The Lessons of Jihad Jane

Much to learn from the capture of a blonde-haired, green-eyed jihadist

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Dashing stereotypes about terrorists, a blonde, green-eyed Pennsylvania woman has been charged in federal court with recruiting jihadists online. The woman, Colleen LaRose, wrote under the handle "Jihad Jane." Among other things, she was charged with conspiring to murder a Swedish cartoonist who had depicted the Prophet Muhammad in an unflattering light. Reactions from national security pundits on the left and right are starkly polarized.

  • Dispels Myth that All Terrorists Look Alike, writes liberal Alex Seitz-Wald at Think Progress: “Jihad Jane” is further evidence that ethnic profiling — in addition to being an affront to civil rights — is ineffective. The practice actually wastes law enforcement resources by chasing false targets who do not match the profile. Even former Bush Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the Christmas Day incident showed 'the danger and the foolishness of profiling.'"
  • Shows We Should Rethink Our National Security Policies, writes liberal Spencer Ackerman at The Washington Independent: "The Department of Homeland Security insists on singling out citizens of mostly-Muslim 'terror-prone' countries for additional airport screening, a move that would not have caught shoebomber Richard Reid (British citizen, Jamaican heritage); would-be-underpants bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab at the time (Nigerian citizen, lots of time spent in the U.K.; and now Jihad Jane (American citizen, white as the driven snow, and we know white people can’t be terrorists). But ethnic profiling is great at humiliating and infuriating dignitaries of countries like Pakistan, whose assistance is absolutely crucial to an ultimate defeat of al-Qaeda."
  • Shows How Dangerous the Enemy Is, writes Howie at the Jawa Report. He lists three main points:
One, that the online supporters of jihad often become actual terrorists. Two, that some of these would-be terrorists and terrorist supporters are right here in America, maybe next door. Many more than you would like to think. Three, that many terror supporters are not immigrants or their children, but "reverts" to Islam. The problem isn't necessarily one of failure to assimilate, it is one of Islam's core doctrines -- such as 'ummah' and 'jihad'. Perhaps not an insurmountable problem, but a serious problem nonetheless.
  • Other Takeaways, The conservative Stop the ACLU blog has "a few thoughts":
First, this is the type of case that does belong in civilian court, as she is an American citizen. Second, this is, at first appearance, the exact type of case that should be tried as treason, and as a capital case, which doesn’t seem to be in the works. Third, our so-called by liberals/Bush haters “domestic surveillance” works.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.