Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Kingdom of the Illegals
By Paul SperryFrontPageMagazine.com May 17, 2006
This month's defeat of local politicians who built the equivalent of a day-care center for illegal Hispanic immigrants in a leafy Washington, D.C., suburb was a victory not just for immigration reformers but also anti-terror watchdogs.
Angry voters in Herndon, Va., swept out their bleeding-heart mayor and two of his allies on the town council and replaced them with candidates who are not expected to renew the lease of a controversial hiring site set up to help illegal aliens find work.Lost in all the controvery, however, is the more disturbing fact that the site -- a covered building featuring picnic tables and bathrooms -- was founded by a Muslim charity with ties to suspected Saudi-backed terror front groups. Its town operating permit won't expire until the fall of 2007, allowing the group not only time to aid and abet hundreds more illegal immigrants, but possibly recruit them.
The hiring center -- called the Herndon Official Workers Center -- is a charitable front for da'awa, or Islamic outreach to non-Muslims. Local law enforcement officials say the Saudis see new Hispanic arrivals to America as particularly ripe for conversion to Islam, and have even added an annex to their madrassa in another Washington suburb to help indoctrinate the beholden immigrants.
Years ago the Saudis and their Wahhabi lobby set up a terror-support network in Northern Virginia, right across the Potomac from the White House. Not coincidentally, Northern Virginia now boasts the fastest-growing Muslim population in the nation. Immigrants from the Middle East are flocking there, along with immigrants from Mexico and Central America attracted by a local construction boom.
Authorities fear the demographic convergence is facilitating the religious conversion of possible future Jose Padillas.
On any given day, Hispanic day-workers can be seen loitering in convenience store parking lots up and down Route 7 (known by authorities as the "Wahhabi corridor") hoping to get picked up for odd jobs. Some of those jobs have included facilitating Muslim terrorists. Hispanic illegals at a 7-11 in Falls Church turned a quick buck by helping the 9-11 hijackers obtain fake IDs.
More recently, at another 7-11 farther north in Herndon, Hispanic day workers created such a nuisance -- urinating behind bushes and ogling women -- that city officials decided to do something about it. But instead of doing the obvious thing -- calling immigration authorities to round them up -- they agreed to furnish them with their own potties, and let them congregate at a property once used, believe it or not, by the city's police.
Stepping in last year to run the government-sanctioned site was an obscure group by the name, Project Hope and Harmony, which landed (in partnership with nonprofit Reston Interfaith) the $200,000 contract. The man behind the project is Muslim activist Mukit Hossain.
But he's not just any activist. Born in Bangladesh, Hossain also runs a shadowy Muslim charity in Herndon which recently had its accounts closed by Wachovia bank due to suspicious activity related to possible money-laundering. The Foundation for Appropriate and Immediate Temporary Help, or FAITH, received a $150,000 donation last year from a front group run by Saudi bagman M. Yacub Mirza, whose home and offices were raided by federal agents after 9/11. FAITH helped establish the Project Hope and Harmony.
Mirza, a native of al-Qaida hotbed Karachi, Pakistan, is said to act on behalf of Saudi millionaire and al-Qaida financier Yassin al-Qadi. He lives in Herndon in a two-story house on a wooded lot on a private drive (known as a "pipe stem") off a cul-de-sac called Safa Court in a small, secluded subdivision. His neighbors include fellow Islamists Jamal Barzinji and Taha Jaber al-Alwani. Federal law enforcement documents describe Barzinji as "not only closely associated with PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad], but also with Hamas," both officially designated terrorist groups. He's also closely associated with convicted terrorist Abdurahman Alamoudi, one of al-Qaida's top fund-raisers in the U.S.
The other neighbor, al-Alwani, is an alleged unindicted co-conspirator in the Sami al-Arian terror case. He allegedly gave at least $50,000 in jihad money to convicted terrorist al-Arian's PIJ front group in Florida. Court records say the money was sent to al-Arian "to support suicide bombings."
The three men, none of whom have been charged with a crime, control some 40 Muslim businesses, charities and think tanks -- or more precisely, shells, fronts and cut-outs -- known collectively by law enforcement as the Saudi-backed "Safa group." Their offices are located primarily at 555 Grove St. in Herndon. The Muslim World League, a Saudi-based charity linked to al-Qaida, originally set up its U.S. branch at that address with the help of Mirza.
Additional Safa group offices are located directly across Grove Street in another raided building. That's where Hossain's FAITH keeps its office. In fact, it's upstairs on the second floor -- right next door to the U.S. headquarters of the notorious International Institute of Islamic Thought, a think tank which espouses Wahhabi dogma and has allegedly funneled money to terrorist groups. After 9/11, its offices were raided by the feds along with the tenants of the non-descript office building across the street. A former IIIT official, Tarik Hamdi, is said to have delivered a battery for a satellite phone used by Osama bin Laden to coordinate and order the African embassy bombings.
Investigators also have traced funds from IIIT, led by al-Alwani, to al-Arian, and they say the recent al-Arian conviction should help move their case against the Safa group leaders forward. "We were hoping for a snowball effect," says a law enforcement official who originally helped build the case. The Safa case has been slowed by a shortage of Arabic translators, he says. Only a fraction of the materials seized in the raid four years ago has been translated and analyzed.FAITH, which helps runs the Hispanic day-labor site, operates a Muslim thrift shop on the first floor of the same 500 Grove St. building.
By all appearances, the charity is run by Muslims, for Muslims. On the day I last visited the store, an Arab woman in a flowing black gown managed it with her son, who likes to play rap-style Arabic music on a stereo in the store. Among items on sales: the Quran on audiotape, hijabs and posters in Arabic.
But recently, FAITH has become unusually interested in helping Hispanic illegal aliens.In addition to running their hiring site, FAITH's Hossain has organized feasts for hundreds of illegals during Thanksgiving, rounding them up and feeding them an intentionally nontraditional Middle Eastern dinner of beef kebabs and rice (instead of turkey and dressing) at Zuhair's Cafe in Herndon. He and other FAITH workers also gave away a van full of new winter coats (price tag: $10,000) to the Hispanic workers and their families. They've also raised money to buy them work boots and bicycles.
ADAMS CenterIn addition, they've also coordinated canned-food drives for the day laborers with the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, a large local mosque, which is not surprising given that Hossain and other FAITH board members serve on the mosque's board as well. Besides feeding the Hispanic workers, ADAMS Center, as its known, even offered to provide a van to transport them to and from the hiring site. Many of the poor Hispanic immigrants have been invited to worship at the mosque, in what has become a full-court press-the-flesh involving hundreds of Muslim volunteers from ADAMS.
The ADAMS mosque is integrally connected to the Safa group. It was founded by Safa leaders and keeps offices on Grove Street. And the mosque has received the lion's share of its funding from Saudi-backed Safa. In 1997, for instance, investigators say Mirza, the Saudi bagman, wrote a check for $250,000 to ADAMS.Until recently, IIIT official Ahmad Totonji chaired the mosque's board of trustees. Court records allege that Totonji, a Saudi native, personally signed a check for $10,000 to al-Arian's PIJ front after 9/11.
Despite it claims of being moderate and progressive, ADAMS is a hard-line Wahhabi mosque controlled by the Saudis, investigators say. A Saudi pamphlet, called "Religious Edicts for the Immigrant Muslim," was recently found at the mosque. It states that "it is forbidden for a Muslim to become a citizen of a country (such as the United States) governed by infidels." Not surprisingly, even some of the mosque's more prominent members, such as Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR, have not hidden their wish to turn America into an Islamic state.
Hossain serves as a member of the mosque's board of trustees when he's not working for FAITH and catering to Hispanic illegals. He's also a founder of the Muslim American Political Action Committee, or MAPAC, which he set up to recruit Muslim candidates to run for federal office and work for the "empowerment of Muslim Americans."
What's more, Hossain is active in the Muslim American Society, which investigators say is the U.S. front for the Muslim Brotherhood, a worldwide jihad movement that gave rise to Hamas, PIJ and al-Qaida. Al-Awani is also active in MAS, which keeps a small, unmarked office in a non-descript building at the other end of the Wahhabi corridor in Alexandria, Va.
Joining Hossain on the ADAMS board is Tanveer A. Mirza. He is a founding member and trustee of FAITH. Mirza hails from Karachi, the same hometown as Yacub Mirza, the FAITH donor who raised red flags at Wachovia.
It's one big happy family at ADAMS mosque.Progresso HispanoPromoting a day-labor center isn't the only thing Saudi-backed Muslim groups are doing to court Hispanic immigrants in the Washington area. A notorious Saudi school is reaching out to them through "education."
Located in Alexandria, the Islamic Saudi Academy a year after 9/11 helped set up a similar day-care center for Hispanic immigrants on its campus (which used to be the home of Mount Vernon High School before Fairfax County officials, in their infinite wisdom, leased it to the Saudi government). At one corner, day laborers routinely flock to a "Pollo" chicken takeout.
What better way to introduce them to Islam than to open an annex in the old home economics building just yards away?A spokeswoman for the little "Progresso Hispano" school, which she confirms is operated in part by the Saudi academy, provides "immigrant services" and "English classes" to local Hispanics. She would not be more specific, and said the annex's website is "down."
But a county notice of the special planning and zoning exception needed for the annex's approval in November 2002 says that Progresso Hispano "provides ESL classes, job skill training, good parenting classes, citizenship classes and other support services to the Hispanic community."
Those "other support services" are what worry law enforcement authorities.
They say the Saudi academy -- located just across Richmond Highway from the heavily immigrant apartments were the Pentagon cell of the Saudi hijackers stayed -- is a "breeding ground for terrorists." The academy produced al-Qaida operative Ahmed Abu Ali, who was recently convicted of plotting to assassinate President Bush. Abu Ali graduated valedictorian and was voted by his class -- are you ready? -- "Most Likely to Be a Martyr."
Abu Ali's case isn't the first time the Saudi academy -- which is run by the Saudi government and chaired by the Saudi ambassador (Abu Ali's father, in fact, worked for the Saudi Embassy) -- has attracted investigators' attention. In 2002, another graduate was charged with lying about plotting attacks on Israel. And more recently, an ex-comptroller for the school was arrested while videotaping a local bridge's structure for what authorities believed to be a terror attack.
The school teaches from Saudi social studies textbooks that tell Muslims to kill Jews hiding behind trees and not to take Christians as friends. It also teaches students that Christianity and Judaism are false religions. At Hatred High, kids don't have to study U.S. history or government. But memorizing the Quran is mandatory, particularly the parts glorifying violent jihad. Geography apparently is optional: School maps blot out Israel, which is renamed PALESTINE.
Is this the kind of indoctrination wide-eyed Hispanic immigrants will receive at the academy's Progresso Hispano annex in exchange for Muslim "charity"?
In another chilling trend, investigators say Saudi agents are setting up half-way houses in the area for paroled Hispanic and black converts to Islam. Several such houses have been identified in Fairfax County, Va., say local authorities working with the National Counterterrorism Center. They fear the prison converts may be further radicalized by their Wahhabi handlers as they transition back into society.
Paul Sperry is a Hoover Institution media fellow and author of "Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington." He can be conacted at Sperry@SperryFiles.com.