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Jihad Jane gets 10 yrs in jail for terror plot

Philadelphia, Jan. 6 (Reuters): An American-born woman who calls herself Jihad Jane was sentenced to 10 years in prison today for a failed al Qaida-linked plot to kill a Swedish artist accused of a blasphemous picture.

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. She pleaded guilty to following orders in 2009 from alleged al Qaida operatives.

LaRose, who could have received a life sentence, has given authorities significant help in other terrorism cases since her 2009 arrest, prosecutors said.

LaRose, who used the name Jihad Jane as she became involved in the Muslim online community, travelled 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 today’s hearing, LaRose apologised for blindly following instructions of her handlers. “I was in a trance and I couldn’t see anything else,” she said.

Assistant US 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 blonde, green-eyed, white American — did not fit the stereotype of a jihadist.

“This is a sentencing that people are watching,” Williams said today. “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 LaRose could have been radicalised simply online in the US.”

Defence lawyer Mark Wilson said the plot to kill Vilks was “more aspirational than operational” and that LaRose had never even fired a gun.

He had described LaRose as a lonely and vulnerable woman easily manipulated by others online. Her behaviour, while not excusable, can be explained in part by deep psychological scars from her childhood, he said.

 
 
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