Sign Our Petition to Designate American Jihadi Cult

Fuqra leader Pakistani Sheikh Gilani

A new petition has been launched by Clarion Project, parent to Fuqra Files, and Martin Mawyer of Christian Action Network that calls on the Trump Administration to review the Jamaat ul-Fuqra jihadi cult for possible designation as a foreign terrorist organization or international criminal network.

Jamaat ul-Fuqra, which is led by a radical cleric in Pakistan but operates in North America under the name of Muslims of America (MOA), is known for claiming to have 22 “Islamic villages” in the U.S., such as its Islamberg headquarters. It also has headquarters in Canada, Trinidad, Venezuela, Pakistan and other countries.

The petition already has almost 13,000 signatures and can be signed by clicking here.

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It specifically asks Secretary of State Pompeo to consider adding Fuqra to the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations after reviewing the research of Clarion Project’s Ryan Mauro and Martin Mawyer. Much of that research can be found at Clarion’s comprehensive website about the Islamist cult at FuqraFiles.com.Mauro and Mawyer are also asking the Treasury Department to accept a briefing and to review Fuqra for possible designation as a transnational criminal organization or Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Approximately a dozen Muslim organizations in North America have joined the call for a review of Fuqra for possible designation.

Ties to Hizbul Mujahideen and Possibly Others

The case for designation is stronger now that the State Department finally designated Hizbul Mujahideen in August, a group with which MOA expresses solidarity. Sheikh Gilani and his group have long ties to the organization.

Gilani and his group have sometimes acted as an extension of Hizbul Mujahideen. In fact, Gilani was Hizbul Mujahideen’s representative at a massive summit of jihadists in Sudan in 1991, according to the detailed research of J. Millard Burr. Other terrorists in attendance included Ayman al-Zawahiri, the current chief of al-Qaeda; Imad Mughniyah of Hezbollah and Khaled Mashaal of Hamas.

Gilani also attended a summit in 1993, as shown here, and was seen with Pakistani intelligence figures.  These summits brought together virtually every Islamist extremist group and government from around the world to discuss cooperation across ideological boundaries.

Gilani is a cousin of a more prominent cleric in Pakistan and Kashmir with a nearly identical name, Syed Ali Shah Geelani (the last name has multiple spellings). Geelani is one of the top spiritual leaders for jihadists in Kashmir and is accused of supporting terrorist groups including Hizbul Mujahideen.

Former MOA members claim that Gilani’s relatives, including his Pakistani son named Shafaat, are known to meet with Syed Geelani.

Sheikh Gilani and Fuqra have always cultivated ties to other Islamist extremist groups, despite major ideological differences.

In the 1990s, Gilani emphasized his network could have the most impact by playing a supporting role for the broader jihadist cause. He even created a secret videotape offering to facilitate “Islamic guerilla warfare” training for aspiring jihadists who don’t share MOA’s beliefs.

This raises the question of where Sheikh Gilani and Fuqra’s money, including the revenue raised under the name of MOA and other titles in North America, is going.

Where is the Money Going?

This knife was one of the many weapons found in the Fuqra compound in Colorado (Photo Credit: Video Screenshot)

Gilani’s history of support for jihadist causes is especially concerning the many complaints from former and current MOA members about how the group has absolutely no transparency about how its money is spent in North America, how much is sent to Gilani in Pakistan and Kashmir, and how Gilani distributes it overseas.

Indeed, when MOA launched a frivolous lawsuit against Martin Mawyer to try to silence him from exposing the group, it refused to hand over practically any documents. MOA tried to hide all it could, even claiming there was no paper trail for anything—that it didn’t even know who was on Islamberg’s town council or who was paying its bills.

MOA-associated sources say that official members are required to pay a 10% tithe, while others have talked of paying 30%, and most of it is in cash. These sources say the revenue from tithing is just a drop in the bucket—it doesn’t include revenue from MOA front businesses, alleged criminal activity or fundraisers. The total revenue, these sources believe, amounts to millions per year.

The group has been caught sending revenue from criminal activity to Gilani throughout its history.

Safehouses in Colorado and Pennsylvania were raided in 1992 and a handful of its leaders were prosecuted for engaging in various kinds of complex fraud schemes. In 2001, MOA was found to be running a massive charter school scam in California that earned the group over $1.3 million of taxpayer money.

Declassified documents indicate that such schemes are continuing, but they can be very difficult to investigate and prosecute (especially when Fuqra is not designated). Files from a DEA investigation in New York from 2005-2007 stated:

“through a narcotics distribution network these individuals were generating fuds and then taking these funds back to the [Islamberg] compound” and these members were making money transfers to Pakistan.

Little is known how Gilani spends the money, aside from vague assurances that it is going to poor people in Pakistan and Kashmir and to help those suffering from “oppression” at the hands of the enemies of Islam, namely India and a broader “Satanic-Zionist conspiracy.” Some sources recall hearing Gilani saying the money goes to “mujahideen” in Kashmir. A portion of the funds are delivered in cash form by MOA members going to Pakistan as newspaper “correspondents,” humanitarian workers, students, teachers and businesspeople, these sources explain.

Meanwhile, MOA’s “Islamic villages” suffer in poverty with families crammed into trailers, scraping together every penny possible to make ends meet. Promised improvements to private properties often never arrive, even as MOA’s top leaders get home improvements and Sheikh Gilani and his family live in luxury overseas.

The U.S. and Canadian governments believe the evidence of Fuqra serving as a conduit to other jihadist groups to be strong enough to warrant significant concern, but it is much more difficult to act on those concerns because Fuqra is not listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

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A review of declassified U.S. and Canadian government assessments shows significant concern about the flow of money and personnel from MOA to Sheikh Gilani’s circle in Pakistan and Kashmir. First-hand testimony, and even Gilani’s own words, indicates that Fuqra is a component of a multilayered jihadist network backed by Pakistani intelligence.

 “Muslims of America is a domestic terrorist group suspected of using drug proceeds to finance terrorist activities in Southwest Asia,” states a DEA report from a 2005-2007 investigation into the group’s narcotics trafficking in Virginia.

A 2003 FBI report from an investigation into MOA’s activity in New York warned that MOA and its network of front businesses is part of a broader network linked to other terrorist organizations in Pakistan, including affiliates of al-Qaeda.

The Domestic Threat

Fuqra was once known as the deadliest, most violent Islamist group on American soil. In 1992, its terrorist training camp in Colorado was raided. And then the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which involved at least one person associated with Fuqra, resulted in a spotlight on the group.

The group prefers to avoid headlines, never taking credit for its attacks and always taking measures to have them attributed to others. Sheikh Gilani faced the possibility of his North American network being dismantled. He had to choose between accepting that risk and continuing acts of terrorism on American soil or scaling back and working pragmatically for the cause.

It is believed that Fuqra’s direct orchestration of terrorist attacks inside North America were suspended at this point, but the leadership, infrastructure and cultish, apocalyptic jihadist ideology remained.

Declassified documents point out MOA’s history of paramilitary training (including more advanced instruction in Pakistan and Kashmir), secrecy, use of security companies to acquire expertise and ongoing talk of confronting a global Zionist conspiracy that puppeteers the U.S. government, law enforcement, military and media.

“The MOA [Fuqra] is composed primarily of black American Muslim converts who converted to Islam while in prison. Many MOA members reside in rural communities (jamaats) to live and worship free from non-Muslim influence…Organized training is also conducted to include weapons training, tactics, hand-to-hand combat, rappelling, and live-fire exercises” a 2010 FBI report states.

 Several members have been arrested for illegal gun trafficking and MOA-affiliated sources say the group continues to acquire and sell guns. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms confirmed in October 2017 that its investigation into MOA is ongoing.

The intelligence reports warn of the consequences if Sheikh Gilani’s apocalyptic cult were to be activated, as its ideology teaches they one day will.

“The MOA is now an autonomous organization which possesses an infrastructure capable of planning and mounting terrorist campaigns overseas and within the U.S,” warns an FBI file from an investigation into MOA in Texas from 2003 to 2007.

MOA believes Gilani’s successor will be the “7th Sultan” and will team up with the Mahdi and Jesus for a final apocalyptic jihad against the perceived enemies of Islam. The members’ belief in receiving instructions through dreams and visions raises the risk of Waco-type confrontations at the 22 “Islamic villages” MOA claims to have in the U.S. alone; a figure that doesn’t include the many MOA supporters who live outside of the camps.

The devotion of Gilani’s followers is not to be underestimated.

Khalid Khawaja, a known operative of Pakistani intelligence with extensive terror ties, was a close associate of Osama bin Laden. Khawaja was also Gilani’s right-hand man.

 “I am telling you, Osama [Bin Laden] doesn’t have many people in America. I am telling you, I am sure of one thing, Osama does not have even one of his followers as committed as Sheikh Mubarak Gilani. Osama does not have even one as committed as the least of his people,” he said.

And he warned of the Catch-22 if the U.S. were to pressure Gilani too much:

“If you push him to that stage, that he has no option but to declare jihad on America…it will blow like a volcano,” Khawaja said.

The Standards for Designation

The State Department lists three criteria for Foreign Terrorist Organization designation:

  1. It must be a foreign organization. Jamaat ul-Fuqra and its components overseas meet this qualification because they are led by a radical cleric in Pakistan and Kashmir. Gilani’s sons are in Canada and the U.S. now, leading each country’s respective MOA wing. Another top leader, Barry Adams, has been living in Trinidad and Venezuela since he was deported from Canada after serving his time for spearheading a bomb plot to kill thousands of people in Toronto in 1991.
  2. The organization must engage in terrorist activity… or terrorism…or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorismThe standard for designation is not carrying out acts of terrorism on U.S. soil, but as declassified FBI documents show, Fuqra does retain the capability and its ideology is rooted in an advocacy of violent jihad and solidarity with designated terrorist groups. In addition, there is strong reason to suspect Fuqra is engaging in terrorist activity by acting as a conduit for terrorist groups that Gilani finds common ground with, such as Hizbul Mujahideen.
  3. The organization’s terrorist activity or terrorism must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security (national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the United States.” This standard is also clearly met. In addition, a strong case can be made that Jamaat ul-Fuqra and its leadership qualify for designation as a transnational criminal organization or Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Why Do We Need Designation?

The legal ramifications of designation would include prohibiting material support to Fuqra, barring non-citizen representatives of Fuqra from entering the U.S. and freezing the group’s assets. The measure would make it easier for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute the group.

In addition, it would pressure Pakistan and any other governments that have supported or hosted the group and encourage international cooperation regarding its activities.

The ideological damage from designating Fuqra as a Foreign Terrorist Organization would be so severe that the cult may come to an end. It would encourage defections from members who realize the truth about the group to which they belong.

Preparations should be made to care for those who leave the cult and need to rebuild their lives.

Former and current members have told us of members who fear leaving the group for multiple reasons. The fear is not rooted only in a concern for retaliation.

The bigger fear is from the daunting task of having to start over, possibly all alone. They fear being cut off from all their family members and friends, having to move and find new jobs; a task made especially difficult for those with criminal records. Several former members have expressed concern for children who have been banned from public school and were instead educated within MOA.

Designation of Fuqra by the State Department and/or Treasury Department would enhance national security and help those who have been victimized by Gilani and his Fuqra jihadi cult—including its own members.

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Ryan Mauro

Professor Ryan Mauro is the National Security Analyst for the Clarion Project, a nonprofit organization that educates the public about the threat of Islamic extremism and provides a platform for voices of moderation and tolerance within the Muslim community. Clarion Project films have been seen by over 50 million people. Mauro is a frequent contributor to Clarion’s dynamic website ClarionProject.org, providing insightful analysis of the latest news around the global on this subject. The site is viewed by over 250,000 visitors per month.