Last Easter, Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, a 31-year-old mom with a $30,000-a-year job as a medical assistant, announced to her family that she had converted to Islam. A few months later, she began posting to Facebook forums whose headings included "STOP caLLing MUSLIMS TERRORISTS!"
On Sept. 11, she suddenly left Leadville, Colo., a small town in the Rocky Mountains, with her 6-year-old son for Denver, then for New York, to meet and marry an Algerian man she connected with online, her family says. Paulin-Ramirez, who is 5-foot-11 and blonde, phoned her mother and stepfather in Leadville, providing them with an address in Waterford, Ireland, they say.
Now, she is in the custody of the Irish police, along with three other individuals, arrested as part of an investigation into a conspiracy to commit murder, according to officials familiar with the case. The nature of the authorities' suspicions about Paulin-Ramirez couldn't be determined on Friday.
A U.S. official confirms that a Colorado woman has been detained in Ireland in connection with an alleged plot to assassinate a Swedish cartoonist whose sketch offended many Muslims.
Jamie Paulin-Ramirez 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.
The U.S. official was not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Irish authorities only identified the seven arrested as three Algerians, a Libyan, a Palestinian, a Croatian and an American woman married to one of the Algerians.
Irish police said Saturday three Muslims arrested in the case were freed without charge, but three men and an American woman remain in custody.
Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman, said the agency was aware of the arrests in Ireland but had no comment on the identities of those taken into custody. "Our investigation continues," he said.
Paulin-Ramirez's interest in Islam "came out of left field," said her mother, Christine Holcomb, in an interview at her home Friday, wearing a blue sweatsuit with a silver cross around her neck.
"I'm angry with her right now," Holcomb said. "I'd like to just choke her. But I'm worried about her, too. I love my daughter."
Holcomb learned about the arrest of her daughter in the case by the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies.
She said she's also 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 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."
Holcom said Paulin-Ramirez announced to her family last spring that she was converting to Islam and began wearing headscarves, and later a hajib.
"It came out of left field," Christine 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."
Paulin-Ramirez's stepfather, George Mott, said the FBI seized a desktop computer in late September but did not tell the family what they found.
It's not clear whether Paulin-Ramirez might face terror charges.
Paulin-Ramirez is the second American woman to be linked to an alleged plot to kill a Swedish cartoonist who made fun of the Prophet Mohammed. An indictment was unsealed this week against Colleen R. LaRose, 46, a suburban Philadelphia woman who authorities said used the Web alias "JihadJane."
LaRose was accused of plotting to kill the cartoonist and attempting to recruit jihadis via the Internet. She was arrested in October and later charged with providing material support to terrorists. The Justice Department kept its case under wraps until this week while investigators in the U.S. and Europe pursued their investigation against other potential suspects in the U.S. and abroad.
The main contact for LaRose is believed to be one of the men in Irish custody, an Algerian, who has a relationship with Paulin-Ramirez, according to a person close to matter. A person close to the Irish police couldn't confirm whether Paulin-Ramirez and the Algerian are married. LaRose spent roughly two weeks in Ireland last fall, a person familiar with the matter said.
The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press contributed to this report.