Private undercover team exposes nationwide network of radical, anti-U.S. Islamic centers
A file photo shows Muslims gathering for prayer at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. (AFP/Getty Images/Bill Pugliano)
Hundreds of Islamic centers in the United States have become a hot-bed of extremist activity; they promote violence, terrorism and hatred against America.
“Our initial investigation has concluded there are between 400 to 500 radical Islamic centers in the U.S.,” said David Gaubatz, the director of counterintelligence and counterterrorism for the Society of Americans for National Existence. “In those places, they preach an extreme version of Islam that says America and the West is the enemy. They espouse violence, hatred and the need for terrorism.
Gaubatz is a former senior U.S. intelligence official, who now works for the Mapping Shari’a in America Project (www.mappingsharia.com), which is supported by SANE, a national non-profit group devoted to investigating the 2,300 Islamic centers in the U.S. for extremist activity
Gaubatz and his investigators are currently active and will soon form a team of about 12. They pose as people interested in converting to Islam or who are current Muslims. Their goal is to infiltrate mosques and Muslim centers. Recently, he and his team penetrated the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, located in Falls Church, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C
Sporting a beard and Muslim dress, Gaubatz said he went on May 18 to the center, pretending to be an American interested in becoming a convert to Islam. He discovered the center espoused terrorism and jihad against America.“They are teaching what they call Jihad Qital, which means physical jihad,” Gaubatz said. “They’re teaching violence and hatred of the United States."
Gaubatz said that he met the two primary clerics at Dar Al-Hijrah, Imam Shaker Elsayed and Imam Johari Abdulmalik. Both men have been trained in Saudi Arabia. He says another key individual is Yusef Estes, an informal senior leader at the center and an internationally influential Muslim scholar who was trained in Saudi Arabia.
“They put me through the process of learning their faith and ideology,” Gaubatz said. “They felt close to me and they gave me literature and CDs. They told me to study. The literature is very Jihad Qital.”He said that the Islamic center has deep ties to Saudi Arabia and espouses Wahhabism, a virulent and puritanical version of Islam.
“Many members of the mosque provided me literature to study. Most of the literature they gave me was from Saudi Arabia,” he said. “Their literature preaches that America and the West are decadent and evil, and that Muslims have a moral duty to engage in violence against the infidels.”
Gaubatz says that Dar Al-Hijrah and other radical Islamic centers in the U.S. are funded by Saudi Arabia, which is the primary sponsor of the Wahhabist brand of Islam.
“The ultimate goal for those at Dar Al-Hijrah is to instill Sharia law in the U.S. and have America adhere to the Islamic faith,” he said. “They want America to be an Islamic state.”Gaubatz said that the imams at the center encouraged him to read the works of their “friends”—some of whom have been convicted for terrorism-related activities. According to Gaubatz, one of those “friends” he was encouraged to read is Ali Al-Tamimi, a radical Islamist author, who was convicted of inciting terrorism in connection with the Virginia Jihad Network.
Al-Tamimi was born and raised in the U.S., and then as a teenager went to Saudi Arabia to study Islam. He lectured often at the Center for Islamic Information and Education in Falls Church, Virginia. He was a founding member of the center, which is also known as Dar al-Arqam.
The Virginia Jihad Network was a group of radical Islamists who were charged with engaging in terrorist plots. Nine members of the group were convicted of using and possessing various weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and explosives.
Al-Tamimi was later convicted of being the spiritual leader of the group and of having encouraged them to wage Jihad on the U.S.
Gaubatz maintains that he and his team of field workers at the Mapping Shari’a in America Project are not only focusing on major metropolitan areas. Although there is plenty of Islamist activity in cities such as Detroit, Dearborn, Michigan and Washington, he says radical Muslims are also establishing education and religious centers in small towns.
“They’re branching out and teaching the Jihadist ideology in small towns across America, especially in rural areas in places like Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina,” Gaubatz said.
He says that a terrorist atrocity on U.S. soil similar to what happened on 9/11 is inevitable unless Americans take decisive measures.
“If we let our guard down, another 9/11—maybe even something worse—is going to happen again,” he said. “We need to be proactive rather than reactive.”
Gaubatz says that his investigative team is composed of individuals of various faiths, whose goal is to protect the American homeland from Islamic extremism.
“We have a team consisting of Christians, Jews and Muslims—there are several Muslims, in fact, on our team—who go undercover and try to penetrate radical mosques in this country,” he said. “This is not about being anti-Muslim. It is about being anti-extremism, anti-Jihadism and anti-terrorism.
“Our mission is to get at the truth—to find out the truth about what’s really going on in our country.”