CTC Sentinel, Vol 1 No. 9
Jama`at al-Fuqara': A Domestic Terrorist Threat to the United States?
By Christopher Heffelfinger
Organized on communal compounds in the United States and Canada, surprisingly little is known about Jama`at al-Fuqara' (Community of the Impoverished)1 and its current operations. The secretive organization-it publicly operates under the name Muslims of the Americas (MOA)-has been known to law enforcement since the 1980s for dozens of violent and white collar crimes in North America. It has been described by prosecutors as advocating "the purification of the Islamic religion by means of force and violence." Yet, the group's nature and organization as a terrorist entity seems as unclear today as at any point in its history.
The current Jama`at al-Fuqara' is obscured by a vague public ideology, careful to avoid any reference to Islamist ambitions or armed struggle. MOA and its subsidiary, the International Qur'anic Open University (IQOU),2 carries out a number of public events and hosts videos and news of its activities online.3 Its Pakistan-based leader, Shaykh Mubarak Ali Gilani, and other U.S.-based leaders have done much to present a devout but always law abiding image, even organizing a Muslims Scouts wing for boys that helps the needy in their various communities. Fears persist, however, due to the group's origins as al-Fuqara', and whether the militancy present at some of its compounds could turn anti-American.