Waco - Muslim Style
Situated within a
dense forest at the foothills of the
Catskill Mountains on the outskirts of Hancock, New York,
Islamberg is not an ideal place for a summer vacation unless of
course you are an exponent of Jihad or a fan of Osama Bin Laden.
The 70 acre complex is surrounded with "No Trespassing" signs;
the rocky terrain is infested with rattlesnakes; and the woods
are home to black bears, coyotes, wolves and a few bobcats.
The entrance to the community is at the bottom of a very steep
hill that is difficult to navigate even on a bright sunny day in
May. The road, dubbed Muslim Lane, is unpaved and marred by deep
crevices that have been created by torrential downpours. On a
wintry day, few, save those with all terrain vehicles, could
venture forth from the remote encampment. A sentry post has been
established at the base of the hill.
The sentry, at the time of this visit, is an African American
dressed in Islamic garb - - a skull cap, a prayer shawl, and a
loose fitting shalwat kameez. He instructs us to turn around and
leave. "Our community is not open to visitors," he says. Behind
the sentry and across a small stream stand dozens of inhabitants
of the compound - - the men wearing skull caps and loose fitting
tunics, the women in full burqa. They appear ready to deal with
any unauthorized intruders. The hillside is blighted by rusty
trailers that appear to be without power or running water and a
number of outhouses. The scent of raw sewage is in the air.
The place is even off limits to the local undertaker who says
that he has delivered bodies to the complex but has never been
granted entrance. "They come and take the bodies from my hearse.
They won’t allow me to get past the sentry post. They say
that they want to prepare the bodies for burial, but I never get
the bodies back. I don’t know what’s going on there
but I don’t think it’s legal." It is home to hundreds
- all in Islamic attire, and all African-Americans, the sentry
Islamberg is not as benign as a Buddhist monastery or a
Carmelite convent. Nearly every weekend, neighbors hear sounds of
gunfire. Some, including a combat veteran of the Vietnam War,
have heard the bang of small explosives. None of the neighbors
wished to be identified for fear of "retaliation." "We
don’t even dare to slow down when we drive by," one
resident said. "They own the mountain and they know it."
The complex scares the local residents. "If you go there, you
better wear body armour," a customer at the Circle E Diner in
Hancock said. "They have armed guards and if they shoot you,
nobody will find your body." At Cousins, in nearby Deposit, an
unidentified man said, "The place is dangerous. You can hear
gunfire up there. I can’t understand why the FBI
won’t shut it down."
Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani
Islamberg is a branch of ‘Muslims of the Americas
Inc.’, a tax-exempt organization formed in 1980 by
Pakistani cleric Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, who refers to himself
as ‘the sixth Sultan Ul Faqr.’ Gilani, has been
directly linked by court documents to Jamaat ul-Fuqra or
‘community of the impoverished,’ an organization that
seeks to ‘purify’ Islam through violence.
Though primarily based in Lahore, Pakistan, Jamaat ul-Fuqra
has operational headquarters in New York and openly recruits
through various social service organizations in the U.S.,
including the prison system. Members live in hamaats or
compounds, such as Islamberg, where they agree to abide by the
laws of Jamaat ul-Fuqra, which are considered to be above local,
state and federal authority.
Additional hamaats have been established in
Hyattsville, Maryland; Red House, Virginia; Falls Church,
Virginia; Macon, Georgia; York, South Carolina; Dover, Tennessee;
Buena Vista, Colorado; Talihina, Oklahoma; Tulane Country,
California; Commerce, California; and Onalaska, Washington.
Others are being built, including an expansive facility in
Before becoming a citizen of Islamberg or any of the other
Fuqra compounds, the recruits - primarily inner city black men
who became converts in prison - are compelled to sign an oath
that reads: "I shall always hear and obey, and whenever given the
command, I shall readily fight for Allah’s sake." In the
past, thousands of members of the U.S. branches of Jamaat
ul-Fuqra traveled to Pakistan for paramilitary training, but
encampments, such as Islamberg, are now capable of providing
boot-camp training so raw recruits are no longer required to
travel abroad amidst the increased scrutiny of post 9/11.Over the
years, numerous members of Jamaat ul-Fuqra have been convicted in
US courts of such crimes as conspiracy to commit murder,
firebombing, gun smuggling, and workers’ compensation
fraud. Others remain leading suspects in criminal cases
throughout the country, including ten unsolved assassinations and
seventeen fire-bombings between 1979 and 1990. The criminal
charges against the group and the criminal convictions are not
things of the past. In 2001, a resident of a California compound
was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting of a
sheriff’s deputy, another was charged with
gun-smuggling’ and twenty-four members of the Red House
community were convicted of firearms violations.
Even though Jamaat ul-Fuqra has been involved in terror
attacks and sundry criminal activities, recruited thousands of
members from federal and state penal systems, and appears to be
operating paramilitary facilities for militant Muslims, it
remains to be placed on the official US Terror Watch List. On the
contrary, it continues to operate, flourish, and expand as a
legitimate nonprofit, tax-deductible charity.
Why does President Bush wage the War on Terror thousands of
miles away in Iraq, but does nothing about an obvious Islamic
terror facility on his doorstep?
Paul L Williams PhD
(author of THE DAY OF ISLAM)