Spain agrees to extradite ‘Jihad Jane’ recruiter to US to face terrorism charges

Ali Charafe Damache © Cathal McNaughton
Spain has approved a request from the US to extradite an alleged jihadist, Ali Charaf Damache, who is believed to have conspired with a woman known as “Jihad Jane,” to recruit people to carry out terror attacks in Europe and Asia.

Washington had wanted to speak to Damache, who was arrested in December in Barcelona. Police were alerted to his presence in the Spanish city thanks to a telephone tip-off to the country’s emergency 112 number, Spanish media reported. 

US officials believe he conspired with an American woman, Colleen LaRose, known in the US media as “Jihad Jane,” to create a “violent jihad organization” and to carry out attacks in Europe.

The Spanish government ruled in favor of granting the US extradition case Friday and if Damache is found guilty, he could face up to 45 years in prison. 

Damache, who holds joint Irish and Algerian nationality, is alleged by the US authorities to have tried to recruit men over the internet in order to “wage violent jihad in South Asia and Europe,” according to AFP. 

The US authorities had previously asked the Irish government to extradite Damache, but an Irish court allowed him to walk free in 2015.  The judge refused to extradite him to the US due to fears over how he might be treated under America’s severe penal system.

Damache is also believed to have links with LaRose, who was jailed for 10 years in 2014, for plotting to murder a Swedish artist who had depicted the head of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed on a dog.

Colleen LaRose © Tom Green County Sheriff's Office

LaRose, who had reportedly used the name “Jihad Jane” after converting to Islam, traveled to Europe in 2009 in order to try and kill Lars Vilks by shooting him in the chest six times. However, LaRose became impatient with the men who had asked her to come to Europe and she returned to the US after six weeks, where she was promptly arrested. 

"I was in a trance and I couldn't see anything else," she said at the time, as cited by Reuters. "I don't want to be in jihad no more."