Adama – The story of black Muslim girl caught in the War on Terror

When she was 16, Adama Bah was arrested by the FBI and accused of being a potential suicide bomber. She was held six weeks in a maximum security juvenile detention center in Pennsylvania.

After 9/11: ‘You no longer have rights’ – extract | US news | The Guardian

The morning of 24 March, 2005, my family and I were in the house sleeping. Someone knocked on the door, and these men barged in. Some had FBI jackets, and others were from the police department and the DHS [Department of Homeland Security]. My mom can’t speak much English, and they were yelling at her, “We’re going to deport you and your whole family!” I was thinking, “What are they talking about?” I knew my dad had an issue with his papers, but I didn’t think that my mom did.

Then I saw my dad in handcuffs. It was the scariest thing you could ever see; I had never seen my father so powerless.

One of the women put me in handcuffs. I panicked so badly, I was stuttering, “What did I do? Where are we going?” I’m 16 years old, in handcuffs.

They took me and my dad and put us in an [Cadillac] Escalade. I didn’t recognise the building where we were taken. They put me in my own cell. I was nervous, panicking, crying. I was trying to figure out what was going on.

The FBI leaked a document to the press identifying ms Bah as a “‘potential’ suicide bomber” and an “imminent threat to the security of the United States”. AFter six weeks she was released with an ankle bracelet, a deportation order but without terrorism charges.

There is an interesting film online now made by David Felix Sutclitte showing how Adama Bah tried to deal with the pressures, with her father being deported, her dropping out of school and the problems of her family.

ADAMA from David Felix Sutcliffe on Vimeo.

On March 24th, 2005, Adama Bah, a 16-year-old Muslim girl, awoke at dawn to discover nearly a dozen armed government agents inside her family’s apartment in East Harlem. She was arrested and taken to a maximum-security juvenile detention center in Pennsylvania. An FBI document leaked to the press mysteriously identified Adama as a “potential” suicide bomber and an “imminent threat to the security of the United States.” After six weeks of public protest and media scrutiny, Adama was released with an ankle bracelet and a deportation order, but no terrorist charges. Still traumatized by the experience of her detention, Adama must drop out of high school and support her four younger siblings when her father is deported to Guinea, Africa. Using intimate verité footage, Adama captures the extreme pressures bearing down on this young Muslim girl and her desperate efforts to keep her family from unraveling.

*Update (March 2015): Adama's situation has improved dramatically, but support is always welcomed. Please feel free to support her and her family through Vimeo's tip jar. 100% of all donations will be sent directly to Adama and her family. For more information, please check our facebook page:

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