Conor McGregor Takes on Radical Islam

Conor McGregor before a fight in Las Vegas in 2016 (Photo: Steve Marcus/Getty Images)
UFC superstar Conor McGregor before a fight in Las Vegas in 2016 (Photo: Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

An inescapable spotlight was shown upon jihadist cult Jamaat ul-Fuqra (currently known as Muslims of the Americas) over the past week by an unlikely source: Ultimate Fighting Championship superstar Conor McGregor.

McGregor, whose “mental warfare” against opponents is so strong that UFC President Dana White says he rivals Muhammad Ali, bashed his upcoming opponent and his manager for their ties to Islamist extremists at last week’s wild news conference.

McGregor confronted the UFC’s biggest manager, Ali Abdelaziz, who manages his Dagestani rival Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Abdelaziz used to be a member of Jamaat ul-Fuqra, as explained in detail at FuqraFiles.com, Clarion’s comprehensive website about the group.

Abdelaziz’s involvement with Fuqra and the U.S. government was first revealed by author and activist Martin Mawyer, who was approached by Abdelaziz in September 2010 about telling his story. That account first appeared in Mawyer’s 2012 book.

Additional details were then discovered by Ryan Mauro of Clarion Project and FuqraFiles.com, authors Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman and independent Mixed Martial Arts journalist Mike Russell.

Pictures from Mawyer’s book, “Twilight in America,” showing Ali Abdelaziz at a Fuqra / Muslims of America (MOA) event that included interfaith outreach with FBI personnel. Abdelaziz told Mawyer that Fuqra “bullsh**s” the U.S. government at such events. Used with permission.

Pictures from Mawyer’s book, “Twilight in America,” showing Ali Abdelaziz at a Fuqra / Muslims of America (MOA) event that included interfaith outreach with FBI personnel. Abdelaziz told Mawyer that Fuqra “bullsh**s” the U.S. government at such events. Used with permission.
Pictures from Mawyer’s book, “Twilight in America,” showing Ali Abdelaziz at a Fuqra / Muslims of America (MOA) event that included interfaith outreach with FBI personnel. Abdelaziz told Mawyer that Fuqra “bullsh**s” the U.S. government at such events. Used with permission.

According to Abdelaziz’s own words to Mawyer and our sources who are/were in Fuqra, Abdelaziz trained Fuqra members in martial arts and Arabic and participated in various criminal activities including passport fraud.

After being convicted, he became an informant inside Fuqra in exchange for being let out of jail and not being deported back to Egypt. Abdelaziz lived at Fuqra’s 70-acre headquarters in upstate New York, Islamberg. He even married the daughter of a prominent member of Islamberg and they had a son.

Fuqra has used security companies as fronts for acquiring training in militant-related skills, equipment, transfers of money and material and various criminal activities. In keeping with this pattern, Abdelaziz was part of a select group of Fuqra members to get advanced training as part of a covert “military squad.”

Abdelaziz passed the information about this training, as well as Fuqra’s human rights abuses, trafficking of firearms and guns, and overseas operation to the FBI and NYPD.

Ryan Mauro and Martin Mawyer acquired documents, including a picture of Abdelaziz, from one of those training sessions and released the photo exclusively this week:

Above: Ali Abelaziz (using the name Alaa Abdelaziz) provided intelligence to the U.S. government on his colleagues in Fuqra. Here, two of the chosen “military squad” members are at the firing range as part of the training they received in security-related duties, including instruction in counter-terrorism.

Above: Ali Abelaziz (using the name Alaa Abdelaziz) provided intelligence to the U.S. government on his colleagues in Fuqra. Here, two of the chosen “military squad” members are at the firing range as part of the training they received in security-related duties, including instruction in counter-terrorism.
Above: Ali Abelaziz (using the name Alaa Abdelaziz) provided intelligence to the U.S. government on his colleagues in Fuqra. Here, two of the chosen “military squad” members are at the firing range as part of the training they received in security-related duties, including instruction in counter-terrorism.

Abdelaziz’s relationship with the U.S. government started falling apart in 2008 after a trip he made overseas (this is mentioned briefly mentioned in The Enemies Within). The FBI began distrusting him, especially after he reportedly failed a lie detector test, indicating he did not intend to be truthful with the U.S. government and had told someone in Egypt about his work as a spy.

To make a very long story short, there were even suspicions that Abdelaziz may be acting as a double-agent (which he strongly denied to Mawyer). His relationship with the FBI ended and, some time later, so did his relationship with the NYPD. The U.S. government sought to deport him back to Egypt, whereupon Abdelaziz approached Mawyer for help.

This is the story that Conor McGregor was referring to when he screamed that Abdelaziz is a “mad terrorist” and a “terrorist snitch,” shocking the Mixed Martial Arts world and sparking massive interest in what he was referring to.

Before that, McGregor’s trash-talk brought attention to a controversy over ties between the UFC and dictators including Islamist extremists and the Russian government.

He mocked his Dagestani rival, Khabib Nurmagomedov, over his father’s ties to Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov, a Putin-backed Islamist extremist known for his vast human rights abuses, including the purging of homosexuals.

Kadyrov said he would “condone” honor killings of homosexuals by their Muslim relatives and would not enforce laws prohibiting it. In a jaw-dropping claim reminiscent of former Iranian President Ahmadinejad, Kadyrov said there are no gays in Chechnya and, if there were, he’d deport them to Canada.

Due to his major influence in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Kadyrov has been referred to as “the most dangerous man in MMA.”

Khabib’s father, Abdulmanap, has been unable to get a visa in time for Saturday’s matchup, a problem he also had last year. As one Mixed Martial Arts reporter put it, “Abdulmanap is a hard man to bring overseas.”

Here, McGregor wasn’t explicitly bringing attention to Islamist extremism, but it was nonetheless a byproduct of what he said and probably something he foresaw.

McGregor insulted Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov as a “quivering coward” for posting pictures of himself with Kadyrov at his mosque, in what McGregor described as a betrayal of his people out of fear.

The attack elicited a threat to McGregor from a Chechen fighter, Khusein Khaliev, who belongs to Kadyrov’s own Mixed Martial Arts fight club. Khaliev warned McGregor, “We will never forgive for attacking the honor of our family” and “you will have to answer for your words, inside a cage or outside of it.”

The Chechen press minister called McGregor a “Mexican c**k” and “outrageous clown.”

Ali Abdelaziz’s own embrace of Kadyrov has come under scrutiny, as well as Nurmagomedov’s other controversial links.

McGregor’s insults stepped over the line into mocking Nurmagomedov’s faith, calling him “backwards” for not drinking alcohol. (Obviously, we are giving a very censored version of McGregor’s quotes).

The hype about the fight between Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 229 on Saturday feels like it’s building by the minute. And, with it, an opportunity to bring attention to Islamist extremists like Fuqra and Kadyrov from a direction that few anticipated.

 

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Ryan Mauro
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org's Shillman Fellow, national security analyst and the director of Clarion Intelligence Network. Mauro is also an adjunct professor of counter-terrorism. He is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio.

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