US woman 'Jihad Jane' jailed for plot to kill Swedish Mohammed cartoonist

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 January, 2014, 11:37pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 January, 2014, 11:37pm
AP

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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 Mohammed 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.

Defence lawyers called her the perfect target after a childhood marked by rape, incest, hunger and alcoholism at home. Her marriages were marked by abuse, and she came to use crystal meth and other drugs, public defender Mark Wilson said.

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 said in an interview 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."

LaRose left the cell in Ireland after about six weeks because she "grew frustrated because her co-conspirators were not ready for action", the court heard.

LaRose returned to the United States in 2009 to surrender, becoming one of the few women ever charged in the country with terrorist activities.