PHILADELPHIA -- Her hair hidden under a black head scarf, Colorado resident Jamie Paulin-Ramirez pleaded guilty Tuesday to providing "material support" to terrorists by marrying an alleged jihadist in Ireland in 2009.
The count against Paulin-Ramirez, who traveled to Europe from the small town of Leadville, Colo., is connected to the case against Colleen LaRose, the Pennsburg, Pa., woman known as "Jihad Jane," who pleaded guilty to multiple charges last month.
Both women were indicted after an investigation of a group of fundamentalist Muslims in Europe who allegedly wanted to kill the Swedish artist Lars Vilk because of his drawing of a dog with the head of Muhammad. LaRose admitted the more serious charge of participating in the murder plot.
Paulin-Ramirez was largely inaudible when she gave brief answers to questions from U.S. District Judge Petrese B. Tucker about her decision. She said "yes" when asked if she understood the charge against her, and said she had attended college, but other answers could not be heard from the spectators' benches.
"The act in this case was marrying co-conspirator No. 2 and agreeing to provide material support to him," Jeremy Ibrahim, Paulin-Ramirez's attorney, said, referring to the unidentified man in the indictment. The government says Paulin-Ramirez married him a day after arriving in Ireland in 2009.
Under federal law, material support for a terrorist "can be as basic as supplying emotional support and comfort," Ibrahim said.
Neither of Paulin-Ramirez's parents nor any relatives were in the courtroom, but Ibrahim said "she has close support from her family." Paulin-Ramirez converted to Islam in Colorado, he said.
He declined to provide the whereabouts of her 7-year-old son, whom she took to Europe. The boy was placed in state custody when she voluntarily returned to face the federal charges in late 2009.
LaRose's original arrest in October 2009 was kept secret until Irish officials swept up a ring of seven alleged terrorist plotters. Paulin-Ramirez was in that group. She was released soon afterward and not charged in Ireland.
Paulin-Ramirez faces a maximum of 15 years in prison but is likely to receive a shorter sentence because she has no criminal record.
In court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer A. Williams said Paulin-Ramirez was recruited by alleged terrorists in Ireland seeking someone who could travel freely in Europe.
Williams said the government intercepted electronic communications in which the man whom Paulin-Ramirez married said the group would train "either with AQIM or ISI." The first reference is to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or North Africa, the second was to Inter-Services Intelligence. Williams said nothing about the latter organization.
Williams said Paulin-Ramirez knew she was "participating in a conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim, or injure" a foreign national.
LaRose and Paulin-Ramirez began e-mailing each other in August 2009. LaRose wrote that she was moving to Europe "to join the brothers and sisters," and Paulin-Ramirez responded, "I would love to go over there."
LaRose faces life in prison.
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