'Jihad Jane' gets 10 years in US in terror plot
Fifty-year-old Colleen LaRose had called herself "Jihad Jane" online and agreed in 2009 to kill artist Lars Vilks over his series of drawings depicting the prophet Muhammad as a dog. Vilks was never attacked.world Updated: Jan 06, 2014 23:43 IST
A US woman involved in a plot to kill a Swedish artist who had offended Muslims has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after telling a judge she was once obsessed with jihad.
Fifty-year-old Colleen LaRose had called herself "Jihad Jane" online and agreed in 2009 to kill artist Lars Vilks over his series of drawings depicting the prophet Muhammad as a dog. Vilks was never attacked.
LaRose faced a potential life term. But the judge accepted a government request to reduce the sentence because of her extensive cooperation with investigators.
Prosecutors still asked for decades in prison, saying she remains dangerous.
Both sides agree that LaRose was isolated and endured harsh abuse throughout her life.
LaRose told the judge she became obsessed with jihad, saying she was "in a trance" and thought about it from morning to night.
"I don't want to be into jihad no more," she said.
Vilks told The Associated Press that he understands the principle of handing out tough sentences for terror crimes to deter others, but he said he felt the sentence against La Rose was too harsh.
"To lock her up for so many years seems like overkill to me," Vilks said. "This is a person who has been through a lot of difficulties in her life and needs mental care more than anything else."
Vilks said the threat level against him remains high, but he has round-the-clock protection that makes him feel safe.
Muslim extremists in Iraq had offered a $100,000 reward for anyone who killed Vilks.
LaRose could be out of prison in a little over four years, given the more than four years she has already served and the potential for time off for good behavior.
The Justice Department said Ali Charaf Damache, who was living in Ireland, recruited LaRose and another U.S. woman via jihadist websites.
Damache married the other woman, Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, on the day she arrived in Ireland.
LaRose left the terror cell in Ireland after about six weeks because she "grew frustrated because her co-conspirators were not ready for action," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said Monday.
LaRose returned to the US in 2009 to surrender, becoming one of the few women ever charged in the country with terrorist activities. Her arrest was kept secret and the indictment was unsealed only after Paulin-Ramirez and the six others were rounded up in Ireland months later.
Paulin-Ramirez and another co-defendant, teen Mohammad Hassan Khalid, are scheduled to be sentenced this week.
Public defender Mark Wilson said LaRose has come to understand the true, peaceful tenets of Islam and said "there's virtually no chance that she would ever be involved in violent jihad ever again."
First Published: Jan 06, 2014 20:46 IST