PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Maryland teen from Pakistan is in secret U.S. custody, accused of helping recruit terrorists for the Pennsylvania woman known as “Jihad Jane,” a person close to the boy’s family said Friday.
Charges filed last month accuse the 17-year-old of helping Colleen LaRose in her alleged efforts to incite an Islamic holy war. Prosecutors have said LaRose was a convert to Islam who wrote of being driven by an urge to help suffering Muslims.
The high school graduate had accepted a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins University, according to the person. He is instead in custody at a youth facility in Berks County, Pa. He could be moved to an adult prison — and have his case moved to adult court — when he turns 18 next month.
A law-enforcement source confirmed the details to The Associated Press. Both people spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly about the sealed case. The AP is not publicizing the teen’s name because he is charged as a juvenile.
The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported on his arrest in Friday editions.
The teen came to the U.S. four years ago and has lived with his strict, education-minded family in suburban Baltimore. He is the rare juvenile to be charged or detained in federal custody. According to both sources, he met LaRose in a chat room when he was about 15 and later agreed to help her raise money and recruits for the jihadist cause.
LaRose, 48, of Pennsburg, had dubbed herself “Jihad Jane” in a YouTube video that caught the FBI’s attention in 2009.
She faces a possible life term after pleading guilty to four federal charges, including conspiracy to murder a foreign target and lying to the FBI.
LaRose, an elder caretaker in small-town Pennsylvania, cultivated a shadow life online and agreed to move to Ireland and try to kill a Swedish cartoonist who had offended Muslims. No sentencing date has been set in her case while the investigation continues. The teen is referenced as a co-conspirator in her case.
According to the family source, the FBI searched his family’s home and interviewed the teen several times at FBI headquarters without a lawyer or family member present. However, the source said the parents had authorized the interviews.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)