Despite the tangible threat Islamic extremism poses in the U.S., many Americans effectively disregard the issues as a problem relegated to the Middle East. With more and more cases of homegrown terror being exposed within our borders, though, it is increasingly dangerous to embrace a false sense of safety.
One of the most recent instances of an American citizen engaged in such a plot involves Colleen LaRose, a former resident of Pennsylvania who refers to herself as “Jihad Jane.”
Suspected of hatching a plot to kill a cartoonist who dared depict Mohammed, LaRose ultimately pleaded guilty to charges related to the conspiracy itself and false testimony made to the FBI.
Reports indicate she corresponded with at least one unidentified cohort primarily via email. Evidence presented in her trial provided a glimpse into those conversations, including the initial order assigned to LaRose.
The unnamed instigator demanded she travel to Sweden, find the cartoonist in question, and “kill [him] in a way that the whole Kufar world [will] get frightened.” Kufar is a reference to non-Muslims.
“I will make this my goal till I achieve it or die trying,” she dutifully responded.
Though there was no direct evidence LaRose got close to actually killing the artist, officials reported that she “traveled to Europe and tracked the intended target online in an effort to complete her task.”
LaRose was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the plot, leading American security and law enforcement officials to celebrate the victory.
Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin said in a statement that LaRose “is being held accountable for her efforts to provide support to terrorists and encourage violence against individuals overseas.”
According to Zane David Memeger, U.S. attorney for the Pennsylvania’s Eastern District, the case against Jihad Jane “clearly underscores the evolving nature of the terrorist threat we now face in this country.”
He said Internet connectivity has made plotting a terrorist attack much easier and, while LaRose’s “significant sentence will help protect the community from any future threat posed by the defendant, we as a nation must remain vigilant in identifying and stopping others who are susceptible to engaging in acts of homegrown violence extremism.”
We must concede the world is a very dangerous place, due in large part to the continuing threat of Islamic terrorism. For every Jihad Jane caught in the act, countless other extremists plot their own attack.
The War on Terror is one with no sign of an end; therefore, we must celebrate each victory with an eye toward the next threat.
–B. Christopher Agee