Groups fly under radar as Congress seems unconcerned
Last week’s brazen attack by a “home-grown” terrorist cell in France that targeted the staff of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has drawn renewed interest in potential cells operating inside the United States.
And there are many.
The FBI is aware of at least 22 paramilitary Islamic communes in the U.S., operated by the shadowy Pakistan-based group Jamaat al-Fuqra and its main U.S. front group, Muslims of America Inc.
With U.S. headquarters in Islamberg, New York, the group headed by Pakistani cleric Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani operates communes in mostly remote areas of California, Georgia, South Carolina, New York, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, Michigan, Tennessee and other states.
The FBI describes the MOA compound in Texas, called Mahmoudberg, as an enclave and “communal living site.” Located in Brazoria County along County Road 3 near Sweeny, Texas, it was discovered a couple of years ago by the FBI through a tip from an informant in New York.
The Texas commune, in a heavily wooded area, is estimated by a local resident to encompass about 25 acres. It dates back to the late 1980s, the resident said, which is confirmed by the FBI documents previously reported on by WND.
Gilani’s group operates a slick website in which a female narrator in one promo video waxes beautifully about how the group has rescued many young Americans from a life a crime, drugs and poverty. The group claims to focus on a ministry to “indigenous American Muslims.” One would never guess from the video that the group trains young men and women in the use of small arms and military tactics.
Most of the recruits living at these communes are African-Americans who converted to Islam while doing hard time in state or federal prisons, Geller says. They have operated “under the not-so-watchful eye” of the FBI since the early 1980s, she says, but few Americans are aware of their existence all these years later.
“Probably they haven’t been raided because Jamaat al-Fuqra is not listed as a terrorist group by the U.S. government and because there is a great reluctance among government and law enforcement agencies across the board, no matter who is president, to appear to be anti-Muslim,” Geller told WND. “These compounds say they’re peaceful Muslim communities, and the government wants to give the impression that such things can exist in the U.S. without any trouble.”
Indeed, MOA has operated freely under the watch of every president since Ronald Reagan. The group’s leader, Gilani, moved to America from Pakistan in 1979 and has been developing his network of communes ever since. He was once investigated by the Pakistani government for possible involvement in the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Some reports say he has as many as 35 affiliated compounds throughout the U.S., although only about 22 of the sites have been verified.
There have been run-ins with the law involving murder and financial scheming back in the 1990s.
In 1991, after a MOA bomb plot in Toronto was foiled, a federal search warrant for three suspects was issued and a nearly 45-acre compound about 70 miles south of Dallas was raided. The location of the compound corresponds to a reference in an FBI document obtained by the Clarion Project that says about seven MOA members purchased property near Corsicana, Texas.
Federal officials found four mobile homes; three military, general-purpose tents; and six vehicles. Also discovered were loose ammunition, books on counter-terrorism techniques and weaponry and various items with “Jamaat Fuqra Land” written on them.
Another compound in Buena Vista, Colorado, was raided and shut down by state authorities in 1992. But there have been no raids on any of the encampments since the 1990s.
A 2007 FBI record states that members of the group have been involved in at least 10 murders, one disappearance, three firebombings, one attempted firebombing, two explosive bombings and one attempted bombing.
“The documented propensity for violence by this organization supports the belief the leadership of the MOA extols membership to pursue a policy of jihad or holy war against individuals or groups it considers enemies of Islam, which includes the U.S. Government,” the document states. “Members of the MOA are encouraged to travel to Pakistan to receive religious and military/terrorist training from Sheikh Gilani.”
The document also says Muslims of America is now “an autonomous organization which possesses an infrastructure capable of planning and mounting terrorist campaigns overseas and within the U.S.”
Robert Spencer, author of the JihadWatch blog and several books about radical Islam, says the communes operate much like Europe’s “no-go zones,” which are Islamic enclaves where adherents live under Shariah law and are off limits to non-Muslims. Police also tend to avoid the enclaves.
“Yes, there are similarities. They’re both very hostile to outsiders and have a history of hostility to law enforcement, and there has been evidence that police are hesitant to go into these communes just as they are in Europe,” Spencer told WND.
They are different in that they operate mostly in remote rural areas of the U.S., unlike the urban no-go zones in Europe’s major cities.
Written by LEO HOHMANN
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