Colorado

Fuqra/MOA firebombed a Hare Krishna temple in Denver on August 1, 1984.[1] There was suspicion that Fuqra/MOA was involved in a fire that was sparked at a Leetsdale power station on February 1, 1985.[2]

The FBI determined that small Fuqra “communities,” or “jamaats,” were in Englewood and Colorado Spring by 1988.[3] A storage locker used by Fuqra/MOA members was raided in 1989 by the Colorado Springs Police Department, leading to the discovery of weapons and plans for terrorist attacks.

A 101-acre MOA terrorist training camp in Buena Vista, along with two MOA safehouses in Colorado Springs and two in Williamsport, Pennsylvania were raided on October 8, 1992, by state and local law enforcement in an initiative titled Operation Mountain Storm. Seven members were prosecuted as a result. A final search of the Buena Vista compound happened on June 13, 1994, known as Operation Storm Drain.

The Colorado Fuqra branch was directly established by Sheikh Gilani. He and his wife, going by the name of Cynthia Ruben Shaw, were seen in Colorado in August 1983. He tried to buy the land for what would become the Buena Vista training camp in 1985. He had a PO Box in Bailey in the 1980s.[4] The Buena Vista land was later bought by James D. Williams, the leader of the Colorado branch.[5]

In 1991, Colorado investigators had identified 24 suspected Fuqra members in the state and 662 nationwide. An investigative note described Fuqra as “the most significant terrorist group” in the U.S. at the time.[6] In 1993, after the 1992 raids, the FBI was warning personnel to “consider Fuqra members armed and dangerous” and to interview them with “extreme caution.”[7]

Blind Sheikh Rahman

The branch was also likely linked to the Omar Abdel-Rahman, better known as the “Blind Sheikh” involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the follow-up planned “Day of Terror” bombings in New York City in 1995. They had a poster of the “Blind Sheikh,” who Sheikh Gilani preached in favor of. The group’s cultish devotion to Gilani makes the possession of the item particularly significant. Fuqra terror cell member James Upshur’s defense attorney fought successfully to not have the poster entered into evidence during his trial.

The group’s meticulous preparations and secrecy stymied the FBI to the point that two investigations into Fuqra in Colorado were closed before 1984 because of a lack of investigative leads.[8]

In 1985, a 17-year old and 14-year old from New York were arrested in Colorado after they made a down payment on 34 acres of land and planned to start constructing a cabin for a base in Park County. The boys were part of a group called “The Special Forces” that robbed cocaine dealers and was led by an individual in Brooklyn. The pair had amassed a weapons arsenal valued at $15,000.[9] The article was included in a file for the Fuqra investigation that was obtained by Fuqra Files.

Fuqra bomber Steven Paul Paster was arrested in Englewood, Colorado in 1985 for his involvement in the bombing of a Hindu-owned hotel in Portland, Oregon. A faulty explosive resulted in Paster losing several of his fingers and severely damaging his eyesight.

His home was searched and police found his wife and several adults and children living there. Firearms and explosive ingredients were found, along with materials for paramilitary training and weaponry and Fuqra texts. Residents were uncooperative and very evasive during questioning.

The Englewood Police Department said they were only first made aware of Fuqra on June 15, 1985. A file from that time states that “very little intelligence information is known about the Fuqra.”[10]

Paster pled guilty and was released in early 1990. The investigation “produced very little additional information which gave any leads to the group’s activities in Colorado or their future plans.”[11]

On March 31, 1986, Sheikh Gilani issued Directive 00786 to his “oppressed Muslims of the United States.” It says that the image of Islam and Muslims has been tarnished by “self-styled pseudo-revolutionaries and ambitious leaders with ‘pimp-like’ mentalities.”

He says that if they are unemployed they may, “with detestation, receiving government funds” but to try to generate independent revenue as soon as possible because it creates reliance and reduces dignity and self-respect.

Gilani also says not to get assistance through lying like denying knowledge of the father of the children. He condemns the “evils of reliance on unearned welfare funds” by any member of “this jamaat of muslimeen.” He says that the “naib,” or the regional Fuqra leader, will decide all matters related to welfare.

Law enforcement personnel involved in the investigations and prosecutions are confident that Sheikh Gilani knew about the criminal activity and received money from it. This widely-distributed letter is likely an attempt to have plausible deniability and to limit knowledge of Gilani’s role to only those officials who he had personal contact with.

The Colorado-based Fuqra members tried to infiltrate law enforcement. Nelson Wanamaker applied for the Colorado Springs Police Department but failed the test. (See court records on this page)


“One of the (federal) investigators recalled carrying a three-year-old boy down a steep mountain to a trailer that was being used to contain the occupants of the (Islamic) compound during the search. As the investigator was putting the child down, a resident woman warned the child, ‘Don’t look at them; they’re the devil!’  Although the child had shown no fear or discomfort around the investigator up to that point, he and the other children quickly responded by moving away from the investigator and looking at him with distrust. The investigator noted that all of the children in the compound were home-schooled and received early training to prepare them for terrorist activity in later years.  The current whereabouts of these children, now young adults, is unknown.”

Footnote: John Kane and April Wall, White Collar Crime Report (outlining Fuqra’s white collar business crimes and noting that less than $20,000 of the stolen funds have been accounted for).


1989 Astrozon Storage Locker Raid

Police raided a storage locker in Astrozon in the fall of 1989 that was used by Fuqra/MOA members. The authorities found thousands of pages of Fuqra material, including texts bearing the Sheikh Gilani; thousands of blank birth certificates from several southern states; plans for terrorist attacks including surveillance photos and 40 pounds of assembled and partially-assembled explosives, from simple pipe bombs to more advanced ones designed to be detonated by a pager.

The locker was rented by James D. Williams of Colorado Springs, the leader of the Colorado branch of Fuqra who was using an alias. Evidence obtained from the locker showed that Fuqra was responsible for a firebombing of a Hare Krishna temple in Denver on August 1, 1984.

The authorities found a targeting package for a Hare Krishna temple in Los Angeles, California and detailed plans for murdering Imam Rashad Khalifa in Tucson, Arizona. The police warned him about the find and he said he had never heard of the Fuqra organization before. He was killed two weeks later in the manner described in the plans.

Newspaper articles about a “mysterious blackout” in Redding, northern California in 1984 and an “unusual event” triggering a shutdown of the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant in Ohio were found. Neither incident was attributed to foul play. There were notes taken on a 1978 blackout written in 1984 and how government personnel responded to the situation, as well as a diagram of a transformer, indicating that the members were researching how to tamper with power stations.

Evidence was also found indicating that members were engaged in a complex worker’s compensation and money laundering scheme. The evidence was used as the basis for raids three years later.

Between 1984 and 1992, five Fuqra members alone were charged with fraudulently collecting $355,000 in worker’s compensation fraud that was used to maintain Fuqra operations. A portion was transferred to Lahore, Pakistan. Evidence existed that indicated other schemes were perpetrated by persons unable to be named in indictments and that the actual total figure was likely much higher.


1992 Raid

On October 8, 1992, Operation Mountain Storm was launched and the authorities raided the Buena Vista terrorist training camp, two MOA safehouses in Colorado Springs and two safehouses in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

WMAstrozon Storage Lckr-Trout Crk Prop Pics2_Page_17
Concealed underground cave where Fuqra maintained weapons and ammo

Law enforcement personnel found 30 guns hidden in a concealed cave at the Buena Vista site, as well as 9,000 rounds of Chinese-manufactured ammunition. None of the weapons were illegal.[12]

Applications for “Jamaat Al-Fuqra Membership” were found, as well as accounting documents to track the required payment of 10% or 15% of members’ income were found.

part-weapons-cache-fuqraSeized documents revealed the secretive paramilitary nature of the group. A document titled “Ingos,” shorthand for “Incognitos,” outlined the rules one was to follow when working undercover. A large number of texts about military operations were also found.

Also found were 48 membership applications for Fuqra members seeking to join the elite paramilitary “Soldiers of Allah” force. The applications listed the members’ weaponry and skill sets that could be used for jihad. A secret video produced by Sheikh Gilani announced the formation of this international force to support jihads against perceived enemies of Islam. The tape also said viewers could contact MOA offices to sign up for guerilla training courses in Pakistan and Kashmir.[13]

The investigation established a solid connection between Sheikh Gilani and the Colorado Fuqra’s illegal activity. The revenue from the workman’s compensation fraud and money laundering schemes made its way to Pakistan through New York. The funneled money ended up in a dozen different banks in Pakistan.[14]

The residents of the camp were in the process of constructing an international communications system that included a satellite dish. A long-range radio with frequencies set for Lahore, Pakistan was found, which is the home base of Sheikh Gilani.[15]

The authorities found photographs and videos showing Shiekh Gilani visiting the various Fuqra compounds across the country. Fuqra texts and books by Sheikh Gilani were also taken. All of the material showed complete devotion to the radical cleric.

“Everything in the U.S. Fuqra compounds occurred not only with the knowledge of Gilani, but at this direction, as well. I was able to chart just how the chain of command occurred,” says Susan Fenger, the chief investigator at the time for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.[16]

When asked if Gilani is a terrorist, she replied, “I have no doubt whatsoever. In fact, I have concrete evidence that he is.[17]

Fenger was subsequently told by the FBI that Sheikh Gilani had issued a $50,000 hit on her and would refer to her as “that FBI woman.”

“I couldn’t believe how kind the police officers were to us… everything we had been told about ‘American cops’ seemed to be false.” – Quote from child that was on the premises during the Colorado Camp raid, where police found weapons scattered throughout residential homes that had children living in them.


Prosecutions

Five members of Fuqra’s Colorado branch were indicted on September 4, 1992. Another two were later added. The members were James D. Williams, Vincent Rafael Pierre, James L. Upshur, Edward Ivan McGhee, Chris Childs, Edward Flinton and Curtis Baylor.

J D WilliamsJames D. Williams was the leader of the Colorado Fuqra.  He was President of Professional Security International (PSI), a Fuqra front organization used for obtaining weapons and transferring money. Williams spent a significant amount of time with Sheikh Gilani in Pakistan, including a four-month stay in 1986. A certificate was found showing that Williams went to a computer college in Lahore, Pakistan in 1989.

He is seen in captured videos with the cleric, including the aforementioned “Soldiers of Allah” tape. Williams is also in a video that shows Gilani driving from Tennessee to Washington, D.C.  Williams did not show up for sentencing and was later arrested in 2000 near the Red House, Virginia compound where he lived. Sources indicate that he spent years hiding in a MOA safehouse in Chicago before moving to Virginia.

Vincent Rafael Pierre temporarily separated himself from Fuqra after his arrest.[18] He and his wife were again arrested in 2001 for engaging in straw purchases of firearms. Evidence introduced during the trial indicated they were part of a larger weapons trafficking scheme. Like James D. Williams, they lived at the compound at Red House, Virginia.

Edward Flinton was later arrested in 1996 near the “Islamville” compound in York County, South Carolina.

K Green

Chris Childs (aka Kenneth Green aka Chris Johnson) escaped the Buena Vista compound during the raid and was never found. As of 2001, he was believed to be hiding in upstate New York in or near the “Islamberg” headquarters. However, MOA-affiliated source says that he escaped to Pakistan in the mid-1990s using the identification and social security number of an elder.


Life Inside the Colorado Fuqra

Captured letters show that members, particularly those that lived at the Buena Vista terrorist training camp, lived in severe poverty and had polygamous relationships. In-fighting and general discontent was common and there were accusations of abuse. Members were physically disciplined with lashings in accordance with their understanding of Islamic Sharia Law.

A note dated July 9, 1992, complains to a Fuqra member about his taking out of his frustrations on the children and whipping them too much.

A Fuqra question-and-answer document says the community adopts “the system of Islam and that is for anyone who follows it and against anyone who violates it. No exceptions.” It references an Islamic verse about the severing of hands as a punishment under Sharia Law. However, an issue of the group’s newspaper says that such brutal punishments, known as the hudud punishments, cannot be applied in the United States.

A letter from 1990 says that a girl named Sura is upset about a young boy sexually touching her at night. It says that she won’t tell mother because she fears being yelled at and that her father will hit her. The abused girl is said to fear lashings if she says anything.

Other letters from 1992 show strict rules for the trailers and handling of food. One woman is in a state of distress and regret and asks for more food. One letter complains about rotten vegetables and people wasting salt when they cook.

A letter written on September 3, 1992, tells residents to protect each other from “harm of the tongue.” It states, “the unbelievers are protectors of one another: unless you do this (protect each other), there would be…oppression on earth and great mischief. America is the house that has been built on a sandy foundation and in one or two years it is going to fall, we have been told this.”

One letter to Sheikh Gilani mentions members of Fuqra wanting to expel “Walt” from the community and put him on trial, presumably in the organization’s Sharia Court. The author of the letter says that he, “Walt” and “Jim” (probably James D. Williams) worked together but “the treatment from the kafirs irritated me,” using a derogatory term for non-Muslims.

The author warns Gilani that he must address small issues that “can destroy us instantly if we are not helped by you.”

Another letter to Gilani from one of the female members complains about her husband’s mental and physical abuse. She complains that he treats his new wife better than her and that her marriage has become torn since moving to Colorado from Pennsylvania.

A woman named Amatullah was expelled in 1985. A document with “rules for everyone” tells members that men and women mustn’t aid each other’s evils. All recipients are required to sign the document. It says, “We are aware that she mentioned this to the women and the women were responsible to take some action and to stop this evil plot of Shaitan [Satan], which is to bring about separation.”

Seized accounting documents show that members of the Colorado Fuqra were required to pay 10% of all their income to the organization; an amount that was later increased to 15%.[19] However, one sheet from August-September 1985, shows about 60 members paying a 50% of their income, ranging from $30 to $458.

One woman requested $100 to take the state board test for a Licensed Practical Nurse license. She says she would like to begin working and pay the 10% tax for the jamaat.

A pledge to the Fuqra organization stated that the signatory would hand over the welfare funds he/she and their families receives. At least three-fourths of food stamps would be collected by the leadership and used for a common kitchen. There was a 10% tax on all earnings from employment. The pledge said that members receiving governmental assistance had to strive to eventually stop receiving welfare and food stamps and earn money through employment.

Around 30 Fuqra members lived at the Buena Vista camp. Neighbors described the residents and their children as polite and nice, although the adults were loners. The children appeared happy and were seen playing outside. Buena Vista police officers said that they had no reason to be concerned about the site; a sentiment often conveyed by local law enforcement personnel near Fuqra compounds today.

Internal documents were later found from the compound instructing members to be friendly to the neighbors and to have children play outside in order to appear normal.


Fuqra/MOA Response to the Raids and Prosecutions

Sheikh Gilani and the organizational leadership deny responsibility for the crimes committed by the Colorado branch of Fuqra.  MOA published a book in 1994 claiming that the law enforcement actions and negative media coverage were part of a “malicious conspiracy of the Zionists against the world of Islam.”[20]

The book claims that the police detonated stun bombs when raiding the Buena Vista “village” and caused permanent damage to the children and their mothers. The authors contradict themselves later in the book by saying that concussion bombs terrified the children but caused no injuries.

It accuses the police of blowing up the mosque and throwing and insulting religious books including the Quran. It says only three mothers and 20 children were present in the “very small” 101-acre village. It complains that the police intentionally made the village uninhabitable.

It claims that the U.S. government lied when it said weapons caches were found and that men were present during the raid. It then admits that firearms were found, but that they were legal and necessary because of cross-burnings that took place on the property. We found no evidence of these alleged cross-burnings in our research.

MOA says none of its members have been involved in terrorism, including the convicted members of the Colorado compound. It points to the fact that they were prosecuted for crimes like fraud and not specifically for terrorist acts, but it is common for suspected terrorists to be prosecuted for the illegal acts they committed in furtherance of a terrorist objective.

The book concedes that a “few” members got into an unemployment fraud scheme out of financial necessity and it was against the orders of Sheikh Gilani and the leadership.

The “Zionist media” is blamed for orchestrating the depiction of its “peaceful villages” as terrorist cells and condemns negative reporting about the Islamberg headquarters. It also condemns reports describing their Muslim Boy Scouts events as terrorist training. Law enforcement and MOA-affiliated sources say that paramilitary/guerilla training happens at these events to this day.


Colorado Fuqra/MOA Today

Open-source research and confidential sources indicate that MOA continues to have a presence in Colorado.


FOOTNOTES, CITATIONS, AND REFERENCES

All Information derived to make this article can be found in the footnotes below as well as the articles attached to this webpage containing thousands of government records, pictures, evidence and additional documentation.


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wmfenger-full-report-trial-preparation-guide

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Footnotes and Citations

[1] Memorandum: Overview of the Fuqra Investigation. (1994). Colorado Office of the Attorney General. Memo from Assistant Attorney General Douglas S. Wamsley to Attorney General Gale A. Norton.

[2] Al-Fuqra: Holy Warriors of Terrorism.” (1993). Anti-Defamation League: http://archive.adl.org/extremism/moa/al-fuqra.pdf

[3] 1988 FBI report.

[4] Colorado State Police intelligence report. (1990).

[5] 1993 report from the FBI’s Denver field office.

[6] A 1991 investigative note authored by Colorado investigators.

[7] 1993 Denver Report, supra note 5.

[8] Memorandum: Overview of the Fuqra Investigation. (1994). Colorado Office of the Attorney General. Memo from Assistant Attorney General Douglas S. Wamsley to Attorney General Gale A. Norton.

[9] “Confiscated Arsenal Linked to Anti-Drug Ring.” (1985).

[10] Englewood Police Department file.

[11] Memorandum: Overview of the Fuqra Investigation. (1994). Colorado Office of the Attorney General. Memo from Assistant Attorney General Douglas S. Wamsley to Attorney General Gale A. Norton.

[12] Memorandum: Overview of the Fuqra Investigation. (1994). Colorado Office of the Attorney General. Memo from Assistant Attorney General Douglas S. Wamsley to Attorney General Gale A. Norton.

[13] More information about the “Soldiers of Allah” tape can be found in the section of this website about guerilla/paramilitary training.

[14] Wilson, John. (2007). The General and Jihad. Pentagon Press.

[15] Interview with Colorado Department of Labor and Enforcement investigator Susan Fenger, who played an instrumental role in building the case against Fuqra. The interview can be read in the section of this website containing first-hand testimony.

[16] Interview with Colorado Department of Labor and Enforcement investigator Susan Fenger, who played an instrumental role in building the case against Fuqra. The interview can be read in the section of this website containing first-hand testimony.

[17] Pierucci, Patti. (2013). Muslim Terrorist Group Files $30 Million Lawsuit Against Christian Action Network. Christian Action Network. http://www.christianaction.org/news/muslim-terrorist-group-files-30-million-lawsuit-against-christian-action-network

[18] 1993 report from the FBI’s Denver field office.

[19] Interview with Colorado Department of Labor and Enforcement investigator Susan Fenger, who played an instrumental role in building the case against Fuqra. The interview can be read in the section of this website containing first-hand testimony.

[20] Target Islam: Exposing the Malicious Conspiracy of the Zionists Against the World of Islam and Prominent Muslim Leaders. (1994). Quranic Open University and Pakistan Foundation for Strategic Studies.


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