Muhammad’s other road to jihad

By WND Staff

Sniper suspect John Muhammad fits a pattern of a disaffected outcast who becomes increasingly radicalized under the influence of Islamism, says a military analyst who writes frequently about terrorism.

Christian M. Weber, contributing editor for Soldiers for the Truth, an organization headed by Col. David Hackworth, writes that Muhammad seems to follow the model of John Walker Lindh, Richard Reid and Jose Padilla – men exposed to Islamism who become disenchanted with the movement’s pace and progress and who take the road to jihad.

“As one traces John Muhammad’s life from his conversion to Islam in 1985, to his joining of the moderately militant Nation of Islam, to his deadly shooting spree in October 2002, his steady radicalization becomes readily apparent,” writes Weber. “Terrorist profiling dictates that his departure from the Nation of Islam in 1999 would have been followed by his affiliation with an organization more actively militant. It also suggests that initial news reports citing U.S. officials who said there was no evidence of any connection between Muhammad and identified terrorist organizations may have been premature.”

Weber points out that Muhammad acquired the 1990 Chevy Caprice that he would modify into his killing platform on the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks. He had also expressed sympathy with Sept. 11 terrorists.

“Nor does it seem random chance that his spree started on Oct. 2, the anniversary of the conviction of World Trade Center bombing ringleader Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman in 1995,” Weber writes. “It appears likely that after his separation from the Nation of Islam, which occurred on less than good terms, Muhammad gravitated to an organization at odds with the Nation of Islam and aligned with the Wahhabist sect of Islam associated with al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden and Sheikh Rahman. In America today, one organization fits that bill – al Fuqra.”

Weber had previously pointed to the Oct. 2 date as a significant one for terrorist threats.

Al Fuqra was founded by Kashmiri Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani. He began preaching at a Muslim mosque in Brooklyn seeking recruits for the Afghan Jihad. He primarily targeted black American converts from the inner city and those with criminal backgrounds, a segment of the population that the cleric apparently saw as prime for melding militant Islam with a deep-seated resentment and disillusionment with Western society.

“The resulting organization, al Fuqra (the impoverished), was formed with a goal of purifying Islam through violence,” explains Weber.

Gilani is the man Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was to meet when he was abducted last Jan. 23 and murdered. He has a long history of involvement with terrorism.

“The upstate New York town of Hancock serves as the American headquarters for al Fuqra, with at least six major rural communities, jamaats, of 200 to 300 members located in Red House, Va., Tulare County, Calif., Commerce, Ga., York, S.C., Dover, Tenn., and Combermere, Canada,” he writes. “Total membership in al Fuqra is believed to be between 1,000-3,000, with smaller jamaats being reported in over 25 locations throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. The communities themselves are primarily walled or fenced-in gatherings of trailers or mobile homes. At least three of the compounds are known to have firing ranges, and the compound in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California has a fully functional airfield. Surveillance reports of the compounds note that the residents remain in a fluid state and are continuously on the move. For the past several years, law-enforcement authorities observing the Red House, Va., compound have voiced concern that this pattern may be designed to create a series of safe houses in the rural areas of southern Virginia.”

According to Weber, Al Fuqra owns two private security companies in Brooklyn that not only provide armed protection for the jamaats, but also compete for government and private security contracts. Between 1980 and 1990, al Fuqra members have been either convicted or suspected in 13 assassinations and 17 firebombings, he says.

“Despite Al Fuqra’s continuous history of criminal activity and close association with international terrorist organizations, the group has been able to avoid officially being classified by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization,” writes Weber. “Pakistan, unlike the United States, has banned the organization.”

The group boasts distinct ties to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida.

“In the wake of John Muhammad’s arrest, investigators need to pay special heed to discern any possible links he may have had to al Fuqra,” concludes Weber. “The facts are continuing to emerge since Muhammad’s arrest on Oct. 24, and they seem to be pointing in that direction.”

Click here for WND’s coverage of the Washington-area sniper attacks