Written by Ryan Mauro
The Clarion Project just disclosed the existence of a terrorist enclave in Texas last week, bringing new attention to a network of at least 22 Jamaat ul-Fuqra “Islamic villages” across the country. Newly-declassified documents reveal that the FBI privately considers ul-Fuqra to be a terrorist group, but remains operational in the U.S. because of the State Department.
The “Islamic villages” belong to Muslims of the Americas, an extension of Pakistani cleric Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani’s Jamaat ul-Fuqra terrorist group. Its headquarters is “Islamberg” in Hancock, N.Y and two of the group’s seized videotapes prove that these sites are used for guerilla warfare training. One recording shows women at Islamberg in military fatigue receiving such instructions.
The FBI files released by Clarion confirm that the most loyal MOA members go to Pakistan for advanced religious and terrorist training under Sheikh Gilani. This travel is apparently done through an MOA entity named the American Muslim Medical Relief Team. The website has photos of members in Kashmir. The MOA has also posted videos of members working at “Gillaniville” under Gilani’s watch.
Last week, The Blaze aired a blockbuster half-hour episode of “For the Record” titled “Sleeper Cell” about Jamaat ul-Fuqra featuring the documents obtained by Clarion. The discovery of the camp near the town of Sweeny in Brazoria County, Texas was covered on “Fox and Friends” and the Fox News website. Media Matters immediately responded with a hit piece describing me as “anti-Muslim” that was then distributed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
The Texas enclave has existed since the late 1980s, according to locals interviewed by ACT For America Houston. The FBI documents show that the Bureau discovered it following a tip from an informant in New York and detected the movement of trailers to the site in December 2001.
The site is referred to as “Mahmoudberg” by MOA members. In 2010, an MOA entity named the American Muslim Ladies Club established a Texas chapter at the enclave.
A 2007 FBI document says that the enclave hosts a former leader of the 440-acre “Baladullah” commune in California that was shut down and had armed guards, U-Haul dealership and even an airstrip. Its founder was convicted in 2006 of overseeing a charter school scam at the commune. Other members of Baladullah were arrested for illegal weapons trafficking and murdering a police officer.
One of the most interesting revelations from the Clarion Project report is that a shooting incident at Mahmoudberg took the life of one resident. It was ruled an accident by the police. However, the police were denied access to the trailers and were not allowed to directly interview the women, who covered their faces in the presence of the cops.
The report is a fatal blow to the MOA’s campaign to revamp its image. For example, it established the United Muslim Christian Forum. I attended one of their events and was told by one of the commune leaders that the group was trying “not to get into the bashing business anymore” because “we’re finding that certain things are a little bit too offensive.” He said the group stands by its past statements.
The Texas enclave is also linked to the MOA’s interfaith front. I was given videotape of a United Muslim Christian Forum event in 2009 that featured then-Binghamton Mayor Matthew T. Ryan as a speaker. The Master of Ceremonies was Idris Johnson, the registered agent for a MOA front on Mahmoudberg’s premises called the Muslim Model Community.
Almost every communication I received in response to the Clarion report and coverage on The Blaze and FOX News Channel asked how Jamaat ul-Fuqra/Muslims of the Americas is able to operate in the U.S. if the FBI’s own documents identify it as a terrorist threat.
The answer is the State Department has not designated Jamaat ul-Fuqra as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, though it was included in reports about domestic groups in the 1990s. On January 31, 2002, the State Department said:
“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.”
The State Department’s own standards require it to label ul-Fuqra as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The three criteria are that the group must be foreign; engaging in terrorist activity or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorism and it must threaten U.S. nationals or national security.
The newly-released FBI documents blow away any argument the State Department could use to defend its negligence. Two smoking gun quotes from a 2007 file are as clear as can be:
“The MOA is now an autonomous organization which possesses an infrastructure capable of planning and mounting terrorist campaigns overseas and within the U.S.”
“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.”
Responsible reporters must relentlessly demand answers from the State Department in the wake of these new revelations.
The Institute on Religion and Democracy contributed to this article.