On Wednesday, February 11, 2009, the Christian Action Network premiered Homegrown Jihad: Terrorist Camps Around the U.S. at Washington, D.C.’s Landmark Theater. The crowd of 160-175 people left the theater with their jaws dropped, only moving their mouths to thank the members of CAN for their hard work. The robust Q&A session brought only positive remarks and constructive questions about the networks of an organization known as Jamaat ul-Fuqra, a group led by a Pakistan-based cleric named Sheikh Mubarak Gilani with at least 35 radical Islamic compounds here in the United States under the name “Muslims of America.”
A key feature of the documentary, which is available at ChristianAction.org, is the “Soldiers of Allah” videotape, on which Gilani is seen instructing his followers on how to hijack cars, set off explosives, murder guards, and use various other terrorism tactics as part of what he admits is “one of the most advanced courses in Islamic military warfare.” This is followed by an open invitation for interested Muslims to contact any of his Muslims of America compounds in the United States to receive such training. He even warns the viewers of the tape to not allow it to fall into non-Muslim hands and not to make illegal copies.
The compounds are in isolated areas all over the country from Washington down to California, to Tennessee and Michigan, and New York all the way down to Georgia. While the Christian Action Network manages to identify some of these camps and is even seen visiting some of them in the film, Sheikh Gilani has mentioned having sites in many states that have not been located by CAN.
These are not simply isolationist Muslims seeking to get away from the sinful ways of American society. The camps have websites that are devoted to Sheikh Gilani, hailing him as a miracle-worker that is a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed. One site in Red House, Virginia, even has a street named “Sheikh Gilani Lane.” Gilani, while espousing to be a man opposed to terrorism and extremism, has made such statements as “Jews are examples of human Satans” and “We are fighting to destroy the enemy. We are dealing with evil at its roots and its roots are in America.”
The intention of these compounds is clear: to house, recruit, and train Muslim followers of Sheikh Gilani, many of whom have engaged in terrorist and criminal activity. Despite the large numbers of ul-Fuqra members involved in despicable crimes, the State Department has decided not to list the group as a “foreign terrorist organization,” even through the group was warned about in its annual Patterns of Global Terrorism reports during the 1990s. Using our own freedoms and ignorance as weapons against us, Jamaat ul-Fuqra has disarmed law enforcement from having the authority to tackle the organization as a whole and search these compounds — which range from 25 to 300 acres large — instead being forced to prosecute ul-Fuqra members on a case-by-case basis after a crime is committed.
Despite the documentary’s use of government documents and reports funded by the government, Sheikh Gilani’s own words and videotape, and on-site interviews, CBS News quickly put out a five-paragraph article on the night of the premiere, which somehow required three reporters according to the byline, in an attempt to discredit Homegrown Jihad, and in the process doing us the favor of discrediting themselves. Boasting of their investigative prowess, the article opens with “CBS News has obtained a copy of the trailer,” giving us an early glimpse into how little actual reporting CBS News decided to do.
Armed with a keyboard so they could type “Homegrown Jihad” into YouTube’s search box and an anonymous official, CBS went to work writing an article that should give hope to every journalism student who failed out of school and still dreams of a job at a major news station.
CBS then says that “officials” say the film is not credible, quoting one as saying its purpose was just to “upset and inflame people.” “No current intelligence exists to suggest any threat connected with this group, which officials describe as ‘wannabees’ and not terrorists,” the report says. If CBS had its way, you’d dismiss Homegrown Jihad based on the words of an anonymous official with an anonymous agenda, sleeping soundly knowing that Jamaat ul-Fuqra are just “wannabe” terrorists, but not actual terrorists — a statement akin to reassuring a housewife that her husband only wishes he could be abusive, but lacks the strength to do so.
Ironically, on YouTube, the sole tool that CBS used to do its research for this article, there is an investigative piece by one of CBS’s own affiliates about one of the group’s sites in Tennessee. Not only did CBS fail to call the Christian Action Network for comment and request further documentation and fail to even bother to watch the film, but CBS didn’t even check its own reports on the topic.
Luckily, real experts, who have bothered to actually watch the film and study the government and think tank reports cited in it, have reacted with applause and a mission to warn the rest of the American public of the threat exposed in it.
“What if someone had produced a film that ‘connected the dots’ before al-Qaeda’s operatives did at a cost of nearly 3,000 American lives and, by some estimates, a trillion dollar loss to the U.S. economy?,” Frank Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy and a former assistant secretary of defense, asks in a recent National Review column.
“As it happens, those authorities have just been given a comparable gift in the form of a documentary about the terror next time,” he says referring to Homegrown Jihad.
America’s strength does not come from our technology, our economy, or even our military. It comes from the vigilance of our citizenry. The huge response to Homegrown Jihad proves that despite our weaknesses, the American people will never back down in the face of a legitimate threat.