An update on this story from the New York Times, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist. It’s a strange case, and the Times in this story seems fairly sure there’s nothing to it. Maybe there isn’t, but their portrayal of the girl as such a deeply religious Muslim that even overhearing discussions by other teenagers about boyfriends offended her deeply is interesting: to the Times, probably, it is evidence that she couldn’t possibly have entertained thoughts of being a suicide bomber.
However, Islamic religious motivations are used all over the world (yes, not just in Israel, but in Kashmir, Thailand, Indonesia, and elsewhere) to recruit suicide bombers. Is the Times, like so many others, assuming too much about the state of Islam today?
For years, the father said, he watched as his daughter, now 16, became more and more drawn to the family’s Muslim religion. At 14, she began wearing a full-length veil and teaching religion classes at mosques around the city.
A year ago, she withdrew from her Manhattan high school because, a school official said, she felt uncomfortable with typical teenage banter. She told her family she wanted to go to an Islamic all-girls school, and when they could not afford to send her, she chose to study at home.
The father, a Bangladeshi watch salesman who describes himself as far more devoted to American education than to prayer after 13 years as an immigrant illegally in the United States, said he pushed for his daughter to return to public school.
Then last fall, the daughter he also describes as loving Bollywood soap operas and shopping with girlfriends startled him and her mother by seeking their approval to marry a young American Muslim man they had never met and whom she barely knew. The father refused the marriage overtures, which were made by the young man’s father in a call from Michigan….
He is sure that his visit to the police set off the F.B.I. investigation that led to a chilling assertion, in a government document, that the girls are “an imminent threat to the security of the United States based on evidence that they plan to be suicide bombers.” Family and friends call that absurd.
The document, provided to The New York Times by a federal agent on Wednesday, did not describe the nature of the evidence. Yesterday, after repeated inquiries, officials from several agencies involved in the investigation, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the F.B.I. and the New York Police Department, would not comment on the case….
In an interview at the Islamic Center of North America in Queens, the Bangladeshi girl’s mother said that her daughter had experienced problems over her religion at the High School for Environmental Studies in Manhattan, which led to her enrollment in a Georgia-based correspondence course. She said the girl came home crying from school because of upsetting remarks, some directed at her Islamic dress.
But the parent coordinator at the school, Karen Hundley, said that students at the school come from many ethnic and religious backgrounds and get along very well….
She cited an incident in which the teenager stayed home for days last year after hearing two girls discussing a boyfriend.
“A lot of things other kids did offended her sense of religion,” Ms. Hundley said, citing jokes about movies and an ethics class that mentioned condoms….
A 17-year-old girl who spoke on condition that she be identified only by her first name, Shahela, said she, too, had opted for home schooling and was “very close” to the Bangladeshi girl. She called the notion that her friend could be recruited as a suicide bomber a terrible mistake.
Their three-year friendship, she said, revolved around Islam, prompting both to learn Arabic and to teach classes on Islam to young women at two mosques. “We talked about what was going on in Palestine, suicide bombings, and I know she’s completely against it,” she said….