September 17, 2021

‘Boredom’ of domestic life in Waterford led ‘Jihadi Jane’ to hand herself in to FBI: film

A new documentary claims the boredom of domestic life in Waterford led Colleen LaRose, the American terrorist who called herself ‘Jihad Jane’, to hand herself in to the FBI.

LaRose, who had become radicalised online, travelled to Waterford in September 2009 to meet Ali Charaf Damache, whom she knew online as “theblackflag”.

According to LaRose, Damache told her Ireland “will be like a training camp as well as like a home”.

Jihad Jane, a new film written and directed by Ciarán Cassidy, says LaRose had to plot attacks in Europe, including one against Lars Vilks, the Swedish artist behind a controversial depiction of Muhammad. But a day after her arrival, Damache married Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, another radicalised American woman. All three lived together, along with Paulin-Ramirez’s then six-year-old son, in a one-bedroom apartment in Waterford.

The documentary reveals how LaRose contacted the FBI from a library in Waterford, telling them: “If you let me come home, I’ll tell you the truth that you want to know.”

She claimed to be unaware of the seriousness of her actions. When she returned to the US in October 2009, the FBI did not reveal her arrest while the apartment in Waterford was put under surveillance.

In March 2010, gardai arrested seven people in Waterford and Cork, including Paulin-Ramirez and Damache (pictured below). Damache, the first person to be extradited to America on terrorism charges under Donald Trump’s presidency, was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2018.

Cassidy interviewed LaRose and Paulin-Ramirez following their release from prison, and spent time with Paulin- Ramirez’s son while researching the documentary, which explores the media discourse around terrorism and the effect upon families and friends of the accused.

Jihad Jane, produced by Fastnet Films, is due for release in Irish cinemas from February 14.

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