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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Paintball Unspun - Shooting practice as training for Jihad

Paintball Unspun - Shooting practice as training for Jihad

Jailed Islamists practiced with paintball for terrorism in the US and abroad
October 12, 2004

MAS Paintball flyer

MIM: The paintball practice sponsored by the Muslim American Society prompted this blog entry on Dr. Daniel Pipes website, and the rhetorical query "Islamist Paintball, Anyone ?

"...Note MAS's repeated emphasis on the manhood of the participants "Serious Manly Brothers Only!!" "We're going to separate the men from the Boys," and "if you're really a man join us." Also worthy of attention is the implicit violence of "We're going to separate The guns from the toys."

What is this about? Well, the Muslim American Society is the U.S. face of the Muslim Brotherhood the single leading Islamist organization worldwide and, as I noted in "The Islamic States of America?" the MAS is not terribly subtle about its intention of "establishing an Islamic state" to replace the existing Constitutional order. Add to this the Muslim Brotherhood's six-decade history of resorting to violence and one can only wonder about the purpose of a paintball exercise for "Manly Brothers..." (October 10, 2004) Permalink http://www.danielpipes.org/

MIM: Dr. Pipes explained that paintball is a form of military training which has been used by militant Islamists in the United States to prepare for Jihad both in America and abroad.

Islamist paintball in the US has become a precursor for Jihad , and as the articles below will show, Muslims who are engaged in paintball became secretive about the practice in post 9/11 America, which has seen a spate of arrests of Muslims who admitted in court that their paintball activities were in preparation for Jihad.

It is also worth noting that the founder and editor of The" Paintball Times" is Mohammed Alo whose community activities includes holding the post of secretary general of the United Muslims Association of Toledo, Ohio. Alo is also the webmaster of toledomuslims.org and the paintballtimes.org. http://www.toledomuslims.com/umat/execs.htm


MIM: Dr.Pipes explains that that Muslims have invented paintball and that Paintball Times editor Mohammed Alo who is also the general secretary of the Toledo Muslims an Islamist organisation which has actively campaigned against him.He also comments that "an enterprising researcher" could do an interesting study on the connection between paintball and jihad. MIM agrees that it is a subject which warrants further scrutiny...



Oct. 12 2004 update: It's interesting to note that Islamists are not recent arrivals to the game of paintball but claim more or less to have invented it. In an article in Paintball Times, Mohammed Alo writes that he, Sami Khan, their brothers and some friends in medical school "decided to play paintball" in 1990, when they were high school students in the Toledo, Ohio area. Two years later, they began publishing what later became Paintball Times.

Mohammed Alo is (or has been the dating is not clear) secretary of the United Muslim Association of Toledo, a clearly Islamist organization (to see this, one need go no further than its constitution, which states, "The Quran and the Sunnah are the constitution for Muslims. No article is valid unless it conforms to these laws"). In addition, Alo writes nasty anti-Israel articles (such as this one and this one) for UMAT and he has spoken for the Muslim Student Association, Wahhabism's contribution to the North American campus.

(Full disclosure: I have no particular fondness for UMAT, which claimed to have blocked me from a presidential appointment in 2000 when I was not up for one and in 2003 both sponsored a form letter calling on Fox News not to put me on television and the Senate not to approve my appointment to the U.S. Institute of Peace.)

Comment: The connection between paintball and jihad is one an enterprising researcher might look into. Perm



Sami Khan of "The Paintball Times" explains paintball as follows:

Paintball is an exciting sport that is fast paced and action packed. Paintball is the only sport in which size does not matter, for all of you who are physically challenged. Even women play. This page will discuss simple basics of paintball all the way through advanced techniques and different reviews on guns I have owned or personally tried. Also there will be a section on how to win different types of games, and what is necessary for victory. Strategies are also discussed. Feel free to look around and enjoy.

How do you play?

Paintball is most often played on a playing field out in the open. Although there are some indoor arenas. Each player gets an air gun and two teams are typically divided. Usually the teams play the childhood game of capture the flag. Each of the teams with different colored arm bands goes into the forest and tries to find the other team's flag. The object of the game is to capture the other teams flag and bring it back to your base and touch it to your flag in a given time period without getting eliminated. Getting eliminated is defined by being hit with a paintball and having it break (splat) on you. Referees will throw you out once you are eliminated. The paintballs are marble sized spherical containers that hold paint and have a hard shell to enable the gun to launch it long distances. It is an egg with a hard shell and goey interior. The guns are typically guns with a barrel to launch the paintball, a trigger to activate the launch procedure, a resevoir to hold extra paintballs, and some type of pressurized gas to provide propulsion. Typically, depending on your style, you will get hit a few times during the day. The hits leave a little bit of redness and really do not hurt. I usually can sustain many hits in a row and not even be slightly phased.

Once however, I was shot in the arm from about 3 inches away. That one did hurt and even broke skin. I was hiding behind a tree when someone ran up on me and asked me to surrender from the other side of the tree. I stuck my arm out and shot at him. Eventually he hit my bicep from real close. Unless you are psychotic you will not be injured in any way.

One thing I've learned in my short experience is that paintball guns are not accurate at all. Not one bit. No matter what anyone tells you. So don't be afriad. More on this discussed later


MIM: For pictures of paintball guns and enthusiasts see below


Islamist Paintball, Anyone? When Muhammed Aatique pleaded guilty on Sept. 23, 2003 to being part of northern Virginia jihad network, he acknowledged that the paintball games played by him and his fellow jihadists were "conducted as sort of a military training." Another member of the network, Nabil Gharbieh, told the court how Muslims regarded paintball as a form of jihad. http://www.danielpipes.org/


Muslim Testifies Players' Serious"

By Arlo Wagner
Published February 12, 2004


Many paintball players were worried even before September 11 that the law would crack down on Muslims in the United States, a former Marine testified yesterday in the trial of four Washington-area Muslims who participated in the games and are charged with aiding the Taliban.
"We didn't want to be here. We wanted to leave," testified Donald T. Surratt, 30, of Suitland, who was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1994.
Mr. Surratt is one of 11 Muslim paintball players indicted in June on 32 counts of weapons violations and conspiring to aid the Taliban in its fight against the United States.
As a result of a plea bargain, Mr. Surratt may get a break on a potential four-year prison sentence for his testimony against the four men on trial. Five others also pleaded guilty, and several more are expected to testify in the trial that began Monday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.
All had played paintball, in which competitors fire paint-filled bullets at each other in mock combat. The government contends that they really were undergoing military training to ultimately join a Pakistani terrorist group.
Mr. Surratt said defendant Hammad Abdur-Raheem first invited him to play paintball. "He said we want to get together and learn how to fight," said Mr. Surratt, who put his Marine training to use in paintball combat.
Other witnesses have testified that more than 20 men got together every weekend to play paintball in the woods or open fields of Northern Virginia. They said it was a light-hearted game until September 11. A month later, the men had broken up into small groups that played only occasionally, but seriously.
Paintball was regarded by Muslims as a form of jihad, which aids adherents of Islam to combat stress in themselves, and support and protect their families, both mentally and physically, testified Nabil Gharbieh, 29, who was instrumental in organizing the games.
Ibraham Ahmed al-Hamdi, 25, of Alexandria, was an amateur as the game was formed. But after a month in a Lashkar-e-Taiba training camp in Pakistan, "He was a little more serious," Mr. Surratt said. "He was very hard to 'kill.' "
Mr. Surratt said he worked closely with the four defendants -- Hammad Abdur Raheem of Falls Church; Caliph Basha Ibn Abdur-Raheem of Arlington, who is not related to Hammad; Seifullah Chapman, another former Marine; and Masoud Ahmad Kahn of Gaithersburg.
"We were expected," but not required, to go to paintball, testified Navy Petty Officer Andre Thompson, who said he was disappointed, unhappy and "to some degree" angry upon learning that at least three paintballers had gone to Afghanistan to fight against India.
The U.S. government contends they violated a nearly century-old law that bars U.S. citizens from attacking countries with which the United States is at peace.


June 23,2003


Feds charge 11 men with conspiracy in overseas jihad

WASHINGTON (CNN) --The FBI Friday issued a 41-count indictment against 11 men charged with conspiracy to train for and participate in a violent jihad overseas.

"It was part of the conspiracy that the defendants and their conspirators prepared to become mujahedeen and die 'shaheed' -- that is, as martyrs in furtherance of violent jihad," the indictment said.

Nine of the defendants, who are ages 23 to 35, are U.S. citizens, and the others are a Yemeni and a non-resident alien from Pakistan, said Paul McNulty, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

He identified the five men born in this country and arrested Friday morning as: Randall Todd Royer (who goes by the name of Ismail), 30; Masoud Ahmad Khan, 31; Hammad Abdur-Raheem, 35; Donald Thomas Surratt, 30; and Caliph Basha Ibn Abdur-Raheem, 29.

A sixth man, Mohammed Aatique, 30, the Pakistani national and H-1 visa holder, was arrested in the Philadelphia area.

The indictment also charges two men who were already in custody: Ibrahim Ahmed al-Hamdi, the Yemeni national and non-resident alien who was being held on a weapons charge; and Yong Ki Kwon, 27, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in South Korea who was being held on immigration charges.

The remaining three men are believed to be in Saudi Arabia, McNulty said. He identified them as U.S. citizens Sabri Benkhala, 28, and Seifullah Chapman, 30, and Khwaja Mahmood Hasan, 27, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan.

Five of the men had their initial appearances Friday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, before Magistrate Judge Thomas Rawles Jones Jr., who appointed counsel to those who said they had none, and scheduled their next court appearances for next week.

Two of the men had previously been arraigned.

Aatique appeared before a judge in Philadelphia.

"Right here, in this community, 10 miles from Capitol Hill, in the streets of Northern Virginia, American citizens allegedly met and plotted and recruited for violent jihad," McNulty told reporters.

Members of what McNulty called the Virginia Jihad Network allegedly bought and distributed weapons and traveled to Pakistan, where they trained with Lashka-E-Taiba (meaning Army of the Pure), a Kashmiri separatist group designated by the State Department in December 2001 as a terrorist organization.

The Islamic group claims to operate in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Kosovo, Bosnia, Kashmir and the Philippines, McNulty said.

India blames the group for numerous deadly attacks against Indians. The group has denied targeting civilians.

The group, referred to by its initials LET, was founded in the mid-1980s "to wage violent jihad in Afghanistan and India," McNulty said.

In 2001, the U.S. State Department designated LET a foreign terrorist organization. The group's recruitment materials included a banner that showed a dagger being driven through the flags of the United States, India, Israel, Russia and Great Britain, he said.

The indictment alleges, among other things, that the men were preparing to take part in military activities against a nation friendly to the United States, that they purchased, transported and received firearms to be used in a felony, used and attempted to use false and altered passports, and provided false statements to law enforcement investigators, McNulty said.

Convictions "could actually result in (prison sentences of) just dozens of years," he said.

Defense attorneys are expected to argue it was not illegal for the men to train at the camps before LET was designated a terrorist organization.

The investigation began in 2000, centered in suburban Washington, and then extended into Fredericksburg, Virginia, Philadelphia, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan, McNulty said.

The men received training in the United States and in training camps in Pakistan, he added.

Some of the men allegedly bought weapons, including AK-47-style rifles, in January 2000, to improve their weapons skills, McNulty said.

In April 2000, Royer allegedly entered Pakistan to train with the LET, then traveled to Kashmir, where he participated in actions against Indian military forces, and then returned to the United States.

That fall, Royer and al-Hamdi allegedly recruited followers to join them to become mujahedeen and martyrs, "furthering their violent jihad," McNulty said.

The group of organizers and recruits allegedly met in secret in private homes in the Northern Virginia suburbs and in an Islamic center in Falls Church, Virginia, "to hear lectures and review tapes of mujahedeen engaged in violent jihad," he said.

The lectures were given by cleric Ali Al-Timimi, sources told CNN. Al-Timimi is not charged in the indictment.

Al-Timimi's lawyers have said he "fervently denies any formal or informal charges by the FBI or the Department of Justice that he has in the past supported or currently is supporting terrorism and terrorist activity."

Throughout 2000, the men trained at firing ranges in Virginia and Pennsylvania, McNulty said. Instruction was provided by Surratt, Abdur-Raheem and Chapman, who had U.S. military experience.

To train in small unit military tactics, the men practiced at a paintball war games facility in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, he said.

In all, seven of the men obtained further training with the LET in Pakistan, where they learned to use machine guns, rocket grenade launchers and anti-aircraft guns, he said.

"Anyone who doubts the importance of breaking up this Virginia jihad network underestimates the challenge America faces in its ongoing war against violence and even terrorism," he said.

"When individuals meet here in the shadow of our nation's capital to go prepare for violent action, we will take action," said Alice Fisher, deputy assistant attorney general of the criminal division.

In previous interviews, Royer, a resident of northern Virginia, denied any links to terrorism and said he had not traveled overseas after September 11, 2001.

CNN Justice Correspondent Kelli Arena and Producers Kevin Bohn and Terry Frieden contributed to this story.



Alleged terror network case yields guilty plea

WASHINGTON (CNN) --A man accused of belonging to an alleged Virginia terror network pleaded guilty Monday to two conspiracy-related counts in a plea agreement with the federal government.

Muhammed Aatique, 30, a Pakistan native, pleaded guilty to helping alleged co-conspirators "in preparing for and beginning a military expedition to be carried out from the United States against India," according to the agreement reached with federal prosecutors.

Aatique was accused of being a member of Lashkar-e-Toiba, a militant group devoted primarily to the Islamic struggle to remove India from control of the disputed region of Kashmir along the border with Pakistan.

In December 2001, the U.S. State Department declared Lashkar-e-Toiba a terrorist organization.

Aatique also pleaded guilty to discharging a firearm during a crime of violence at a terrorist training camp in Pakistan.

He could be sentenced to a maximum term of life in prison for the two offenses. However, sources familiar with the case said Aatique is likely to receive a reduced sentence in exchange for pleading guilty. Other counts against Aatique were dismissed.

Sentencing is set for December 12.

Aatique and three other men have pleaded guilty of the 11 defendants originally charged in the case in June. Aatique was arrested then in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area.

The defendants were dubbed "paintball warriors" for having used paintball weapons and equipment to practice small-unit, military-style tactics.

In a series of court hearings, the Justice Department alleged the defendants used paintball as a cover to prepare for violent jihad, or holy war.

Prosecutors said Aatique hosted several alleged co-conspirators in his Pennsylvania house in the days after the September 11, 2001, attacks, and a short time afterward traveled to Pakistan to attend a Lashkar-e-Toiba training camp for about 4 1/2 days.

Three of the alleged co-conspirators, Yong Ki Kwon, Khwaja Mahmood Hasan and Donald Thomas Surratt, are scheduled to be sentenced November 7.

The others face a federal trial later in November.



Witness: Defendant in Virginia jihad trial trained with terror group

Just weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, three Americans spent a month on a remote Pakistani mountaintop, training with a militant Islamic group, AK-47 assault rifles and anti-aircraft guns and hoping to eventually fight in Afghanistan against U.S. troops, one of the men testified Tuesday.

Khwaja Mahmood Hasan described the scene during the trial of four members of what prosecutors call a Virginia-based "jihad network."

Hasan testified that he and the other two Americans _ Yong Ki Kwon and Masoud Khan _ left the training camp run by a Pakistani militant group called Lashkar-e-Taiba only after it became apparent that they would not be able to cross the border into Afghanistan and fight alongside the Taliban.

"We started hearing reports from the BBC that the war was coming to a quick end," Hasan testified, recalling his time at the mountaintop camp called ibn Masood. He said Taliban leader Mullah Omar was no longer calling for Muslims to come to Afghanistan's aid.

Khan, of Gaithersburg, Md., is one of the four defendants on trial and faces the most serious charges, including conspiracy to levy war against the United States and conspiracy to provide material support to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

Three other defendants face lesser conspiracy and firearms charges; prosecutors allege the group used paintball games near Fredericksburg in the summers of 2000 and 2001 to prepare for holy war against India and other nations with whom the United States is at peace.

Hasan and Kwon, who trained with Khan at the Lashkar camp, have already pleaded guilty to firearms and conspiracy charges and been sentenced to 11 years in prison. Both agreed to testify for the government as part of their plea agreements and could have their sentences reduced for their cooperation.

Khan's lawyers said in opening statements last week that their client, who was born in Pakistan, traveled to that country primarily to take care of family affairs and that his visit to Lashkar camps was simply a way to fulfill his Islamic duties of learning self-defense.

Yeah, that's it. Just as a hot war was breaking out between the U.S. and an Islamic regime, he decided to join up with forces allied with that regime to learn a little self-defense. But the fact that they were fighting the U.S. was no doubt purely coincidental.

Hasan said the three spent five weeks at three different camps run by Lashkar, which was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. government in December 2001.

He said the group learned to use weapons including AK-47s, handguns and rocket-propelled grenades. They took turns firing an anti-aircraft gun at the side of a mountain.

Their first trip to the camp was thwarted by a government checkpoint, because Kwon's Korean nationality drew suspicion. They made it to the camp a second time when they were personally escorted by Lashkar's leader.

While at the camp, they once had to hide from Pakistani intelligence officers who swept through the camp looking for foreigners.

"They took us and hid us on the side of a mountain" for several hours when the when the intelligence officers made their sweep, Hasan said.

Hasan, a northern Virginia resident and graduate of Marymount University in Arlington, said he and the others trained in a group of 12 to 15 along with British and Saudi citizens.

Hasan said he decided to fight for the Taliban after a Sept. 16, 2001, meeting in Fairfax, Va., in which a Muslim scholar named Ali al-Tamimi told members of the paintball group that Islam required them to defend the Taliban against the imminent U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

The group viewed Lashkar as a means to obtain the training necessary to join Taliban fighters.

"I knew they (Lashkar) could get us to Afghanistan," Hasan said.

Also on Tuesday, an expert in paintball games testified for the defense that 8.7 million Americans play the sport.

Jessica Sparks, editor of Paintball magazine, said it is common for paintball players to learn basic tactics like providing cover fire and how to advance in formation.

Prosecutors have said such tactics are evidence the group was engaging in military training.



Sentences lengthy for 'Virginia jihad'

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) A Maryland man convicted of traveling to Pakistan and seeking to fight with the Taliban against the United States just days after Sept. 11 was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison.

Masoud Khan was one of three people sentenced Tuesday on charges they trained for holy war against the United States by playing paintball games in the Virginia woods as part of a "jihad" network. Prosecutors said Khan's actions were worse than the other suspects because he also traveled overseas to train with a Pakistani militant group after Sept. 11.

"While the Pentagon is still smoking, Mr. Khan decided now is the time to fight against Americans in Afghanistan. He deserves every day he gets," prosecutor Gordon Kromberg said.

A second suspect, Seifullah Chapman, was sentenced to 85 years in prison, and a third, Hammad Abdur-Raheem, was given eight years.

The sentences against Chapman and Khan are among the longest prison terms the government has obtained in the war on terrorism.

Khan said before he was sentenced that he was innocent and that he was prosecuted only because he is Muslim.

"To put it bluntly ... had I been a Zionist Jew or a Christian training to fight (in Palestine), I would never have been charged with violating the Neutrality Act," he said, referring to the seldom-used U.S. law that formed the basis for the government's conspiracy charges.

The lengthy terms for Khan and Chapman resulted largely from mandatory minimum sentences stemming from firearms convictions related to the conspiracy.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said the sentences were "draconian," but she had no choice but to impose them under federal law.

"We have murderers who get far less time," she said. "I've sent al-Qaeda members planning attacks on these shores to less time. This is sticking in my craw. Law and justice at times need to be in tune."

Chapman's attorney, John Zwerling, called the sentence "the greatest miscarriage of justice of any case I've been involved in" in 34 years of practice.

In all, the government charged 11 men arrested as part of the "Virginia jihad" network, and six entered into plea bargains, receiving prison terms ranging from four to 20 years. Two were acquitted of all charges.

Khan, of Gaithersburg, Md., was convicted of the most serious charges, including conspiracy to levy war against the United States and conspiracy to contribute services to the Taliban.

The militant group he trained with was called Lashkar-e-Taiba, which espoused anti-American and anti-Indian rhetoric and was later designated a terrorist group by the United States.

Chapman, of Alexandria, admitted attending the Pakistani camp in August 2001 but said he did so for the grueling physical challenge in the country's rugged mountains.

Abdur-Raheem, of Falls Church, never traveled to Pakistan but was convicted for his role training other conspirators in military tactics in 2000 and 2001 in paintball games.

The defendants all native U.S. citizens in their 30s said the paintball games were innocent fun and fellowship among friends.

While the judge said she was upset about the lengthy sentences, she also made it clear that she believed they were guilty and that they knowingly supported a terrorist entity. In fact, it was Brinkema who convicted the three defendants earlier this year in a trial in which all three waived their right to a jury.

"This case was not about paintball," she said. "It was about something much more serious."


MIM: The Islamic Circle of North America and Muslim American Society Muslim Youth activities:

These pictures are from the YM website and were taken in Kentucky.

For more on Muslim Youth 'Jihad ' and 'Hereafter Camps' see "Florida Trail of Terror '


MIM: Below a picture from the Paintball Times forum:

Which begs the question as to who the question on the gun is addressed.


this is my little bros gun after he upgraded it alot.

MIM: A recent raid on a Saudi funded school revealed that paintball was part of the Jihad curriculum.

July 2, 2004

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) - Federal agents Thursday raided the Fairfax offices of a Saudi-based institute that served as a meeting point for men convicted of conspiring to support terrorism. A task force of federal agents, including the FBI, carried out boxes but made no arrests in the raid of the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences.

An FBI spokeswoman did not immediately return calls seeking comment Thursday.

The institute was a meeting point for a group of Islamic men who played paintball games in 2000 and 2001 as preparation for holy war, according to prosecutors. Nine of the 11 men charged in what prosecutors called a "Virginia jihad network" were convicted in federal court for their roles in the group. ..."

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