When the five Muslims convicted this month of plotting to kill U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix were charged, the New Jersey mosque where four of the men worshipped reacted to negative publicity by holding an “emergency town hall meeting” to calm neighbors and persuade Americans that Islam poses no threat.
But having investigated the Islamic Center of South Jersey one year ago, Middle East expert and former Air Force special agent Dave Gaubatz insists not only is the mosque a threat to national security, it represents a pattern that has prompted him to launch a massive project to systematically classify every known mosque in the U.S.
Mapping Shariah in America: Knowing the Enemy seeks by the end of next year to document in a rigorous, scientific fashion the controversial premise that the more a mosque or community of Muslims adheres to Shariah, or Islamic law, the greater its threat to U.S. national security.
“That’s exactly, that’s what the data are showing,” Gaubatz told WND, who has charted about 100 of the estimated 2,300 mosques his team has identified across the country. “The more adherent you are to Shariah, the more likely you are going to find the material to back that up at the mosque.”
For the observant Muslim, Islamic law is an all-encompassing system that dictates every aspect of life, from food and clothing to the duty to participate in making the religion dominant over the entire world.
At the Islamic Center of South Jersey in Palmyra, where three of the Muslims in the Fort Dix case regularly worshipped and a fourth prayed a few times, Gaubatz found a strict, Shariah-adherent leadership that eagerly distributed jihadist materials supportive of seminal Shariah proponents such as Sayid Abul Maududi, the founder of the radical Pakistani party Jamaat-e-Islami, and Syed Qutb, whose ideas shaped al-Qaida
“What is being overlooked in the Fort Dix case is where the suspects worshipped,” he said. “Were they Shariah adherent? Who is the imam, what materials were at the mosque? They came up with the idea to attack Fort Dix for some reason. How and why?”
Using a sophisticated matrix developed by Gaubatz and his colleagues, including a former jihadist, the Jersey mosque was ranked an 8, with 10 being the greatest threat and 1 the lowest.
In the study, Gaubatz and his team – which includes people of different faiths and nationalities, including Muslims – employ 62 different factors to assess a mosque’s compliance to Shariah.
Dave Gaubatz with Iraqi child
“We don’t rely on talking to anyone about anything, because if we did, you’re going to get some people giving you half-answers and some not answering at all,” he said.
The focus is on the observed facts, he said, such as how many of the women wear a hijab, how many wear Western-style clothing and the type of threads in an imam’s garment.
The team recognizes the distinctions between the Shiite branch of Islam and the four primary schools of thought within the Sunni branch. But Gaubatz says those factors are not scored in the study. The premise is that all streams and sects of Islam recognize a form of Shariah. His primary concern, for the purpose of assessing the threat to the U.S., is the mosque’s degree of adherence.
Of interest to most Americans, of course, is the threat of violent jihad. But Gaubatz notes there are two other forms of jihad at work in the U.S. to advance Islam, the pen and the tongue.
“We focus too much on why we haven’t had an attack since 2001 in the United States, because the pen and the tongue right now are winning here,” Gaubatz said. “Why would you go for number three, the physical jihad, if you’re already achieving goals one and two?
The significance of the Mapping Shariah project is underscored in the conflicting message to the public by a trustee at the Islamic Center of South Jersey, Ismail Badat, who insisted Muslims in the U.S. promote only peace.
Badat said the purpose of the emergency town hall meeting in the wake of the Fort Dix charges in May 2007 was “to clarify for our American friends and neighbors the fundamental beliefs, teachings and practices of Islam, and to make it clear that Muslims here, who are also Americans, do not in any way sanction the forms of violent and offensive behavior which have recently attained prominence in the media.”
But Gaubatz found evidence to the contrary not only at the New Jersey mosque but at mosques related to other high-profile cases.
He personally conducted the mapping of the mosque tied to the Muslim who went on a shooting rampage at Salt Lake City’s Trolley Square mall last year, and he found it ranked high on his scale.
In Blacksburg, Va., Gaubatz met the imam who was asked to pray at the nationally televised service for slain students at Virginia Tech last year and discovered he leads a Shariah-compliant mosque that backs the genocidal Islamist regime in Sudan.
The imam clearly did not like Virginia Tech, Gaubatz said, and handed him material by Maududi and the Saudi regime, which spends billions of dollars spreading the strict Wahhibist interpretation of Islam around the world.
“He said, if I want to be pure Muslim, and a true Muslim, study these. Look at these,” Gaubatz said.
Gaubatz and his team gave its highest rating, a 10, to the Brooklyn mosque of Imam Siraj Wahhaj.
Wahhaj, a former board member of the Washington, D.C.-based Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, “is in my opinion the most dangerous person in the U.S. in regards to our national security,” Gaubatz said.
He has documented Wahhaj declaring in a lecture, “Muslims in America are the most strategically placed Muslims in the world. The U.S. government can’t bomb them.”
Gaubatz said his week-long assessment of Wahhaj’s mosque also uncovered violent material calling for the death of law enforcement officers and instructing Muslims who commit a crime how to go underground.
Wahhaj also has called for recruiting gang members to help carry out jihad.
“Give them Islam, then send them back to the streets with UZIs,” the imam said, according to Gaubatz.
Gaubatz contends many Islamic groups and organizations take on a legal and peaceful veneer in English-speaking settings but often preach quietly in Arabic, Farsi and Urdu “a very violent and anti-American jihad.”
Virtually all Islamic leaders in the U.S. have been particularly careful since the 9/11 attacks about what they say publicly, Gaubatz said. But many Shariah-compliant mosques and schools distribute materials supporting or calling for violent jihad. In a widely distributed DVD, for example, an Islamic scholar in the U.S., Ahmad Sakr, declares in a pre-2001 sermon, “Do not follow the laws of the U.S. Constitution, do not follow the congressmen and other U.S. leaders, they will all go to hell, follow Shariah law.”
Gaubatz pointed out Wahhaj sells old, pre-2001 lectures.
“He says nothing off-line in any of his lectures now,” said Gaubatz. “But he says if you want to understand pure Islam, to do the right thing, this is what you do, you take from this one (lecture) and this one and this one – and they are all prior to 2001.”
Gaubatz has spent a considerable amount of his time investigating CAIR, which has enjoyed access to the White House, the State Department, Homeland Security and other branches of government despite evidence of its ties to Hamas and other radical groups.
Gaubatz noted CAIR has a campaign to put Shariah-promoting materials into American libraries.
“I’ve gone to several hundred public libraries and this material is in there,” he said. “People don’t realize what it is until you start looking at the author, and it came from Saudi Arabia, sent to CAIR. And CAIR is putting it into our public libraries.”
As WND reported, Gaubatz publicly served CAIR leaders in November with legal notice of a lawsuit on behalf of Muslims who claim the group victimized them in a fraud scheme involving a lawyer who is unqualified to practice.
Gaubatz, a U.S. State Department-trained Arabic linguist and counter-terrorism specialist, has more than two decades of experience in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and Iraq. He was deployed to Nasiriyah, Iraq, in 2003, where he collected intelligence on weapons of mass destruction and espionage.
The mapping project’s administrator and legal adviser, David Yerushalmi, is an expert on Islamic law and its intersection with Islamic terrorism and national security. He also serves as general counsel and policy adviser to the Center for Security Policy, the Washington, D.C.-based think tank headed by Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan-administration official.
The mapping project is sponsored by a group formally established by Yerushalmi in January 2006, the Society of Americans for National Existence, or SANE.
Robert J. Loewenberg, the project’s senior police director, is the founder and president of the Institute for Advanced Strategic & Political Studies, a Washington, D.C., and Jerusalem-based think tank specializing in geo-strategic, security and political analysis on Western relations with the Middle and Near East, and the former Soviet Union.
Minimizing the threat
Gaubatz points out federal authorities have attempted to track financial transactions between U.S. Muslims and foreign terrorist entities, but he says there is no evidence that a systematic study like Mapping Shariah has been carried out.
His website explains: “If we do not know the organizational structures of these organizations and who provides the religious and political instruction, we will never have a satisfactory picture of the threat from jihad.”
Already, according to Gaubatz, his team has received positive feedback from local law enforcement authorities. The ultimate aim, he said, is to “assist law enforcement in focusing their manpower and resources to the areas with the highest ratings.”
FBI agents on the ground have been positive, he said, but once the information “gets up the chain, then it just disappears.”
“There’s no action taken. It becomes political,” Gaubatz said.
Gaubatz said his group has been told by many sympathetic Muslims that to minimize the threat of another attack, authorities should ask foreigners seeking entry into the U.S. if they agree with Shariah.
“If they agree, according to the Muslims who have told us this, then they should probably not even be given entry here,” he said.
“It’s so easy. You can’t agree with Shariah law and say that you are peaceful,” Gaubatz continued. “You can’t do it. Now there are Muslims in the United States who do. They say, we don’t agree with Shariah law, we don’t want Shariah law. But then, to the pure Muslim, they are not Muslim.”
Some Muslims want to reform Islam, he said, and retain only peaceful elements.
“That’s fine, but then you are not pure Muslim,” Gaubatz said.
Similar to Christianity or Judaism, he argued, you can decide to adhere to some of the Ten Commandments and reject others, and form a religion based on that belief, but it’s not Christianity or Judaism.
“What we are looking at is pure Islam,” he said. “That’s where you have strict adherence to all factors of Shariah.”
Gaubatz and his team have completed the first two phases of the project: to identify all of the known mosques, Islamic day schools, political organizations and social clubs in the U.S., and to conduct a pilot to test field protocols, methodology and assumptions.
Phase Three is to identify the strain of Shariah taught or preached at each locale and the adherence to Shariah by the leadership and the members. Phase Four will incorporate the data into a central data base and apply link and data analysis technology, which permits a thorough analysis of interrelationships. Phase Five is an annual data update and re-analysis.
Gaubatz said nobody really knows exactly where all the mosques are, because some move from month to month, and the majority are in residential areas, in homes. The contact number often is the cellphone of the person who happens to be leading at the time.