PHILADELPHIA - A Maryland teenager from Pakistan is being held in US custody on terrorism charges, accused of soliciting funds and recruits to help a Pennsylvania woman known as Jihad Jane, two people close to the investigation confirmed.
Juvenile charges filed last month accuse the 17-year-old of helping Colleen LaRose support overseas terrorists she had met online, the sources said yesterday. LaRose, 48, has pleaded guilty to charges she plotted to kill a Swedish artist who had offended Muslims.
The teen, from Ellicott City, Md., had accepted a full scholarship to prestigious Johns Hopkins University, according to a person close to his family. Instead, he remains in custody at a youth facility in Berks County, Pa. He could have his case moved to adult court when he turns 18 next month.
According to the sources, the FBI searched the family’s home near Baltimore and interviewed the teen several times at FBI headquarters without a lawyer or family member present. However, the parents had authorized the interviews.
The teen met LaRose online when he was 15, according to the person close to the investigation and LaRose’s indictment.
A law enforcement official confirmed details of his arrest. Both people spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the sealed juvenile case. The Associated Press is not publishing the teen’s name because of his age.
The teen’s lawyer, Jeffrey M. Lindy, said it would be “very inappropriate’’ for him to comment on the case, which he called “highly sensitive.’’
The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported on the arrest yesterday.
The teen came to the United States four years ago and has lived with his strict, education-focused family in suburban Baltimore. An older brother attends a college honors program in engineering. The parents, who are legal residents, work menial jobs.
Teachers at Mt. Hebron High School remember the May graduate for his strong work ethic.
He “was very strong academically and an extremely hard-working student,’’ Howard County school district spokeswoman Patti Caplan said.
The teen reportedly met LaRose in an online chat room in 2009.