New Jersey

 

The earliest report of Sheikh Gilani in New Jersey places him at an Islamic Center in Jersey City in 1978. Later that year, Gilani established a mosque in Jersey City and preached in Trenton in 1981.

Fuqra/MOA also had a mosque in Atlantic City until around 2012.

A MOA video released in 2010 showed a map of states where it had “Islamic villages” at that time. New Jersey was listed.

Arrival in Jersey City

MOA says that Gilani first arrived in the U.S. because of groups asking him to speak about his expertise in Quranic Psychiatry. A book published by his group complains that he and some of his followers were followed by local police and secret service in N.J.[1]

Sheikh Gilani spoke at a mosque referred to as the Islamic Center in Jersey City in 1978.[2] The strongest match is the Islamic Center of Jersey City that was incorporated in 1975. The mosque has a history of radical leadership and links to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.[3]

One member, Mohammad Salamah, was later convicted for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The mosque’s Hamas-linked director from 1978 to 1990, Mohammad Al-Hanooti, was not charged but was listed as a “possible unindicted co-conspirator.”[4] Clement Hampton-El, a reported member of Fuqra/MOA, was also convicted. MOA claims that he denied being affiliated with any member of MOA or the Quranic Open University.[5]

Sheikh Gilani and Fuqra/MOA were strongly supportive of the “Blind Sheikh” convicted of masterminding the bombing.[6] A 1994 book by MOA denied any connection to the bombing but did not deny that one or more conspirators attended Gilani’s Jersey City mosque. It claimed that Muslims were framed for the bombing by a Zionist conspiracy.[7]

An early follower, Faqeer Jamil Abdul Rahman Sarwari Qadree, also describes meeting at the home of one of Gilani’s cousins in Aberdeen in February 1980. Sheikh Gilani established a “zavia” in Jersey City in/around December 1980.[8] Gilani’s preaching of Sufi Islam was attractive to listeners because of its message against the ongoing crime and street violence. Supporters began secretly pledging allegiance to Gilani.[9]

On January 2, 1982, a Fuqra/MOA member named Frank Connor, also known as Sadiq Abdullah, got into a shootout with police in Jersey City and injured one police officer. Connor was later arrested in 1988 for arson in North Carolina.[10]

Sheikh Gilani formed the International Jihad Council in 1982 and began trying to recruit Americans to fight in Afghanistan and potentially other battlefields. The Council had a N.J. branch and its second conference was held in Jersey City in mid-January 1982.

Atlantic City Mosque

Fuqra/MOA also had a mosque in Dawa Center in Atlantic City until around 2012. Sheikh Gilani claims that members in Atlantic City who committed crimes like unemployment fraud and involvement with drugs and brothels were part of a Wahhabist/Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy to tarnish MOA.[11]

Other Activity

Gilani had a group of early followers from Trenton. He visited the city at least once in 1981. A poem by someone from the city appeared in the MOA newspaper and talked about their “hijrah” to California. It said that the participants had severed ties to their parents because “we love Allah and we love our sheikh.”

There was also militant activity in Trenton. Convicted Fuqra/MOA terrorist Edward Flinton said that a “pseudo-military” instructor going by the name of “Doorsman” for the group held classes in the city.

The MOA branch in N.J. tried to develop positive relationships with other Islamic organizations in the state early on. A 1990 letter to President Bush states that the Quranic Open University, a MOA component, belongs to the Federation of Islamic Organizations in New Jersey.

The administrator of the N.J. “jamaat” in the early 1990s went by the name of Naib Abu Muhammad and lived in Jersey City. His contact information was found in the wallet of convicted Fuqra/MOA terrorist James D. Williams from the Colorado branch.

Captured applications for Shiekh Gilani’s newly-formed “Soldiers of Allah” force showed multiple members lived in Atlantic City and Camden.[12]


[1] 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.

[2] Robert Dannin and Jolie Stahl. (2005). Black Pilgrimage to Islam. Oxford University Press.

[3] Mauro, Ryan. (2013). “Islamic Center of Jersey City.” Clarion Project. http://www.clarionproject.org/analysis/islamic-center-jersey-city

[4] “Islamic Center of Jersey City.” Investigative Project on Terrorism. http://www.investigativeproject.org/mosques/404/islamic-center-of-jersey-city

[5] 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.

[6] For more information on the Fuqra/MOA links to the “Blind Sheikh,” see the section of this website about the group’s links to other Islamist organizations.

[7] 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.

[8] Jilani, Mubarak Ali. (1981). Futuhat-i-Muhammadiyah. Quranic Research Institute of Pakistan: Lahore.

[9] Robert Dannin and Jolie Stahl. (2005). Black Pilgrimage to Islam. Oxford University Press.

[10] 1988 FBI report.

[11] “Sufi Leader El Sheikh Gilani: America Beware of Ikhwan Al-Muslimeen.” (2013). Islamic Post. https://www.islamicpostonline.com/opinion/2013/01/29/sufi_leader_el_sheikh_gilani_america_beware_ikhwan_al_muslimeen-421/

[12] For more information about the “Soldiers of Allah,” see the section of this website about MOA guerilla/jihad training.

in Activities By State