A federal agency has recently confirmed that an investigation into the group Jamaat Al-Fuqra, a Pakistani Islamic cult with members in the US, is ongoing.
In a recent letter to an American investigative reporter, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), stated that the journalist’s request for governmental documentation on the Al-Fuqra could not be released due to the fact that an investigation into the group “is still open.”
Al-Fuqra in the United States, also known as Muslims of the Americas, is not a new phenomenon. Suspicion surrounding its activities has been an issue of controversy and inquiry for decades.
Founded in 1980 by the Pakistani Sheik Mubarak Shah Jilani as a system to escape “the decadence of a godless society," Al-Fuqra has had thousands of followers in the US since the early 1990’s.
After garnering support at a grassroots level at local mosques in the New York area, the group slowly began to establish communes up and down the East Coast. The group constructed compounds such as Ahmadabad (Va.) and Holy Islamville (S.C.), and the group’s current flagship Islamburg (N.Y.).
Members have been linked to a string of violent crimes, including most famously the bombing of a Hindu organization owned hotel in Portland by American convert Stephen Paul Paster in 1983. An al-Fuqra member, Clement Rodney Hampton-el, was convicted in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City. Al-Fuqra’s activities in North America have spread over the years. Members were under investigation on at least one occasion in Canada for plotting a major terror attack.
Apart from minor charges such as illegal weapons possession, no major arrests have been made of Al-Fuqra members in the past 15 years or so, leading many observers to the conclusion that the group may have firmly shifted from its more violent past.
Revelations of this ongoing federal investigation, involving several agencies, seems to contradict that view.
To be clear, “investigations” should not necessarily be cause for panic. Federal agencies look into Islamic groups for a variety of reasons, very often involving more benign issues such as illegal finance connected to known terror organizations. The fact that Al-Fuqra is under the government’s watch does not necessarily mean the cult is planning an imminent attack.
However, the news should at the very least raise some warning flags.
Al-Fuqra is an established network on US soil, with thousands of committed members. The very fact that the feds consider the group a threat is an important development in the threat environment of America.Threats associated with jihadist terror are typically considered lone wolves inspired to violence via online forums, or at the very most, foreign groups infiltrating US borders.
A threat posed by Al-Fuqra would be different. They are here already, and have been for a while. The resources they possess would give them the means to train, as well as acquire guns and other equipment, all without the challenge of crossing a border.
These possibilities are without a doubt on the list of concerns on the ATF’s and other agencies’ list.
Time may give the public some more insight into the full scope of the threat posed by Al-Fuqrah to North America.