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It seems almost unthinkable, but Islamist groups are, as we speak, hard at work creating Muslim states-within-states in the U.S. Indeed, this process has been unfolding for a long time across the Western world, through the creation of isolated Muslim enclaves in both rural and urban areas, as well as through the designation of “no-go zones” where governments admit to having little authority over Muslims living there, essentially leaving them to function as autonomous regions.
Daniel Pipes has tracked numerous examples since 2004 of Muslim groups working to create communities based solely on Islam and run by Sharia law. As discussed by David Kennedy Houck in 2006, “Although such concepts are antithetical to a free society, U.S. democracy allows the internal enclave to function beyond the established boundaries of our constitutional framework.”
For example, one such community, Gwynn Oak, has been created in Baltimore, Maryland, consisting of Muslim immigrants and African-American converts. The project is led by John Yahya Cason, director of the Islamic Education and Community Development Initiative. Cason explained that the neighborhood is a response to the problem that “Muslim communities are ruled by Western societal tenets, many of which clash with Islamic norms.” In his opinion, there is a need for communities with “the totality of the essential components of Muslim social, economic, and political structure.” As such, the Gwynn Oak enclave follows specific moral rules based on Islam and people there speak Arabic. On September 13, 2009, the construction of its three-story mosque began. Approximately 400 Muslims now live in the vicinity.
Another example involves the Islamic Center for Human Excellence, which receives funding from the United Arab Emirates. In August 2004, it was granted permission to build a Muslim neighborhood in Little Rock, Arkansas, complete with a mosque, school, and 22 homes; it would not allow the presence of alcohol. The goal was for Muslims to find an area to escape the alleged crime and depravity of American life, although the imam behind the effort said that non-Muslims are welcome to join.
Far more radical groups than these are now taking the lead in promoting and creating Islamic enclaves on U.S. soil.
One such organization is As-Sabiqun, headed by Imam Abdul Alim Musa, who is very honest about his disturbing objectives. The group’s website calls for installing Islamic law worldwide, fighting for “oppressed” Muslims, and “build[ing] model communities where Islam is lived.” The website contains a point-by-point plan to assemble mini-states in America, beginning with the construction of a mosque and finishing with “establishing geographical integrity by encouraging Muslims of the community to live in close proximity to the masjid [mosque]” and “establishing social welfare institutions.”
The ideology espoused by Musa and As-Sabiqun is undeniably radical. The website boasts about Musa’s early endorsement of Ayatollah Khomeini and the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. It also is unafraid to say that As-Sabiqun members follow people like Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood; Maulana Mawdudi, who called on Muslims to wage jihad until Sharia law is in place over the globe; and Sayyid Qutb, the Muslim Brotherhood member whose preaching inspired Osama bin Laden. Musa himself has argued that the CIA and Israel were behind the 9/11 attacks. He has admitted that he “like[s]” bin Laden, calls Hezbollah “a great organization,” and says Hamas members are “very nice people.”
Muslims of the Americas, led by Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani in Pakistan, is a very similar group with very similar aims, though its focus is more rural than urban. It admits to owning at least 22 “villages” around the country that are dozens of acres large and operate under names like “Islamberg,” “Holy Islamville,” and “Aliville.” These Muslim-only lands are open to outsiders solely during planned outreach events and sometimes to journalists.
This group has received considerable media attention due to allegations that its isolated compounds are used for paramilitary training, an accusation bolstered by a videotape released by the Christian Action Network. On that tape, a speaker is seen declaring the U.S. a Muslim country and pledging that Muslims of the Americas will defend American Muslims from foreign and domestic enemies.
The ideology of Muslims of the Americas is comparable to that of As-Sabiqun, although it is more centered on following Gilani as a representative of God who is capable of creating miracles. Gilani is very anti-Semitic, describing Jews as “an example of human Satans”; like Musa, he insists that a Jewish-Zionist conspiracy is behind the attacks of September 11, 2001, and other schemes to harm Muslims. He calls bin Laden a “Saudi activist,” while claiming to meet with Jesus and personally to have introduced the Mahdi to a select few.
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