In The Belly of The Beast: Jamaat ul-Fuqra
Dr. Paul Williams, PhD
August 8, 2007
“Jamaat ul-Fuqra may be the best positioned group to launch an attack on the United States, or, more likely, help al-Qaeda to do so.” – Center for Policing Terrorism
“We are fighting to destroy the enemy. We are dealing with evil and its roots and its roots are America.” – Sheikh Mubarek Ali Gilani, Founder of Jamaat ul-Fuqra
Jamaat ul-Fuqra, a terrorist organization with headquarters in Pakistan, has established over 45 compounds in rural areas throughout America. The compounds are providing paramilitary training to new recruits for the great jihad against the USA under the not-so-watchful eye of federal law enforcement officials. Most of the recruits are African Americans who converted to Islam while doing hard time in federal prison.
These compounds, which contain firing ranges and obstacle courses, are located at such places as Hancock, New York; Hyattsville, Maryland; Falls Church, Virginia; York, South Carolina; Dover, Tennessee; Buena Vista, Colorado; Talihina, Oklahoma; Tulane Country, California; and Squaw Valley, California. Multiple compounds have been established on the rural outskirts of Macon, Georgia and Red House, Virginia. Several of these sites contain landing strips and elaborate networks of underground bunkers. The group has also set up basic training camps throughout Canada, including two near Toronto.
Under the name of “The Muslims of the Americas,” a so-called “charitable institution, ul-Fuqra maintains offices in Tallahassee, Florida; Binghamton, New York; Springfield, Massachusetts; Dover, Delaware; and Roanoke, Virginia.
A three-month investigation into the organization has uncovered the following:
▪ Jamaat ul-Fuqra has close ties to al-Qaeda. In December 1993, Sheikh Mubarek Ali Gilani, the founder of ul-Fuqra, was an honored guest at an international gathering of Islamic terrorists at the residence of Hassan al-Turabi in Khartoum. At the gathering, Sheikh Gilani and Osama bin Laden were caught on film chanting, “Down, down with the USA!” “Down, down with the CIA,” and “Death to the Jews.” The film now remains in the “Alec File” – the CIA dossier on bin Laden.
▪ Members of the group have been arrested for trafficking in firearms, including AK-47s.A recent report prepared by the Center for Policing Terrorism maintains that Jamaat ul-Fuqra “may be the best positioned group to launch an attack on the United States, or, more likely, help al-Qaeda to do so.”
▪ Since the time of its establishment at a radical mosque in Brooklyn, New York, Jamaat ul-Fuqra has been responsible for more terror attacks on America soil (30 and counting) than all the other terrorist groups combined. It has spawned and sponsored assassinations, kidnappings, mass murder, grand theft and fraud.
▪ Some noted associates of Jamaat ul-Fuqra include Richard Reid, the Shoe bomber and John Allen Muhammed, the Beltway sniper.
▪ Members of the group, including Clement Rodney Hampton-El took part in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Others, such as Zacarias Moussaowi and Melvin Lattimore, played key roles in the attacks of 9/11.
▪ Despite ul-Fuqra’s criminal history, Sheikh Gilani’s band of jihadi henchmen remains to be placed on the official US Terror Watch List; and the branches of Jamaat ul-Fuqra, including the Muslims of the Americas, continue to operate, flourish, and expand as legitimate nonprofit, tax-deductible charities without interference from the FBI, the IRS, and Homeland Security.
Welcome to Islamberg
The first ul-Fuqra compound was established at the foothills of the Catskill Mountains between the quaint little villages of Deposit and Hancock, New York in 1984.
The 70 acre complex, the NewsMax team of investigators discovered, is surrounded with “No trespassing” signs; the rocky terrain is infested with rattlesnakes; and the woods are home to black bears, coyotes, and a few bobcats.
The main road into the compound – dubbed Muslim Lane – unpaved and marred by deep crevices that have been created by torrential downpours.
A sentry post has been established at the base of the hill.
The sentry, at the time of this visit, is an African American dressed in Islamic garb – a skull cap, a prayer shawl, and a loose fitting shalwat kameez. He instructs us to turn around and leave. “Our community is not open to visitors,” he says.
Behind the sentry and across a small stream stand dozens of inhabitants of the compound – the men wearing skull caps and loose fitting tunics, the women in full burqa. They appear ready to deal with any unauthorized intruders.
The hillside is blighted by rusty trailers that appear to be without power or running water and a number of outhouses. The scent of raw sewage is in the air.
The place is even off limits to the local undertaker who says that he has delivered bodies to the complex but has never been granted entrance. “They come and take the bodies from my hearse. They won’t allow me to get past the sentry post. They say that they want to prepare the bodies for burial. But I never get the bodies back. I don’t know what’s going on there but I don’t think it’s legal.”
On the other side of the hill where few dare to go is a tiny village replete with a make-shift learning center (dubbed the “International Quranic Open University”); a trailer converted into a Laundromat; a small, green community center; a small and rather squalid grocery store; a newly constructed majid; over forty clapboard homes; and scores of additional trailers.
It is home to hundreds – all in Islamic attire, and all African-Americans. Most drive late model SUVs with license plates from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The locals say that some work as tollbooth operators for the New York State Thruway, while others are employed at a credit card processing center that maintains confidential financial records.
While buzzing with activity during the week, the place becomes a virtual hive on weekends. The guest includes arrivals from the inner cities of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and, occasionally, white-robed dignitaries in Ray-Bans from the Middle East.
The inhabitants of Islamberg keep a low profile, rarely visiting local places of business and having scant communication with the locals. They maintain that their settlement is a peaceful place to pray, to escape from the decadence and crime of the inner cities, and to celebrate their Muslim heritage.
On its website, Islamberg presents itself as a patriotic settlement that hosts sporting events, cultural activities, and ecumenical gatherings for the local townsfolk. Indeed, some townsfolk have glowing things to say about the Muslim enclave in the dark forest. John Giannone, a loyal physician, said that residents of Islamberg helped him clean up the debris from his house after a flash flood nearly wiped the small town of Deposit off the map. They even did the dishes, Giannone told Fox News. The doctor now fasts on Ramadan out of respect for his helpers.
But all is not what it seems in Islamberg. It is neither as benign as a Buddhist monastery nor as tranquil as a Carmelite convent. Nearly every weekend, neighbors hear sounds of gunfire. Some, including a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, have heard the bang of small explosives. None of the neighbors wished to be identified for fear of “retaliation.” “We don’t even dare to slow down when we drive by,” one resident said. “They own the mountain and they know it and there is nothing we can do about it but move, and we can’t even do that. Who wants to buy a property near that?”
Venturing into the eastern perimeter of the compound, the investigators came upon ropes hanging from tall trees, wooden fences for scaling, a make-shift obstacle course, and a firing range. The range, which remains in regular use, contains abandoned vehicles that have been riddled with bullet holes.
The investigators also came upon a system of tunnels leading to underground bunkers.
The complex serves to scare the bejeezus out of the local residents. “If you go there, you better wear body armor,” a customer at the Circle E Diner in Hancock said. “They have armed guards and if they shoot you, nobody will find your body.”
At Cousins, a watering hole in nearby Deposit, a barfly, who didn’t wish to be identified, said: “The place is dangerous. You can hear gunfire up there. I can’t understand why the FBI won’t shut it down.”
The FBI can’t shut it down because it remains listed as a religious community and, since war has not been officially declared by Congress, the War Powers Act and the Smith Act, which would permit such intrusion, are not in effect. What’s more, the special agents of the Bureau are now compelled to undergo sensitivity training sessions so that they will not offend practitioners of Islam – even radical Islam – in the course of a criminal investigation.
Several years ago, federal and state law enforcement officials finally did descend upon the remote compound but they made the visit neither to make arrests nor to investigate the reports of gunfire and explosions. They rather traveled to the compound to partake of halal hotdogs and Pepsi Cola at a communal picnic and to greet Islamberg’s newly elected mayor.
The International Quranic
Islamberg is also the campus of “The International Quranic Open University” – a facility that consists of a small, ranch-style mobile home along Muslim Lane.
At the university, students receive training from manuals penned by Sheikh Gilani and learn that their “foremost duty” is to “wage jihad” against “their enemies.” The students are also treated to Gilani’s poetic tirades against Western civilization and his jihad jingles, such as this marching song:
“Come join my troops and
army,” Says our Sheikh Gilani .
“Prepare to sacrifice your head.
“A true believer is never dead.
“Say 'Victory is in the air,’ The kafir's blood will not be spared."
In “Pillar of Lies,” the standard text at the school, Gilani writes that the 9/11 attack was an elaborate plot hatched by Zionists to launch the US invasion of Muslim lands.
In a recruitment video for The International Open Islamic University, Gilani boosts: “We give [students] specialized training in guerilla warfare. We are at present establishing training camps. You can easily reach us at Open Quranic offices in upstate New York or in Canada or in South Carolina or in Pakistan.”
Before becoming a student at the university or a citizen of Islamberg, recruits and students are compelled to sign an oath that read: “I shall always hear and obey, and whenever given the command, I shall readily fight for Allah’s sake.” They are also obliged to contribute 70% of their welfare checks and other sources of income to Muslims of the Americas, Inc.
Following the basic training at the compounds and their reception of a degree, the best and the brightest of the students continue to be shipped off to Pakistan for advance training in terrorist tactics.
The Compound at Red House,
The ul-Fuqra compounds in southern Virginia, including one near Red House, appear to be deserted trailer parks. Unlike Islamberg, no sentries stand guard and no watchmen are visible in the observation tower.
“Everyone is gone,” an old woman in a black burqa says. “The place is deserted.”
But appearances are deceptive.
Within a matter of hours, dozens of African American men – all in Islamic garb, replete with skull-caps – emerge from a small shed that has been attached to the home of the imam. It is reminiscent of a scene from a Marx Brothers movie in which scores of people tumble out of a closet.
Other Muslims materialize from the dense forests.
Within seconds, the investigators are surrounded by hundreds of ul-Fuqra members and several are deeply agitated by the appearance of kafirs within the settlement.
“What are you doing here?” one asks.
“Who told you to come here?” another inquires.
“Are you the police?”
“Why are you taking pictures of our community?”
Jamal Mickels, a member of the investigative team who was born and raised in Syria, produces a card from a radical imam he had met the day before at the radical Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church. A tall man with an orange conical hat inspects the card, smiles, and shakes his head with approval. It serves as a jihadi version of a “get-of-a-jail free” card – a pass that permits the team to leave the place without the loss of limb and or a prolonged stay in the underground facility.
As at Islamberg, local residents complain of the incessant sounds of gunfire on weekends and the arrival of hordes of visitors from Pakistan and the Middle East. But the settlement has attracted little attention from law enforcement officials.
Radical Islam has found southern Virginia so hospitable that Jamaat ul-Fuqra has set up settlements and paramilitary facilities at numerous sites between Red House and Roanoke.
Flying Over the Georgia
By flying over the ul-Fuqra compound in Commerce, George, investigators noted the residents were engaged in the construction of a massive new underground bunker near a large fortress with a watch tower. When Congressman Peter Hoestra, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, was informed of this development, he expressed surprise that members of the compound were undertaking this construction without a building permit.
The Raid on
the Colorado Compound
In 1989, federal law enforcement officials conducted a raid on the 101 acre ul-Fuqra compound in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They recovered a multitude of handguns with obliterated serial numbers and silencers, semi-automatic weapons, thirty to forty pounds of explosives, three large pipe bombs, improvised explosive devices, shape charges, blank birth certificates, counterfeit Social Security cards, sets of Colorado drivers’ licenses with identical photos and different names, and manuals entitled “Guerilla Warfare” and “Counter-Guerilla Operations.” In addition, they came upon several silhouettes for target practice, including one with the words “FBI Anti-terrorism team” written on the target’s torso bulls-eye. In the course of a subsequent raid on the complex, the feds uncovered a weapons cache of military rifles that included American M-16s and M-14s and Soviet AK-47s.
The FBI now knew without doubt that a militant organization of thousands of African American Islamists were conducting paramilitary training on American soil, but, strange to say, no measures in the halcyon days before 9/11 have been undertaken to ban the group or to shut down the compounds. And so, ul-Fuqra continues to expand on American soil at an unabated rate – one recently popped up in Ailville, Georgia.
The federal officials failed to make note in their official report that the Buena Vista compound had been deeply mined and contained vast underground bunkers that were interconnected by a series of tunnels. The compound is now deserted; the property has been returned to its original owner; but the underground facilities remain virtually intact for all to see.
Contributing to this piece were Michael Travis, Hugh Cort, Bill Krayer, Jamal Mickels, Doug Hagmann and Jeffrey Epstein
Paul Williams is the author of "The Al Qaeda Connection" and forthcoming "The Day of Islam".