9/14/2014

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National & World

Feds seek long sentence in Pa. 'Jihad Jane' case

Federal prosecutors want a long prison sentence for a Pennsylvania woman who called herself "Jihad Jane" online, saying her punishment should serve as a deterrent to "other lonely, vulnerable people who might be enticed by online extremists promising fame and honor."

Colleen LaRose remains a threat and deserves a "very lengthy" sentence of decades in prison for plotting to kill a Swedish cartoonist who did a caricature of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, prosecutors said in a memorandum filed this week.

The 50-year-old Pennsburg woman and two others convicted in the plot - Jamie Paulin-Ramirez of Colorado and Maryland teen Mohammad Hassan Khalid - are scheduled to be sentenced next week in Philadelphia, with proceedings beginning Monday.

LaRose faces the possibility of life in prison after pleading guilty in 2011 to four federal charges, including conspiracy to murder a foreign target, conspiracy to support terrorists and lying to the FBI.

Prosecutors called LaRose a "lonely and isolated" woman with few friends and an absent boyfriend when she turned to the Internet for distraction. By the middle of 2008, they wrote, she was associating with foreign terrorists who valued her ability to recruit jihadists online.

LaRose cooperated extensively with authorities following her arrest, prosecutors said, and her diligence and candor aided several national security investigations. But they said she has shown a "complete lack of remorse" in her prison correspondence and "continues to present a danger to the American people."

She has continued signing her name as "Jihad Jane," repeatedly called Americans "filthy kafir pigs," and told one admirer she has "no regrets" about the plot, the memo noted.

She "seemed to take pleasure and even pride recounting her glory days as 'the hunter,' prosecutors wrote.

LaRose's public defender did not return a message Thursday.

Another defendant, Mohammad Khalid, met LaRose in a chat room when he was 15 and began corresponding with her, prosecutors say. They allege the onetime high school honors student agreed to raise money and recruit terrorists for jihad, and helped LaRose by receiving a package from her, removing a passport from it and forwarding other items to co-conspirators.

The Pakistan-born teen portrayed himself online as "a tireless soldier for violent jihad," prosecutors wrote, but, like LaRose, cooperated extensively with the government after his 2011 arrest. He pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and could get up to 15 years in prison.

Prosecutors have asked for a reduced sentence of less than 10 years based on his cooperation, but expressed concern he might be "re-radicalized."

"While cooperating so diligently with the government, Khalid seemed still to take pleasure and even pride recounting his glory days as a jihadi," they wrote in a sentencing memo this week.

Khalid's attorney, Jeffrey Lindy, blasted the government's handling of Khalid's case, calling him a wayward adolescent.

"The government is once again wildly wrong in how they evaluated Mohammad Khalid," said Lindy, who has asked the judge to postpone his client's sentencing so he can be evaluated by a mental health expert. "It's nonsense. It's been nonsense from the beginning, but they don't want to accept it, so they're going to have a nice fight on their hands at sentencing."

The government on Thursday requested a sentence of 10 years for Paulin-Ramirez, the third defendant, who dubbed herself "Jihad Jamie." Officials say Paulin-Ramirez helped the cause by marrying an Algerian terror suspect.
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