PRINCETON, N.J. – The 12-year-old sister of a suspect in the alleged terrorist plot to attack Fort Dix was attacked at her middle school, two of her relatives said Tuesday.
The girl was choked and punched in the face while walking down the hallway to class by a teenager, her father and older sister said.
"He grabs her from the back and chokes her," said Inas Shnewer, 19, relaying how her sister described the attack. "He says, 'You terrorist,' and then he punches her, and then he tells her that 'your brother is never going to come back."'
Cherry Hill Police Detective Lt. William Kushina said Tuesday that the police department and the school district are jointly investigating the claims. No charges have been filed.
The family, who asked that the girl's name be withheld to protect her, said she was assaulted Sept. 19 inside the Carusi Middle School in Cherry Hill.
The next day, the family said, she went to a school guidance counselor and told the counselor what had happened.
Inas Shnewer and her father, Ibrahim, said the school advised the family and the girl to keep quiet and specifically said not to go to the police.
The school district disputed that, saying that school personnel did not tell the family or the girl to keep quiet, but acknowledged that the allegations should have been reported to the police.
The family said school officials showed the girl photographs of every male student in the school, but she did not immediately recognize the assailant as a student there.
The girl is the younger sister of Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer, one of six men scheduled to go on trial in January for an alleged plot to attack soldiers at Fort Dix.
"If (her brother) intended to carry out terrorist activity, then he should be punished if he is convicted," said Afsheen Shamsi, a spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "But this is a 12-year-old girl who had nothing to do with (the case)."
The girl returned to Jordan with her mother and two other sisters last week because she was so upset, the Shnewers said.
Kushina said police have been on guard in case of any community backlash against the families of suspects in the plot case. But until now, he said, there have been no serious cases.