Islamburg, NY, has UK terror onnections

CFP: Islamberg, British style by Judi McLeod , 10/16/07

In the United States, 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”, operates dozens of radical Islamic compounds, which flourish in out-of-the-way rural areas.

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.

No small potatoes in the world of radical Islam, Gilani has rubbed shoulders with various members of the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, their mullah backers, and even Osama bin Laden himself. He has trained fighters for the battlefields of Kashmir, Chechnya and Bosnia. Gilani was in Pakistani custody for the abduction of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl, but was released.

When Williams and Hagmann reported on Islamberg, a radical Muslim paramilitary compound flourishing in upper New York State, hundreds of letters flooded CFP.

Readers could not believe that authorities would allow such a place to operate.

“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 the Jihad or a fan of Osama bin Laden,” Williams and Hagmann wrote following their visit to the compound,

“On the other side of the hill where few dare to go is a tiny village replete with a make-shift learning center (dubbed the “International Quranic Open University"); a trailer converted into a Laundromat’ a small, green community center; a small and rather squalid grocery store; a newly constructed majid; over forty clapboard homes; and scores of additional trailers.

“It is home to hundreds--all in Islamic attire, and all African-Americans. Most drive late model SUVs with licence plates from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee. The locals say that some work as tollbooth operators for the New York State Thruway, while others are employed at a credit card processing center that maintains confidential financial records.”

Although many Americans and Canadians are totally unaware of their existence, radical Muslim paramilitary compounds have had a long history in North America. (At least once such compound is said to flourish on Canadian soil).

Writing about them gets you threats on Islamberg founder Sheikh Gilani’s website and skepticism from the mainstream media.

“Fuqra has had a disturbing U.S. presence for more than 20 years.” (The Weekly Standard, March 18, 2002). “Today half a dozen Fuqra residential compounds in rural hamlets across the country shelter hundreds of members some of whom, according to intelligence sources have been trained in the use of weapons and explosives in Pakistan.”

Few would have the courage to make their way into a remote area onto a military training ground, equipped with ropes hanging from tall trees, wooden fences for scaling, a make-shift obstacle course, and a firing range that appeared to have been in regular use.

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