While America and Great Britain have many ties that bind us, one of those ties, unfortunately, is what we share in terms of being home to radical Islamist groups. Though founded in Britain, the group Al-Muhajiroun's descendants still exist in the United States, and as FSM Contributing Editor Adrian Morgan warns, their violent rhetoric is no different from that used by their British associates. One US group, The Islamist Thinkers Society, actively promotes a form of Islamism which could be seen to be encouraging acts of terrorism. Coming soon to a neighborhood near you? Read all about them right here.
Al-Muhajiroun in the US: Part Two
Part One of this article can be found here in the first installment of my reporting on clandestine terror groups, or cells, in the United States.
Junaid Babar, a resident of Jamaica, Queens, pleaded guilty on June 2, 2004 of providing material support to a senior Al Qaeda member in Pakistan between 2003 and 2004. He also confessed to setting up a jihad training camp, and admitted his involvement in setting up a plot for British Al-Muhajiroun members to carry out terrorist attacks in Britain.
Babar was a member of Al-Muhajiroun, which had a branch in Queens. In June 2004, it was said that Al-Muhajiroun North America and Al-Muhajiroun UK claimed Babar had left their organization in late 2001. Whenever the heat gets turned up on the group, it either disowns members or changes its name.
In Pakistan, Babar spent time with Hassan Butt at the Lahore branch. Butt, who boasted sending jihadists to fight coalition troops, was officially "disowned" by Bakri Mohammed in 2002, but the men now on trial in the UK, accused of plotting bomb attacks, were Al-Muhajiroun members. Another individual who spent two months with Babar in Pakistan, Zeeshan Siddique, was a UK Al-Muhajiroun member. When arrested by Pakistani officials on May 18, 2005, Siddique had phone numbers of known Al Qaeda operatives.
Siddique told Pakistani authorities that he had met Mohammed Sidique Khan, one of the 7/7 bombers, along with eight other Britons at a jihadist camp in Pakistan in 2003. Khan and Shehzad Tanweer (another 7/7 bomber) had both been former Al-Muhajiroun members. Siddique went with Babar to South and North Waziristan where he met two senior Al Qaeda members. Siddique (pictured) was an associate of Asif Hanif, the Al-Muhajiroun suicide bomber who attacked Mike's Bar in Tel Aviv in April, 2003. Siddique was deported to Britain on January 8, 2006 but, amazingly, has not been charged with any offenses.
In March 2003 reporter Aaron Klein of WorldNet Daily attended a meeting held by Al-Muhajiroun. The meeting was held at the Queensborough Community College, and was sponsored by the Muslim Students' Association (MSA). The meeting was led by Abu Yousuf and Muhammed Faheed.
Yousuf, leader of the New York branch, was American-born and had become involved with Al-Muhajiroun five years earlier. He claimed to have attended a jihadist camp in Sudan in 2002. Faheed's rhetoric at the meeting was typical, such as declaring that they would not recognize any government authority besides Allah. He extolled the virtues of terrorism and claimed that "Eventually there will be a Muslim in the White House dictating the laws of Shariah."
Yousef claimed that he spoke at colleges around New York, with most talks arranged by the MSA. Other New York colleges where AM are known to have held meetings are Brooklyn College and Marymount College.
MSA, founded in 1963, claims to have 600 chapters in colleges in the US and Canada. According to Stephen Schwartz, the MSA had links with the Muslim World League (founded 1962) and has strong ties with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), whose US offices in North Virginia have been subject to terrorism investigations.
When Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed announced in October 2004 that Al-Muhajiroun was officially disbanding, the activists of its New York branch did not disappear. They became renamed as the Islamic Thinkers Society.
Their website now states that they are part of Ahlus Sunna wal Jama'ah. This name means "people of the Sunna and the Muslim majority", and is claimed by three groups - one in Indonesia, where it was led by Umar Jafar Thalib who fought Christians in the Moluccan War, and in Australia, by the Islamist Sheik Omran. The other group is based in Britain, founded by former Al-Muhajiroun members in November 2005 as a back-up, in case their offshoot groups became banned.
The Islamic Thinkers Society is a direct link to the earlier Queens branch of Al-Muhajiroun. They certainly support the UK former members of Al-Muhajiroun who now belong to Ahlus Sunna wal Jamma'ah. In April 2006 their website carried a condemnation of the arrests of Anjem Choudary (former deputy of Al-Muhajiroun0, and four others, for their part in a notorious illegal demonstration in London on February 2006. Their message claimed: "The raids, which violated the honor of the women of the household when the police entered at 2am is something we will not tolerate and stay silent about."
Al-Muhajiroun had been formed on February 16, 1996, as an offshoot of Hizb ut-Tahrir. In Queens, the US Hizb ut-Tahrir had been formed by Iyad Hillal in the 1980s and had its base. When Al-Muhajiroun split off from Hizb in Britain, radicals from Hizb US similarly developed their own AM branch.
During the 1990s, Al-Muhajiroun' had a leader in North America, Kamran Asghar Bokhari. Bokhari had first visited the US when he was three. His father was a diplomat from Pakistan, who worked at the United Nations. It was while he was a student at the City College of New York that Kamran Bokhari became involved with Al-Muhajiroun. Whether he was recruited here or in Pakistan, where Al-Muhajiroun had a center in Lahore, is uncertain.
He moved to Springfield and studied electronics at a local community college. He went to Southwest Missouri State University to study political science. There he studied political science and headed the local branch of the Muslim Students' Association. Bokhari helped to found a mosque, the Springfield Islamic Center. Some of the money to fund this had supposedly come from Suliman al-Buthe, of Al-Haramain. In 2004, Al-Haramain US was designated by the US Treasury for its funding links to Al Qaeda.
Bokhari claimed to have left Al-Muhajiroun in 1999. He gained an MA in Middle Eastern Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, and a PhD from the Department of Political Science, Howard University, Washington D.C. In 2004, Daniel Pipes complained that the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) held a conference with the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy on March 19. Bokhari is on the board of directors of the CSID. He also began writing for Stratfor, and still writes there as a "stategic ananalyst". He had a website called Post-Islamist.info. He still writes for Stratfor, with his most recent article published on November 28, 2006.
It may be just a coincidence but Al-Haramain had a branch in Missouri and a main center in Ashland, Oregon. It was in Oregon in 1999 that Al-Muhajiroun member Haroon Rashid Aswat and Abu Hamza had allegedly planned to set up a jihadist training camp. Abu Hamza's group, Supporters of Sharia, was closely linked to AM, and the two groups regularly held joint meetings in the UK.
Another former member of Al-Muhajiroun US who lived in New York was Syed Fahad Hashmi. He was arrested on June 6, 2006 at London's Heathrow airport, suspected of assisting an Al Qaeda terrorist plot, and assisting jihadists in Afghanistan and Iraq. A resident of Flushing, Queens, he was a follower of the Islamic Thinkers Society. After 9/11, he had invited a member of Al-Muhajiroun to talk at the campus of Brooklyn College.
On March 18, 2005, the Islamic Thinkers Society protested against a woman (Amina Wadud) leading Muslim Friday prayers at the Synod House of the Episcopalian cathedral, St John the Divine, in Morningside Heights. Three mosques had refused her permission to lead prayers. An art gallery at SoHo revoked its offer to hold the service after a bomb threat. At that time, their spokesman was identified as Bangladeshi-born Ariful Islam, a student at La Guardia Community College. He said: "We have nothing to hide. We are always in the public. We're all just regular kids in New York City. We grew up here."
On June 10 2005, Robert Spencer noted that ITS had cursed him for reporting on their activities: "May Allah s.w.t. give painful torment to Robert Spencer and Grayson Levy who are waging an e-Crusade on us by publishing false information about us." The group stated that it was an "Intellectual and political non-violent organization. And we do not have any connections with foreign organizations whatsoever."
Two days before, the group had publicly desecrated the US flag at a rally held at 74th street and 37th Ave. The event was videotaped by the group and was then distributed on the Internet. It can be viewed HERE. Visible on the placards are statements such as "Holocaust was a Hoax," and the group utters statements such as "Jaish-e-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed) is on its way" and "Victory to the Mujahideen".
On February 17, 2006, the Islamic Thinkers Society, in conjunction with other groups, held a rally at the Danish Consulate on 2nd Ave and 48th Street to protest the Danish cartoons. About 1,000 people attended. Though they declare on their website that they are only a "handful" of people, they have links with other groups, and produce leaflets and other publicity to spread their viewpoint.
On April 20, 2006, the Islamic Thinkers Society held a rally outside the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan. A video can be found here. The chanting included the following:
Israeli Zionists, What do you say? How many women have you raped today? Israeli Zionists, What do you say? How many children have you killed today?
Zionists, Zionists You will pay! The Wrath of Allah is on its way! Israeli Zionists You shall pay! The Wrath of Allah is on its way! The mushroom cloud is on its way! The real Holocaust is on its way!
They made a return visit to the Israeli consulate on July 18. More recently, the group has tried to make more "informative" videos, documenting their aims and ideals. Examples can be found on YouTube, here, and here.
The videos were posted onto YouTube between October and November 2006, by "Khilafamovement". On one video, a member of ITS tries to dispel the rumors that it is connected with the Bay Ridge Islamic Center. A spokesperson states that on May 6, 2005, the Bay Ridge mosque and ITS were merely two groups that agreed to make a demonstration against Israel.
On November 15, 2006, a spokesman for the Islamic Thinkers Society appeared on Glenn Beck's radio show. The interview with Yunis Abdullah Mohammed aka Jesse can be found here. Beck challenged Mohammed on the group's mention of Israel, the "Holocaust and the mushroom cloud" and Mohammed hardly showed himself as a great "thinker".
"Mohammed", a US-born convert, distracted from Beck's questioning on whether, under Sharia law, he could listen to music on the radio, but said that he himself did not listen to music. This is slightly ironic, as the website has an introduction in SWF format, in which two segments of Islamic music serve as the background. "Mohammed" did admit that, under his ideal of Sharia, no woman would be allowed to leave her home either alone or without wearing head covering.
There is no evidence that the Islamic Thinkers Society is involved in terrorism. But the group actively promotes a form of Islamism which could be seen to be encouraging acts of terrorism. As they claim: "Our da'wah (missionary) activities takes place mainly in the streets of Times Square and Jackson Heights, NYC where we give out leaflets and hold posters/banners covering all types of issues relating from spiritual, social, economical, to political issues." On the ITS website, they list 34 Islamic scholars who are to be "avoided". These scholars are generally regarded as "moderate". Most of these have more experience of life and Islam than any of the presumptious youth who represent ITS. At best, the organization is seditious, and tirelessly campaigns to undermine the values which built America.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Adrian Morgan is a British based writer and artist who has written for Western Resistance since its inception. He also writes for Spero News. He has previously contributed to various publications, including the Guardian and New Scientist and is a former Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society.