24. The Fallout

In 2011, Abdelaziz was granted asylum, arguing that he’d be imprisoned and possibly tortured or killed if he was deported back to Egypt. He was here to stay, so long as he didn’t commit any more crimes that could reopen deportation proceedings.

Martin Mawyer broke the story in 2011 and released a book about MOA, including much of what Abdelaziz told him, in 2012.

MOA was outraged and publicly confirmed that he was a member of their group. They released a video decrying their victimization at the hands of the U.S. government. It said that Abdelaziz lacked credibility and was lying just to get money from the NYPD. 

Crimes attributed to MOA, they argued, were in fact committed by Abdelaziz and his associates. He, like the U.S. government and researchers exposing MOA, was part of a Satanic-Zionist conspiracy against Islam that sought to damage MOA and Gilani.

One source was told by MOA officials that someone from the NYPD apologized to MOA for the infiltration. Supposedly, the NYPD said they understood that MOA is not a threat and that it wanted to start a new relationship on good terms. The MOA officials who talked to the source said they believed they were no longer on New York law enforcement’s radar.

Several sources said that MOA felt emboldened by the outreach from law enforcement and friendly media coverage. In addition, Sheikh Gilani had made the bizarre claim that President Obama is a direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad and, therefore, a relative of Gilani’s. MOA believed that the situation was turning in their favor, and against MOA’s critics.

In private, MOA talked about killing Abdelaziz.

To a small circle of confidantes, MOA leaders in Islamberg said that a fatwa “came down.” They understood what that meant: Sheikh Gilani had authorized his assassination. 

Such a fatwa is not unprecedented. When MOA’s terrorist training camp in Colorado was searched in 1992 and key leaders like James D. Williams were prosecuted, Sheikh Gilani put out a fatwa authorizing the assassinations of several of the investigators involved. A bounty of $50,000 was offered. 

MOA-linked sources described to us a specific plot to kill Susan Fenger, one of the Colorado state investigators, by attacking her in the court bathroom. Fenger had to change her identity and appearance and go into hiding.

Sources say that the rumor-mill within MOA became filled with “wild” stories as the leaders needed to discredit him. Members were barred from reading about his testimony or other material negative towards MOA.

One common rumor was that he was gay and had gone back to Egypt to live with his husband. Sources say these kinds of tales spread whenever someone leaves the group so that they be demonized as sinners who left Islam or were never really Muslims to begin with.

Some people within MOA were reassured that the leaders had already discovered that he was an informant and had minimized his access. Others heard he was a double-agent who had told MOA that he was working for the NYPD.

MOA members also turned their ire towards Martin Mawyer and Ryan Mauro, national security analyst for the Clarion Project and creator of the Fuqra Files website about the group.

Abdelaziz had warned Mawyer that MOA could hurt him and he was a considered their top enemy. Other MOA associates later confirmed this and remembered  more substantive discussions about hurting him.

Two independent sources within MOA confirmed talk of violent retaliation against Mauro in 201. Shortly after, an apparent MOA supporter set up two Twitter accounts impersonating Mauro that sent out bigoted tweets and messages referring to his parents and his possible assassination. After reporting it to the authorities, one tweet mocked him over the fact that the FBI wasn’t doing anything about it.

Mauro and Mawyer then wrote an article that challenged Sheikh Gilani to issue an official statement permanently forbidding his followers from harming them. He never responded.

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.