Sankore Institute – Jawala Scouts

Sankore Institute / Jawala Scouts

Jamaat ul-Fuqra / Muslims of America (MOA) members have had relationships with a radical African Sufi organization known as the Sankore Institute (SIIASI) and its affiliated with an Islamic youth group named Jawala Scouts.

Sankore is led by an Islamist cleric from Sudan. The Pennsylvania-based organization is also home to the Light of the Age Mosque that it officially set up in 2004. It is also known as Masjid Nur ‘az-Zamaan.[1] The FBI raided its offices in 2007.

Although members of the two organizations have been friendly since the 1980s, 2015 SIIASI research paper directly criticized Sheikh Gilani and MOA.

Sankore Institute

According to its website, SIIASI was founded in Sudan in December 1985 by the current Sultan of Maiurno (Uthman Dan Fodio), the group’s current sheikh (Imam Muhammad al-Amin) and its current founding director, Sheikh Muhammad Shareef. It is focused on translating works from the Sokoto Caliphate.[2]

SIIASI states that it has established classes in Houston, TX; Atlanta, GA and Compton, Los Angeles and Oakland, CA.

The membership consists largely of prison converts and former gang members from out of state.[3] It says it has a “curriculum” that is being taught to about 400 Muslim inmates in two correctional facilities in California.[4] Shareef says he was a Muslim chaplain in at least four state and federal penitentiaries in the U.S.[5]

Another prominent member of SIASSI/Light of the Age Masjid is Hamza Perez, a member of a hip-hop duo called “Mujahideen Team.” He was an Islamic teacher in a jail with a security clearance until anti-American statements he made in 2003 came to light. He now says he was immature and believes that jihad is an internal spiritual struggle against sin.[6]

However, his rap group’s song, “Welcome Home,” refers to Muslim inmates as “soldiers that were locked.” Other song titles include “Amerikkkan me,” “Gun Fire Sound” and “Day of Retribution.”[7]

The SIIASI website links to various radical websites, including the the Muslim Alliance in North America,[8] Mexica Movement and, notably, Imam Jamil Al-Amin, also known as H. Rap Brown.[9] The imam is ferociously anti-American, militant in his rhetoric and is imprisoned for murdering a police officer.[10] It says he is innocent of wrongdoing and the FBI and NSA are “fascist.”[11]

SIIASI’s website includes extremist content and its founding director, Sheikh Shareef, posts radical comments on the group’s website.


SIIASI’s Links to MOA

Research has shown that relationships exist between known members of MOA and the Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International (SIIASI). Both have links to Sudan, whose government is designated by the U.S. State Department as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.

MOA-affiliated sources say that the group is friendly with SIIASI and is similar ideologically. However, these sources say some distance exists because of MOA’s cultish devotion to Sheikh Gilani and some of MOA’s differences with SIIASI’s “radical black nationalism.” One source described SIIASI’s membership as very hostile to white people, although it accepts white converts to Islam.

Convicted Fuqra/MOA terrorist James Upshur, who belonged to the Colorado branch that was raided in 1992, belonged to a group named the Jawala Scout Hunting Club in Philadelphia.

MOA-affiliated sources say that the Sankore-linked Jawala Scouts are separate from MOA and MOA’s own Muslim Boy Scouts subdivision, but that Jawala Scouts welcomes hardline Islamists including MOA members in its activities. These sources describe the Jawala Scouts as having extremist teaching in line with Sankore’s ideology and physical exercises that include military-style training of boys and young men.

The MOA-affiliated sources include ones who have relatives who were simultaneously members of MOA and the Jawala Scouts in Philadelphia and Brooklyn. The sources said the Jawala Scouts were very “military-centered” with boys being required to wear combat boots, simulating combat with wooden rifles and learning martial arts, accompanied with an anti-Western education that includes teaching about jihad.

The sources say that many boys from MOA families that do not live in or near MOA’s “Islamic villages” will join the Jawala Scouts as an alternative.

Like MOA, SIIASI follows the Qadri Order in Sufism. However, its section with links to other Qadri Islamic Associations does not include a link to any MOA website.[12]

A SIIASI book published in 2015 criticizes Sheikh Gilani and his supporters. It states that the solution for problems in the African-American Muslim community must come from within and not foreigners, including “Pakistani ‘sufi’ Shayks recruiting African-Americans on behalf of the CIA to fight in Afghanistan or to sell heroin in the U.S. (as some kind of perverted twist on obligation of jihad).”[13]

It accuses Sheikh Gilani and his supporters of acting as “sectarians” from U.S.-allied countries who came to America to undermine the Dar ul-Islam movement. When Dar ul-Islam split, one faction including SIIASI followed Imam Jamil Al-Amin (also known as H. Rap Brown) who formed a militant movement known as “Umma.” The book says Al-Amin’s movement is now led by Amir Asim of Masjid Mujahideen in Philadelphia.

Shareef writes in the book that he visited the MOA compound in California known as “Baladullah” before it was abandoned in 2002. He recalls:

“When I met some of them at their ‘town’ east of Fresno, California, I saw drug addiction among some of the elders and their youngest teenagers roaming around aimlessly. There was no school that I could see and most of the living quarters lacked basic amenities.

 The last news I received regarding some of the California Fuqara is that they had been ordered by their spiritual or scholarly authorities in Pakistan to sell heroin on the streets of the U.S. as some kind of twisted take on jihad. The logic behind their arguments fell to pieces when it became clear that the local police confined their drug activity to the Black Belt, and their market was their own people—the very people who needed the invitation of Islam and to answer the call of Allah.

 The fact that these African-American Muslim families could not see that those in Pakistan to whom they owed allegiance did not have their or their people’s best interest at heart, is astounding to me.”[14]

The book accuses Sheikh Gilani and Imam Yahya, then-leader of Dar ul-Islam of contributing to a U.S. government plot to divide the African-American Muslim community. It says Gilani destroyed Dar ul-Islam “to meet the needs of the U.S. State Department in Pakistan and Afghanistan” in combating the Soviet Union.


Jihad

The SIIASI website has writings emphasizing the importance of violent jihad and admonishes moderate Muslims who it believes have failed to adequately stand up to the governments it accuses of waging war on Islam.

“The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace foretold that the truthful would be considered liars and liars would be considered the defenders of truth; and the trust of Islam will be given to wrathful youth who will be the cause of the affliction of Muhammad’s Ummah…. The Shehu once said that his jihaad will not cease until it reaches the Mahdi.”[15]

The group says Muslims must be committed to destroying Western governments and ask Allah for divine help towards that end:

“ [In] the west where we ask Allah ta`ala to destroy the infrastructure, the institutions, and systems which are used to oppress Muslims, while at the same time, allowing the Muslims who are caught within the grip of their oppression to suffer no harm and to prosper as the disbelievers implode and collapse around them.”[16]

 “In this context what the oppressed Muslim and the oppressed people wish for is the complete removal of the cause of their oppression. this can only happen with a complete eradication of the infrastructure, intelligence, economies and social structure of those who oppress…. Also by asking for Allah ta`ala to break up their social harmony and bring about discord in every element of their political, domestic, social and economic life. All of this falls under the lawfulness of the supplication of the oppressed against their oppressors. The names of individuals should be mentioned, along with the names of corporations, banks, think tanks and institutions that allow the oppressors to implement their oppression.”[17]

 SIIASI is especially vitriolic towards moderate Muslims that do not accept such interpretations of their faith:

“Since 9-11 the Muslims in the western hemisphere have been bombarded with swave and eloquent lectures by the ulama’s-suu (the venile scholars) about how they should not pray against those governments, institutions and agencies that do not love the honor of Islam. These ‘plantation preachers’ have sold their religion for a small price and have distorted the religion of Islam in order to garner favor with those who hate Islam and its people.”[18]

“It is abhorrent in these days to see Muslims in the US gathering in masaajid and reciting a ‘prayer of the oppressed’ and they do not pray against those who oppress them. The ”imams’ who are responsible for such gatherings are no different from the ‘plantation preachers’ who had oppressed enslaved Africans praying for their slave masters and all those who spitefully abused them.”[19]

“Rather than gathering Muslims and non Muslims in ‘churches’ in order to sing ‘songs’ called ‘the supplication of the oppressed’, which does nothing more than anethematize and opiate oppressed people; these ‘imams’ should be gathering Muslims and none Muslims alike and reciting supplications which are so decisive and detailed in the call for destruction against those who do not love the honor of Islam; that it increases the Muslims in faith and causes islam to enter the hearts of those who do not yet believe.”[20]

 In 2010, the SIIASI website condemned “the pseudo-religion redefined by the pacifist “imams” who deny the obligation of jihad and who have deluded their followers into the fruitless activity of supporting democratic constitutional government.”[21]

Multiple photos from the SIIASI website showed members holding large swords and one picture had a member with a rifle.[22] When Shareef was asked in 2005 why the FBI thinks members of his congregation are dangerous, he replied:

Yes, every one of these brothers are dangerous. But f you leave them alone, you will find men who will protect you, protect their wives, protect their children and look out for their community.”[23]


Leader: Use Constitution As a Weapon & Wage ‘Litigation Jihad’

Shareef indicates that he first became aware that he was under FBI scrutiny in 1997. He says he left the U.S. in 1999 out of fear that he was being “set up” for prosecution, as he alleges was done to the “Blind Sheikh” responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. While away, he says he decided to use the Constitution against the U.S. government, comparing it to the humiliation of defeating a martial artist using his own weapon.

Shareef writes:

I returned to the US in 2000 and positioned myself a close to the US constitution as humanly possible, so that when my enemies attacked they would end up striking at the very base of their own constitutional principles. This strategy served two functions: [1] it demonstrated that historically the enemies of our people in the US never believed in, or abided by the US constitution; and that the constitution was developed to always check and control those who challenged the status quo; and it was not applicable to those the status quo defined as ‘other’;

 [2] in their bloodlust (as the past 4 centuries clearly prove), they would blindly strike down and tear away the very foundations which they have always lorded over the world as their crowning achievement and which gave them their ‘exceptionalism’.

 As a result they would bring about their own undoing by violating the very principles that they have ‘worshipped’ since 1776.[24]

He boasts that he subsequently thwarted three attempts by the FBI to infiltrate SIIASI with “agent provocateurs” and mocks the FBI for having “telegraphed its punches and exhibited a clear pattern that even a child could foresee what was coming.”

He acknowledges that the FBI raided SIIASI in 2006 after he suspended his official role in the group and while he was in China. He brags that the FBI failed to find evidence to shut down his group with, but complains that the raid “resulted in many leaving the jama’at and scattering.[25]

Shareef claims that “the traditional allies of the U.S. government (the far-right extremists, conservatives and Zionists) teamed up in order to create a false narrative where there was none” about SIIASI and the campaign originates from Israel. He then accuses Joe Kaufman and Beila Rabinowitz of FrontPage Magazine, Dr. Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum, Ryan Mauro of the Clarion Project and anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller of distributing the Israeli disinformation and vows to sue them for “every dime they own.”[26]

The organization has also called upon Muslims to wage a “litigation jihad” to free Muslim “political prisoners” from the American criminal justice system, where courts “constitute the front line of defense of Islam.”

A long-term objective of these class action lawsuits would be to make an “internationally recognized SOCIAL CONTRACT between the United States and its Muslim national minorities; which is consistent with the shari’a, but does not challenge the sovereignty of the United States.”[27]


2006 Raid

Shareef moved the Light of the Age mosque shortly after members said in 2005 they had been interviewed by the FBI and he refused to disclose the new location. He claimed that he believed the questioning was aimed at him but that the move and secrecy had nothing to do with evading law enforcement. Some people said the move was due to a rift within the leadership.[28]

He told the reporter in 2005 that he and SIASSI would not cooperate with law enforcement and compared the Patriot Act to slavery and the Jim Crow laws. He said Muslims should stop being “afraid” and fight against such counter-terrorism laws.

In 2006, the FBI raided the site and arrested Larry M. Williams, also known as Hasan Ali, a convicted felon that had been attending the mosque for about three years.[29]

He was found in Utah with parts for a pistol and associated ammunition and a magazine for an assault rifle, which were confiscated. He was accidentally not apprehended at the time. Later, an arrest warrant was issued for him. He subsequently was arrested outside the Light of the Age Masjid. FBI agents then searched the mosque for four hours and questioned six members for two hours.[30]

SIIASI and its allies condemned the FBI for unfairly targeting Muslims and African-Americans and “desecrating” the mosque.[31]


Condemnations of Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram

SIIASI condemns some terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) and Boko Haram, but the condemnation is based on their targeting of other Muslims. The organization also teaches that they are false flags of Western governments, thereby accusing the U.S. of perpetrating any atrocity committed by ISIS, etc.

 In the mean time, the evil of this age has spit forth a scion of fanatics claiming to be Muslim puritans who have slaughtered more Muslims in this age than any of the ravaging forces of the west. Daesh, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram have committed so much death and mayhem among Muslims that any intelligent person can only conclude that these muharibeen are under the employ of the same disbelievers that they denounce.”[32]

Shareef urges readers to read an article claiming that “candidly exposed the U.S.’s bombing campaigns against Daesh [ISIS] are a hoax.[33]


Support for Saddam Hussein

He says that Islamic prophecies are being fulfilled by the “tail spin of social, political and economic decline” of the U.S. that he says began with the Gulf War against the Saddam Hussein regime of Iraq.

Shareef points to Islamic verses saying that Baghdad will be a “great city” and “tyrannical governments of the world will gather there in order to collect its treasures.” These forces will then “sink into the earth vanishing faster than a huge rock sinks in quicksand.” He continues:

“From 1990 until the present we have witnessed the complete collapse of the so called American hegemony over the world. The US, the UK, the EU, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and all those nations which had a hand in the invasion and continued insecurity of the city of Baghdad have become ‘ruined’ and is sinking ‘into the earth faster than a huge rock sinks in quicksand.’[34]

MOA and the Sudanese regime also condemned the Gulf War and supported Saddam Hussein.


Jawala Scouts

SIASSI incorporated a branch of the Jawala Scouts in Philadelphia in 2005[35], though MOA-affiliated sources say that the Jawala Scouts has been around in Pennsylvania and New York since the 1980s. Photos of the Jawala Scouts show boys as young as seven years old dressed in military fatigue and learning combat techniques and playing paintball.[36]

The Jawala Scouts are linked to other Islamic leaders and groups, including Kenny Gamble (now known as Luqman Abdul Haqq), the Muslim Alliance in North America, the United Muslim Movement and the Philadelphia branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).[37]

The Muslim Alliance in North Americas is led by a radical imam in Brooklyn named Siraj Wahhaj.[38] CAIR has been identified by the U.S. Justice Department as part of the Muslim Brotherhood and designated as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the largest terrorism-financing trial in U.S. history. It also has a history of radicalism and links to the Hamas terrorist group.[39]


[1] About Us. (2016). Light of the Age. http://www.lightoftheage.org/about.php

[2] SIIASI’s History. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/about-2/

[3] Mock, Brentin. (2005). Lost in Translation. Pittsburgh City Paper. http://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/lost-in-translation/Content?oid=1337681

[4] SIIASI’s History. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/about-2/

[5] Incarcerated Muslims. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/muslim-inmates/

[6] New Muslim Cool documentary, http://www.newmuslimcool.com/film

[7] “M-Team Song Lyrics,” New Muslim Cool page on PBS website,http://www.pbs.org/pov/pdf/newmuslimcool/nmc_lp_handout.pdf

[8] Mauro, Ryan. (2013). Muslim Alliance in North America. Clarion Project. http://www.clarionproject.org/analysis/muslim-alliance-north-america

[9] Confederation. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/confederation/

[10] Pipes, Daniel. (2001). The Curious Case of Jamil Al-Amin. American Spectator. http://www.danielpipes.org/97/the-curious-case-of-jamil-al-amin

[11] The International Qaadiriyya Association. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/confederation/the-qadiriyya-brotherhood/

[12] The International Qaadiriyya Association. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/confederation/the-qadiriyya-brotherhood/

[13] The Decisive Solution: A Research Paper Submitted by Shaykh Muhammad Shareef bin Farid. (2015). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies: The Palace of the Sultan of Maiurno. http://siiasi.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/the_decisive_solution-updated.pdf

[14] The Decisive Solution: A Research Paper Submitted by Shaykh Muhammad Shareef bin Farid. (2015). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies: The Palace of the Sultan of Maiurno. http://siiasi.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/the_decisive_solution-updated.pdf

[15] Escatology. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/escatology/

[16] The International Qaadiriyya Association. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/confederation/the-qadiriyya-brotherhood/

[17] The International Qaadiriyya Association. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/confederation/the-qadiriyya-brotherhood/

[18] The International Qaadiriyya Association. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/confederation/the-qadiriyya-brotherhood/

[19] The International Qaadiriyya Association. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/confederation/the-qadiriyya-brotherhood/

[20] The International Qaadiriyya Association. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/confederation/the-qadiriyya-brotherhood/

[21] Mauro, Ryan. (2013). Muslim Group Calls for ‘Litigation Jihad.’ Clarion Project. http://www.clarionproject.org/analysis/muslim-group-calls-litigation-jihad

[22] Sankore Institute. (2010). Americans Against Hate. http://www.americansagainsthate.org/Sankore_Institute.html

[23] Mock, Brentin. (2005). Lost in Translation. Pittsburgh City Paper. http://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/lost-in-translation/Content?oid=1337681

[24] Incarcerated Muslims. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/muslim-inmates/

[25] Incarcerated Muslims. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/muslim-inmates/

[26] Incarcerated Muslims. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/muslim-inmates/

[27] Incarcerated Muslims. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/muslim-inmates/

[28] Mock, Brentin. (2005). Lost in Translation. Pittsburgh City Paper. http://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/lost-in-translation/Content?oid=1337681

[29] Ove, Torsten and Moustafa Ayad. “Muslims Upset Over North Side FBI Raid,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 7, 2006. http://www.post-gazette.com/neighborhoods-city/2006/07/07/Muslims-upset-over-North-Side-FBI-raid/stories/200607070120

[30] Ove, Torsten and Moustafa Ayad. “Muslims Upset Over North Side FBI Raid,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 7, 2006. http://www.post-gazette.com/neighborhoods-city/2006/07/07/Muslims-upset-over-North-Side-FBI-raid/stories/200607070120

[31] Dyer, Ervin. “Mosque Members Denounce FBI Raid as Desecration,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 8, 2006. http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/mosque-members-denounce-fbi-raid-as-desecration-441219/

[32] Escatology. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/escatology/

[33] Confederation. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/confederation/

[34] The International Qaadiriyya Association. (2016). Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International. http://siiasi.org/confederation/the-qadiriyya-brotherhood/

[35] Mock, Brentin. (2005). Lost in Translation. Pittsburgh City Paper. http://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/lost-in-translation/Content?oid=1337681

[36] Jawala Scouts. (2010). Americans Against Hate. http://www.americansagainsthate.org/Jawala_Scouts.html

[37] Joe Kaufman and Beila Rabinowitz. (2010). Philadelphia’s Islamist Boy Scouts. FrontPage Magazine. http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/65463/philadelphias-islamist-boy-scouts-joe-kaufman

[38] Mauro, Ryan. (2013). Muslim Alliance in North America. Clarion Project. http://www.clarionproject.org/analysis/muslim-alliance-north-america

[39] Mauro, Ryan. (2013). Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)—National Headquarters. Clarion Project. http://www.clarionproject.org/analysis/council-islamic-relations-cair

in Links to Other Islamist Groups