The Muslims of the Americas (MOA), a cultish Islamist group known for its “Islamic villages” in North America, will be announcing a “campaign to secure the liberation of Kashmir” from India today, May 2. MOA has been expressing solidarity with the Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist group, but don’t expect them to mention that in their press conference.
Though MOA has always advocated jihad against India and Hindus, their radical leader in Pakistan’s rhetoric towards India became particularly pronounced last year. Its publications have become increasingly focused on calling on Muslims to intervene in Kashmir. That advocacy has included indirect expressions of solidarity with Hizbul Mujahideen, an Islamist terrorist group.
In March, MOA’s Islamic Post newspaper published an article describing those involved in a 15-hour shootout with Indian forces as “Kashmiri freedom fighters.” It took the side of these fighters, decrying the “oppressive and violent treatment of the Kashmiri people by Indian forces.” The article then acknowledged the fight began when the Indians were searching for Hizbul Mujahideen.
MOA subtly expressed sympathy for the group in August 2016. Its newspaper included an article condemning India for killing a “top pro-independence militant leader.” It then identified that person as the Hizbul Mujahideen operations commander in Kashmir and emphasized the group’s popularity.
MOA has a history of reported ties to Hizbul-Mujahideen. In 1990, MOA wrote two letters to then president Bush condemning India in very similar language to its rhetoric today. The letters called on all Muslims to participate in jihad against India over its involvement in Kashmir and to support the “Kashmir Freedom Front.” The group was, according to author David L. Phillips, controlled by Hizbul-Mujahideen and fought for “union with Pakistan and Shari’a for Kashmir.”
Although Hizbul Mujahideen is not listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department, the Treasury Department described the group as a “known terrorist organization operating in the Kashmir region” in 2002. The statement explained that Hizbul Mujahideen and al-Qaeda had a common financier and was operating as a charity. A 2016 State Department report said members of Hizbul Mujahideen were arrested by India for participating in attacks alongside Lashkar-e-Taiba, another group with al-Qaeda links.
MOA has a history of recruiting Muslims for violent jihad in Kashmir. MOA has politically supported or been linked to various jihadists operating in Pakistan and Kashmir, including al-Qaeda, the “Blind Sheikh,” and Hezb-i-Islami.
The Clarion Project launched Fuqra Files in November 2016, the most comprehensive website regarding the MOA that includes a mountain of government documentation.
In December, we released a 2003 FBI document stating the group has links to al-Qaeda, sends select members to Pakistan for paramilitary training. We previously released video of guerilla training of female members at its “Islamberg” headquarters filmed in 2001-2002. MOA has an extensive criminal and terrorist history.
In its press release announcing the campaign to “liberate” Kashmir from India, MOA only mentioned non-violent measures in the text, but that doesn’t mean MOA is excluding violent jihad as an acceptable response or, perhaps, something it is even assisting now.
When MOA describes itself as a “civil rights organization” as it did in its press release, we must remember that it is a deceptive extremist cult with a history of terrorism, crime and guerilla/paramilitary training.
Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s Shillman Fellow and national security analyst and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. To invite Ryan to speak please contact us.