WASHINGTON — US authorities Thursday unveiled charges against two men for conspiring with a US woman known as “JihadJane” to recruit people online for terror plots in Europe and South Asia.
The US Justice Department identified the two as Ali Charaf Damache, a 46-year-old Algerian detained in Ireland on unrelated charges, and 18-year-old Mohammad Hassan Khalid, a Pakistani living in the United States.
US prosecutors alleged that Damache and Khalid worked with Colleen LaRose, known as “JihadJane,” and others to create a “violent jihad organization” with men and women from Europe and the United States.
It said they recruited men online “to wage violent jihad in South Asia and Europe,” and recruited women with passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of their plots.
LaRose had previously pleaded guilty to providing support for terrorism and other charges in February. Another person allegedly involved in the group, Jamie Ramirez, pleaded guilty to similar charges in March.
The Justice Department said it was seeking the extradition of Damache from Ireland. He faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted. Khalid, who faces up to 15 years in prison, was arrested July 16 in Ellicot City, Maryland.
“Today’s indictment, which alleges a terrorist conspiracy involving individuals around the globe who connected via the Internet — including a teenager and two women living in America — underscores the evolving nature of violent extremism,” said Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco.
In one instance in July 2009, Damache sent a message using the username “Theblackflag” to Khalid, asking him to recruit online “some brothers that can travel freely… with EU passports… and I need some sisters too.”
Ramirez married Damache on the day she arrived with her minor child in Europe, even though she had never met Damache in person, and “the couple began training Ramirez’s minor child in the ways of violent jihad,” according to the indictment.
Khalid made an online solicitation for funds to support the effort by LaRose and later sent messages to several online forums requesting the deletion of posts by LaRose after she was questioned by the FBI.
LaRose was arrested in October 2009 hours after Irish police arrested seven people accused of plotting to kill a Swedish cartoonist and charged in 2010 in the United States.
She is alleged to have used the Internet to recruit men in South Asia, Europe and the United States for terror attacks and of recruiting women “who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of violent jihad.”