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Quote Suleyman Replybullet Topic: Terrorist threat
    Posted: 15 May 2005 at 1:10pm

Teachers and classmates express outrage at arrest of 16-year-old girl as terrorist threat

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"A blog for justice for A and T, two jailed teenage girls whose rights are being abused and whose lives are being destroyed by the United States government." With news, updates, and action.

Nina Bernstein
New York Times 

At Heritage High School in East Harlem, where the student idiom is hip-hop and salsa, the 16-year-old Guinean girl stood out, but not just because she wore Islamic dress. She was so well liked that when she ran for student body president, she came in second to one of her best friends - the Christian daughter of the president of the parent-teacher association, Deleen P. Carr.

Now Ms. Carr, a speech pathologist who calls herself "a typical American citizen," is as outraged as the girl's teachers and classmates, who have learned that the girl and another 16-year-old are being called would-be suicide bombers and are being held in an immigration detention center in Pennsylvania.

"They have painted this picture of her as this person that is trying to destroy our way of life, and I know in my heart of hearts that this is bogus," said Ms. Carr, who welcomed the Guinean girl to her house daily and knows her family well. "I feel like, how dare they? She's a minor, and even if she's not a citizen, she has rights as a human being."

According to a government document provided to The New York Times by a federal official earlier this week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has asserted that both girls are "an imminent threat to the security of the United States based on evidence that they plan to be suicide bombers." No evidence was cited, and federal officials will not comment on the case.

Its mysteries deepened as teachers and neighbors gave details of the Guinean girl's life, like the jeans she wore under her Muslim garb, her lively classroom curiosity about topics like Judaism and art and her after-school care for four younger siblings while her parents, illegal immigrants who have lived in the United States since 1990, eked out a living.

"I just can't fathom this," said her art teacher, Kimberly Lane, who has repeatedly called the youth detention center but like Ms. Carr was not allowed to speak to the girl, who has no lawyer. Among the unanswered questions they raised was why, if she was really a suspect, no F.B.I. agent had shown up to search her school locker or question her classmates, who sent her letters of support.

"This is a girl who's been in this country since she was 2 years old," Ms. Lane said. "She's just a regular teenager - like, two weeks ago her biggest worry was whether she'd done her homework or studied for a science test."

Until now, attention has focused on the other 16-year-old, a Bangladeshi girl reared in Queens who could not deal with the hurly-burly of her West Side high school and withdrew into home schooling. Yesterday, on a motion of the government, an immigration judge closed the Bangladeshi girl's bond hearing to the public and adjourned it to next Thursday, said Troy Mattes, a lawyer who is taking over the case but has yet to meet her.

By the Bangladeshi girl's account, reported by her mother, the girls did not meet until March 24, after their separate arrests in early-morning raids on immigration charges against their parents. Both grew up in Islamic families. But while the Bangladeshi girl had grown increasingly pious, and uncomfortable in the urban culture of the High School of Environmental Studies on West 56th Street, the Guinean girl, a 10th grader, embraced every aspect of Heritage High, at 106th Street and Lexington Avenue, her teachers said.

"She is, yes, an orthodox Muslim, but completely integrated into this school," said Jessica Siegel, her English teacher in a class in which topics like teenage pregnancy and world politics were discussed. Ms. Siegel was profiled in the book "Small Victories," by Samuel G. Freedman, as an unsentimental, but fiercely committed teacher who provoked and delighted her students.

"She's a wonderful, wonderful girl," Ms. Siegel said. "She's about the last person anyone could imagine being a suicide bomber."

The English teacher's most vivid recollection was of a day two months ago when she heard a kind of roar in the hallway of the school, which is full of colorful student collages and life-size sculptures in papier-mâché. The teenager had stopped wearing her veil, and she beamed as her fellow students, seeing her face for the first time, cheered.

After the class read "Night," the Holocaust memoir by Elie Wiesel, the girl wrote a paper about genocide in the Sudan, she recalled. But she was so excited about a field trip to see Christo's "Gates" in Central Park, Ms. Siegel said, that she skipped an appointment at immigration - a teenage impulse the teacher now worries might have set off problems with federal authorities. Her father is now in immigration jail facing deportation.

At Woodrow Wilson Houses a few blocks from the school, a sticker on the family's apartment door reads, "Allah is our protector." Yesterday no one was home, but across the hall, Christine Anderson, a neighbor, shook her head in disbelief when she learned why she had not seen the girl or her father in recent weeks.

"Why would they take the lady's daughter?" she asked. "They're nice people, and hard-working people. I've been here four years. I know she's not a problem child."

Ms. Lane, the art teacher, said that when Heritage High first learned that immigration agents had picked up the girl, one of her best friends asked if someone from the school might have denounced her as an illegal immigrant. "I remember telling her the government doesn't go after 16-year-old girls," Ms. Lane said. "And in the last few days, I'm wrestling with the fact that, yes, it does."

Edited by Suleyman
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Quote kim! Replybullet Posted: 15 May 2005 at 4:57pm

Typical. America the Brave? Oh YEAH - brave enough to pick on 16 year old girls.

America the Free? Sure - only if you can PAY for it.

Australian government's not much better - we're so good at abusing and deporting people, we've even started getting rid of our own citizens.


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Quote ummziba Replybullet Posted: 16 May 2005 at 4:51am

Assalamu alaikum,

It is not much better in Canada.  I read in a newspaper yesterday that men (Arab and/or Muslim only, of course) who play a game called "paintball" are suspect.  Paintball involves teams "shooting" at each other with plastic balls full of paint.  Apparently, this is considered terrorist training here, again, only if you are Arab or Muslim.

And, all reverts (converts to Islam) are also highly suspected.  Apparently our "zeal" for our faith is dangerous!  And of course, on the suspect watch list are any who dress "Islamically" (hijab, beards, jilbabs, abayas, etc.) as well as those who pray five times a day and attend a masjid regularly.

May Allah Almighty protect us all from false suspicion!

Peace, ummziba.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words...they break my soul ~
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Quote MOCKBA Replybullet Posted: 16 May 2005 at 6:24am

so far these cases are not too common today, but it seems that the time is nearing when they will develop the right to detain anyone they like, at any age they like, under whatever motive they like... and lickspittle slaves of worldly powers will learn how to accept it as normal and adjust their lives accordingly...

they want us to give up Muslim names, by giving Muhammads longer hours at the immigration clearance, they want us to stop giving Muslim names to our children by arresting little Umars and Fathimas at schools and infusing fear and hatred in their little friends... they want our men to abhore beards because it spells terrorism... they want our modest women to uncover and propagate freedom-to-walk-naked... they land airplanes half-way from their destinations only because of a suspicious candy wrap with Arabic writings on it... they, who live in fruitless dusgust of same sex marriages that are sealed in places of worship, they who'se religious leaders commit perverse acts with their innocent students, they who have no respect for their parents, they whose role models are junkies and whores, they who ruin their youth in the rivers of intoxicants, they who grow up to be mass murderers... are they going to tell us how to live?


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