10. Wedding at Islamberg

Ali Abdelaziz’s effort to gain access went so far as to marry an underage girl at Islamberg. Arranged and underage marriages had a long history within MOA, with Sheikh Gilani setting the example by marrying an American teenager.

In 2005, Abdelaziz married Hajra Abdullah-Simonds, also known as “Fatima.” Her father and brother were high-ranking MOA officials at Islamberg. 

A source who was at the wedding says that Sheikh Gilani approved of the marriage. Abdelaziz was seen talking on the phone who the source understood to be Sheikh Gilani himself.

Former MOA members explained that Gilani saw his marriage to an African-American teenager, the daughter of a top MOA leader, as a way of forming a tribal-like bond between Pakistanis and the black Muslims in America. Likewise, marriages to Egyptians like Abdelaziz were admired.

Apparently, a small number of other Egyptians married into MOA around the same time.

According to one source’s recollection, the marriages with the Egyptians dissolved shortly after they took place. At a certain point, which the source estimated to be around 2004, one of the Egyptians caused a stir by posting an online message accusing MOA of tricking hi into marrying a girl from Islamberg in order to scam him and his friends for money.

Another source recalled being puzzled over why the MOA elders permitted Fatima to marry Abdelaziz so shortly after he was introduced to the Islamberg community. The source felt that the leadership was blinded by the allure of his money and apparent prestige. Other young girls of Hajra appeared envious of the rich and famous lifestyle they expected her to soon have.

Sources who were/are associated with MOA said that Abdelaziz was one of a small handful of Egyptians who quickly married into the group, only for the marriages to dissolve shortly thereafter. Sometime around 2004, one of the Egyptians caused a stir by accusing MOA of tricking him into marrying a girl from Islamberg in order to scam him and his friends for money.

Abdelaziz claimed to Mawyer that he only married Fatima because of pressure from the NYPD, a claim that should be treated with some skepticism.

He said the NYPD warned him that declining the opportunity to gain access to senior MOA leaders could result in the termination of his deal to serve as an informant, thereby paving the way for his deportation. The NYPD, he claims, knew she was “depressed” and thought he could help her.

Abdelaziz said “the girl didn’t know how to write or read, so I started helping her.” They lived in a “disgusting” trailer shared between two families and he spent almost $35,000 to renovate it.

About a year after their marriage, she gave birth to their son. He suddenly divorced her about a year after that.

“[I] felt really, really guilty. I feel guilty to this day,” he said.

Abdelaziz said he hoped to one day rescue his son from MOA and apologize to him for having abandoned him.