But Ms. LaRose’s militant leanings were not a surprise to everyone. A collection of anti-jihadi Internet activists have been following her postings at least since September 2008.
One forum where activists tracked her was My Pet Jawa, where volunteers research Web sites they believe are tied to Al Qaeda or other militant groups and pressure Internet service providers to stop hosting the sites. The founder of the site, who requested anonymity because he said he had received death threats over his work, said Ms. LaRose was unlike most of the militants he tracks.
She made little effort to hide her true identity, he said, and she seemed to be using the radical sites almost as a dating service. “It was like she was looking for a soul mate,” he said.
On one Web site, Ms. LaRose corresponded with a man between December 2007 and February 2008 about her loyalty to jihad and her desires to marry him as soon as she could travel to see him. On another, Ms. LaRose sought advice in December 2007 about how to bring an Egyptian boyfriend, with whom she had been corresponding for more than a year, to the United States for the holidays.
Another Web group, YouTube Smackdown Corps, said it had also been tracking Ms. LaRose and complaining to the authorities about her YouTube postings for two years.