According to this report on NPR, the 4'11" woman formerly known as Colleen LaRose - which sounded like a fake name to begin with - started calling herself Jihad Jane out of some need for a thrill, a need to feel as if she belonged somewhere. Stuck in a leafy Philadelphia suburb, where she could just as easily have spent her time eating cheesesteaks and hot pretzels and rooting for the Phillie Phanatic (the one on the left) , she instead chose to become another sort of fanatic.
The story goes on to say that the Muslim extremists who run these terror organizations used to attract members out of a sense of religious loyalty, but when recruitment lagged, as it will tend to do when the main promise is that you get to be a teenaged martyr, they turned to selling the excitement and thrillride of running around bombing things and causing mayhem, all in the name of a cause.
Ms LaRose was formerly a resident of Texas, where she was arrested on DWI charges. Hmmmmm. Sounds familiar.
But, for real, she just seems like a loose nut who went a little buggy, having to stay home and care for her boyfriend's ailing father, so she went and got on the internet. Unsatisfied with the offerings of Craigslist, Amazon and Hulu, she found her way onto terrorist websites and enlisted in their cause, even going so far as to become involved in a plot to murder a Swedish cartoonist who once drew a picture of the prophet Muhammad that enraged the Islamic community, or at least those who weren't already mad because Marmaduke isn't in the comic section any more.
It doesn't really seem that Jihad Jane was mad at this cartoonist, or that she had any particular ax to grind. She was looking for something to do, something with a little excitement. Perhaps this Muslim extremism was the first thing she stumbled upon while websurfing. Philadelphia is the city where Ben Franklin started the first volunteer fire company in America! She might just as easily gotten involved as a volunteer firefighter or EMT, or a Meals On Wheels volunteer, or a reading aide at an elementary school, or driving people physically unable to do so to work or church or the Bag 'N' Save, or a local recreation leader. That last one comes with a lanyard and whistle...pretty sweet!
Disaffected people, wandering lonely as clouds, suddenly finding appeal in banding together with like-minded individuals to push for a cause they only started to believe in when someone told them that they should, and against principles and laws that they might not understand or know much about...not my cup of tea.