NEW YORK - Immigrants and Muslim communities watched with concern on Wednesday as the U.S. government prepared a case against two local teenage girls detained on immigration charges amid reports that they were seen as possible suicide bombers. The two girls, both 16, one born in Bangladesh and one in Guinea, were being held in federal custody at an immigration center in Pennsylvania. While U.S. authorities said the girls were accused of immigration violations, and there are no other charges against them, initially the charges seemed dire. The New York Times cited a government document saying the FBI believed the girls posed "an imminent threat to the security of the United States based on evidence that they plan to be suicide bombers."
The two, who live in New York, were arrested on March 24. Neighbors, friends and classmates called the suicide-bomber suggestions absurd. "This is part of a larger pattern, we feel, that targeted a lot of vulnerable and innocent people," said Adam Carroll of the Islamic Circle of North America, who was acting as a family spokesman for the girl from Bangladesh. "It is scary and it alarmed a lot of the community here. A lot of Muslims feel that there is a pattern of over-reaching and guilt by suspicion," he said. (MORE)