Most Muslim extremists first radicalize their youth via sermon and brainwashing. One group, however, is skipping those steps and is taking the youngest of children right to the paramilitary route. But this group is not in Afghanistan or Iraq. No, it’s in Philadelphia, the so-called ‘City of Brotherly Love.’
The United Muslim Movement (UMM) was incorporated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in June 1994, with the goal of creating a central mosque in the city along with an organization that would be able to “respond to the social, economical, political, educational, and religious needs facing our [UMM’s] communities.” Less than four months later, in October 1994, its first mosque, the United Muslim Masjid, was opened.
The owner of the mosque property and the face behind UMM is music and real estate magnate Kenneth Gamble, a.k.a. Luqman Abdul Haqq.
In the mid-1970s, following a nervous breakdown over personal and professional troubles, Gamble began to turn to the Islamic religion, getting involved with such groups as the Nation of Islam (NOI). At the time, NOI was moving towards the leadership of Louis Farrakhan, a combative personality most known for his anti-white and anti-Jewish statements.
Today, Gamble is a member of the Board of Directors (Majlis ash-Shura) of the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), a Muslim Brotherhood-related group headed by Siraj Wahhaj, an “unindicted co-conspirator” of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Gamble has been involved with MANA’s leadership since the group was initially established as a national organization in April 2001, at the UMM mosque.
UMM has interests beyond the building of mosques. One of them deals with children’s activities – violence-based children’s activities.
Jawala Scouts or the Jawala Scout Youth Leadership Program, an Islamic paramilitary boys group, was incorporated in Philadelphia in August 2005. It was founded a short time before that.
The children joining Jawala Scouts are as young as seven years of age. This is disconcerting, when considering some of the activities of the group, which include hand-to-hand combat, firearms training and survival tactics. Photographs from the group’s official website show the kids dressed in military fatigues, hiking through the woods, and engaged in wrestling.
What makes things worse are the type of individuals linked to Jawala Scouts. One is Carlin Saafir, the Legal Officer and 1st Lieutenant of the scouts. Saafir is also the President of UMM, a member of the UMM Masjid’s Board of Directors (General Council), and the Joint Community Outreach Chair of the Philadelphia office of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an entity affiliated with the terrorist organization Hamas.
The Registrant, Administrator and Technical Contact of Jawala’s site is Curtis De Veaux. In February 2005, De Veaux was suspended without pay from his job as a Philadelphia firefighter for refusing to shave his beard – deemed a security hazard – arguing that it was part of his being a devout Muslim.
The e-mail contact associated with the Jawala site, [email protected], appears to be that of Kenneth Gamble. That would make sense, as the group registered its corporation using the same physical address as UMM, 800 S. 15th Street.
Another organization associated with Jawala Scouts is the Sankore’ Institute of Islamic-African Studies International (SIIASI), an anti-Western preservation society for rare African Muslim manuscripts. According to the Pittsburgh City Paper, SIIASI “started” the scout program.
SIIASI has been the subject of investigations by the FBI, which included a June 2006 raid on the institute’s premises. There may be a number of reasons for the government’s interest in the group.
One is the fact that the membership of SIIASI primarily consists of ex-felons. Pictures on the group’s official website display SIIASI associates brandishing guns and swords. In one photo, which appears to have been taken in the U.S., an individual is seen holding a rifle on his lap, while a young boy kneels close to him.
Another reason for the FBI’s concern over SIIASI is the extreme rhetoric that is spread by the organization’s leader.
Muhammad Shareef is the Director of SIIASI. He established the group in the Republic of Sudan in December 1985, along with a small group of others, which included the Sultan of Maiurno, Sudan, al-Hajj Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad.
Shareef, a co-founder and former board member of MANA, left his Pennsylvania home to live in China, where he resides today. He has been outspoken in his hatred of the United States, frequently referring to the U.S. as “Amerikkka.”
Only last month, in June, Shareef railed against those whom he considers Muslim moderates, when he stated the following on the SIIASI official website: “This activist method [adherence to the Sunna (Way) of Islam] is diametrically opposed to the pseudo-religion redefined by the pacifist ‘imams’ who deny the obligation of jihad [holy war] and who have deluded their followers into the fruitless activity of supporting democratic constitutional government.”
Shareef’s aggressive language against the U.S. and in favor of violence is disturbing to say the least. But what’s more disturbing is that he and others from similar backgrounds have interaction with and/or connections to children, including those who are just starting to develop thoughts of their own.
Jawala Scouts are no Boy Scouts. The group is run by those who wish to use the most innocent in our society for sinister means. It is a type of abuse that, up until this point, has gone unnoticed. But now that it’s been made public, the public needs to speak out, so that the city of Philadelphia does the right thing.
What we do not want to hear is that the next terrorist attacker was formerly a member of Jawala Scouts.
Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate and the founder of CAIR Watch. He has been responsible for the closure of at least one terror-related charity and has convinced a number of government officials to shun the Hamas front group, CAIR. In June 2009, he won a lawsuit brought against him by seven Dallas-area radical Muslim organizations.
Beila Rabinowitz is the Director of Militant Islam Monitor.