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'How can you be suspicious of neighbors like that?'

After the plot allegations turned culturally diverse Cherry Hill upside-down, residents spoke of a false sense of security but also a fear of growing mistrust.

By week's end, the media swarm had left Cherry Hill. Birdsong punctuated the morning calm on streets such as Mimosa Drive and Tampa Avenue, where young men alleged to be the architects of a terrorist plot had until recently lived. Everyday life resumed.

But among the people who shop, work or reside in this increasingly diverse and particularly suburban suburb, last week was a too-close-to-home reminder of the post-9/11 world. A world where things may not be what they seem. A precarious world where the person who drove you to the airport or fixed your roof could be a terrorist, and where a guy who works at Circuit City is a hero.

In that world, a spawning ground for terrorists can be such a seemingly unlikely place as Cherry Hill, home of the Philadelphia region's first mall, a sprawling township where shopping centers are the Main Streets and where families settle to take advantage of its fine schools.

Of the more than 70,000 people who live in Cherry Hill, 12 percent are foreign-born and 17 percent speak a language other than English at home. Just days before the terror sting, the township - home to many faiths - celebrated the groundbreaking of its first mosque.

"What these few people did doesn't detract from Cherry Hill being a wonderful place," Mayor Bernie Platt said. "We were shocked because of the diversity in the community."

Shocked, perhaps, but not necessarily surprised.

Many people in Cherry Hill said the events of last week just go to show that terrorism can sprout anywhere.

"I think it's a false sense of security to think this kind of thing only happens in certain kinds of neighborhoods," said Jamila Dakhari, 32, a health-care worker shopping in the Wegmans supermarket.

Some people expressed anger; others, fear. Some said they hoped the terror sting wouldn't fuel mistrust of people foreign-born or different. Others said it already had.

"People are scared, and they can't believe it's so close to home," said Anna Doganiero, 85, after breakfast at Ponzio's diner, a local landmark.

"They seemed so normal," said her sister-in-law Mary Doganiero, 71, of the suspects. She recalled how neighbors told reporters that the family of the three Duka brothers who were arrested gave them backyard produce.

"How can you be suspicious of neighbors like that, who give you vegetables?" Doganiero asked.

Maura Johnston, 52, a Philadelphia lawyer eating at Ponzio's, worried about suspicion.

"The danger is everyone becomes afraid of everyone who's not born here," Johnston said. "It's something we need to be careful about. This country is about diversity and assuming people are innocent until proven guilty."

Cherry Hill is a place of differences. The housing ranges from a trailer park to multimillion-dollar mansions. Fast-food chains and ethnic eateries dot the same suburban roads. Some neighbors said the suspects had seemed like good people. Others said they had given hints of trouble.

Hydee Rentas, 23, and Anna Gonzalez, 19, sisters having lunch at Cherry Hill Mall's food court, were having a hard time squaring allegations of terrorist intent with the Eljvir "Elvis" Duka and Shain Duka they had known and hung out with for years.

The women said the brothers had worked at a pizzeria that an uncle used to own in Pennsauken, near their home. The Dukas sent free pizzas and flirted with the local girls, but if other guys gave the girls a hard time, the brothers stuck up for them, the sisters said.

Gonzalez said she would like to talk to Elvis Duka.

"I'd say, 'Yo, dawg, what's up? What were you thinking?' "

A few tables away, Susan Jamrogowicz, 53, a legal secretary, was steamed. She lives in suspect Mohamad Shnewer's neighborhood.

"I am angry that they live here and they want to harm us," she said. "Go back to your own stinking country. Don't live here and reap all the benefits America gives you."

In another part of Cherry Hill, Tom Murakami, 85, a retired electrical engineer, was heading to his car after shopping at the Asian Food Markets on Route 70.

Of Japanese descent, Murakami was born in California. Two older brothers fought in the U.S. Army in World War II, one against the Japanese. Nevertheless, during the war, he and other relatives were the among the many law-abiding Japanese Americans and Japanese citizens forced to leave their homes and live in internment camps.

"They gave you two weeks to clear up your affairs. Most people couldn't do anything. They just gave their stuff away," said Murakami, a teenager at the time.

That innocent people were interned then and that terrorists may live freely and undetected now is an irony not lost on Murakami. Still, he said, he was never bitter.

He completed college and had a career. His five children are all professionals. Last week, he was taking his wife out for her 88th birthday.

"I couldn't ask for anything better," he said.

Of the secret dangers that may lurk, he said: "There isn't much you can do. If you see something, be aware."