DOJ for taking care to attach the indictment to the press release!).

The charges include a conspiracy count under 18 USC 2339A (the 1994 material support statute) and an 18 USC 956(a) conspiracy count (956(a) criminalizes conspiracies to commit murder overseas), among others.

The pattern of alleged facts is fascinating: the defendant first drew attention from contacts abroad by posting comments on Youtube, generating responses from persons located in South Asia; subsequent emails ultimately led her to travel to Sweden in order eventually to locate and kill an unidentified Swedish individual (note, though, that the BBC reports that there were several arrests in Ireland today relating to a plot to kill a Swedish artist – see here).

Assuming these allegations bear up, it will be interesting to see whether this turns out to be an example of “decentralized” plotting in the fashion of a self-assembled cell or, instead, top-down plotting directed from al Qaeda or some other relatively organized source. And of course there will be much speculation regarding how LaRose came to be radicalized, and what if anything this signifies regarding the “homegrown” threat.

Details from the press release:

WASHINGTON – David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and Michael L. Levy, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, together with Janice K. Fedarcyk, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI in Philadelphia, today announced the unsealing of an indictment charging Colleen R. LaRose, aka “Fatima LaRose,” aka “JihadJane,” with 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 charges that LaRose (an American citizen born in 1963 who resides in Montgomery County, Pa.) and five unindicted co-conspirators (located in South Asia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and the United States) recruited men on the Internet to wage violent jihad in South Asia and Europe, and recruited women on the Internet who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of violent jihad.

The indictment further charges that LaRose and her unindicted co-conspirators used the Internet to establish relationships with one another and to communicate regarding their plans, which included martyring themselves, soliciting funds for terrorists, soliciting passports and avoiding travel restrictions (through the collection of passports and through marriage) in order to wage violent jihad. The indictment further charges that LaRose stole another individual’s U.S. passport and transferred or attempted to transfer it in an effort to facilitate an act of international terrorism.

In addition, according to the indictment, LaRose received a direct order to kill a citizen and resident of Sweden, and to do so in a way that would frighten “the whole Kufar [non-believer] world.” The indictment further charges that LaRose agreed to carry out her murder assignment, and that she and her co-conspirators discussed that her appearance and American citizenship would help her blend in while carrying out her plans. According to the indictment, LaRose traveled to Europe and tracked the intended target online in an effort to complete her task.


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