A Google search on Jamaat ul-Fuqra turns …
A Google search on Jamaat ul-Fuqra turns up a solid 15 pages of right-wing blog and news stories on the group before getting to a non-hostile listing – with the exception of my two previous posts here at Talk Islam (and Wikipedia and a few dictionary entries), which shows that the group has become the unofficial Islamic boogyman of the American right. Also of interest, this report from CBS news last month on the new agitprop documentary made about the group by the Christian Action Network:
Officials describe the film to CBS News as “sensationalistic” and without any real foundation. According to one official, it is strictly designed to upset and inflame people and does not present a true picture of any so-called “homegrown Jihad” danger. No current intelligence exists to suggest any threat connected with this group, which officials describe as “wannabes” and not terrorists.
Unfortunately for Jamaat ul-Fuqra it does have a violent past, with several incidents of violence and murder directed against Muslims of other faith traditions, however the group seems to have been restrained and non-violent at least since the year 2000.
Jamaat ul-Fuqra has made a real effort to do outreach with the FBI and establish a relationship with that agency that belies its own history and shows it is a law-abiding group. However, I think Jamaat ul-Fuqra’s attention to the FBI is misdirected and fails to indicate a real change in direction for the group away from violent extremism. That doesn’t mean that a change in the group’s ideology hasn’t happened, but only that interacting with the FBI is no proof of it either way.
The FBI and the US government were never the primary target of Jamaat ul-Fuqra: Other Muslims were (along with South Asians of different religions). A better indication of change away from extremist ideologies for the group would be if it showed that it could live in peace with other Muslims that do not share its creed.
Instead of inviting the FBI to visit its Muslim Scout Camp, Jamaat ul-Fuqra should invite Salafis, Shi’ites, traditionalists, moderates and even progressives to show that it has changed its ways. If I had the ear of the FBI, I would tell it that overt hostility and violence toward other Muslims is an early warning indicator of extremism, and if Jamaat ul-Fuqra is unwilling or unable to show that it can handle peaceful co-existence with other Muslims, then it is at least deserving of whatever attention it does get from law enforcement agencies, though the continued demonization and enemy formation of the right-wing blogosphere and media against the group should be opposed.