Monday, January 30, 2006

A Call to Designate Jamaat ul-Fuqra as a Foreign Terrorist Organization

As I have mentioned before, Jamaat ul-Fuqra was listed among Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) in 1999. The State Department under the Clinton Administration saw fit to remove them from the list in 2000. They have not returned to the list.

Nestled between the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Khmer Rouge on the list, the previous description of the group followed thus:
Islamic sect that seeks to purify Islam through violence. Led by Pakistani cleric Shaykh Mubarik Ali Gilani, who established the organization in the early 1980s. Gilani now resides in Pakistan, but most cells are located in North America and the Caribbean. Members have purchased isolated rural compounds in North America to live communally, practice their faith, and insulate themselves from Western culture.

Fuqra members have attacked a variety of targets that they view as enemies of Islam, including Muslims they regard as heretics and Hindus. Attacks during the 1980s included assassinations and firebombings across the United States. Fuqra members in the United States have been convicted of crimes, including murder and fraud.


Location/Area of Operation
North America, Pakistan.

External Aid
I have yet to determine what reasonable explanation could be given for their removal. They didn't just go away. Their members haven't disbanded. Their "isolated rural compounds" haven't been sold off and abandoned. Their criminal activities have not ceased. Their ties to other terrorist groups have not been broken. Their leadership has not been captured (and they're not even on the run!).

The only explanation I can come up with is that it was guided by a view that this group was "small-time" and could best be handled as a "law enforcement issue". The September 10th mentality was that individual murders, a firebombing here and there, and white-collar crimes were just ordinary criminal occurrences and didn't fall under the purview of real counterterrorism. The country didn't yet fully realize what these activities meant in the context of militant Islamic extremism.

But, as I said and as I have documented in my reports, the activities of Jamaat ul-Fuqra did not cease in 1999 or 2000. Law enforcement in New York still considers them a terrorist organization. Officials in California and Colorado still consider them a terrorist organization. The Department of Homeland Security still considers them a terrorist organization and the list goes on.

Needless to say, I was interested to find the group mentioned in a US military report on terrorism -- TRADOC DCSINT Handbook No. 1: A Military Guide to Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century. This report is published by the US Army Training & Doctrine Command (TRADOC), Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence (DCSINT), Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence - Threats, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Jamaat ul-Fuqra is listed in the 2003, 2004, and 2005 editions (although the information is unchanged). In Appendix A, entitled "Terrorist Threat to Combatant Commands," they are listed in the Area of Operations (AOR) of both NORTHCOM and CENTCOM with an asterisk denoting a history of anti-U.S. activity.

The strength of the group in NORTHCOM'S AOR is listed as 200 members. Most estimates I've seen in the past from other sources figured 1,000-3,000 members including the Muslims of the Americas group, however it's possible the 200 figure represents members involved in operations, also known as cadre members.

The fact that Jamaat ul-Fuqra is listed in this report indicates to me that at least the Defense Department takes them somewhat seriously - at least they acknowledge the group exists.

I have a couple of theories on why the State Department does not list them as such. One, they stopped tracking the group and are ignorant of them. Two, the group's close ties to the Pakistani government are a sensitive issue and putting the group on the list would "complicate things".

It's time we got honest about the kinds of people that are operating among us. Yes, here they pose as a harmless group of rural Muslims. In Pakistan, there is no doubt they are a militant jihadi group. Both are sincerely loyal to the same Sheikh Gilani. They are a threat. Let's put two and two together here, folks.

Secretary Rice, put them back on the list! And, as Michael Ledeen would say, "Faster, please!"

[This post was listed in the 4,897th Carnival of the Vanities. Thanks to Beck of the INCITE blog.]

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