Interview with Fatima LaRose [Jihad Jane]
Fatima LaRose, the woman who was arrested for conspiring to kill the Swedish cartoonist who drew a picture of Mohammed with a dog's body, has allowed New Trend to interview her. She pled guilty in 2010 to "Conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, false statement to a government official, and attempted identity theft."
She had posted online as Jihad Jane: "When our brothers defend our faith their homes, they are terrorist. Fine, then I am a terrorist and proud to be this."
The plot began in January 2009, when someone online called Eagle Eye claiming to be a Pakistani from al Qaida asked the recent White American Muslim convert to become a martyr. He claimed to have participated in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, according to NBC News. She pledged to use her blonde hair, green eyes and white skin to "to achieve what is in my heart." After she agreed to meet him in Amsterdam for marriage, the online man then instructed her to go to Sweden and shoot the cartoonist six times in the chest. She vowed to do it or die trying. U.S. authorities won't admit the whereabouts of Eagle Eye, or Abdullah, another man who had promised to train her in the use of firearms in Amsterdam. I am suspicious because I never heard of any Pakistanis calling themselves "al Qaeda." Al-Qaeda are Arabs. She had no idea.
On December 4, 2015, Fatima wrote: "When my Brother (in Islam) told me to get out of America, my boyfriend had no idea all that or really any of what I was involved in. It was like I was living a double life. In my home I was one person but online I was someone else. I finally gave into my online life and went for broke. No one in my life knew what I was into. I just always was online talking to my Ummah and all I thought about was jihad. If you wonder if I regret my actions - I only regret hurting my loved ones but I don't regret agreeing to do what ultimately got me put in prison.
"I feel the Brother that gave me the assignment gave me an honour because Sisters never get assignments like that. I tell you my dear Sister I Love my Brother and I will always love him. People tell me he used me to do what he wanted done and people blame him for my predicament. But I say NO he did not use me and he is not to blame for me being in prison. I am responsible for my actions and I knew what I was doing when I agreed to do what he asked me to do. My Brother never wanted me to come to any harm. I don't know if he is even still alive. My lawyer thinks he is either dead or he was an agent for the FBI. I know for certain my brother was not any kind of agent for the FBI or any other American agency. I will always love my Brother no matter what anyone says about him." All we know is that he was never arrested, despite being the "mastermind" behind the conspiracy to assassinate the vile cartoonist.
LaRose never made it to Amsterdam, though she did spend some time in Ireland staying with Ali Damache, an Algerian calling himself Black Flag, who also lured another white American woman Jamie Ramirez and her son to come live with him. Both women thought they were going there to be trained for jihad, but once they got there, they realized the Muslim man had just been boasting. He used Ramirez, whom he married the day she arrived, to cook and clean and would not even give her a key to the house, although LaRose was allowed to go in and out as she pleased. It was weird, but not terrorism. Damache successfully contested the illegal police search of his Waterford apartment. Irish authorities have refused to extradite him to the U.S.
"Jihad Jane is a perfect figure in some ways because it's like a soap opera," says her intended victim, cartoonist Vilks. "This is today's most interesting part of terrorism -- the amateurs."
Vilks says he believes LaRose has served enough time already. "They should let her go."
The cartoonist's calm attitude towards a woman that intended to kill him creates an awareness of the moral complexities of any given situation. He considers her as a victim of her past.
"I survived a lot of things that should have rightfully killed me," LaRose said of the terrible things she lived through, including being repeatedly raped by her father, running away and becoming a teenage prostitute, growing up White in Detroit.
"I also thought there was a purpose for me to be alive and then when I found Islam, I thought... 'This is why I have lived so long.'"
LaRose always has a patient attitude in all of her letters. In June, 2010, she wrote to me from the SHU in Philadelphia as she awaited sentencing.
"Mashallah ukhti (my co-defendent) is in G.P. (General Population) so we have a separation and I rather be the one to be in the SHU." She signed her letter "Fatima LaRose AKA Jihad Jane."
By July 2015 she had become more introspective, talking about her new life in General Population, after she got moved out of SHU, where she spent four years in solitary.
"I guess my kindness is my weakness. I am always trying to be a people pleaser. I just like to see people happy so when people ask me for something I usually try to get them what they ask for. But when I want something I am ignored. Also I am quiet and I observe people and I see so much that I can't believe others don't see what I do."
She turned 52 this year. No longer living in isolation she shares a cell with a "goth girl" who she describes as a fantastic artist. "My friends give me a birthday party. That's the first birthday party I've had since I was a child. I was happy and felt like I am loved. The girls decorated my bed in flowers and butterflies they made."
Working on her GED, she struggles with math. "I was taken out of school when I was a kid by the 7th grade. But I had quit going to school by grade 5. I believe that's the last grade I completed. I sure never did any geometry or algebra so the math is all new to me. I did a lot of drugs while I was growing up and I believe that all those drugs did a lot to mess up my mind. My memory is shot. I get confused real easily when I'm trying to concentrate on math. Anyways by the time I get out of prison I will be 55 years old and I intend to be a housewife. I'm not going to get a job. Who would want to hire a 55-year-old ex-con over a younger kid with no record."