A former Pennsylvania resident was sentenced to 10 years in prison, for billing herself as “Jihad Jane” in online postings and participating in a failed al Qaeda-linked plot to murder a Swedish artist.
The 50-year-old, Colleen R LaRose had pleaded guilty to plotting to kill a Swedish illustrator who had created a cartoon offensive to many Muslims by ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad.
According to the Chief U.S. District Judge Petrese B. Tucker, LaRose faced a potential life term, but she was given credit for her guilty plea and her help in the indictment of two others.
In Monday’s hearing, LaRose apologized for blindly following the instructions of the jihadists, explaining that she had been “in a trance”.
LaRose posted a comment on YouTube under the name of “Jihad Jane” after the alleged terrorist conspiracy was launched in June 2008, in which she was “desperate to do something somehow to help” Muslims.
She was in contact with other conspirators from Southeast Asia and Europe in early 2009, where she expressed her desire to become a martyr for the Islamic cause.
Prosecutors said LaRose traveled to Europe in August 2009, after one of those conspirators told her in March 2009 that she must travel to Sweden to help accomplish the murder of cartoonist Lars Vilks.
Meanwhile, defense attorney Mark Wilson said presented his client during the trial as a single, vulnerable woman who was easily manipulated, and he alleged that her behavior could be due to the profound psychological traumas she suffered in childhood.
LaRose was reportedly raped by her biological father repeatedly, starting when she was only seven. The abuse continued until she ran away at the age of 13, according to her attorney.
In the meantime, the Swedish artist, Lars Vilks called the 10-year term too harsh, although he said he understands the need for deterrence. He remains under threat but has around-the-clock protection and said he feels safe.
“To lock her up for so many years seems like overkill to me,” Vilks told The Associated Press. “This is a person who has been through a lot of difficulties in her life and needs mental care more than anything else.”
The two other conspirators, Paulin-Ramirez and Maryland teen Mohammad Hassan Khalid, are scheduled to be sentenced this week in Philadelphia.