Monday, December 19, 2005

MOA/Fuqra Community: Commerce, GA

Since seeing the map and list of suspected compounds for the group Jamaat ul-Fuqra that was published in the report, "Identifying the Links Between White-Collar Crime & Terrorism" by the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), I have been trying to hunt down information on each one of those locations. So far, I’ve looked at the compounds in Buena Vista, CO; Baladullah, CA; Hancock, NY; York, SC; Red House, VA; and Meherrin, VA.

Some are easier to find information about than others. Some have a higher profile than others. One of the reasons this group has a reputation for being “elusive” and secretive is because they are good at it.

Another location suspected of being linked to the organization can be found near Commerce, GA. It’s located about eight miles northeast of Commerce, off Georgia Highway 326, also called the Old Carnesville Road. Just past a little place called Erastus and across the Franklin County line, a turn down Riverbend Road on the east side of the highway leads to Madinah Road. (Commerce is in Jackson County. You have to drive east across Banks County to get to Franklin County.)

The jamaat, or community, is called Madinah Village.

Last year, the community built a mosque, or Jaami'a Masjid [aka Medina Masjid aka Masjid Jaamia Muhammadiyya] and a Madrassah, with future plans for establishing a full-time Islamic Academy. One of the residents owns a local pottery studio. There is another location in Commerce that is supposedly an MOA Da’wah Center, but I have found conflicting information on what, if anything, is actually at that address (e.g., a home / an Islamic art & cultural center / a DUI driving school).

A local source tells me,
"The Muslims seem to pretty much keep to themselves. They are visible in terms of the dress of the women, who you see around from time to time, and I have noticed three or four people with Muslim-sounding names in the police arrest reports, all for traffic offenses, I think, who had Medinah Way addresses. Apparently that is a street in the community. I can recall no case where someone I thought was likely Muslim was charged here with a serious crime."
Regarding the size of the group, he says, "I have no idea how many members are in the community, but there are probably a couple dozen or more."

As for the city of Commerce,
"...There are other Muslims in the community who seem to have little, if any, connection with the community to which you refer. Some are doctors, some are blue collar workers, some are native-born and some are immigrants. While we are still rural, we too have people of all ethnic and religious groups scattered about. I would have to say that I know of no problems between Muslims and others...."
It seems that one of the members hosted a community meeting a few years ago to explain the Muslim way of life to the community. "The turnout was not very good." And, reportedly, "...he became defensive when some law enforcement agent began asking questions."

Click on this link to see an aerial view of the Madinah Village compound from MSN Virtual Earth.

You can see a few mobile home trailers that are characteristic of these communes. It also looks like there are a couple of chickenhouses there in an open area and some other structures scattered among the woods. Without land records, I'm not sure of the size of the property that actually belongs to the "Village".

Again, this is just one of nearly two-dozen locations in the U.S. that the "Muslims of the Americas (MOA)" call home. It is just another one of the places that deeper elements of the Fuqra organization can use as a safe haven. Hopefully, we can shed some light on a few others in the near future.

1 comment:

loislane said...

Thank you for posting info about this group that is not inflamatory in nature.