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Published: Friday, 3/19/2010

Terror suspect pleads not guilty Official: 'Jihad Jane' cooperating


PHILADELPHIA - A woman accused of trolling the Internet as Jihad Jane and agreeing to kill a Swedish artist targeted by radical Muslims has cooperated with authorities, a congressman said.

Colleen LaRose pleaded not guilty yesterday to a four-count indictment at a brief arraignment in federal court in Philadelphia, marking her first public comments after six months of detention since her arrest on Oct. 15.

Ms. LaRose smiled at her public defenders when she entered the courtroom. The judge set a May 3 trial date on charges in the indictment, unsealed last week.

The indictment of Ms. LaRose, 46, was filed March 4 and made public five days later. She is accused of conspiring with fighters overseas and pledging to commit murder in the name of a Muslim holy war, or jihad. Rep. Charles Dent (R., Pa.) said the FBI and others told him that Ms. LaRose is cooperating with authorities in the international probe. She lived in his district.

"I have a sense they learned as much as they could from her, and when that happens, you move forward with the criminal complaint," said Mr. Dent, who serves on intelligence and homeland security committees.

The FBI and the U.S. attorney's office declined comment on Mr. Dent's remarks. The suspect's public defender did not immediately return phone calls.

Yesterday's arraignment lasted just long enough for Ms. LaRose to say "not guilty" when asked her plea to the charges: conspiring to aid terrorists, conspiring to kill someone overseas, lying to the FBI, and stealing her ex-boyfriend's passport.

As early as July, 2009, the FBI interviewed her about more than a year's worth of online posts and messages, including a 2008 YouTube video in which she said she was "desperate to do something" to ease the suffering of Muslims.

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