SAN BERNARDINO, California – When Breitbart News attended the Dar Al Uloom Islamiyah mosque – where terrorist Syed Farook once attended – leaders seemed unwilling to answer some basic, straight forward questions about what they teach at their masjid. Do they subscribe to the idea of an Islamic caliphate? Do they believe that the punishment for apostasy from Islam is death? Answer came there none.
Now it is becoming more clear why the group may have been avoiding the requisite transparency that we rightly expect of religious and community institutions.
On the Breitbart News Daily radio programme, whistleblower and former Department of Homeland Security official Philip Haney pointed to Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) – a group known in Britain as the “Army of Darkness” that has used aggressive tactics to build “mega mosques” in my home country, and which has been linked to a number of high profile terrorist incidents.
WHO ARE TABLIGHI JAMAAT?
The links, some say, are coincidental. But this hardline Deobandi sect has found itself on the front lines of domestic terrorism cases on too many occasions now for anyone to leave this unchecked. Some of their members are also known for duplicitous behaviour – even by fellow Muslims – an understandable tactic when you consider that the group is militantly evangelical, and regards proselytising in the name of its interpretation of Islam as its highest calling.
The Christian Science Monitor reported this month that the group “began as a revivalist movement for a beleaguered Muslim minority in British-ruled India” and “has over the past century transformed into a global phenomenon that may have as many as 50 million followers”.
The group is known for eschewing political partisanship, much to the frustration of many of its co-religionists.
It is especially active in the United Kingdom, where it was recently banned from building a 300,000 square foot “mega mosque”.
The Telegraph’s Andrew Gilligan noted: “A number of terrorists have TJ connections. Abid Naseer, convicted this spring of plotting to attack the Arndale Centre in Manchester, was a member of the sect. Two of the 7/7 bombers, including their leader, Mohammed Siddique Khan, attended a TJ mosque. John Walker Lindh — an American who is serving a prison sentence for aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan — traveled with Tablighi preachers to Pakistan in 1998 to further his Islamic studies before joining the Taliban.”
And the concern over TJ isn’t just restricted to the counter-extremism community. One Imam at a mosque in Corona, near to San Bernardino, told Breitbart News that TJ was indeed “dangerous” especially for those who don’t know what they are getting involved in when attending such mosques. He warned that if Muslims went “unguided” into TJ mosques, they would find themselves on the receiving end of some extreme practices – though he maintained that the group’s leadership in Pakistan had tried for some time to put a lid on such activity.
“The Tablighi thing could get out of hand,” he told me. “[They] sleep in the mosque… they have… the beards,” he gestured towards his own hirsute chin, dragging his hand further down and widening his eyes. Clearly – there are tell tale signs of TJ membership.
And his concerns are confirmed by fellow experts.
Christian Science Monitor elaborates: “Their task is to travel lightly and spread the word to fellow Muslims – from village to village, mosque to mosque – so that more are brought into the fold. Armed only with backpacks, sleeping bags, and a simple message, Dawah activists are going door-to-door in more than 200 countries, including the United States”.
WHY HAS AMERICA FAILED TO MONITOR SUCH A SECT?
“Civil Rights and Civil Liberties shut the case down because we were focusing on individuals who belong to Tablighi Jamaat,” said Mr. Haney, a founding member of the Passenger Analysis Unit under Customs and Border Protection.
“We cross-checked all kinds of information. You name it. Visas, passports, travel patterns, family connections… anything to do within the universe of individuals coming in”.
He told Fox News: “We had thousands of organisations or individuals in the database and we tracked them as they moved in and out of the United States on the Visa Waver program. That’s what first brought the group to our attention. And as we developed a case, and started putting the pieces in place, we gained more evidence of their activities”.
The charge, aimed at the Obama administration, was so strong that Mr. Haney implied he and his department may have stopped San Bernardino’s terrorist attack if they weren’t hampered by political correctness.
“Either Syed would have been put on the no-fly list because association with that mosque, and/or the K-1 visa that his wife was given may have been denied because of his affiliation with a known organisation” .
The Middle East Forum think-tank reported in 2005: “The West’s misreading of Tablighi Jamaat actions and motives has serious implications for the war on terrorism.
“Tablighi Jamaat has always adopted an extreme interpretation of Sunni Islam, but in the past two decades, it has radicalized to the point where it is now a driving force of Islamic extremism and a major recruiting agency for terrorist causes worldwide.
“For a majority of young Muslim extremists, joining Tablighi Jamaat is the first step on the road to extremism. Perhaps 80 percent of the Islamist extremists in France come from Tablighi ranks, prompting French intelligence officers to call Tablighi Jamaat the “antechamber of fundamentalism.”
And U.S. counter terror chiefs were in fact developing an anti-TJ stance before President Obama’s election.
“We have a significant presence of Tablighi Jamaat in the United States,” the deputy chief of the FBI’s international terrorism section said in 2003, “and we have found that Al-Qaeda used them for recruiting now and in the past.”
TABLIGHI AROUND THE WORLD
British Members of Parliament and security experts have long warned about the growing influence of TJ. The group has its European headquarters in Dewsbury, in the north of England – perhaps most famous recently for being the home to the Prime Minister’s “token” Muslim cabinet minister, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, who herself failed to escape links to extremism during her time in office. TJ was also linked to Britain’s youngest ever Islamic State member.
The Islamic Institute for Education in Dewsbury has been the subject of numerous stories related to the refusal of TJ members to integrate into British society. As recently as July this year, TJ members were allegedly threatened with expulsion for “socialising with outsiders”.
The area is now becoming known as a source for UK-based jihadis making their way to Syria.
A similar pattern is emerging in France, where the small town of Lunel, with its population of just 25,000, has seen 17 men leave “since 2013 to fight for either al-Qaeda or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria”. The town’s mosque “has been described by the government as a hotbed of fundamentalism and linked to Tablighi Jamaat…”.
In 2006 the Telegraph noted: “the Moroccan government – in company with others – has published documents suggesting that home-grown terrorists frequently use the Tablighi Jamaat as a cover… to hide their identity on the one hand, and to influence these groups and their policies on the other.
Adding: “For its part, the Philippines government has specifically accused the group of funding Saudi money to Islamic radicals in the south of the country” while “American investigators tackled the case of Iyman Faris, a Pakistan-born American citizen, now serving 20 years in prison for his part in a plot to blow up New York’s Brooklyn Bridge… they quickly discovered that he had posed as a Tablighi preacher in order to have an expired airline ticket re-issued in Pakistan. Such is the group’s reputation in much of the Islamic world that the travel agent readily made the amendments to the ticket.”
Even countries like Kyrgystan have recently debated banning the group outright, calling it a “springboard for dissemination of terrorism and extremism,” and noting that Russia banned the group’s activities in 2009.
TJ’s leadership, at least in Britain, has objected to scrutiny on the grounds of “Islamophobia”. So seems America to have capitulated to such political correctness.
And it’s a trend that is supported by tax payer funded organisations like the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) which in 2008 refused to allow the Christian Party (of the United Kingdom) to air a party political advertisement which called TJ a “a separatist Islamic group” – even though the same broadcast praised “moderate Muslims”.
Councillor Alan Craig, who stood as a candidate for the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in 2015, said at the time: “This was a politically correct attempt to close down reasoned discussion and debate. It’s a matter of freedom of speech and democracy… People rub along fairly well together in the East End of London, all different communities, faiths, colours and nationalities, but Tablighi Jamaat have been antagonistic separatists since they were founded.”
WHAT SOME OTHER MUSLIMS SAY
Dr. Taj Hargey of the Islamic Centre of Oxford has remarked of the group, “[TJ has] no proven track record of opening their facilities to the wider Muslim community, let alone non-Muslim community. In that time they have not even managed to create any facilities for women. The facility itself currently contributes substantially to marginalisation”. He added that TJ was a “supremacist movement with adverse implications for the government’s community cohesion policies”.
Tehmina Kazi, from British Muslims for Secular Democracy group added that TJ was “particularly inward-looking” and are “reluctant to engage in dialogue with people who are different.”
These statements, in addition to those from the Imam at Corona Norco’s mosque, reveal that at least some Muslims are aware of the army of darkness in their midst. There have even been huge reports warning Muslims not to buy into Tablighi’s story-telling.
The question is: what are Western Muslims going to do about it now?