Should American citizens be concerned about the dozens of Jamaat al-Fuqra compounds located across the U.S.? Tune in to "For The Record" Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST, only on TheBlaze.
During the 1980s and 1990s, federal law enforcement authorities considered Jamaat al-Fuqra to be one of the most active domestic terrorist groups in the country.
Operating in the U.S. as “Muslims of America,” annual State Department terrorism reports up until Sept. 11, 2001 described the group as “an Islamic sect that seeks to purify Islam through violence.” Dozens of Fuqra members have been arrested for more than a dozen murders, firebombings, gun running, drug trafficking, defrauding government agencies, amongst other crimes. In 1993, the Anti-Defamation League published a report chronicling the group’s continuing terror campaign.
But an ongoing "For The Record" investigation has discovered that the FBI and other government agencies have been playing a longstanding double-game with Jamaat al-Fuqra.
Muslims of America leader Sheikh Mubarak Gilani lives in Lahore, Pakistan. (Photo courtesy: Muslims of America)
Documents obtained from the FBI on al-Fuqra by national security analyst Ryan Mauro, through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and first made public in this week’s episode of "For the Record," show that at the same time that FBI special agents were picnicking and hosting award ceremonies with members of the group at their Hancock, N.Y. headquarters, internally the FBI continued to acknowledge that the group remained an active terrorist threat.
Back in 2009, Mauro also received from a law enforcement source a video showing women at that same Hancock compound conducting training sessions on martial arts, weapons handling and military movements.
I showed this video and the internal FBI documents describing al-Fuqra’s past terrorist activities to a nationally-recognized law enforcement expert on Neo-Nazi groups, who told me:
If we were handed a video like this showing this kind of training by any group, regardless of whether it was skinheads or militia groups, we would be opening an active investigation, conducting regular surveillance and trying to recruit sources to gather intel about what was happening inside. If the group had a history of hate crimes or terrorist acts, we would actively look for parole violations by members of the group and look for possible RICO predicates. You sure wouldn’t find us sitting down and having a picnic with them.
But that’s in fact what representatives from the Binghamton, N.Y. FBI field office did in June 2005.
FBI Special Agent Phillip Irizarry and other law enforcement officials enjoying a meal at al-Fuqra’s Hancock headquarters. Photo: iqou-moa.org.
Following the FBI’s picnic, Agent Irizarry sent a note of thanks to the group, which was quickly posted, along with photos of the event, on the group’s website.
And yet just a few months before, the Department of Homeland Security had identified Jamaat al-Fuqra in an internal report as possible sponsors of terror attacks targeting the U.S. As the New York Times reported [emphasis added]:
This is the first time the two-year-old department has prepared what will now be an annual Integrated Planning Guidance Report, a document that is listed as "sensitive" but not classified, meaning it was not intended to be released publicly…
Al Qaeda, not unexpectedly, tops a list of adversaries in the report, although the authors question if the group can still pull off attacks similar in scale to those of Sept. 11, 2001.
Other predicted possible sponsors of attacks include Jamaat ul-Fuqra, a Pakistani-based group that has been linked to Muslims of America; Jamaat al Tabligh, an Islamic missionary organization that has a presence in the United States; and the American Dar Al Islam Movement. Representatives for the organizations could not be reached Wednesday for comment or did not respond to telephone or e-mail messages.
Internal FBI documents obtained by "For the Record" show that as late as September 2007, more than two years after the Hancock picnic, the bureau was still identifying Jamaat al-Fuqra as a terrorist group.
The FBI’s lackluster response to domestic terrorism was highlighted in last week’s episode of "For The Record" reporting new details in the Fort Hood terrorist attack in November 2009. Just days after the event, the FBI put out a press release claiming no international terrorist connections to the attack after reports emerged that the FBI knew about Major Nidal Hasan as far back as December 2008.
This undated file photo provided by the Bell County Sheriff's Department shows Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan. Hasan awaiting trial for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas. Photo Credit: AP
The FBI had been monitoring the email communications between Hasan and Al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, but the investigation was shut down by FBI headquarters stating that the communications were purely religious. That contradicted later findings by the William Webster Commission, which found that Hasan and Awlaki emails discussions should have alerted investigators to Hasan’s intentions.
The more recent example of the Boston bombing in April 2013 proved not to be the FBI’s finest hour. As "For The Record" reported last September, not only had Russian intelligence alerted the FBI of the terror contacts of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but local Boston groups had briefed the local FBI office about the radical activities and terrorist ties of the mosque attended by the Tsarnaev brothers.
Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) questioned FBI Director Robert Mueller about how the bureau dropped the ball in the Boston bombing case, where Mueller not only admitted that they had waited four days after the bombing to canvas the Islamic Center of Boston, but that he was not even aware that the mosque had been founded by currently imprisoned Al-Qaeda financier Abdurahman Alamoudi:
So if the FBI is well aware of Jamaat al-Fuqra’s past terror history and internally admits they remain a terrorist threat, why does it publicly dismiss domestic terror threats like al-Fuqra?
Here are at least three reasons:
Politics: Beginning with the Clinton administration, continuing through the Bush administration, and accelerated by the Obama administration, the U.S. government has embraced a policy of engaging "moderate" Islamists under the guise that these groups serve as a bulwark against extremism to court Muslim-American voters.
But as I outlined in a comprehensive review last year, these outreach efforts have been a complete disaster. Not only have these outreach programs ended up mainstreaming radical leaders and organizations, they have repeatedly compromised active terror investigations. And as demonstrated by the FBI’s picnic at Jamaat al-Fuqra’s headquarters in 2005, the FBI’s outreach has fared no better than any other agencies programs.
Pakistanis listen to President Barack Obama's speech at an electronic shop in Karachi, Pakistan on Thursday, June 4, 2009. Muslims see Obama's speech as a sign of shifting attitude toward them, new policy on Middle East. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
Media: While many establishment media outlets in the past have covered al-Fuqra’s terrorist activity, many of these same media outlets are now openly hostile of the investigative efforts by law enforcement to keep track of the activities of these groups.
Even after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today and the Associated Press covered these issues with some sense of balance. But the current treatment by the media is exemplified by Nashville Newschannel 5’s February 2010 coverage of a Jamaat al-Fuqra compound in Dover, Tenn. that amounted to reporter Nick Beres driving up to the rural compound, taking a look around and declaring that there was no terrorist activity to be seen. This all while completely ignoring what the FBI and other law enforcement agencies had said about al-Fuqra’s past terror activity.
In this media atmosphere, law enforcement officials are wary of conducting investigations that the media is quick to characterize as "Islamophobic" or even racist.
This combination of undated photos shows Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. The FBI says the two brothers and suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed an MIT police officer, injured a transit officer in a firefight and threw explosive devices at police during a getaway attempt in a long night of violence that left Tamerlan dead and Dzhokhar still at large on Friday, April 19, 2013. The ethnic Chechen brothers lived in Dagestan, which borders the Chechnya region in southern Russia. They lived near Boston and had been in the U.S. for about a decade, one of their uncles reported said. Credit: AP
Policy: One of the most disturbing changes to counter-terrorism training and investigations under the Obama administration was a policy announced by the FBI in March 2012 and outlined in a document titled “FBI’s Guiding Principles.” This policy said that "associating or membership with a terrorist group, if that same group also engages in 'advocacy' activity, should mean that support for investigative or training purposes does not mean that individual should be considered as supporting the group’s violent ends."
This was adopted to specifically address a number of U.S.-based Islamic groups that have previously been identified as supporting foreign terrorist organizations in terrorism trials, but continue to serve as outreach partners to the FBI. An extrapolation of the FBI’s Guiding Principles was announced earlier this month by the Obama administration that asylum seekers who had previously given “limited material support” to terrorist groups overseas will not count against their asylum claims.
With these three factors in mind, it is unlikely that the FBI or any other law enforcement agency will make any serious efforts to combat the threat posed by Jamaat al-Fuqra, despite their lengthy history of terrorist activity and repeated public statements and classified assessments by U.S. government agencies and the FBI that Jamaat al-Fuqra remains a threat to the American homeland.
Patrick Poole is a counter-terrorism and national security consultant for TheBlaze. You can follow him on Twitter: @pspoole.
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