Excerpt:

If you didn't know where to look, you'd probably never find Islamberg, a private Muslim community in the woods of the western Catskills, 150 miles northwest of New York City.

The town, sitting on a quiet dirt road past a gate marked with No Trespassing signs, is home to an estimated 100 residents. There are small houses and other buildings visible from the outside, but it is what can't be seen from beyond the gate that has some watchers worried.

Islamberg was founded in 1980 by Sheikh Syed Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, a Pakistani cleric who purchased a 70-acre plot and invited followers, mostly Muslim converts living in New York City, to settle there.

The town has its own mosque, grocery store and schoolhouse. It also reportedly has a firing range where residents take regular target practice. Gilani established similar rural enclaves across the country — at least six, including the Red House community in southern Virginia — though some believe there are dozens of them, all operating under the umbrella of the "Muslims of the Americas" group founded by Gilani.


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