A Vermont reader named Heimdall emailed me recently with a question:
I have a question about Islamist flags. I recently saw a pickup truck with Vermont plates, with a large sticker decal on the back window of what looked like the black flag of jihad, the black banner with white writing of what I think is the shahada. I didn’t get a chance to get a pic, but I am concerned due to the fact that the truck was pulling into a neighborhood known to be populated by Bosnian refugees transplanted to Burlington, Vermont.
There is only one main Islamic center here in Colchester, Vermont, but there are several smaller masjids and several halal stores, and the communities are notoriously closed-lip. We have a goodly-sized Somali and Sudanese communities, and a lot of Bosnians. Are there any mutterings in your research of Islamists residing in Vermont? Our press just loves them. The politicians here are basically socialists, and use them to create division in the community — so it is hard to find any info locally.
I wrote him back and told him that the flag decal was likely al-raya, more commonly known as “The Black Flag of Jihad”. It has been widely used by Al Qaeda and its admirers, and was the pre-eminent flag among the world’s Sunni mujahideen until the Islamic State began to dominate the market with its version of the black flag:
Concerning the Islamization of Vermont, I told him that I had very little information on the state, and suggested that he check the archives at Refugee Resettlement Watch to see what they had. As it turned out, he knew quite a bit himself — he wrote me back this morning with a wealth of first-hand information on the cultural enrichment of Vermont.
With his permission, here is Heimdall’s account of what’s happening in Vermont:
Vermont, especially its largest city Burlington, has a sizable Somali Bantu community. It was started as part of the Vermont Refugee Resettlement program. They have been balkanized into mainly two towns, Burlington and the neighboring city of Winooski.
The Bosnians have been coming here since the war in the early ‘90s, and there are hundreds of them. For the most part, they have assimilated into life here fairly well. I actually have three families on my street, and I know them all. However, they have not been without issues.
I have added some links below; they are interesting as well:
Tabar Women’s Leadership Program with Somali flag
Islamic Community Center of Vermont: This site is a little odd, but upon driving by its location several times, it appears to be frequented only by Somalis, and all of the windows are whited out. There was a halal store in the same building, but that is now a thrift shop. The neighboring area is populated by Somali refugees. It is a pretty run-down area of town.
Concerning the raya sticker. I drive through the neighborhood twice a day for work, and haven’t seen the truck since, but it was a bit disconcerting (albeit not unexpected). The Muslim community here is fairly large, and diverse — including Somalis, Sudanese, Bosnian, and a smattering of Arabs and “Asians” — but I know several Egyptians who go to the one “mosque”, and they say that no one talks to the Bosnians because they socialize with their woman, and the women don’t cover their heads. And the Africans don’t like to talk to anyone else.
They are fairly divided, and that is why (I believe) the second, apparently Somali-only center opened up in Winooski. Here is a link to the main mosque site, located in Colchester, VT — borders with Winooski.
I also know several school teachers and administrators in Burlington, and there are some serious issues that the city will not allow to be spoken of outside of the schools.
In one of the three elementary schools, no Somali males over the age of 18 are allowed on the premises because they are too aggressive and have caused numerous scuffles with staff. At the same school, several mothers have been issued trespass warrants because they have physically attacked staff — one lady has choked the front desk clerk twice — no arrests, no press.
Since the men are not allowed on site, if there is an argument in the community, the men gather outside of the perimeter fence during recess and goad the male children to fight each other. The police come, but no reports are allowed to be made.
A kindergarten teacher lives across the street from me. She has retired after 33 years because of a head injury she sustained from a Somali boy hitting her and pushing her over onto a table — she hit her head so hard she was taken to the hospital. She has not recovered much, and she decided to retire instead of going back. The school did nothing to the child, and the parents were proud that their child stuck up for himself when the “female teacher” disrespected him. Remember, this is a kindergartener!