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'Jihad Jane' denies terror charges

A Pennsylvania woman who called herself "Jihad Jane" pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of providing material support to terrorists and conspiring to kill in a foreign country.

Colleen LaRose appeared in federal court in Philadelphia accused of plotting with others online to kill a Swedish cartoonist who depicted the Prophet Mohamed in a way that was offensive to Muslims. Ms LaRose, from Pennsburg, has been in custody since October. A grand jury indictment against her, unsealed this month , says that she recruited men via the internet to wage "violent jihad" in South Asia and Europe.

Ms LaRose, 46, entered a "not guilty" plea. She faces a life sentence if convicted. The trial will begin on 3 May.

Using online pseudonyms such as "Jihad Jane" and "Fatima LaRose", she told co-conspirators her appearance as a blonde-haired white woman would allow her to "blend in with many people" and avoid being detected as an Islamic terrorist, the indictment says.

Ms LaRose, who has a history of petty crime, went to Europe last August, allegedly planning to train with jihadists to kill the cartoonist Lars Vilks.