Who Is Jihad Jane?

    Though Colleen LaRosa allegedly wrote in e-mails that she wanted to become a martyr in the name of Allah, there have been no reports that she ever converted to Islam or attended a mosque.

    The Philadelphia area woman charged with plotting with Islamic radicals entered a “not guilty” plea in her court arraignment Thursday, but many questions remain about the woman known as Jihad Jane.

     

    When the nation heard Colleen LaRose’ name last week, little was known of her beyond the charges in her indictment – that she’d allegedly met other Islamic radicals though You Tube and internet postings, and had plotted with them to murder a Swedish artist.

     Since then, media sources have pieced together some details of her life…that she lived in Texas and then moved to Pennsburg, Montgomery County….that she once lived in a trailor park, and that she had arrests for writing bad checks and driving while intoxicated.

     And in 2005, police reported to her Pennsburg home after relatives in Texas reported she’d taken an overdose of pills.

     LaRose’s former longtime boyfriend Kurt Gorman told CBS3, the accusations against her sounded crazy .

     Gorman: “ Seemed like a nice person, we got along, she was a good-hearted person.”

     But not everyone got a good vibe from LaRose. Two young neighbors described her this way…

     Neighbors: “She was crazy – ohh creepy.”

     Many questions about LaRose’s life and motivations remain unanswered.

    Though she allegedly wrote in e-mails that she wanted to become a martyr in the name of Allah, there have been no reports that she ever converted to Islam or attended a mosque.

     Another puzzling piece of the story involves seven people arrested in Ireland last week on the same day LaRose was charged. European media reported they were part of the plot LaRose was involved in to murder Swedish artist Lars Vilks. US authorities have said nothing about their connections to LaRose, and five of the seven arrested have since been released.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.