This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/1794
March 27, 2006
Jamaat ul-Fuqra (JF) or "community of the impoverished", a terrorist outfit operating in Pakistan and North America, was formed by a Pakistani cleric, Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, in New York in 1980, on his first visit to the US. Mubarak Gilani's intention in forming the outfit was to 'purify' Islam through violence.
The JF, in its early phase, sought to counter what is perceived as excessive Western influence on Islam. It also concluded that violence was a significant aspect in its quest to purify Islam. In its ideological moorings, the Fuqra regards as enemies of Islam all those who do not follow the tenets of Islam as laid out in the Koran, including those Muslims who they consider as heretics as well as non-Muslims. One of Gilani's works published by the Quranic Open University in the US and seized in a 1991-investigation instructed his cadres that their foremost duty was to wage Jehad against the ‘oppressors of Muslims'. Members of the group are described as Islamist extremists with much hatred toward their ‘enemies'.
The JF is loosely structured with certain elements working openly through social service organisations to recruit members, raise money, organise activities and carry out propaganda. Individuals selected to live on JF premises agree to abide by the law and discipline of the Jamaat ul-Fuqra. Investigations by the Colorado Attorney General's Office in the 1980s indicated that the JF was composed of approximately 30 different 'Jamaats' or communities, more or less mobile in nature. Most of these 'Jamaats' are reportedly existent even today along with what investigators discerned to be several covert paramilitary training compounds, one of which had been located in a mountainous area near Buena Vista, Colorado prior to the Colorado prosecutions in the mid-1990s.
Within 10 years of its formation, Fuqra's communes in the US attracted many Muslim converts-including some of those recruited in prisons. The JF is said to comprise of some 1,000 to 3,000 members in the US. Secrecy is the hallmark of the outfit and cadres are reportedly well versed in the use of aliases. The Fuqra's structure is well concealed behind front outfits and consists of a network of safe houses and cells. Furthermore, the JF founder as well as cadres consistently maintain that it does not exist. JF members occasionally travel abroad for ‘paramilitary and survivalist training' under Gilani's supervision.
Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, who also calls himself the sixth Sultan Ul Faqr, is the chief of JF.
Jamaat ul-Fuqra is headquartered in Hancock, New York.
Although Gilani, the reclusive chief of Fuqra resides in Lahore, Pakistan, most JF cells are located in North America. Fuqra members have purchased isolated rural properties in North America to live as a community, practice their faith, and insulate themselves from Western culture. The group has set up and funded rural communes that the US authorities allege are linked to murder, bombings and other felonies throughout the US and Canada. Currently, there are half a dozen Fuqra residential compounds in rural hamlets across the US sheltering hundreds of cadres, some of who have reportedly trained in the use of weapons and explosives in Pakistan.
Muslims of the Americas, a tax-exempt group established in the US in 1980 by Gilani, operates communes of primarily black, American-born Muslims in many states in the US, including in Binghamton in New York, Badger in California, York in South California and Red House in Virginia. JF is reportedly linked through court documents to the Muslims of Americas. There is also a road in the name of Sheikh Gilani in the vicinity of Virginia. The cult houses between 100 and 200 people, many of them women and children in about 20 huge trailers. There is also a Virginia newspaper, the Islamic Post, founded by Sheikh Gilani.
Jamaat al-Fuqra, also described as a cult, is currently the focus of a probe by US authorities for charges ranging from links with terrorist groups to laundering money into Pakistan.
In the 1980s, they carried out various terrorist acts, including numerous fire-bombings across the United States. JF's early targets in North America were ethnic Indians and targets linked to various Indian sects. In July 1983, Stephen Paul Paster, a front ranking JF member, was responsible for planting a pipe bomb at a Portland hotel owned by followers of the Bhagwan Rajneesh cult. After his arrest in Colorado, Paster served four years of a 20-year prison sentence for the bombing. He was suspected but not charged in two other bombings in Seattle in 1984 - the bombings of the Vedanta Society temple and the Integral Yoga Society building. Currently, Paster is reported to be based in Lahore, Pakistan, from where, intelligence sources say, he provides explosives training to Fuqra cadres.
After the Portland bombing, two Fuqra cadres allegedly killed Mozaffar Ahmad, a leader of the minority Ahmadiyyah sect in Canton, Michigan. Both the suspects reportedly perished in a fire they had set at the Ahmadiyyah mosque in nearby Detroit. The JF is also reported to have been involved in the killing of three Indians on August 1, 1984 in a suburb of Tacoma, Washington. Besides, the JF is suspected to be involved in a series of fire bombings of Hindu and Hare Krishna temples in Seattle, Denver, Philadelphia and Kansas City.
US officials in 1989, during a search of a storage locker in Colorado Springs, recovered a large cache of armaments and documents with multiple links to the JF. Among the arms recovered were handguns, semi-automatic firearms, explosives, pipe bombs, bomb components and several bombs. Some of the seized documents described the activities and code of the "Muhammad Commandos of Sector 5," who were reportedly involved in arms training and intelligence gathering. The documents, including maps and lists, contained details of potential JF targets and victims in Los Angeles, Arizona and Colorado––oil and gas installations and electrical facilities, US. Air Force Academy and other military sites, people in 12 US states and Canada with Jewish or Hindu-sounding names. Various JF publications were seized during this search. Titles of some of the publications seized included "Guerrilla Warfare", "Counter Guerrilla Operations", "Understanding Amateur Radio", and "Fair Weather Flying," and "Basic Blueprint Reading and Sketching."
In 1991, JF's plans to bomb an Indian cinema and a Hindu temple near Toronto were unsuccessful. Five JF cadres were arrested at the Niagara Falls border crossing after US Customs agents searched their cars and found visual evidence and plans of the interiors of the targets and a description of time bombs. A Canadian jury convicted three American JF cadres of conspiracy to commit mischief and endanger life. A fourth suspect, who had come to Canada from Pakistan shortly before the planned bombing, fled to Pakistan after his colleagues' arrest, according to evidence presented at the trial.
In the 1990s, JF was more often than not operating under the guise of two front groups, ‘Muslims of the Americas' and ‘Quranic Open University'. The latter portrayed itself as a religious and charitable educational institution dedicated to studying the Quran.
Gilani has reportedly admitted to receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in donations from America. A large segment of JF members have been convicted of criminal acts, including murder and fraud. With the US State Department outlawing Fuqra and listing it as one of the proscribed groups in its annual reports, the activities of the outfit decreased relatively. The JF supports various terrorist groups operating in Pakistan and in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. Sheikh Gilani has linkages with Islamist terrorist groups like the Hamas and Hezbollah. Although dormant in terms of real activity, JF has an active link with the terrorist groups in Pakistan and provides both moral and material assistance to these groups.
JF cadres are suspects in at least 10 unsolved assassinations and 17 firebombing cases between 1979 and 1990.
In 1993 Fuqra members in Colorado were convicted of participating in a conspiracy resulting in the killing of a Muslim religious figure in Arizona.
One of the persons convicted in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 was Clement Rodney Hampton-el, a Fuqra member. JF was linked in a Congressional testimony to the planning of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Gilani is now in Pakistani custody for the abduction of US journalist Daniel Pearl. Official sources in Pakistan have indicated that Daniel Pearl was attempting to meet Gilani in the days before he disappeared in Karachi. Pakistani police arrested Gilani in Rawalpindi on January 30, 2002 and shifted him to Karachi for questioning. Although he denied any link to the abduction, police also detained several of his colleagues. Consequent to his arrest, he reportedly told his interrogators that he had links with the Pakistani intelligence agencies.
A media report has indicated that the JF is also being probed for links with Richard Reid, a Briton, accused of trying to use explosives in his shoes to blow up a Paris-to-Miami jetliner on December 22, 2001.
A house in Virginia believed to be linked to the JF was raided by police in December 2001 and two persons were arrested for illegally purchasing guns.
Three suspected US-based JF members have been arrested on weapons charges in the year 2001, including two following the September 11 multiple terrorist attacks. Vicente Rafael Pierre, a 44-year-old native of Brooklyn and his wife Traci Upshur, both JF cadres, were arrested on gun charges and convicted on November 30, 2001. Pierre's Virginia compound, near the Red House Commune, is reported to have served as a JF base.
A money laundering scheme run by the Red House Commune is reportedly similar to a Colorado operation that was shut down in 1993. Colorado law enforcement agencies convicted five JF cadres for defrauding the Colorado government of approximately $350,000 through bogus workers' compensation claims. Prosecuting agencies have indicated that the amount had been laundered through Professional Security International (PSI), a JF security firm, and Muslims of the Americas. A portion of the funds was tracked through PSI to JF couriers who traveled to Pakistan. The PSI reportedly enabled JF cadres to obtain federal licenses to buy weapons. The Fuqra is also suspected of having two more security firms located in New York.
The Fuqra also reportedly has various broad schemes to take government entitlement money and utilise it to fund terrorist activities. The commune in Colorado is spread across 101 acres and police recovered bombs, weapons and plans for terrorist attacks in a raid in the year 1993. Two other communes in New York and California have shooting ranges. The 1,800-acre settlement in the Sierra Mountains in California also reportedly has an airstrip.
In a February 22, 2002 interview, Gilani said his ‘contribution' to the ‘Kashmir cause' since 1947 and to the Afghan Jehad were on record. In the same interview, Gilani claimed that both the governments of Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) had requested him to mobilise his university students to project the cause of Kashmir in the US through the media by holding rallies and informing the public. To this end, he claimed that the Kashmir-American Friendship Society was formed in 1993.
Gilani is currently under investigation for his alleged links to the al Qaeda terror network of Osama bin Laden and for money laundering from the US into Pakistan and vice versa. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating connections between a small black Muslim community in California's Sierra Nevada valley, called Baladullah and the JF. The FBI reportedly looked into Baladullah, a community of 30 Muslim families, while investigating into JF's activities at a remote Virginia settlement, where one person was convicted in November 2001 on charges of federal firearms violations.
Sheikh Mubarik Gilani
(CBS) Sheikh Mubarik Gilani is the man Daniel Pearl was on the way to meet him when The Wall Street Journal reporter was kidnapped.
Gilani is a mysterious figure in the Islamic world. He is said to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. But for Pearl two other things set him apart. First, Gilani along with his followers have appeared on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations. Second, and even more provocative, the Sheikh has thousands of disciples who live right here in the United States. Dan Rather reports.
Pearl was following a lead. He thought that Richard Reid, the alleged shoe bomber, may have been a part of Gilani's network of disciples. When 60 Minutes II Reporter George Crile arrived in Pakistan on Feb. 11, 19 days after Pearl had been taken captive, Pearl's fate was still unknown. But Gilani was now behind bars, a principal suspect in Pearl's kidnapping.
In the world of militant Islam, Khalid Khawaja seems to be a friend of just about everyone. Osama Bin Laden is one of his closest friends. But he is even closer to Gilani, and that's why last January, when Pearl wanted to reach Gilani, he came to Islamabad to find Khawaja.
Khawaja told Crile that he had met with Pearl. "He came to me, in, I think, in the end of September, maybe. Or, somewhere in that, he called me from Bombay. That he is coming to Karachi. Then he came to Karachi. And he asked me to introduce him with some people in Karachi. I did that." He says he specifically told Pearl that Sheikh Gilani would not see him.
"He kept on calling me on various occasions, and asking my opinion, and discussing certain things with me. And then he just disappeared," says Khawaja.
Pearl disappeared into the hands of his kidnappers in Karachi and soon after, Gilani was jailed as the principal suspect.
"I have all my sympathies and- my feelings for Daniel. I was more worried about Mubarak Gilani and his family, who are in fact kidnapped, because there's nothing against them. There's no case," says Khawaja.
Crile first met Khawaja more than a year ago, when he introduced the former to the world of Osama bin Laden. Well before Sept. 11, Khawaja warned that America was on a collision course with Islam.
This year, Khawaja took Crile into the world of Gilani. Seven days after being jailed in connection with the Pearl kidnapping, Khawaja was the first to hear the news of Gilani's release. He told Crile that Gilani wanted to see him.
The atmosphere was tense throughout Pakistan when Khawaja set off with Crile that afternoon to meet the Gilani. Cars were being stopped and searched, houses raided. Pakistani and American officials were turning the country inside out, trying to find Pearl.
Before the kidnapping, few had heard about Gilani. But for years, the U.S. government had kept him and his organization in the State Department's report on terrorism. The same report that al Qaeda now dominates.
In the report, Gilani's organization was described as an "Islamic sect that seeks to purify Islam through violence." His followers, who call themselves The Muslims of America," are based in the United States, thousands operating in 19 states across the country.
Most of them are African-American Muslims, who live in self-contained Islamic communities, like one they named Islamville in South Carolina, with its own mosque, its own school and more than 100 residents. All of them accept Gilani as their ultimate authority.
"I am telling you, Osama doesn't have many people in America," Khawaja says. "But here (in Pakistan), he has lots and lots of followers there and followers who are, I am telling you, I am sure of one thing, Osama does not have even one of his followers as committed as Sheikh Mubarak Gilani. Osama does not have even one as committed as the least of his people.
On Feb. 12, Crile and Khawaja reached the outskirts of the city of Lahore and wove their way through the back streets and dirt roads that lead to the Sheikh's walled compound. The Sheikh welcomed them into his home. Was this man at the heart of a terror network that threatened the U.S.? Was he behind Richard Reid? Crile had the opportunity to ask those questions, to a man who does not operate in public and does not give interviews.
Gilani said that he had nothing to do with Pearl's kidnapping. He also said he did not know anything about Richard Reid, and that Reid was not part of his group.
As the Sheikh explained, he doesn't see outsiders, and the last interview he granted was nearly a decade ago. But over the course of two days, he continued to answer Crile's questions.
Gilani also said he was not part of al-Qaeda. "Why should I be part of it? I don't, I just - I'm a reformer, educationist. And I am not part of anybody." He also said he didn't know bin Laden, and has never met him.
"I mean, I keep to myself. And I do what I think is best for the people who follow me. First is peace. You know, another is they should work hard for a living. And they should be honest, good, trustworthy. That's all I told them. I know- if anybody does anything wrong, why blame me? Will you blame the pope if somebody, some Christian, does something wrong?"
Gilani says that he is used to being a suspect whenever there is a terrorist act against the U.S. He wanted to talk about what he sees as the most serious threat to the world, why bad things happen in America, including acts of terrorism. These bad things, he says, are caused by invisible forces.
"There are beings who are not visible to you," he says. "But they inhabit this earth. And they are damaging, causing psychotic diseases, fits, epilepsies. And controlling the agents, controlling the human beings."
Gilani says he can control those evil forces. He says that he is not a threat to the U.S., but could be its salvation.
To understand why, he points to an American television show "The X-Files." He says the mind control and evil influence that aliens wield over human beings in the program is much like the power of the invisible forces he believes in.
"What is an X-file? Most of things - could have happened or will happen," Gilani said. "Human beings can be made to do things against their will. They can be made to commit crimes. They can made to go and kill people. You know? And all your missiles, all your rockets, space ships go up. And electronics, they can be damaged, influenced, and misdirected through the agencies of jinn beings."
Muslims all over the world also believe in these invisible evil forces that are described in the Koran. The Sheikh feels that these forces are a much bigger threat to the U.S. than terrorism. He says the United States should thank him for passing on his message about the invisible world instead of accusing him of terrorism.
Gilani says that his followers are not anti-American. "In America, the Muslims are better than any part of the world," he says. "They have more freedom. They are more facilities of life. Where will they go? OK, they do something wrong, where will they go? I don't want them. That's their country. The American Muslims are better off in America than anywhere else. And they will never do anything wrong against their country. That is my directive to you and to them."
This is not exactly the marching orders you would expect from a man who had been listed in the United States report on terrorism. But Gilani and his followers, in fact, were taken off the list two years ago. And Gilani's praise for the United States seems to set him apart from so many others in Pakistan.
While Crile was there, it was confirmed that Pearl had been killed. To Khawaja, Pearl's murder represented a new level of anger moving through the world of militant Muslims. He said that Americans were no longer safe in Pakistan.
"My people did not like my roaming around with you, also. They would always tell me that ‘you're making a mistake. These people are no good.' And I am telling you, I fear that for your security and safety here. Because I don't think so, you are very safe. This is why my even family today, told me to request you to go back."
The Washington Times
Militant Muslims seek Virginia base
Jerry Seper and Steve Miller
RED HOUSE, Va. - Militant American Muslims operating out
of rural communes in California and other Western states
have targeted this rural Virginia community for an
influx of members who have ties to Middle Eastern
Law-enforcement authorities said the Muslims - mostly
converts - are expected to join with radical Muslims
living on 45 acres in this small Charlotte County
community, 25 acres near Meherrin in neighboring Prince
Edward County and on other parcels of land owned by the
group's members and supporters.
Muslims in the Red House area have been negotiating to
purchase an additional 100-acre site in neighboring
Campbell County, authorities said, adding that a number
of the radical group's members also have purchased
smaller lots in the region.
The suspected Western exodus likely was sparked by the
shutting down of Gateway Academy Charter School in
Fresno, Calif. The 12-school charter, established in
1998 by Khadijah Ghafur, a Muslim convert, was closed by
school officials after auditors found $1.3 million in
public money was missing.
"They had a tremendous funding source here that dried
up," said Dennis Peterson, an investigator for the
Fresno County District Attorney's office. "They are no
longer on the candy wagon, and without that money it's
going to be tough times."
The California group numbers between 200 and 400 people,
and members lived on a 1,000-acre tract in the Sierra
Mountain foothills. Guarded by an armed post at the
entrance, the encampment - known as Baladullah, or "City
of God" - was the site of the International Quranic Open
University, founded by Sheik Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani as
an educational arm of Muslims of America, a group he
The community drew the attention of local law-
enforcement agencies last summer after a man studying at
the university, Ramadan Abdullah, was arrested and
charged in the slaying of a Fresno County sheriff's
Trial in the case is pending.
Signs posted last week at the Baladullah compound
announced the pending withdrawal: "Everything must go,"
said one of the placards in announcing a yard sale.
Several of the homes at the site were deserted.
Tulare County Sheriff's Lt. Greg Langford told the
Fresno Bee he was told by some families at the compound
that they would be gone by July.
The Red House and Meherrin Muslims, who number between
200 and 300 people, including women and children, have
been linked to various money-laundering operations and
weapons violations, and are believed to have aided and
abetted various terrorist groups, authorities said.
Annual Holy Days gatherings at the Red House site,
operated by Muslims of America, have drawn between 400
and 500 people from around the region.
Law-enforcement authorities said they believe radical
Muslims are seeking to create a patchwork of "hide-outs"
in rural southern Virginia for would-be terrorists and
other extremists. They said the sanctuaries have been
established to follow the teachings of Sheik Gilani.
Sheik Gilani is a Pakistani cleric who founded the tax-
exempt Muslims of America in 1980, which is linked to
Jamaat al-Fuqra, a terrorist group committed to waging
jihad, or holy war, against the United States.
In addition to providing safe harbor for an unknown
number of American Muslims faithful to Sheik Gilani,
authorities believe members of Jamaat al-Fuqra are
involved in laundering money bound for Pakistan.
"We know these places have become hide-outs for some of
the organization's most violent members," said one law-
enforcement official. "The faces of those we have seen
in the communities are continually changing. It's
unclear who's there at any given time and what they're
Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was on the way
to meet Sheik Gilani in Pakistan when he was kidnapped
and later killed. Mr. Pearl was investigating
accusations that shoe-bomb suspect Richard C. Reid was
one of Sheik Gilani's followers. Sheik Gilani was not
charged in Mr. Pearl's death.
Sheik Gilani's followers have set up rural encampments
throughout the United States and Canada that federal
authorities believe are linked to murders, bombings and
other felonies. It is not clear to authorities where the
organization gets its funding, other than a few local
odd jobs by group members.
One of the Red House Muslims, Vicente Pierre, was
convicted in November of two felony firearms violations.
Three other members of the Red House commune have been
arrested on weapons charges in the past year, including
two after the September 11 attacks.
During a September detention hearing for Pierre, Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent Tom Gallagher
described al-Fuqra as a "violent, black Muslim extremist
sect that acts out jihads against perceived enemies."
The State Department has said al-Fuqra seeks to purify
Islam through violence.
Authorities said the FBI notified California law-
enforcement agencies in the early 1990s, asking them to
keep an eye on the Muslim community in the Sierra
foothills. Last year, U.S. marshals arrested James
Hobson, who was visiting Baladullah, on a firearms
warrant out of South Carolina, where al-Fuqra has
The case of the missing school funds in California is
similar to an operation the group had in Colorado, which
was shut down in 1993 by state law-enforcement
officials. Five al-Fuqra members were convicted of
defrauding the Colorado government of approximately
$350,000 through bogus worker's compensation claims.
Muslims of America claims to be nonviolent, saying in a
recent statement that Sheik Gilani "does not condone nor
teach us to condone violence, especially against the
Raids by police in 1992 and 1993 on a 101-acre Muslim
commune in central Colorado turned up bombs, automatic
weapons, ammunition and plans for terrorist attacks. At
least two of the communes - in New York and California -
have shooting ranges.
Sheikh Gilani's American Disciples
MIM: Background on the ISI Pakistani security services ties to terrorism.
Article Author : Maj Gen YASHWANT DEVA AVSM (Retd)
Spying is the second oldest profession and nowhere else has it flourished
In recent months, the ISI has been in the limelight, its skulduggery having
A chilling account" of the role of the ISI's involvement with Sikh
There is no let-up in ISI's activities in Kashmir, which include
Mission, Budget and Organisation
ISI charter incorporates gathering of external and internal intelligence;
Unlike intelligence agencies of other countries, the top and middle rung
ISI is a major beneficiary of Pakistan's national budget, with a large
During the late 80s the most powerful component of the organisation was
An equally powerful component of the ISI is the Joint Counter Intelligence
Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous (JIM) deals with espionage in foreign
Another field in which the ISI has been highly successful, is gathering of
JIX is the largest wing, which serves as the secretariat. It co-ordinates
Zia's Contribution to ISI's Growth
A strong component of American foreign policy interest at the fag end of the
During Zia's reign, the ISI fuelled the separatist movements in Punjab and
Bhutto on ISI
Bhutto refutes the allegations and writes that Lt Gen G Jilanl was DG of ISI
Undoubtedly Bhutto suffered at the hands of the ISI, but he cannot be
Proxy War in Kashmir
By 1985, Jamaat-e-lsiami and Al-Jihad movements had become influential in
Al Jihad took inspiration from the ideology of the Iranian revolution. It
In the early stages, the ISI used Mujahideen infrastructure to help the
The report submitted by the task force to the American Congress mentions
The report points out that about 20,000 young Kashmiris have been trained
In the manner of Maoist classical approach, 1987 to 1989 marked the first
In early 1992, the ISI had established a common command over the disparate
The second stage was also marked by the setting up of a number of
Exporting Terrorism through Sikh Militancy
By 1985 the ISI had established a vast training infrastructure for the
There was a strategic motive too, highlighted by the US task group's report
What could be more incriminating evidence of Pak involvement in Punjab than
ISI's Activities in the Neighbouring Countries
The Republic Day plot was detected just in time by the Indian counter
Anti-India Lobbying in Britain and the US
Khalistan lobby in the US is no less active. The case of Dr Badett is a
Last year, Bariett had opposed an anti-India resolution promoted by the well
What happened in Afghanistan is being repeated in Kashmir. There are as many
This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/1794