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Police say suspect in terror plot attempted suicide in 2005

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Who is Colleen LaRose?
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Colleen LaRose, accused of conspiracy, was depressed about father's death, police say
  • Last year, LaRose agreed to kill a resident of Sweden, indictment says
  • She went to Europe in 2009 "in an effort to complete her task," Justice Department says
  • LaRose's former boyfriend says circumstances surrounding her arrest are "really crazy"

(CNN) -- Colleen LaRose, the Pennsylvania woman indicted for allegedly conspiring to support terrorists and kill a person in a foreign country, attempted to commit suicide in 2005, according to a police report filed at the time.

LaRose, who authorities say called herself "Jihad Jane," was depressed about the death of her father, the report from Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, Police Officer Michael Devlin said.

LaRose told Devlin she swallowed as many as 10 pills of cyclobenzaprine, a muscle relaxant. The pills were mixed with alcohol.

"Colleen was highly intoxicated and having difficulty maintaining her balance," Devlin wrote. I "questioned LaRose about harming herself, at which point she stated she does not want to die."

Devlin was dispatched to check on LaRose in response to a 911 call made by LaRose's sister in Texas, who was worried LaRose might try to kill herself.

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LaRose was arrested on the terrorism charges in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on October 15, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office said Tuesday. She is being held at the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

She will be arraigned at 10:30 a.m. March 18 in Philadelphia, the Justice Department said.

Among other things, LaRose has also been charged with making false statements to a government official and attempted identity theft.

If convicted, she faces a possible life prison sentence and a $1 million fine.

Last year, LaRose agreed to kill a resident of Sweden, an indictment says, and a U.S. government official familiar with the case identified the target as Lars Vilks, a cartoonist who outraged some with a drawing of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.

LaRose worked with at least five co-conspirators, the indictment says. Authorities did not identify them, but police in Ireland took into custody seven people in arrests Tuesday that the U.S. official said were directly related to the plot involving LaRose.

Read the indictment (PDF)

Authorities in Ireland said the seven people they arrested also were plotting to commit a murder abroad. Irish media reports, citing unnamed police sources, identified their target as Vilks.

A person from Pennsburg who knew LaRose said she "didn't have the smarts or brains" to pull off the alleged plot.

"Not without someone telling her what to do, maybe even brainwashing her," said the person, who asked not to be identified for privacy reasons.

It appears that LaRose was not well known in her neighborhood in Pennsburg, which is about an hour north of Philadelphia. One neighbor reacted to the news by saying, "It scares the hell out of me."

Meanwhile, LaRose's former boyfriend, Kurt Gorman, told CNN on Wednesday that the circumstances surrounding her arrest are "just crazy ... really crazy."

Gorman said that when he lived with LaRose, she spent most of her time at home and frequently used a personal computer.

"I think she just used it to play games mostly," he said. "I really didn't pay much attention."

The alleged terrorist conspiracy began in June 2008, when LaRose posted a comment on YouTube under the username JihadJane saying she was "desperate to do something somehow to help" Muslims, according to a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday.

From December 2008 to October 2009, LaRose engaged in electronic communication with five alleged co-conspirators about their shared desires to wage jihad and become martyrs, according to the indictment.

LaRose and the alleged co-conspirators, according to a Justice Department statement, used the Internet to develop plans that "included martyring themselves, soliciting funds for terrorists, soliciting passports and avoiding travel restrictions (through the collection of passports and through marriage) in order to wage violent jihad."

According to the U.S. government official familiar with the case, LaRose raised money for the cause and recruited people to join it. The official also said she was in contact with committed jihadists in South Asia, Western Europe and Eastern Europe. The official declined to link her to any specific terrorist organizations.

'Jihad Jane,' American who lived on Main Street

The indictment says that at one point, LaRose stole a U.S. passport to "facilitate an act of international terrorism."

Gorman told CNN that after LaRose left him suddenly last August, he realized his passport was missing. He said he reported the lost document to the State Department.

Several months later, he said, the FBI came to see him, and he told them what he knew about her. In November, he said, he testified in Philadelphia before a grand jury. The FBI told him she was already in custody then, Gorman said.

"I really don't know much," he said.

LaRose had received "a direct order to kill a citizen and resident of Sweden, and to do so in a way that would frighten 'the whole Kufar [nonbeliever] world,' " according to the indictment.

LaRose agreed to carry out the murder, according to the Justice Department statement.

"I will make this my goal till I achieve it or die trying," LaRose said via electronic communication, according to the indictment.

In 2007, Vilks drew a cartoon of Mohammed with the body of a dog, prompting the al Qaeda terrorist network to offer $100,000 to anyone who killed him, plus an extra $50,000 if the killer slits his throat.

Watch a profile of Vilks from 2007

Irish police did not confirm that Vilks was the target, but responded to a CNN question about Vilks by saying the arrests were "part of an investigation into a conspiracy to commit a serious offense, namely, conspiracy to murder an individual in another jurisdiction."

Irish police arrested four men and three women in Waterford and Cork, authorities said. They range in age from the mid-20s to late 40s. Ireland's national broadcaster, RTE, said the suspects are originally from Morocco and Yemen but are all living legally as refugees in Ireland.

Irish police worked with counterparts in the United States and "a number of European countries," they said.

LaRose, along with the co-conspirators, believed that "her appearance and American citizenship would help her blend in while carrying out her plans, calling it a possible "way to achieve what is in my heart," according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges that LaRose even agreed to marry one of the co-conspirators to obtain residency status in a European country.

LaRose traveled to Europe in August 2009 and "tracked the intended target online in an effort to complete her task," the Justice Department statement said.

According to the indictment, LaRose told the co-conspirator who allegedly ordered the murder that she considers it an "honour & a great pleasure to die or kill for" the co-conspirator, and she pledged that "only death will stop me here that I am so close to the target."

The killing did not occur, and LaRose was arrested about two weeks after the electronic message was sent.

Mark Wilson, a federal public defender representing LaRose, declined to comment on the case Tuesday.

The Justice Department said LaRose was born in 1963 and lives outside of Philadelphia in Montgomery County. Police records show she was arrested twice in 1997: once for driving while intoxicated and once for passing a bad check in the San Antonio, Texas, area. She moved from Texas to Pennsylvania in 2004.

CNN's Susan Candiotti, Carol Cratty and Jeanne Meserve contributed to this report.

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