Islamberg attack plot: 4 men arrested in New York state while ‘preparing to bomb’ Muslim settlement
22 January, 2019
Four men, three of them teenagers, were arrested and charged with plotting to attack the reclusive Muslim community of Islamberg in upstate New York. They had prepared multiple explosive devices and over 20 guns for the plot.
All four have been charged with three counts of possession of dangerous weapons and one count of conspiracy, all felonies. The youngest suspect has been charged as an adolescent offender. Between them, the four had access to 23 guns, Police Chief Patrick Phelan told reporters.
Their target was allegedly Islamberg, a rural hamlet in the Catskill mountains. Settled by a Pakistani cleric in the 1980s, Islamberg is home to several hundred Muslims and is the headquarters of Muslims of America, an organization that runs similar settlements across the country.
The Catskill mountains are freezing cold in winter, and may seem an unlikely place for a Pakistani cleric to settle on, but Sheikh Mubarik Gilani made the move there over three decades ago, fleeing crime and overcrowding in New York City. His mostly African-American followers who came with him said they wanted a better place to raise their children.
Rumors of terrorism and fundamentalism have dogged Islamberg since Gilani first bought land there, and the weekend’s arrests were the latest in a series of threats and accusations.
Not all of the accusations against Islamberg are based on paranoia. Muslims of America, the organization founded by Gilani, is an offshoot of Jamaat ul-Fuqra, temporarily listed as a terrorist group by the US State Department in 1999. Jamaat ul-Fuqra was responsible for a string of bombing and assassination plots in the US and Canada throughout the 1980s, and its preachers reportedly instructed young followers to travel to Afghanistan to join the Mujahideen in their fight against the Soviets.