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Hip Muslim Moms group undone by D.C. Metro bomb plot
Mirza-Ahmed, who grew up in England and has a young son, had taken a more active role in the group in recent months, members said, hosting a recent play date at her Ashburn house, where she served iced cappuccinos.
Members described her as "pleasant" and very affectionate with her child and said they were shocked to hear of her husband's arrest.
Farooque Ahmed is accused of telling FBI agents posing as terrorists that he was ready to become a martyr in Afghanistan and Pakistan and was training himself for battle. Ahmed is charged with conspiring to support al-Qaeda in the plot to bomb Arlington County Metro stations. He is still being detained, after a hearing Friday in Alexandria, and he has not entered a plea to the charges.
Several members of Hip Muslim Moms said they doubted that Mirza-Ahmed knew of his alleged plans.
"They were planning to go to hajj" in Mecca, said one woman who described herself as close to Mirza-Ahmed but also did not want her name used and linked to terrorism. "She was very excited about it."
The woman said she had met Farooque Ahmed several times when visiting her friend but did not know him well. She added that Mirza-Ahmed, who is of Pakistani descent, was very Westernized. "She hardly spoke Urdu," she said.
Members of Hip Muslim Moms included accountants, lawyers, doctors, teachers and women who were staying home to raise their children, Bani said. They usually held meetings in the afternoons, bringing along their young children and leaving before their husbands got home.
But occasionally, they left the kids with their husbands and got together for a night out. When they went to the movies to see "Sex in the City 2," they wore stilettos.
"We're just normal people," said the member who joined earlier this year. "It's sad to see our name associated with the actions of people we've never met."
She said she was relieved that the government had stopped the plot but frustrated that the suspect's religious extremism would give "an innocent group like Hip Muslim Mothers a bad name."
As the sky darkened outside Bani's house, she stared at her laptop, where mentions of the group were proliferating, and let out an exasperated sigh.
"It says here that we're a 'decidedly non-jihadi-sounding social group,' " she said. " 'Sounding?' Aaaah!! Okay - things like this really boil my blood."
firstname.lastname@example.org Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.