Jihad Among Junipers and Mint Juleps
RADICAL ISLAM COMES TO FULL BLOOM IN SOUTHERN VIRGINIA
by Paul L. Williams, Ph.D. (author of The Day of Islam)
with the able assistance of Shawn Michaels, Jamal Babour and Dr. Hugh Cort
The Islamic practice of taqiyya, meaning "deception" or "concealment," has been refined into an art-form at a jihad training compound for African American converts near the small town of Red House in Charlotte County, Virginia.
The fifty-acre compound is easy to find since the main road leading to it has been named Sheikh Gilani Lane in honor of the guru and founder of a terrorist organization with close ties to Osama bin Laden. The Board of Supervisors of Charlotte County are either oblivious to the threat of radical Islam on American soil or clandestine advocates of the great jihad.
At the end Sheikh Gilani Lane is a sign - - barely visible through the overgrown brush - - that reads, "The Muslims of the Americas." The sign serves to make the place appear as an innocuous religious settlement, until one realizes that The Muslims of the Americas is, in reality, an outgrowth of Jamaat ul-Fuqra, an alleged sister agency to al-Qaeda.
Several weeks before 9/11, a guard house and a gate had been erected at the entrance to the Red House compound.
But the guard house and the gate are now gone, and no sentries - - armed or otherwise - - are in sight, that is until you get well inside the complex of old trailers and pre-fab shanties. The only person to be seen in the the compound is an African American crone in a full black burqa sans the face cover known as a hijab. The day is hot and humid and the burqa serves to give the wizened old woman the appearance of a wayside witch from a Grimm's fairy tale.
"The men are all gone," the crone says from a park bench. "No one is here."
The Red House compound certainly appears deserted. A few mobile homes, several rusty old trailers, and a few mounds of debris among waist-high weeds remain along an old dirt road that runs through the Islamic village, but there appears to be little of interest, let alone concern.
As soon as the investigators park their car and trek into compound, the old woman removes a mobile phone from a sachet and dials a number.
In a matter of minutes, a pick-up truck appears at the entranceway. Two young African Americans dressed in skull caps and jalabiyahs emerge from the vehicle. "What are you doing here?" they ask.
Jamal, an Egyptian journalist, says in Arabic, "I'm here to see the Imam. Where does he live?"
One of the young men, whose Arabic name translates as "Slave of God", indicates that the Imam is not in and he should knock on the door of a ramshackle blue structure where he was told "Ahmed", one of the Elders may be found.
Jamal proceeds to the structure and rings the bell, but no one answers. Another member of our investigative team knocks at the doors of the trailers and mobile homes but there is no response. Some of the windows to the homes have been holed up with bricks save for openings that are ideal for assault rifles.
The young African Americans, who have shown up on the scene, are becoming agitated. They begin to make calls on their cell phones.
Then something miraculous happens.
At the Imam's residence, Muslim men begin to emerge in droves from a small storage shed attached to the house. It seems like a scene from a Marx Brothers movie in which dozens of people pour out of a closet. The investigators are suddenly surrounded by forty or fifty members of the complex in Islamic gowns and white skullcaps.
"What brings you here?" they ask.
Imam's residence at Red House compound
"We heard about the village," Jamal says, "and wanted to pay a visit. I thought I could stop by for evening prayers."
"The evening prayers are over," says one of the newly materialized men, who could be a professional body builder.
In the blink of an eye, another wondrous thing occurs.
Hundreds of more African Americans in Islamic garb materialize from the dense forests, the high grass of the open meadows, and the rusty trailers that just seconds ago appeared to be deserted.
A covey of late model cars and SUV's converge on the compound from a network of dirt roads. The Muslims who emerge from the vehicles appear more affluent than the others. The men wear white halabiyahs with matching head coverings. The women are dressed in colorful caftans and flowing abayas. They seem to be models from the Crescent Moon boutique.
"Are you the police?" a female villager asks through the shaded window of the Imam's residence.
"No," Jamal answers. "We just stopped by to join in prayer."
"This is not a place for tourists," screeches the woman in the Imam's house, "and we don't like you taking pictures of our houses and automobiles."
By this time, the Red House compound is swarming with hundreds of Muslim men, women, and children - - and several appear to be deeply agitated by the intruders.
Jamal produces a card from a radical imam he had met the day before at the radical Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church. It serves as a ticket out of the place.
"Ahmed's" residence at Red House
What is taking place in the Red House complex? Is the complex amidst the rolling hills of southern Virginia a peaceful Islamic village where devout Muslims have gathered to retreat from the hustle and bustle of contemporary American life in order to pray, meditate, and to live in strict accordance with the traditions of their faith? Or is it something more sinister - - something that should alarm every American who is concerned about the threat of radical Islam?
These factors are clear:
(1). There is an underground bunker at the complex that may be used for paramilitary training and possibly to harbor deadly weapons for use in the great jihad against Christians and Jews. Twenty-four members of this Jamaat ul-Fuqra complex already have been arrested for trafficking in illegal firearms, including the ammunition for AK-47s.
(2). Members of the compound have been sent to Pakistan and Afghanistan for specialized training in guerilla warfare - - a fact confirmed by Thomas P. Gallagher, a Special Agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
(3). The Red House compound regularly receives visits from suspicious guests from Egypt, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.
(4). The Red House cell of ul-Fuqra has metastasized so that similar Islamic compounds have popped up in neighboring Prince George and Campbell Counties. The 25 acre facility in Prince George County is situated on Mahareen Road, a name selected by the Muslim newcomers and duly approved by the local ordinance officials. Mahareen is the plural of the Arabic mahar, meaning "clever one." The facility in Campbell County is considerably larger, occupying more than 100 acres. An additional compound reportedly has materialized in Bedford County near the city of Roanoke.
(5). Several Virginia compounds appear to possess obstacle courses, and firing ranges.
(6). Members of the compounds have been known to refer to themselves as "soldiers of Allah" and "Mohammad's commandos."
(7) What happens in the Red House compound stays in the Red House compound. The members of the radical Islamic community rarely appear in the nearby town; conduct little business with local merchants; and stay to themselves.
Mosque and Learning Center
The Muslims of the Americas, the tax-exempt corporation which owns and operates the Red House compound, was formed in 1980 by Pakistani cleric Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani. It is, according to an official report, a "front organization" for terrorist activities. A 2005 Homeland Security report predicts that the Muslims of the Americas will sponsor a major terrorist attack on American soil.
The parent organization of The Muslims of the Americas is Jamaat ul-Fuqra or "community of the impoverished" which retains headquarters in Lahore, Pakistan. The purpose of Jamaat ul-Fuqra, as established by Sheikh Gilani, is not to serve some beneficent good for the cause of the impoverished but rather to "purify" Islam through violence.
A quack practitioner of something called "Quranic psychiatry, Sheikh Gilani refers to himself as "the sixth Sultan ul Faqr." The Sheikh claims to have supernatural powers and to receive regular visits from "non-human beings." In 1979, Gilani came to believe that he could begin the processing of purifying Islam through violence with the aid of socially disgruntled and economically disenfranchised blacks within the inner cities of New York and New Jersey. The basis of this belief was Gilani conviction that a sizeable number of African Americans fostered an innate hatred of the United States and could be easily convinced to further the cause of global jihad. Many may have viewed Gilano's mission as a cockamamie scheme that smacked of racism, but it worked like a hypnotic charm from Scheherazade.
At the al-Farouq mosque in Brooklyn, a dingy establishment at 554 Atlantic Avenue, Gilani, sporting ammunition belts, spoke of Islam as the cure for all societal ills and called upon the young men in attendance to take up arms in the holy war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Hundreds answered the call and headed off to a training camp in Abbotabad, Pakistan that had been established by Osama bin Laden and other members of the mujahadeen.
Knowing the need for new recruits, Gilani turned to the penal system and focused his attention on converting incarcerated blacks to his radical Islamic doctrine. Imams and religious instructors were dispatched to local, state, and federal prison facilities to accomplish this objective. The results were mind-boggling. Thousands converted on a weekly basis, drawn to the offers of protection, special meals, and release from work detail for daily prayers and the entire month of Ramadan.
Gilani soon came to the realization that it would be financially advantageous to train new recruits for the holy war on American soil rather than to pay the freight of sending them to Pakistan, and the sites of his other training camps throughout the world. And so, Islamberg in Hancock, New York came into being. Soon other hamaats were established in such places as Hyattsville, Maryland; Falls Church, Virginia; Macon, Georgia; York, South Carolina; Dover, Tennessee; Buena Vista, Colorado; Talihina, Oklahoma; Tulane Country, California; Commerce, California; and Onalaska, Washington. The Red House compound cropped up in 1993. Others are under construction, including an expansive facility in Sherman, Pennsylvania. How many hamaats are now in place throughout the United States is anyone's guess. A low-ball figure is 38.
Before becoming a citizen of the Red House compound or any of the other Fuqra communities, 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." They are also obliged to contribute 70% of their welfare checks and other sources of income to Muslims of the Americas, Inc.
Mission accomplished among the African Americans, Sheikh Gilani returned to his native Lahore circa 1990. In December 1993, he was an honored guest at an international gathering of jihadis at the residence of Hassan al-Turabi in Khartoum. At the gathering, attended by members of al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular and Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine, Sheikh Gilani, Osama bin Laden, and other prominent terrorist leaders were caught on film chanting, "Down, down with the USA!" "Down, down with the CIA," and "Death to the Jews."
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. Associates of the group were also instrumental in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.
The criminal charges against the group and the criminal convictions are not things of the past. In 2001, a 19 year-old former resident of the Red House compound was charged with the first-degree murder in the shooting of a sheriff's deputy in California. By 2004 federal investigators uncovered evidence that linked both the DC "sniper killer" John Allen Muhammed and "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid to the group and reports surfaced that Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was captured and beheaded in the process of attempting to obtain an interview with Sheikh Gilani in Pakistan.
Even though Jamaat ul-Fuqra has been involved in bloody bombings and sundry criminal activities, recruited thousands of members from federal and state penal systems, and appears to be operating paramilitary facilities for militant Muslims, the terror organization remains to be placed on the official US Terror Watch List, and The Muslims of the Americas continue to operate, flourish, and expand as a legitimate nonprofit, tax-deductible charity.
Meanwhile, the hills of rural Virginia are alive with the sound of jihad.
But few are listening.