Ali Abdelaziz summarized MOA as “Modern Warrior Slaves,” loyal cult members ready to do absolutely anything for their Pakistan-based leader, from living a life of a poverty so he can get every dime possible to dying in combat at his request.
“You have to understand this. These kids, all they been living for their whole lives is they want to fight a holy war. These are kids. They start at age 17 in the compound and they become a gangster, they wanna become gangsters for what they think is a holy war…
Let me tell you something. If Gilani tomorrow told everyone, set yourself on fire, everybody would burn themselves. This has been going on for 30 years. And people praise him. They give him money. They kiss his feet. It’s crazy. These people are slaves. I call them ‘the Modern Warrior Slaves.’ That’s what I call them…”
His warning echoed the words of Khalid Khawaja, a friend of both Gilani and Osama Bin Laden, who said Gilani’s followers were even more devoted than Bin Laden’s. If the U.S. government pushed Gilani to declare jihad, MOA would “blow [up] like a volcano.”
Abdelaziz emphasized to Mawyer that MOA is not an accurate representation of the religion of Islam:
“The way they treat Gilani is forbidden in Islam. I don’t believe any of this stuff from this guy in Pakistan. He’s crazy. They treat Gilani like he is a god. You understand? They have his picture all over their houses. I’ll tell you what. I love my religion. I think Islam is a great religion. But the way he preaches Islam makes everybody think we’re all crazy.”
MOA members treat him like a god and believe he can turn them into monkeys or pigs if they disobey him, based on a radical interpretation of Sura 5, Verse 60 in the Koran.
To them, Gilani is omnipresent, able to be anywhere at once, and can live forever. He will never die—he will only choose to leave his body. Abdelaziz estimated that 95% of MOA members believe in Gilani’s divinity.
Residents of MOA “villages” are forced to follow puritanical laws with severe punishments for violations, including lashings. He knew of people punished for cursing, watching forbidden TV shows, disobeying the leadership, fornication, lying to officials, etc.
In one incident, he saw a 50-year old woman tied to a tree and lashed. MOA Chief Executive Hussein Adams stood by and watched as it happened. He even saw children getting beaten.
When kids were asked what they want to do when they grow up, a common response was that they wanted to fight for Gilani.
He warned about the prevalence of guns and willingness to use them.
Abdelaziz confirmed the authenticity of the video of women training in firearms and combat at Islamberg that was filmed around 2002. However, he curiously changed the conversation, saying, “I’m not gonna comment on the women.”
There are a “whole lot of guns,” he said. He said he intercepted one illegal gun shipment for the NYPD and was disappointed by the lack of action by law enforcement.