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FDLE SEES NO DANGER FOR GIRL

The Ohio teen says she'll be killed for converting from Islam if she's returned there.

Christian runaway Rifqa Bary says she'll be killed if she's sent back to Ohio. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says there's no "credible" reason to believe that.

Bary, 17, fled to Orlando from her home near Columbus in July because she thinks her Muslim family or someone in the Islamic community has to murder her in an "honor killing" because of her religious conversion. She has also accused her father of physical abuse in the past.

The FDLE's report, though, which a judge in Orlando unsealed Monday evening, says there's no evidence of any abuse, and also no indication that she's in danger of being killed. The report calls that fear "a subjective and speculative concern."

FDLE asked the girl's father if he was going to kill her.

"Absolutely not," Mohamed Bary told investigators.

FDLE did not investigate the Islamic community in Columbus or the mosque the Bary family sometimes attends. The girl's attorney late last month released a memo alleging that the mosque is a terrorist hotbed. But the FDLE's report called an investigation into any person or religious or social organization "inappropriate" when there's no "specific identifiable criminal predicate."

Some believe this means the FDLE's investigation not only falls short but also misses the most important part of the case - that Islamic law, or sharia, mandates her death.

"To be an apostate is a capital offense," said Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy, a conservative Washington think tank.

He called the report "misleading," "irresponsible" and "incomplete at best," saying the Bary case was "the canary in the mine shaft" showing that "sharia is taking hold inside communities in the United States."

Most interpreters say sharia, specifies death as a punishment for apostasy. Even so, according to professors of Islamic studies, sharia is enforced selectively - and by governments, not by religious entities.

The attorneys involved cannot talk about the case because of a judge's gag order.

Bary, 5 feet 2 and 90 pounds, spent her first 21/2weeks in Orlando living in the home of Christian evangelical pastors Blake and Beverly Lorenz of the Global Revolution Church. A judge has been keeping her in Florida as the courts try to settle custody issues by looking into the validity of the threat against her. She's living with a different foster family in Orlando approved by the state Department of Children and Families.

In her interview in the FDLE's investigation, Bary said her father threatened her by holding her laptop over her head, saying he was going to kill her. Her father denied threatening her. He said he grabbed the laptop and lifted it to throw it, but reconsidered because it was expensive.

Bary also said her father once hit her in the face for interrupting a conversation, and on another occasion hit her for not wanting to wear the Islamic head scarf called the hijab, but that he hadn't hit her since middle school. Her father denied ever having hit her. Her mother and her brother said they had never seen him hit her. A spokesman at the school district where the girl goes to school told the FDLE investigators that no abuse or suspected abuse was ever reported.

Bary told investigators that she had told a teacher at her school about her fears and that the teacher offered her home as a haven. The teacher told investigators that she made the offer because Bary had told her she was uncomfortable with some of the parties her older brother was having when their parents weren't home.

Bary told investigators that she hitchhiked to the Greyhound station. One of her friends, Brian M. Williams, told FDLE that he picked her up from another friend's house and took her to the bus.

Bary told investigators she used money she had saved from her part-time job at a Chinese restaurant to buy her bus ticket. But someone in Orlando bought the ticket, according to the report, using "a fictitious name."

Bary told investigators that her parents didn't know that she was a cheerleader. Her father told the FDLE investigators that he knew about her cheerleading, approved of it, and sometimes took her to practice. In the Bary home in Ohio, the report noted, pictures of the girl in her cheerleading uniform were "prominently displayed in the family living room."

Michael Kruse can be reached at mkruse@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8751.

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