Government Assessments

The purpose of this section is to collect assessments of the Jamaat ul-Fuqra/Muslims of America (JUF/MOA) organization by governmental bodies.

Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau (ATF)

In October 2017, ATF confirmed to Ryan Mauro of the Clarion Project in a letter that there is an “ongoing investigation” of MOA.[i]

[i] Mauro, Ryan. “Gov’t Confirms US Iihadi Cult Under Investigation.” (2017). Clarion Project. https://clarionproject.org/govt-confirms-u-s-jihadi-cult-investigation/

In 2001, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Special Agent Thomas P. Gallagher testified in court that “Individuals from the organization [Muslims of the Americas] are trained in Hancock, N.Y., and if they pass the training in Hancock, N.Y., are then sent to Pakistan for training in paramilitary and survivalist training by Mr. Gilani.”[1]

California State Government

The California Attorney General listed Fuqra as one of the international terrorist groups that continues to impact the state in 2008.[2]

Canada

A classified Canadian government report from 2006 says that Fuqra/MOA members “send regular donations in support of Fuqra jihad activities in Kashmir.”[3]

 

Colorado State Government

A 2001 memo from the Colorado Attorney General’s Office states:

“Colorado’s investigation indicated that the United States FUQRA movement was composed of approximately 30 different ‘Jamaats’ or communities, somewhat mobile in nature. Most of these ‘Jamaats’ are believed to currently exist today, along with what investigators deemed to be several stationary ‘covert paramilitary training compounds’…There are believed to be active UL FUQRA training compounds still existing in New York, Michigan, South Carolina, California, and perhaps other states.”[4]

An earlier undated Colorado Attorney General’s Office document addresses the question of whether Fuqra is a terrorist organization. It says that Fuqra’s activity fits the non-legal definition of “terrorism” of “the systematic use of terror, violence and intimidation to achieve an end.” However, “terrorism” was not a specific offense or defined in state or federal statutes.[5]

Department of Homeland Security

An internal DHS report in 2005 listed Fuqra/MOA as a possible sponsor of a future terrorist attack on U.S. soil and is among a handful of groups that “required continued monitoring.” It estimated its membership to be between 1,000 and 3,000 members and says it “continues to conceal its activities and prepare itself for a possible confrontation with U.S. authorities.”[6]

Drug Enforcement Administration

DEA documents obtained by Ryan Mauro of the Clarion Project from an investigation into MOA-linked narcotics trafficking in upstate New York state that cooperating agencies “believe that through a narcotics distribution network these individuals were generating funds and then taking these funds back to the compound” known as Islamberg in Hancock. Members in this area were making money transfers to the Fuqra leadership in Pakistan. This particular investigation was closed in January 2007.

Other DEA files from a 2005-2007 investigation into MOA drug trafficking in Virginia, which included search warrants on multiple MOA residencies, states:

MUSLIMS OF AMERICA is a domestic terrorist group suspected of using drug proceeds to finance terrorist activities in Southwest Asia.”

DEA files from a 2004-2005 investigation into MOA in Texas stated that it had no evidence that the branch in Texas was involved in illegal narcotics or terrorist activity but:

However, other cells within this organization have been documented by various local, state and federal law enforcement agencies as having involvement with illegal drug trafficking, firearms violations and ties to a radical Muslim cleric in Pakistan.”

“This organization was alleged to be involved in drug trafficking and funneling some of the proceeds to a Muslim cleric in Pakistan.”

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

FBI reports from an investigation into MOA in Alaska in 2009-2011 specifically refers to “the Muslims of the Americas terrorist organization.”

The first FBI document is dated November 27, 2009 and labels the Muslims of the Americas, Inc. as “armed and dangerous.” It begins by summarizing the group’s consistent history of extremism, terrorism and crime:

“Jamaat ul-Fuqra, aka Muslims of the Americas (MOA), have a history of violence and/or violent acts. Use extreme caution when dealing with confirmed members or individuals who are believed to be associated with this group”

The report says that Sheikh Gilani is “thought to be supportive of al-Qaeda.”

Another newly-released document from December 2010 explicitly refers to “the Muslims of the Americas [aka Fuqra] terrorist organization” and states:

“The MOA is composed primarily of black American Muslim converts, many who converted to Islam while in prison. Many MOA members reside in rural communities (jamaats) to live and worship free from non-Muslim influence.

The MOA jamaats are located on land that has been privately owned or rented by members. Each jamaat usually has numerous trailers where members reside, a mosque, and a guard post, some with armed guards, at the entrance to the properties. These communities, similar to commune type facilities, have women and children residing in them with the children being homeschooled.

Organized training is also conducted to include weapons training, tactics, hand-to-hand combat, rappelling, and live-fire exercises.”

One 2007 FBI report says MOA members have been involved in at least 10 murders, one disappearance, three firebombings, one attempted firebombing, two explosive bombings and one attempted bombing. The report also says:

“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. Members of the MOA are encouraged to travel to Pakistan to receive religious and military/terrorist training from Sheikh Gilani.”

“The MOA is now an autonomous organization which possesses an infrastructure capable of planning and mounting terrorist campaigns overseas and within the U.S.”

Another FBI report from 2003 says, “Investigation of the Muslims of the Americas is based on specific and articulate facts giving justification to believe they are engaged in international terrorism.”

MOA in New York was the subject of a FBI counter-terrorism investigation in 2003. The files obtained by Prof. Ryan Mauro of the Clarion Project show that the FBI believed that MOA was simply a rebranding of MOA. One file has the heading, “American Islamic Radicals.”

The reports point out, “Prior to assuming the name MOA, JUF has had a profound history of carrying out violent actions to include, arsons, bombings, shootings and assassinations.”

The reports warn that MOA serves as a conduit to foreign terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaeda and its affiliates in Pakistan. It states:

“The MOA is a loosely structured U.S. based organization. Several current members in New York have been convicted of criminal acts to include murder and fraud. Recruitment most often occurs in prisons or neighborhood mosques. Once recruited, some members are selected to receive training in firearms and explosives in Pakistan.

While overseas, some of these recruits are then handpicked by high-ranking terrorist operatives, like that of Al-Qaeda, and are sent to receive more specialized training. Upon completing of their training, many of these recruits are ultimately asked to pledge ‘beyat’ [allegiance]. If they do not receive beyat, they become what source information reveals as a ‘friend of Al-Qaeda’ who are called upon no matter where he is living around the world to assist Al-Qaeda.”

The FBI states that several businesses in the New York City area are “believed to be shell companies run by MOA members that are used to structure and launder money obtained from illegal activities. It is also believed that establishing these security firms maybe for the purpose of obtaining ‘legitimate’ weapons licenses.”

The FBI reports state:

“The MOA in New York is involved in continuous criminal activity to include money laundering and wire fraud. It is suspected that the MOA in New York have laundered and transferred money through 786 Security and transported these funds on their person through Canada to Pakistan.

It is believed that [redacted] and MOA members located at 786 Security have had direct contact with [redacted] and/or terrorist organizations in Pakistan who provide both moral and material assistance. JUF [Jamaat ul-Fuqra] members also appear to be somewhat of a U.S. based host network used as a point of contact for overseas terrorist cells. The links and/or associations are mostly seen through weapons training.”

“Based upon the criminal and terrorist acts committed by elements of the MOA in the past and the possibility that the MOA may provide terrorist organizations with American recruits who will help perform and/or finance terrorist acts within the U.S., [redacted] will attempt to further identify any possible domestic terrorism activities of [redacted] and his businesses.”

However, a May 2015 FBI report about an increasing threat to Muslims from anti-government militia extremists says, “Assertions MOA communities provide terrorist training are unfounded.”[7]

Statements like these usually rest upon the fact that MOA is not designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the State Department. The overall report massively downplays the group’s extremist ideology and criminal and terrorist activity, including the findings from the investigations into the Colorado branch that had a terrorist training camp in Buena Vista.

Naval Criminal Investigative Service

Ryan Mauro of the Clarion Project obtained documents from a 2003-2004 Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation into MOA that was closed “due to lack of substantive tasking and USN [U.S. Navy] assets involvement regarding the subject group.” The various reports state:

“All locations have individuals who are involved with criminal scams to raise money for MOA/JAF [Jamaat al-Fuqra]. The scams include, but are not limited to insurance fraud, mail fraud, credit card fraud, workman’s compensation fraud, illegal straw purchases of weapons, conversion of semi-automatic weapons to fully automatic, etc.”

“Members of these groups send money via mail orders to Hancock, NY and Lahore, Pakistan to fund [redacted] the spiritual leader and founder of JAF.”

MOA members from all compounds also travel to Pakistan for both religious education as well as military style training and operational experience fighting in the Kashmir region of Pakistan.”

“The MOA, Red House, VA group have also been instructed to purchase firearms and ordnance each month to continue to enhance the defenses of their compound. Reporting to BATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms] has noted that MOA, Red House, VA conducts squad type training in surrounding woods/swamps, and that they have made uncorroborated statements that they would fight any law enforcement encroachment on their compound by use of defensive force.”

New York Police Department

MOA’s New York network including its Islamberg headquarters were under NYPD investigation as of 2009.

A 2009 NYPD document shows that Fuqra/MOA was the subject of a Terrorism Enterprise Investigation (TEI #14/03) and one MOA member of concern was under surveillance as part of the Terrorism Enterprise Investigation into the Tablighi Jamaat movement.

A NYPD counter-terrorism document from 2006 lists MOA as a “Tier One Group” for intelligence-gathering and indicated it was penetrated by an informant but the Department did not have an undercover officer inside the group. [8] An October 2007 NYPD document shows that a surveillance camera was set up on a pole near 1291 Dean St. in Brooklyn for a case involving MOA.[9]

State Department

The State Department included Fuqra/MOA in its annual Patterns of Global Terrorism reports in the 1990s but did not designate it as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The State Department described Fuqra as an “Islamic sect that seeks to purify Islam through violence.”

The State Department said in 2002 it has not been included in any terrorism reports since 2000 because of its inactivity:

Jamaat ul-Fuqra has never been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. It was included in several recent annual terrorism reports under “other terrorist groups,” i.e., groups that had carried out acts of terrorism but that were not formally designated by the Secretary of State. However, because of the group’s inactivity during 2000, it was not included in the most recent terrorism report covering that calendar year.”[10]

The three criteria for being designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the State Department are:

“1. It must be a foreign organization.

  1. The organization must engage in terrorist activity… or terrorism…orretain the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism.
  2. The organization’s terrorist activity or terrorism must threaten the security of U.S. nationals orthe national security (national defense, foreign relations, orthe economic interests) of the United States.”[11]

Virginia State Police Fusion Center

A 2009 Virginia State Police Fusion Center report confirms that the MOA in Virginia has been involved in drug trafficking, fraud, surveillance and counter-surveillance, sale of counterfeited items and attempted government infiltration. MOA-owned businesses and charities are used to fundraise for Sheikh Gilani in Pakistan.

The report says that “intelligence gaps make it impossible to assess the level of criminal activity” of MOA in the state.[12]

The report said that the MOA in Virginia have held “paramilitary drills” that involve using firearms. However, the report rated MOA’s “attack capability” in the state as “low.” It states:

Current intelligence suggests the MOA attack capabilities have declined and members lack the training resources to mount a serious attack.”[13]

 


[1] Boland, Mira L. (2002). “Sheikh Gilani’s American Disciples.” Weekly Standard.

[2] “Organized Crime in California 2007-2008: Annual Report to the Legislature,” Office of Attorney General Edmund C. Brown, Jr.

[3] Sean Webby and Brandon Bailey. (2007). “The Mysterious Saga of Sister Khadijah.” Mercury News. http://api.viglink.com/api/click?format=go&jsonp=vglnk_147273385694614&key=a74b4412712f29a988486127c26fa9f9&libId=iskbhtuk01001kjr000DAbd3fw7d9&loc=http%3A%2F%2Fhindunet.org%2Fhvk%2Farticles%2F0207%2F100.html&v=1&exp=-100%3ACILITE%3A87&type=U&out=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mercurynews.com%2Fmld%2Fmercurynews%2F16677008.htm&ref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F&title=The%20mysterious%20saga%20of%20Sister%20Khadijah&txt=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mercurynews.com%2Fmld%2Fmercurynews%2F16677008.htm

[4] “Information Regarding Colorado’s Investigation and Prosecution of Members of Jamaat Ul Fuqra.” (2001). Colorado Attorney General’s Office. http://www.ago.state.co.us/Reports/fuqra.stm.

[5] “Is Fuqra a Terrorist Organization?” Colorado Attorney General’s Office.

[6] Lipton, Eric. (2005). “Homeland Report Says Threat from Terror-List Nations is Declining.” New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/31/politics/homeland-report-says-threat-from-terrorlist-nations-is-declining.html

[7] “Intelligence Bulletin: Militia Extremists Expand Target Sets to Include Muslims.” (2015). Federal Bureau of Investigation Counterterrorism Division.

[8] “NYPD Intelligence Division Strategic Posture 2006.” (2006). New York Police Department.

[9] “Pole Cameras 10-01-07.” (2007). New York Police Department.

[10] State Department Daily Press Briefing: Taken Questions, January 31, 2002. http://web.archive.org/web/20040211081938/http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2002/7738.htm

[11] “Foreign Terrorist Organizations. United States Department of State. http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/123085.htm

[12] “2009 Virginia Terrorism Threat Assessment,” Commonwealth of Virginia Department of State Police, Virginia Fusion Center, March 2009. Law enforcement sensitive.

[13] “2009 Virginia Terrorism Threat Assessment,” Commonwealth of Virginia Department of State Police, Virginia Fusion Center, March 2009. Law enforcement sensitive.

in Government Assessments