U.S. Woman in Irish Terror Probe Released

Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, 31, was reported missing last fall from Leadville, Colo. Her parents said she had moved with her 6-year-old son to Ireland and married an Algerian man she met online.
WSJ/Family Photo
Last Updated 9:23 p.m. ET

Sgt. Declan Obyrne of the Irish Garda tells CBS News that a Colorado woman detained in Ireland in connection with an alleged plot to assassinate a Swedish cartoonist whose sketch offended many Muslims has been released.

Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, 31, was among seven people arrested in Ireland this week as authorities investigate an alleged plot to kill the cartoonist over a 2007 sketch depicting the head of the Muslim prophet Mohammed on a dog's body.

Obyrne told CBS News that a file will be prepared for Irish prosecutors to review. Although Paulin-Ramirez has been released, the Irish police will continue to investigate her and can detain her again.

Irish authorities this week announced the arrest of seven Muslims in the alleged plot, only identifying them as three Algerians, a Libyan, a Palestinian, a Croatian and an American woman married to one of the Algerians.

They were arrested Tuesday, hours before U.S. authorities unveiled a terror indictment against Colleen LaRose, 46, of Philadelphia, who bills herself as "Jihad Jane."

On Saturday Irish police said that three of those arrested had been released without charges. After Paulin-Ramirez's release later in the day, three men remain in custody.

According to the police in Waterford, Ireland, no formal charges were brought against Paulin-Ramirez. She could have been held without charges for a maximum of seven days.

A law enforcement official told CBS News that U.S. officials were aware of Paulin-Ramirez before the Irish Garda picked her up in their assassination probe. This official also stresses the fact that she has not been indicted in the United States.

Law enforcement is looking at whether "Jihad Jane" and Paulin-Ramirez spent time together in Ireland or the United States, and the FBI is still in the process of locating and interviewing friends and family of Paulin-Ramirez.

Paulin-Ramirez fits the pattern of LaRose in that she spent an enormous amount of time on the Internet where she met Muslim men and traveled overseas.

Paulin-Ramirez, who also took her 6-year-old son Christian with her to Ireland, met and married an Algerian man who was also among those arrested.

One U.S. official described it as an "online seduction," but investigators stress that they have not drawn any conclusions that Paulin-Ramirez was involved in the plot, noting that she has been not been charged.

In an interview with CBS News, Paulin-Ramirez's aunt, Cindy Holcomb Jones, said she was very close with her niece until May 2009. That's when Paulin-Ramirez was inexplicably drawn to Islam, Jones said.

Jones said she doesn't think Paulin-Ramirez's interest in the religion had anything to do with her stepfather George Mott being Muslim. However, she said she was worried with her niece's constant participation in Muslim chat rooms and Web sites.

"Her attitude changed; she became more withdrawn from the family and disrespectful to the family," Jones said. "She lost interest in everything except being on the Internet in those people."

Paulin-Ramirez's mother, Christine Holcomb-Mott of Leadville, Colo., told CBS News her marriage to George Mott showed her Islam is a peaceful religion.

"I know Islam is not hate-filled," Holcomb-Mott said. "True Islam is not hate-filled."

Watch Christine Holcomb-Mott talk about her daughter, Jamie Paulin-Ramirez

However, Holcomb-Mott said she was worried what Paulin-Ramirez's son was being taught. Holcomb-Mott said her grandson has told her, "All Christians are going go to hell, burn in hell, if they're not Muslim."

Holcomb-Mott said she wasn't happy her grandson was so far away from her in Ireland.

"We don't have money, but hopefully there's somebody in this country that will help me get that baby back here where he is safe," Holcomb-Mott said. "That's all we want.

"I'd love to have our daughter come home and straighten out and get out of this mess," Holcomb-Mott said. "But that's her choice. That baby isn't being given a choice."

Paulin-Ramirez's departure for Ireland on the eighth anniversary of 9/11 last fall - she abandoned her car at the Denver airport - came as a total surprise to the family.

"No warning whatsoever," Jones said. "On Sept. 11, she walked on everything - her job, her school, everything - and we didn't know where she was for two weeks."

(AP/SITE Intelligence Group)
LaRose (left) is accused of plotting with others to kill Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks because of his 2007 sketch depicting the head of the Muslim prophet Muhammad on a dog's body. The drawing provoked terror front al Qaeda in Iraq to offer a $100,000 bounty for his slaying.

Investigators are going through Paulin-Ramirez's computer to look for any links between her and LaRose, who has been indicted for conspiring to kill a foreign national, but they still need to talk to her in person, and are waiting to see if Irish authorities release her.

"We are aware of the arrests in Ireland earlier this week, but at this time we have no comment on the identities of those arrested in Ireland; our investigation continues," said Justice Department Spokesman Dean Boyd.

Paulin-Ramirez's parents told the Associated Press that their daughter was a straight-A nursing student when she abruptly left Colorado last fall with her 6-year-old son and turned up in Ireland.

Holcomb-Mott was informed of the arrest of her daughter by the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies, she told the AP.

Denver FBI officials say they can't confirm that the FBI had contacted Mott about the case.

Irish police refused to confirm whether Paulin-Ramirez is the woman in custody, and have declined to release the identities of any of those arrested.

The Wall Street Journal, quoting anonymous sources familiar with the case, reported on its Web site that Paulin-Ramirez was being held in the alleged plot.

Holcomb-Mott said she's concerned for the welfare of her grandson, who has been placed in the custody of Ireland's foster care system.

"This is about my baby," Holcomb-Mott said. "We need some help to get this baby back. I'm concerned about my daughter but I'm concerned about our baby boy because he shouldn't be caught in the middle of this."

The Motts said Paulin-Ramirez announced to her family last spring that she was converting to Islam and began wearing headscarves, and later a hijab.

"It came out of left field," Holcomb-Mott said. "I knew she was talking to these people online... What caused her to turn her back on her country, on her family and become this person? I don't know how or why. All I know is she was in contact with this Jihad Jane.

"The only thing I could think of is that they brainwashed her."

Irish police say LaRose visited Ireland in September and spent about two weeks with the Algerian-American couple and other suspects. Investigators believe she began communicating last year with the Irish-based suspects in member-only Internet chat rooms.

Her stepfather, George Mott, said the FBI seized a desktop computer in late September but did not tell the family what they found.

Holcomb-Mott said her daughter was getting 4.0 grades as she studied to become a nurse practitioner and was working a $30,000 job at Eagle Valley Medical Clinic in nearby Edwards.

The Motts said Paulin-Ramirez began to withdraw and argue with her parents about her religion in the months after announcing her conversion.