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Gardai vital to 'Jihad Jamie' case

Evidence gathered by gardai will be crucial in the US prosecution of a woman charged with supporting terrorists who was arrested when she stepped off a plane from Ireland on Good Friday.

Covert garda surveillance and intelligence surrounding the case of 31-year-old Jamie Paulin-Ramirez will be used in the prosecution case against her. She has been charged with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.

She faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail and a $250,000 (€185,000) fine if convicted.

Ramirez was one of seven people arrested by gardai in connection with an alleged jihadist plot to kill Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks whose cartoon of the prophet Mohamed as a dog angered some Muslims. She was released without charge.

She came to Ireland last summer with her six-year-old son Christian after an invitation by Colleen LaRose or 'Jihad Jane', who invited her to attend a "training camp" in Europe, believed to be in Ireland, according to prosecutors.

LaRose, 41, has already been charged with providing support to terrorists. She spent two weeks in Ireland last summer where she was kept under surveillance by gardai. LaRose has pleaded not guilty to charges.

When Paulin-Ramirez and her son arrived voluntarily back in Philadelphia on Friday on a flight from Ireland, she was arrested by agents with the US Joint Task Force.

Immediately after her arrest she appeared before a federal magistrate and was ordered to be held until a detention hearing this Wednesday.

Her lawyer, Jeremy Ibrahim, said she did what any law-abiding citizen would do if they knew they were facing charges back home, she came back with her son.

US authorities added her to an indictment that had named only Colleen LaRose up to now. They said Paulin-Ramirez and her son went to Europe in September "with the intent to live and train with jihadists".

The charges against her, say that LaRose and Ramirez -- now dubbed 'Jihad Jamie' by sections of the US media -- travelled to and around Europe to participate in and in support of violent jihad.

The FBI said the day she arrived in Europe she married an "unindicted co-conspirator" whom she had never met before in person but had met online.

It was her fourth marriage. She had left a €22,000-a-year job as a medical assistant in a small town in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado to go to Ireland and she told her family last Easter that she had converted to Islam.

Her stepfather, George Mott, a practicing Muslim for decades, said he tried to engage his daughter in conversation about the faith but said she wouldn't talk to him.

He claimed that she began spending hours and hours online, in Islamic chat rooms. Whenever her parents came into the living room --where she had attached Arabic decals to her keyboard -- she would minimise the pictures of the people she was chatting with.

Her mother, Christine Mott, said yesterday that she heard that her daughter had returned to the US.

"She's in some serious, serious trouble," she said, adding that she was now especially concerned about her grandson.

"This has been twice that that little boy has been with his mother when she was arrested in two different countries. I need somebody to help me bring that little boy back here to some sanity. The little boy didn't ask for any of this," she said.

The boy's father, who is Mexican, has made no contact with the family since Christian was a baby, according to Mrs Mott.

The charges against Paulin-Ramirez and LaRose, both converts to Islam, are among the few terrorism-related indictments to have been brought against American women.

Ramirez's husband, Algerian Ali Charafe Damache, was refused bail in Ireland last week after being charged with an unrelated offence of sending a message of a menacing character by phone on January 9.

The 41-year-old, of John Collins House, High Street, Waterford, was remanded in custody and faces up to five years in prison if convicted.

Sunday Independent