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Jihad Jane case suggests rising threat from online 'jihobbyists'

'Jihobbyists' are people drawn to the online theater of violent jihad, becoming increasingly radical as they delve deeper into Web forums. Colleen LaRose, also known as 'Jihad Jane,' is an example of this threat, according to counterterrorism experts.

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This courtroom sketch by shows Colleen LaRose, right, appearing before U.S. Magistrate Lynne A. Sitarski at the U.S. Courthouse in Philadelphia, Thursday. LaRose, who authorities say dubbed herself " Jihad Jane" online, pleaded not guilty Thursday in federal court to a four-count indictment charging her in an overseas terrorist plot.

Janet Hamlin/AP

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Colleen LaRose, the Pennsylvania terrorism suspect known by the online moniker “Jihad Jane,” certainly defies the stereotypes associated with extremist Islam.

But according to counterterrorism experts, Ms. LaRose, who has not been connected with any organized militant group, represents the growing threat posed by “jihobbyists.” These are people drawn to the online theater of violent jihad, becoming increasingly radical as they delve deeper into the chat rooms and forums that espouse Al Qeada ideology.

According to the federal indictment against LaRose, she had pledged to commit murder in the name of jihad.

IN PICTURES: American Jihadis

On Thursday, she pleaded not guilty to federal charges that she recruited men and women to wage attacks in Europe and Asia and plotted to murder a Swedish cartoonist who depicted the prophet Muhammad as a dog.

Unlike many of the other Americans currently facing terror-related charges, LaRose allegedly acted on her own without any training, associations with radical groups, or links to extremism beyond what her Internet connection provided.

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