Building the American Caliphate, One Enclave at a Time
by Ryan Mauro
July 9, 2010
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
Daniel Pipes has tracked numerous examples since 2004 of Muslim groups working
to create communities based solely on Islam and run by Shari'a 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 Shari'a 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.
The Department of Homeland Security says that Muslims of the Americas is linked
to Jamaat ul-Fuqra, a Pakistani terrorist group. The State Department's Patterns
of Global Terrorism report in 1998 described ul-Fuqra as an "Islamic sect that
seeks to purify Islam through violence." Other fronts for the group include the
International Quranic Open University, the United Muslim-Christian Forum, the
Islamic Post newspaper, the Muslim Scouts of America, the Hands to Hands
charity, Muslim Vets, the American Muslim Medical and Relief Team, and the
Islamic Naat Group.
Another collective aspiring to create autonomous Muslim regions in the U.S. is
called the Ummah. On October 28, 2009, the FBI tried to arrest one of its
leaders, Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah, for his involvement in criminal activity
alongside some of his followers. A shootout ensued that took the life of
Abdullah and one police dog. Like Muslims of the Americas, Abdullah offered his
flock martial arts training and, in some cases, firearms instruction. He also
had his own armed security team and preached war against the U.S. government and
solidarity with bin Laden, the Taliban, and Hezbollah.
The FBI describes the Ummah as a "nationwide radical fundamentalist Sunni group
consisting mainly of African-Americans" and says that its goal is to create "a
separate, sovereign Islamic state ('the Ummah') within the borders of the United
States, governed by Shari'a law. The Ummah is to be ruled over by Jamil Abdullah
al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown." The death of Luqman Ameen Abdullah did
not destroy this aim.
Although the Muslim Brotherhood and its American affiliates are not directly
trying to create Islam-based towns within the U.S., they are helpful to the
efforts to do so. The Council on American-Islamic Relations' Michigan branch
rushed to Abdullah's defense and the American Muslim Taskforce demanded an
investigation into his death. In addition, various Brotherhood affiliates have
given Musa speaking platforms, including at major universities.
Also involved is Kenny Gamble, a major music producer who now goes by the name
of Luqman Abdul Haqq. Gamble has been accused of trying to create a "black
Muslim enclave" in Philadelphia, closely following the plan put forth by As-Sabiqun.
Notably, he has a leadership position with the Muslim Alliance in North America;
Abdullah also served as a leader of MANA and Musa's name was once listed there,
but has since been removed. This suggests some level of cooperation among these
groups and individuals for their common goals.
The possibility that Muslim-only towns and urban enclaves could be created
inside the U.S. seems like a fantasy to most Americans at the moment, but there
is precedent in Europe. The French government actually has a website where it
tabulates 751 "sensitive urban zones," which have been accurately described as
"no-go zones." In these areas, which are mostly populated by Muslim immigrants,
there is a high level of crime and hostility to any governing authority,
including law enforcement. Police officers do not regularly patrol the areas and
they are as close to being autonomous regions as possible without the erecting
of an actual parallel government.
The construction of the building blocks for similar Muslim enclaves and "no-go
zones" in the U.S. is one of the most disturbing programs of Islamist groups. If
successful, these territories will be the first to establish Shari'a law in the
country, thus offering a profound challenge to America's constitutional order.
Ryan Mauro is the founder of WorldThreats.com, national security advisor to the
Christian Action Network, and an intelligence analyst with the Asymmetric
Warfare and Intelligence Center (AWIC). This article was sponsored by Islamist