Colleen "Jihad Jane" LaRose was an amateur terrorist "wannabe" who converted to Islam via instant message, got homesick just a few weeks into her alleged "jihad," never visited a mosque, and frequently botched the orders given to her by the radical Islamist taskmasters she met online.
Those are some of the anecdotes in a new profile of the former Pennsburg resident by Reuters correspondent John Shiffman, who conducted LaRose's only media interview to date. LaRose pleaded guilty in February 2011 to charges related to a plot to murder Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, whose cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad in 2007 made him a target for radical Islamist groups.
According to the first installment of a four-part series, LaRose's dalliance with Islam began following a drunken fight with her boyfriend while they were on a vacation in Amsterdam in 2007.
It was there, Shiffman reports, that she had a one-night stand with a handsome Muslim man, launching a fascination with the religion that she brought back to the United States and hid from her live-in boyfriend at a duplex near the intersection of Gravel Pike and Pottstown Avenue in Pennsburg, Montgomery County.
LaRose, the product of a deeply troubled childhood that included frequent rape at the hands of her father, was reportedly drawn to what she perceived as the pious devotion of Muslims. She researched the faith on the Internet and ordered a Qu'ran, the Muslim holy book, but never attended Muslim services and did not learn how to perform Islamic prayer.
At the direction of an online contact she knew as "Eagle Eye," LaRose agreed to kill Vilks in early 2009 and traveled to Europe for that purpose later that year. Her mission incomplete, LaRose returned to the United States in October 2009 and was arrested at Philadelphia International Airport.
She is scheduled to be sentenced on December 19.