Sheikh Gilani’s exploitation of women and children is what most bothered him.
The estimates that MOA had 1,500 to 3,000 members was grossly underestimated, he felt. The real number had to be closer to 15,000 when the children are included.
Other sources agreed, mentioning that the number probably doesn’t account for the group’s international expansions. They also said MOA was having success in recruiting Somalis, inside and outside of America. Several violent terrorist plots against MOA, specifically Islamberg, followed by sympathetic media coverage, are said to be actually helping the group.
Abdelaziz said that children are being trapped into lives of crime and poverty.
“A lot of the children that grow up there become drug dealers. Some become murderers,” he said.
Kids were being taught that it is acceptable to engage in crimes that victimize non-Muslims, as long as it is for the cause of Gilani and, therefore, Allah. Many become drug dealers who donate a portion of the proceeds to the organization and Gilani.
He said that, as far as he knew, the drugs weren’t being sold to other MOA members on the camps.
Other MOA-affiliated sources explain that producing and consuming drugs is forbidden but selling them is permissible if it is done to advance the cause. Since the drug trade is seen as part of the Zionist conspiracy against Islam, it is acceptable to use it against the enemy.
Abdelaziz was particularly disturbed about criminal activity committed by “the young guys with gangs” in New York, who he said he didn’t hang out. Sources say he is referring to MOA-linked gangs like the “Land Boys,” which is known to conduct drug trafficking away from the premises of Islamberg.
The DEA has investigated and arrested MOA members including the “Land Boys” for crimes like drug trafficking and robbery. Documents from one 2007 DEA investigation said that partnering agencies “believe that through a narcotics distribution network these individuals were generating funds and then taking these funds back to the [Islamberg] compound.” It also said that MOA members in the area were transferring money to the group’s leadership in Pakistan.
Gilani prohibits birth control and condoms so that the organization would grow as rapidly as possible, with women often having eight or nine children. Almost every woman is on taxpayer-provided public assistance, and “use public services as crazy,” while sending a portion back to the MOA leadership and Gilani.
There is a huge amount of welfare fraud and food stamp fraud, particularly in Colorado and Binghamton, New York, he said.
He flatly stated that it is “approved by MOA” and not the work of a few rogue individuals. He explained:
“A lot of them do welfare fraud. They do all kinds of scams. All kinds of scams. MOA does not want to lose out on opportunities of a crime being committed. They might have a guy sell a $10 drug or do a pickpocket. Maybe they have someone else, like in Philadelphia and Virginia, go sell a kilo of drugs. The drug money goes back to Gilani.”
The fraud against the U.S. government or other entities is permissible because it is taking back money from the “Satanic-Zionist” enemies of Islam.
Families are crammed into small trailers, with two families often sharing a single mobile home. Girls were pressured into arranged and polygamous marriages at young age. The children living on the compounds are mostly homeschooled, as public education is discouraged, and so the majority are practically illiterate and “brainwashed.” He said:
“They have school on the Hancock compound [Islamberg]. But a lot of the kids don’t go to school. 90 percent of them can barely read or write. It’s sad. It’s sad to see this in America.”
The population suffers in poverty, stuck in a situation that denies them the pursuit of the American dream, so that Gilani and his family could live large.
He had seen the pictures of Gilani’s cars and multiple homes in Pakistan. And he remembered when MOA spent about $15,000—money provided by the impoverished members—to purchase and send video cameras to Pakistan for Gilani’s studio.
Ali would not detail what crimes he reported to the NYPD, saying, he feared “it would violate my immunity” agreement and lead to his deportation. He strongly implied that he reported evidence of MOA members involved in murders and, as he put it, “some very, very serious crimes” where “people got hurt very badly.”
Abdelaziz said that the evidence of human rights abuses that he provided the NYPD should have been enough for the government to take action:
“That’s one of the things, honestly, this is what I think. This is what I think is the biggest disgrace: The abuse. The only thing is, nobody on the camps says anything. Of course, they’re afraid…
…Some people are there because they’re scared. They don’t know what to do. They have their children there. They’re scared of the wrath of Gilani. They think, you know, they’re afraid they will get punished. They are so controlled, so brainwashed. It’s crazy.”
Those who leave the group and potentially expose them are at serious risk.
“You have to understand, these people are not the nicest people. They have to do what they got to do. I know this for sure. They will do whatever. They have tried to kill their own people,” he explained.
Abdelaziz then explicitly warned Martin Mawyer that, due to his research drawing negative attention to MOA, “You are in danger.”
Other sources who were or are affiliated with MOA also talk about the immense difficulty of leaving the organization and even greater danger of talking to law enforcement or the press about what is happening.
Most, if not all, of your friends and family are in the cult. You likely have a criminal record and poor education, making employment and therefore self-sufficiency a daunting task. The comfort of community is beyond quantification.
In many cases, those who leave or begin to distance themselves from MOA find life outside of the group to be too difficult to adjust to. They come back, or at least, make amends.
Reporting to law enforcement is an even taller order.
To begin with, you’d be ratting out people who—despite their transgressions—probably have some fond memories of and affection towards. You could report a crime committed by someone you don’t care about, but it is quite possible for the investigation to lead the authorities to those you do care about.
Secondly, there’s a lack of confidence that law enforcement will even do anything with the information. After all, MOA has existed since the early 1980’s.
Then, there’s the well-known fact that MOA members have been employed in law enforcement and different government sectors. This fact raises the fear that you could be caught, and you and your family will suffer the consequences.
And finally, once you expose MOA, there’s no going back. If you can’t make it in your new life, have no recourse. You cannot make amends. You cannot be helped. You’re completely on your own.
That is why the testimonies of Ali Abdelaziz and the few other defectors are so critical and groundbreaking.