Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Ryan Mauro, the founder of WorldThreats.com. He is currently a national security researcher for the Christian Action Network and a researcher for the Reform Party of Syria. A frequent guest on radio and TV programs, he is the author of Death to America: The Unreported Battle of Iraq. He can be contacted at TDCAnalyst@aol.com.
FP: Ryan Mauro, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Mauro: Thank you Jamie.
FP: We’re here today to discuss “Homegrown Jihad: Terrorist Camps Around U.S.,” the new documentary being released by the Christian Action Network. Tell us about it.
Mauro: This documentary is premiering at Washington D.C.’s Landmark Theater on February 11, at 7:30 PM. It is free to attend and I strongly encourage everyone in the area to come, and those out of the area to go to ChristianAction.org and order a copy. The Christian Action Network (CAN) is a non-profit organization and I personally will not see a penny from the sales. This documentary is simply too important; the threat too severe; and the public too unaware for me to not promote this is any way possible and call myself a patriotic American.
“Homegrown Jihad” documents the networks of Jamaat ul-Fuqra, a terrorist group run by a radical Muslim leader in Lahore, Pakistan named Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, an individual who, as I said in my last interview, does us the favor of not hiding his true colors. While he casts himself as a peace-loving Muslim, his actions and the actions of his network are anything but. In the documentary, we show a secret videotape, one which Gilani strictly instructs his followers to keep hidden, where he personally engages in terrorist training, from killing guards to hijacking vehicles to setting off explosives. On this tape, he says that those seeking to “join one of the most advanced training courses in Islamic military warfare” can contact any of his “Muslims of America” compounds in the United States, almost all of which still operate today.
“Muslims of America” is a group set up by Gilani to act as a thinly-veiled front for Jamaat ul-Fuqra. There are at least 35 “Muslims of America” compounds in the U.S. alone, along with at least 3,000 members, many of which have criminal backgrounds. The websites of these compounds do not hide the fact that they are devoted to, and are led by, Sheikh Gilani. The compound at Red House, Virginia, even has a street named after him. With Gilani saying things like “We are fighting to destroy the enemy. We are dealing with evil at its roots and its roots are in America”, “Jews are an example of human Satans,” and “Act like you are a friend, then kill him”, we need to question the motives and beliefs of those who live in and are educated in his communities and take action to stop them from acting upon these beliefs.
Members of this group continue to be arrested and convicted for involvement in terrorism and all sorts of criminal activity. Members are also required to make a pledge: “I shall always hear and obey, and whenever given the command, I shall readily fight for Allah’s sake.” They continue to recruit members, build and expand compounds, and operate in isolation, away from the eyes of the public.
Perhaps the most riveting part of the documentary is when CAN travels to several of these compounds in an attempt to get members of the group to view the terrorist training videotape and get a reaction. Before joining CAN, I personally visited the 70-acre large headquarters in Hancock, New York. Although the residents were friendly, almost immediately after greeting the man who I spoke to, he said with a disarming smile, “Are you Jewish? It’s clear that the anti-Semitism and overall beliefs of Sheikh Gilani are present at these compounds.
FP: What sort of terrorism has Jamaat ul-Fuqra been involved in?
Mauro: Members of the group have carried out at least 17 firebombings and 10 assassinations, including stabbing a moderate Muslim cleric to death, bombing a power station, killing police officers, and attacks on Hindus. In 1991, five members were involved in a plot to bomb a Hindu temple and an Indian-owned cinema near Toronto; in 1993, one member was involved in the World Trade Center bombing; and five were involved in the massive “Day of Terror” plot aimed at bombing various buildings in New York in 1993.
There have also been various suspected links between Jamaat ul-Fuqra members and terrorist plots since then. It was reported that the Beltway Snipers of 2002 took shelter in one of Gilani’s compounds in Georgia, and it was also reported that the Pakistani government thought that Shiekh Gilani may have funded a plot in 2006 to hijack airliners leaving Great Britain on the way to the U.S. so they could be blown up in mid-air using funds supposedly raised to help earthquake victims in Kashmir.
Let us not also forget that Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped on the way to meeting with Sheikh Gilani in Pakistan. Although the government has not charged Gilani with involvement in the murder, Gilani’s website says that Pearl was part of an assassination team sent to kill him, and Gilani maintains that Pearl is still alive, despite the fact that his beheading was videotaped. That’s just one of the various conspiracy theories Gilani espouses, from 9/11 and Pearl Harbor conspiracy theories, to New World Order and Illuminati forces aimed at destroying him and controlling the world, to secret Zionist control of the government media.
The State Department’s Patterns of Global Terrorism Report has described Jamaat al-Fuqra as a terrorist group that “seeks to purify Islam through violence,” and a 2006 Regional Organized Crime Information Center report limited to law enforcement said that the group’s compounds are similar to “classically structured terrorist cells” and are led by Sheikh Gilani who is “now known as an international terrorist.”
FP: What sort of activity are the groups’ members involved in now? Is there terrorist training still going on?
Mauro: These are closed communities so few people know what really is going on. In 2001, ATF Special Agent Thomas Gallagher said at a bond hearing for an al-Fuqra member that illegally purchased weapons that “individuals from the organization are trained in Hancock, NY, and if they pass the training in Hancock, they are then sent to Pakistan for training in paramilitary and survivalist training by Mr. Gilani. We have information from an informant that one individual did further his training by going to Afghanistan.”
The most recent incident involving a Jamaat al-Fuqra member is the assassination of a police officer by Ramadan Abdullah in 2001, who plead insanity but got a life sentence in 2008. It is important to note that the prosecutor said “This was a very well-aimed and well-timed shot that was fatal to Deputy Erik Telen hitting him directly in the head.” Where did Abdullah receive his training?
Gilani’s compounds have also been extensively engaged in criminal activity, a trend that began when they were founded and continues today. For example, a compound in California was abandoned in 2002 after the leader was arrested after being caught stealing $1.3 million from the government through a charter school. Al-Fuqra members also own security companies, which likely gives them access to weapons. The head of one such company recently had his offices raided for not paying his taxes. Three people from the site at Red House were arrested for making illegal arms purchases as well.
A September 2004 report by the National White Collar Crime Center said that “Members of the Fuqra group have raised money by taking advantage of a variey of social services programs, including worker’s compensation, public health care, welfare, and food stamps programs. Other crimes committed by Fuqra members include the creation and use of false identification cards, birth certificates, and other forged documents..." The report also confirms that Fuqra is recruiting criminals and describes them as “one of the most elusive terrorist groups resident in the U.S.”
One theory is that Gilani is having his followers lay low because the compounds here are now mainly used for recruiting followers, picking out the best to send to Pakistan, and to raise lots of money. Members of these compounds are said to donate stunning amounts of their paychecks or welfare checks to him. This doesn’t change the nature of the threat if this is true; it would still mean that the compounds are part of a radical Islamic network that seeks to use crime and violence to achieve its objectives.
Put the pieces together: A terrorist training video, a radical Islamic leader, many incidents of members engaging in terrorism and an even larger amount engaging in criminal activity, and a clear pattern emerges that this is not a group that should be allowed to operate in the U.S., much less have isolated communities closed off to the outside world.
FP: Does Jamaat ul-Fuqra have any links to Al-Qaeda?
Mauro: This is unknown, but we do know members of the group have associated with Al-Qaeda. The most important evidence is a reported videotape of Sheikh Gilani in Sudan in December 1993 for the Popular Arab Islamic Conference. There have been differing reports as to whether Osama Bin Laden himself attended (which is what most reports indicated) or if representatives of Al-Qaeda were present, but the truth is that Gilani attended a major terrorist conference where Al-Qaeda members were present, as were members of other groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.
We also know that Khalid Khawaja, a former pilot for Osama Bin Laden whom he was close friends with, is also extremely close friends with Sheikh Gilani. Having been exposed to both leaders’ followers, Khawaja had this to say: “I am telling you, Osama does not have even one of his followers as committed as Sheik Mubarak Gilani” and “If you push him [Gilani] to that stage, that he has no option but to declare jihad on America, it will blow like a volcano.”
The Asia Times reported that a high-level Al-Qaeda leader in Pakistan, Ghulam Mustafa, had become a part of Gilani’s inner circle and that he had been arrested in Lahore, which is also where Gilani lives. Another common associate is Wadih El-Hage, who worked as a secretary for Bin Laden and was given a life sentence for his involvement in Al-Qaeda’s bombings of embassies in Africa in 1998.
Credible experts certainly have not ruled out the possibility that Al-Qaeda, or a similar group, could team up with Jamaat ul-Fuqra for an attack on the United States. The Center for Policing Terrorism says that ul-Fuqra “may be the best positioned group to launch an attack on the United States, or more likely, help al-Qaeda to do so.”
FP: Why doesn’t the government shut down these compounds?
Mauro: There are a few reasons. The first is that Jamaat ul-Fuqra is not designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the State Department, and the second is that the law enforcement authorities do not have the tools they need to search these compounds yet. Right now, members involved in terrorist and criminal activity are being treated as if they are isolated incidents; rogue followers of an otherwise innocent cult.
Legislation on the state level also needs to be passed to permit the authorities to search these compounds. There is an example of such legislation at CAN’s website here.
Hopefully, this documentary educates the government that purpose behind this group’s very creation is to conduct criminal activity and violence, even if individual members of the ul-Fuqra compounds remain unaware of the network’s purpose as a whole.
FP: Ryan Mauro, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
Mauro: My pleasure Jamie.
FP: I’ll reiterate for the readers that this documentary is premiering at Washington D.C.’s Landmark Theater on February 11, at 7:30 PM. It’s free to attend.