Fear in New York City

Writes the NY Post:

April 8, 2005

Two teenage New York girls are in prison as illegal aliens after stumbling into a federal probe of recruiters trying to sign up homicide [suicide] bombers, The Post has learned.

The unidentified 16-year-old Muslim girls—who reportedly are being held in a Pennsylvania detention center—were taken into custody last month on immigration charges.

The arrests took place after authorities decided it would be better to lock up the girls than wait and see if they decided to become terrorists willing to die for a cause, law-enforcement sources said.

The girls—said to be immigrants from Bangladesh and Guinea—had been placed under surveillance for several weeks after first becoming known to investigators.

The arrests came after the parents of the girl from Bangladesh—who lives in Queens—reported she had run away, sources said.

The report led investigators to look more closely at both girls to try to determine whether they were in the country illegally and could thus be arrested.

Both had visited an unidentified mosque where anti-American and extreme fundamentalist rhetoric had been spewed.

And in a notebook belonging to one of the girls, she discussed the issue of suicide, sources said.

"An ancillary effect of intervening early is you don’t know what would have happened," a source familiar with the case said.

Manny Van Pelt, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — which has custody of the girls — would say only that "they’ve been arrested on immigration violations" and that "because they’re minors, we can’t say anything else."

But in the case of at least the Bangladeshi girl, Islamic advocates said, officials appear to have overreacted to writings about suicide in a home-school essay.

"It sounds a little over the top. We’re talking about a 16-year-old girl from Queens who has no ties or relationships with terrorists," said Wissam Nasr, executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relation.

He maintains that investigators have "misinterpreted" and "taken out of context" the girl’s essay.

"The family’s just afraid," said Nasr, adding that the Bangladeshi girl was scheduled to appear at a hearing in Pennsylvania today.

Adem Carroll, an activist with the Islamic Circle of North America, called the Bangladeshi family very religious and said its members do not support homicide bombings or other terror attacks.

"I don’t think there’s going to be a ‘there’ there," Carroll said of the feds’ investigation.

The government, he said, "could be creating an image of a war on terror without reality."

See our last post on paranoia in New York City.