Philip Haney, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) whistleblower, suggested on Breitbart News Daily that the Obama administration does not want to monitor Tablighi Jamaat (TJ), an Islamist movement whose members have been linked to terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and which has a strong presence in the United States.
Haney revealed that a DHS investigative initiative, shut down by the Obama administration, had tied TJ adherents who had traveled to the United States “to Hamas, al-Qaeda, global terrorist funding… every version of however you define terrorism… financial, direct support, overseas affiliation…”
In 2002, the FBI suspected that al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was providing support to Tablighi Jamaat.
Haney proclaimed that President Obama’s DHS, out of concern for the “civil liberties” of the TJ network, killed the initiative even after 1,200 law enforcement actions, ranging from visa revocations to orders of deportations, were amassed against members of the movement in just the first year of the six-year effort that started in 2006.
Although Tablighi Jamaat has been described as a “pacifist” movement, some of its members have been involved in Islamic terrorist operations, including some in the United States, where the FBI reportedly predicts nearly 50,000 people are associated with the movement.
TJ-associated mosques are operating across the United States, including in the states of California, Texas, and New York, according to Stratfor Global Intelligence.
The movement has a “significant” number of members in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, United Kingdom, South Africa, Germany, Krygyzstan, Sri Lanka, France, and the United States, according to the CW2 Christopher G. Nason Military Intelligence Library in Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
Stratfor reported that the group’s North American headquarters is the Al-Falah Mosque in the Corona area of Queens, NY.
“The Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) name has come up before in connection with terrorism plots, including the October 2002 Portland Seven and the September 2002 Lackawanna Six cases in the United States, as well as the August 2006 plot to bomb airliners en route from London to the United States, the July 7, 2005, London Underground bombings and the July 2007 attempted bombings in London and Glasgow, Scotland,” reported Stratfor in January 2008. “Over the past several years we also have received several queries about TJ from U.S. law enforcement officials who are concerned about the group’s presence and activities in the United States.”
Tablighi Jamaat is an offshoot of the Sunni Deobandi sect of Islam founded by Muhammad Ilyas, according to the military intelligence library in Fort Huachuca.
The Countering Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point described TJ as a “neo-fundamentalist Islamic proselytizing order whose annual gatherings at Raiwind in Pakistan are reputed to draw more followers than any Muslim congregation other than the Hajj pilgrimage.”
It is “a transnational pacifist religious movement on the fringes of numerous terrorism investigations,” added the Nason Military Intelligence Library. “Tablighi Jamaat’s role as a springboard to terrorist organizations has been questioned several times but there is no evidence that the Tabligh Jamaat deliberately act as a recruiting arm for Islamic militant organizations.”
Nevertheless, Stratfor noted that the Taliban and many other groups who ascribe to a jihadist ideology are Deobandi.
“There are indeed some links between Tablighis and the world of jihadism,” reported the intelligence reform.
Haney said the initiative he was part of as an analyst for the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) component of DHS was monitoring Tablighi Jamaal’s network in the United States, which had been linked to the mosque in Southern California frequented by Syed Farook, one of the shooters behind the San Bernardino, California, massacre.
“[DHS] Civil Rights and Civil Liberties shut the case down because we were focusing on individuals who belong to Tablighi Jamaat,” Haney said, adding, “this administration is more concerned about the civil rights and civil liberties of foreign Islamic groups and foreign nationals than securing the freedom and security of the American public.”
If the CBP initiative would have been allowed to continue, Haney claims the San Bernardino couple who carried out the terrorist attack would have been flagged.
The CBP National Targeting Center initiative was being used to track members of the Tablighi Jamaat entering the United States on the visa waiver program, which allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the U.S. without a visa for stays of up to 90 days.
Many TJ members are from British Commonwealth countries such as Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh and therefore have British passports, allowing them to obtain a visa waiver by doing little more than filling out an online form, noted Haney.
“Tablighi Jamaat members… were coming to America, going to mosques all over the country, at the invitation of imams and leaders who where already known to be linked to terrorism,” said Haney.
“TJ also is used by jihadists as cover both for recruiting activities… and for travel,” noted Stratfor.