Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Rural Terrorists in America

From Strategy Page

As the FBI digs deeper into the world of Islamic extremist groups in the United States, it has encountered a growing number of them operating in rural areas. Jamaat ul Fuqra is a group that began in Pakistan, where most members still reside, but has spread to North America over the last two decades. Many members have been busted for various crimes, usually ones related to fraud and abuse of social welfare programs.

The Muslims of America organization recruits in prisons, and has already produced a number of Islamic terrorists. What worries the FBI is the many more members who talk-the-talk, but have not yet moved to the walk-the-walk phase yet. Even if these groups are not actively carrying out terrorist acts, their preaching and everyday conversations indicate they would provide support services for any "holy warriors" that came knocking.

These groups have survived because they have learned how to work the system, including the FBI, and whatever counter-terrorism mojo that gets thrown at them. A major part of their defenses is their insularity, even from other Moslems. In fact, Jamaat ul Fuqra considers less conservative Moslems as heretics. Many of the Fuqra folks prefer to live out in the country, and create as much isolation for themselves as possible. Finding out what's going on in these groups is much more difficult than with people in the general Moslem population. While most Moslem-Americans are loyal citizens, and willing to send in tips about possible terrorist groups, outfits like Jamaat ul Fuqra just don't do that sort of thing, and react violently if they find any of their members doing so.

On the plus side, many of these extremist or conservative Moslem groups know, or suspect, that they are being watched. Any move to carry out a terrorist attack would bring the law down on them and, their families. So far, the only terrorist action out of these groups have been false starts or suspicious, not indictable, activity. But the potential is there, and it's scary.

Gates of Vienna has reported on Jamaat-ul-Fuqra in California and Virginia

Jamaat ul-Fuqra is an Islamic sect that seeks to purify Islam through violence. Fuqra is led by Pakistani cleric Shaykh Mubarik Ali Gilani, who established the organization in the early 1980s. Gilani now resides in Pakistan, but most Fuqra cells are located in North America and the Caribbean. Fuqra members have purchased isolated rural compounds in North America to live communally, practice their faith, and insulate themselves from Western culture.

Jamaat ul-Furqua translates to "community of the impoverished". It's philosophy of "purification through violence" should designate this group as a cult. But the DOS website seems to take a "let's wait until they kill somebody" approach.

Question: The group headed by Shaykh Gilani used to be designated by the State Department as a terrorist group but it was taken off the list. Why?

Answer: 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.

Recent anti-terrorist efforts have gone well in Florida and Toronto, let's hope Jamaat ul-Fuqra isn't ignored due to "recent inactivity". The question is, why let groups like this flourish here in the US?


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