Mar 10, 2010

On JihadJane, Homegrown Terror, and Virtual Surrealism

Screen shot of deleted MySpace page for Jihad JaneScreen shot of deleted MySpace page for Jihad Jane

I have been reading with a substantial degree of bewilderment the wire stories about Colleen Renee LaRose, also known as JihadJane and Fatima LaRose, the Pennsylvania woman accused of participating ina plot to kill Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks. It seems Vilks unleashed a firestorm of protest in the Islamic world when he drew a picture of the prophet Muhammad in the likeness of a roundabout dog, which was an urban art fad in Sweden for some time.

LaRose, 46, is charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to provide support to terrorists, making false statements, and attempted identity theft for her alleged role in the plot.

The MySpace page of Colleen Larose, since deleted but available via archives, is a part of the government's case. There are messages (also deleted and currently unavailable from archives) that allegedly demonstrate LaRose's willingness to participate in the scheme with her co-conspirators. LaRose also posted at least one YouTube video about how she was "desperate to do something to help." The federal indictment of LaRose contains dozens of examples of electronic messages between JihadJane and her alleged co-conspirators.

It is obvious that LaRose approached her activity with a level of earnestness, as she even traveled to Sweden as part of her preliminary planning for the alleged plot. Yet I somehow cannot take seriously the threat in this case, even with what appears to be clearcut rhetoric about intent to kill.

Former neighbors of LaRose in Pennsburg were equally puzzled. One woman described how she used to do laundry with LaRose in the apartment building's laundry room, observing that the terror suspect "looked like an everyday housewife."

Mug shot of Colleen LaRoseLeft: mug shot of Colleen LaRose

My gut reaction is that this is a person filled with a measure of religious and ideological zealotry who lived in an online fantasy world, and who probably did not have the temerity to actually carry out the plot. At some point, however, this obsession with Lars Vilks morphed into actions that can quite easily - and legally - be interpreted as terrorism, and at this point it looks like this woman will be serving many years in prison.

After all, websites such as MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube are hardly the most secure means of transmitting details of terror plots. I think the only way LaRose could have been more obvious about her intentions would be through the purchase of a billboard next to her house with a large arrow and text that reads "TERRORIST HERE."

"Unsophisticated," "ignorant," and "buffoonish" are the three words that first come to mind when I think of Colleen LaRose. Unfortunately, her clown-like efforts at global jihad will probably send this would-be terrorist away for a long, long time.


Anonymous said...

Typical liberal weenie: "I cannot take seriously the threat in this case." She was planning MURDER, you dipshit!!!

historymike said...


You obviously skimmed the article, oh drive-by Anonymous poster. I have no doubt that Colleen Renee LaRose THOUGHT she was a serious operative, but in my book she never made it past the amateur wannabe stage.

Also: has it ever occurred to you that the government might have entrapped LaRose once they saw her musing on Facebook and MySpace? They do this all the time with pedophiles trolling for kiddies on the Web. A cop sets up a fake profile and lets the pedo yap away until they take him down.

What if the government "encouraged" LaRose's actions through a few well-placed messages? Or what if the government used her as bait to try and lure in more dangerous jihadists?

Lots of variables here.

And no: I have little sympathy for Colleen LaRose. While she may indeed have been duped into jihadist mania, she seemed to know full well what she was getting into, and in this era of rampant terror paranoia, it's not as if Colleen LaRose would have been unaware of the volatility of her actions.

Mad Jack said...

It's quite possible that she suffers from mental illness. If she does, she'd be much better off in Sweden where terrorist threats are taken with a grain of realism.

I haven't read a lot about this woman, but I wouldn't take her very seriously, mainly due to incompetence. Anyone who uses email and YouTube for terrorist communiques is not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

historymike said...

Heh - "sharpest knife."