Young sister of US army plot suspect is assaulted

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PRINCETON, N J, Oct 17 (Reuters) The 12-year-old sister of a Muslim charged with plotting an armed assault on a New Jersey army base has been attacked and referred to as a terrorist by a teen-ager, family members said.

The unidentified girl, a seventh-grade student at Carusi Middle School in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, was on her way to class on September 19 when she was grabbed around the neck from behind by a male teen-ager, her sister, Inas Shnewer, told a news conference held by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The teen-ager then told the girl, ''There's a terrorist on the loose,'' said 19-year-old Shnewer, adding that the girl was then punched in the face and insulted. No witnesses have yet come forward.

The girl was also told, ''Your brother's never coming back,'' the sister said. The remark was an apparent reference to Mohamad Shnewer, one of six foreign-born Muslim men who were arrested in May on suspicion of planning an armed assault on Fort Dix army base, 40 miles east of Philadelphia.

The six, who lived in southern New Jersey and Philadelphia, are being held in a federal detention center awaiting trial, which is scheduled to start in January 2008.

Shnewer said when her sister told a school guidance counselor about the attack, she was urged not to tell anyone because ''it will affect the school's reputation.'' Lt William Kushina, a spokesman for Cherry Hill Police, said police were informed about the incident on Monday and are investigating. They could treat it as a hate crime, he said.

Cherry Hill School District issued a statement saying it investigated the incident as soon as it was reported.

But Susan Bastnagel, a spokeswoman for the schools district, said the police were not informed immediately of the incident because of a misunderstanding among school officials.

''It should have been reported and wasn't,'' she said.

REUTERS CS BST0437

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