Project has been in contact with a woman who grew up within Jamaat ul-Fuqra, a
cultish Sufi Islamist terrorist group that now goes by the name of Muslims of
is best known for establishing "Islamic villages" on U.S. soil, for
example, its "Islamberg" headquarters in New York State.
agreed to anonymously come forward with her heartbreaking story. We have
removed details for her safety. She provided photographs and specific facts
that are unavailable in the public sphere that we subsequently confirmed.
following is her testimony provided to Clarion Project national security
analyst Ryan Mauro. It is one of the very few first-hand testimonies from
someone who was inside Jamaat ul-Fuqra when it committed terrorism under that
know many Muslims and I know that Jamaat ul-Fuqra is nothing like them, but
there are violent ones who will take issue with what I say and do. They believe
you should be killed if you decide not to be Muslim or practice Islam the way
they do because, to them, it’s “apostasy,” and that’s a capital offense under Islam.
I do believe some of those violent Muslims may attempt to kill me.
point of view as a kid in Michigan, everything was great even though my mom and
dad got a divorce and I was living with my mom. My first introduction to X [a
Fuqra member] was when he hit me for breaking rules I knew nothing about. My
name was also changed to be Islamic.
We lived at
52 Ferris Street in Highland Park, Michigan, a three-story building with six
apartments on each floor. The entire building was occupied by black Muslims,
some who came from Detroit. Non-Muslims were not allowed to move in. Armed
guards were at the front entrance.
the building was like living in a Muslim country. We didn’t go outside much
because they didn’t want us to be influenced by non-Muslims. Us kids didn’t
have any friends outside of the building. We were very poor and slept on the
bare floor with no beds. Sometimes we didn’t have heat or hot water. We didn’t
have any furniture whatsoever. We ate on the floor out of large platters with
our fingers. Food was also sometimes scarce.
mother was making the only food we had in the house: Beans and rice. As she was
seasoning, she mistakenly poured the entire bottle of salt in it. I watched her
break down crying because this was the only food she had to feed her children.
Someone told her to use a potato to suck the salt out of the food so we could
building was like a house of horrors. Some of the kids were tortured by their
parents or beaten by the “brothers” in the building. There was one kid in
particular I remember who was treated really badly. He would be beaten severely
for little things like taking food from the refrigerator for himself. He and
some others would sometimes not be allowed to stand up and forced to hop around
like a bunny for days on end. They’d make him run errands throughout the
building, hopping up three flights of stairs.
He was also
starving and I remember him coming to our door begging for food. There was a
fire set by one girl who was also known to be beaten badly and kept separate
from the rest of the kids. Years later, I met the boy again and he just broke
down crying. It was heart-wrenching. He wanted to know why no one helped him.
exercise classes in the basement. The brothers were training for whatever
Muslim war they continuously told us was coming. Our schooling was irregular
and not formal. There were no science classes and math was deficient. Mostly we
learned to read and write English and Arabic. I learned later about the gaping holes
in our education. Sometimes there was class once a week, sometimes not at all.
We were not
allowed to listen to music or watch commercials. They didn’t want us to be
influenced by them. There were some odd rules like the children couldn’t have
cabbage patch dolls. They were called “evil.” The Smurfs were considered
true of my entire time with Fuqra. There was a tape recorder that I’d use to
secretly record kids shows on the TV like Kids Incorporated. I only learned the
pop songs from that time by hearing them sung on that show. I didn’t even hear
Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” until much later in life. I’d try to memorize the
songs in a closet because I couldn’t be caught listening to them.
I thought all Muslims were like us. Later, I realized these were just the odd
rules of our Muslim cult and that most Muslims did not follow most of the same
rules as we did. Just like most Muslims are not terrorists and some Muslims
don’t wear full coverings, every sect is different.
hear all kinds of fearful messages. I was told that in my lifetime the Muslims
would have to fight the Kafiroons (non-believers) and I would have to
make sure I was on the right side of the war.
females, including myself, wore what we called Jalabias; a head-to-ankle length
traditional Muslim garment. We usually made them ourselves. We sewed our own
clothes when I was a kid, which was fun. We had different coloured Jalabias.
It was also
common for men to have several wives. I was molested by one man, who I know
also molested another girl. It causes feelings of shame that can affect you the
rest of your life. It changes your brain chemistry.
of our community was a man known as “Imam Musa.” It’s important to note that we
were not Nation of Islam Muslims. In fact, we were taught that the Nation of
Islam members aren’t really Muslims.
there was a lot of commotion and we were told that a sheikh from Pakistan was
coming to visit our little community inside the building. His name was Sheikh
Mubarik Ali Gilani. They said he was a direct descendant of the Prophet
Mohammed. It was all anyone talked about and some said he was coming to the
U.S. seeking recruits for jihad in Afghanistan.
the building was about the sheikh. Every disagreement was deferred to the
Sheikh. The Sheikh and his wife would even name his followers’ babies.
sheikh arrived, I met him very briefly because I had a weird dream about the
Prophet Mohammed. I couldn’t really remember the details. It was supposed to be
a big honour to meet the sheikh. The leaders of our community met with him and
some changes were made.
One of the
first things that happened is that the sheikh married one of the girls who were
around 14 years old and he was probably in his 40s. The marriage was supposed
to combine our community with the sheikh’s community in Pakistan. It was the
kind of marriage that reminds me of ancient times where a father would marry
his daughter off to someone important in order to have a treaty with that
community. She left to live with him in Pakistan and her father became the new
leader of the community.
renamed our community at this point to be “Jamaat ul-Fuqra,” which means
“community of the impoverished.”
followers in America are primarily African-American converts to Islam, but I
believe our community was the first, or one of the first, he visited in the
United States. Several of the “brothers” from the building went to Pakistan to
meet with the sheikh, and when they returned, they were even more militant and
religious than before. It was as if they had been hypnotized.
told that they prayed a lot and had mysticism circles. I vaguely remember
something about them praying and going up to see Prophet Mohammed. They carried
out small “missions.” Various sources on the Internet said that Fuqra carried
out various terrorist attacks in the 1980s and early 1990s across the U.S. I
heard about one of them.
press reports about Fuqra members bombing a building that housed a cleric. I
knew one of them and that he had gone to visit the sheikh in Pakistan. Somehow,
during the attack, the door to the basement got locked behind them and they
died in the ensuing fire. The rumour in our community was that the CIA locked
the door and trapped them inside. The men who died were considered “martyrs for
the cause of Allah” in our community.
were there, one day I overheard people saying something about the FBI watching
the building in navy blue cars outside. I looked out the window and, sure
enough, there was a navy blue four-door sedan sitting out there. After that
day, I noticed it was out there all the time.
1990s, I heard several rumours. I heard that Sheikh Gilani was barred from
entering the U.S. because he was suspected of being involved in a terrorist
attack involving an airplane. I heard that Sheikh Gilani lives in a luxurious
compound in Pakistan and that his family is extremely wealthy. His wives have
expensive jewellery and servants and even their own seamstress.
know if these rumours are true first-hand, but supposedly there is a big
dichotomy between how luxurious the sheikh and his family live and how poor his
followers in the United States live.
after the sedan was noticed, the sheikh sent an order from Pakistan that all
Muslims in the building had to disperse across the country. This was
devastating for me because I couldn’t see my friends anymore. I was very
lonely. The community members went to California, Washington D.C., South
Carolina, Georgia, New York and maybe other places.
I knew that
Fuqra had bought land in rural areas of New York and Georgia for followers to
settle at where they could follow strict religious codes. A group of us went to
New Orleans in Louisiana and we didn’t have to wear our Jalabias because we had
to be incognito.
We lived in
a two room shack behind someone’s house. The leader drove a cab. We moved
frequently. I suspect that when they couldn’t pay the rent, they’d get evicted
and move. In between moves, we’d live with other families and that was fun
because we could play with other kids. I remember seeing scary and loud fights
between the women married to the leader. A knife was pulled one time and
another time a pregnant woman was kicked.
We drove to
Brooklyn to hear the sheikh speak in a large mosque during one of his trips to
America. His wife was there in a private room and she was revered in the
community. I’ll always remember the shoes she wore. They looked like shoes that
a genie would wear; gold and curled at the tip.
visit, I saw something that left a lasting impression on me. All the females
were called to the basement of the mosque. There had to be 30-40 of us in a
circle on the floor. They brought a chair out and put it in the middle of us.
Then they brought out Y [a Fuqra member] and she had to sit backwards in the
chair with her back facing the crowd. A woman came out with a big stick and
gave her 10 lashes while the crowd of women said “shame on you!” with each
she just winced in agony. Eventually she was crying pretty hard. The entire
scene was traumatizing for me and I felt bad for the children seeing it. She
didn’t immediately go back to New Orleans, but did after some time.
of the New Orleans community continued to be abusive and beat kids. I remember
him beating one boy for peeing standing up. I guess Muslim men are supposed to
sit down when they used the restroom. It really upset me.
One time I
walked into the living room and saw one of the boys getting beaten. He looked
at me with pain and fear in his eyes. I immediately screamed for the leader to
stop hitting him and then I started shaking with fear. No one talked back to
him. He told me to leave a room and continued the beating with a belt as the
boy hunched and crawled into a corner. I felt helpless. It was the catalyst for
me deciding to leave.
I took some
pocket change and ran away. I didn’t know where to go, so I just walked up and
down random neighbourhoods and ended up at an outdoor mall. Eventually, I was
falling asleep and had to go back home. My mom was crying when I walked in and
I told her I wanted to go live with my dad.
I ran away
again only days later and was hit with a belt when I came home. This time, I
fought back and began screaming for someone to call the police. It made him
give up and walk away in a huff. I later ran away again and got to a pay phone
where I called my dad in Michigan. He had tried to take me away when I was
growing up but was stopped by guys with guns. I knew he’d rescue me.
He called a
cab to bring me to the airport and I sat there and waited for hours. Then I saw
my grandpa come out of the airport and he paid the taxi that had been waiting
forever. We flew back to Michigan.
left, most of the Muslims left the New Orleans site and went to other Fuqra
places. I know some did not move to other Fuqra communities and I suspect that
some of them stopped being a part of Jamaat ul-Fuqra.
It was time
to start my life over in Michigan but I still suffer a lot from all I
experienced to this day.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national
security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of
homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and