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US judge sets plea change for Algerian who recruited 'Jihad Jane'

July 20, 2018 at 3:02 am

The self-described ‘Jihad Jane’ poses for a mugshot photo June 26, 1997 in San Angelo, Texas

An Algerian man accused of recruiting an American woman known as “Jihad Jane” in 2009 and who originally pleaded not guilty to a US charge of supporting terrorism, is expected to change his plea to guilty, a court filing showed on Thursday, Reuters reports.

Ali Charaf Damache, 53, a dual Irish and Algerian citizen, was extradited to the United States last year and while none of the plans US prosecutors accused him of resulted in attacks, authorities said he was in direct contact with Islamist militants in Pakistan and recruited two American women to help him.

US District Court Judge Petrese Tucker in Philadelphia on Thursday scheduled a change of plea hearing for Monday in the case, which is often a precursor to a guilty plea. Damache was extradited from Spain and is jailed in Philadelphia while awaiting trial or resolution of his case.

Damache’s lawyer Noah Gorson could not be reached for comment on Thursday’s court filing by the judge.

Damache, who pleaded not guilty last year to a US charge of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, was jailed in Ireland in 2010, and successfully fought extradition to the United States. After his release in Ireland, he travelled to Spain, where he was detained in 2015 and Spanish authorities agreed to US requests to extradite him.

Read: Algeria and Tunisia agree to fight cross-border terrorism

The indictment said that in 2009 Damache lured to Ireland a suburban Philadelphia woman named Colleen LaRose, who called herself “Jihad Jane” online.

LaRose pleaded guilty in 2011 to participating in a failed plot with Damache to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who had offended some Muslims by depicting the head of the Muslim Prophet Mohammad on a dog.

In 2014, a US judge sentenced LaRose to 10 years in prison.

LaRose told Reuters in a 2012 interview that she was attracted to Damache by his promise to teach her how to live as a Muslim wife and support others in violent jihad. But she said that after moving to Ireland to live with him, she became disillusioned by his lack of follow-through, and allowed the Federal Bureau of Investigation to buy her a ticket to return to the United States.

The other US woman who joined Damache in Ireland, Jamie Pauline Ramirez of Leadville, Colorado, served an eight-year sentence on a terrorism charge.