A reader in Charlotte County — one who has more guts than I have, plus a better camera — sent some photos of Red House and the entrance to the Jamaat ul-Fuqra compound, supplying us with much better images than the ones I produced back in October.
First we have a panoramic view of the bustling metropolis of Red House:
Here is the big sign at the entrance to the compound on Route 615:
Sometimes the group appears as “Muslims of the Americas,” but here it is “The Muslims of America.” Knowlegeable readers are invited to supply a translation of the Arabic script. (Update: Commenter shoshanna has translated the Arabic on the sign as “in the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate.”)
And this is the signpost for the road that leads into the compound:
Just to remind our readers: Sheikh Gilani is not necessarily a peaceful and beloved religious figure who happens to lead a group of devoted followers. He heads a violent terrorist organization. In a 2002 Weekly Standard article, Mira L. Boland wrote:
|Fuqra’s founder and chief, the man Pearl sought to interview, is a rotund Kashmiri of Sufi background with long-standing ties to Pakistan’s Interservice Intelligence Agency (ISI), Sheikh Mubarik Ali Hasmi Shah Gilani. At least until President Musharraf’s decision last fall to support the American war on terrorism, the ISI sponsored terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. Sheikh Gilani has rubbed shoulders at international terrorist confabs with gunslingers from Hamas and Hezbollah, their mullah backers, and Osama bin Laden. And he has trained fighters for the battlefields of Kashmir, Chechnya, and Bosnia.|
|Gilani launched his U.S. operations in 1980. Within ten years, Fuqra’s communes were billing themselves as havens where Muslim converts–many of them inner-city blacks, sometimes recruited in prison–could build new lives. At least seven such communities are active today, in Hancock, N.Y.; Red House, Va.; Tulare County, Calif.; Commerce, Ga.; York, S.C.; Dover, Tenn.; and Combermere, Canada. While some of these enclaves contain only rudimentary buildings and trailers, the California compound has 300 residents on a 440-acre spread, according to a recent report by a local ABC station. Residents deny any involvement with terror, but Fuqra has a history of getting into trouble with the law.|
|Over the years, at least a dozen Fuqra members have been convicted of crimes including conspiracy to commit murder, firebombing, gun smuggling, and workers’ compensation fraud in the United States or Canada. And Fuqra members are suspects in at least 10 unsolved assassinations and 17 firebombings between 1979 and 1990. Nor is Fuqra’s criminal activity all in the past. In the last year alone, a resident of the California compound was charged with first degree murder in the shooting of a sheriff’s deputy; another was charged with gun smuggling; the state of California launched an investigation into the fate of more than a million dollars in public funds given to a charter school run by Fuqra leaders; and two residents of the Red House community were convicted of firearms violations, while a third awaits trial.|
We’d all like to believe that here, in the land tolerance and freedom, Jamaat ul-Fuqra is just another group of devout believers who want to live in peace with their neighbors. But the evidence argues against that interpretation.
We’ll have to be alert, maintain an open mind, and keep our powder dry.