In his authoritative book titled I Heard You Were Going on Jihad, author Mitchell Gray exposed an interconnected Islamist terrorist and extremist network in Oklahoma City centered around an address that he provided a pseudonym for.[iv] The owners of the address ran an import company and owned low-income properties. The location is linked to a network of operatives from Fuqra/MOA, Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood.
A Fuqra/MOA document from the late 1980s or early 1990s lists a man known as Naib Muhammad Abdul Jabbar as the “jamaat administrator” for Oklahoma and Deputy Director of the MOA’s Quranic Open University there. His address is listed on the form as 420 NW 26th St in Oklahoma City and matches Gray’s description.
Intersection with Al-Qaeda: Mujahid Menepta and Wadih El-Hage
Mujahid Menepta / Melvin Lattimore
A reported Fuqra/MOA member named Melvin Lattimore, also known as Mujahid Abdul Qadir Menepta, lived at that address in 1990. He is a close associate of Al-Qaeda operative Zacharias Moussaoui, who is suspected of being the “20th hijacker” who was unable to take part in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Moussaoui says that he was tasked with taking part in a follow-up wave of attacks.
Menepta was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1950 and joined the Black Panther Party in the 1960s. He then switched to the Nation of Islam and left that organization. He attended a radical St. Louis mosque that stockpiled arms and threatened violence if law enforcement entered the building.
In 1971, he was imprisoned for aggravated robbery in Colorado.
In 1986, Menepta’s wife died. Three years later, he quit his telemarketing job at AT&T in Atlanta, GA and changed his name to Mujahid Menepta. He visited Pakistan that same year using his legitimate name. Gray believes that he visited Pakistan again in 1990. Menepta only admits to going in 1989 as part of a trip arranged by the Tablighi Jamaat organization.[v]
Upon Menepta’s return from Pakistan, he moved to the Oklahoma City address in 1990. At the same time, other MOA members linked to the address were active in Talihina and Red House, VA.
Menepta appears to have followed his mentor, another former Black Panther, who he knew from St. Louis and had moved to Oklahoma City. The mentor had also lived in Kansas City, Missouri. The mentor was a prison minister from Brooklyn. A FBI/Joint Terrorism Task Force agent told Gray that the FBI was deeply concerned about this mentor, who was the acting imam of the Islamic Society of Norman and may have sent his son to a radical underground religious school in Yemen.
Participants in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing were linked to Menepta. When it was discovered that they used his travel visa, he claimed it was stolen or copied. Gray also obtained a docket sheet from the Southern District of New York that showed that Menepta had been investigated by counter-terrorism officials around the time of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and subsequent terrorist plots in New York and New Jersey. He was not charged.
Menepta was a close associate of Al-Qaeda terrorist Zacharias Moussaoui. They both attended the Islamic Society of Norman mosque. Menepta said that no one at the mosque knew Moussaoui better than he did.
The mosque is owned by a Muslim Brotherhood front named the North American Islamic Trust. The Trust was designated as an unindicted co-conspirator by the Justice Department during the trial of a Brotherhood charity that funded Hamas.[vi] The mosque was incorporated by Hamas financier Mufid Abdul-Qadir.
On August 16, 2001, Moussaoui was arrested on immigration-related charges because authorities believed he was planning a terrorist attack involving airliners. Menepta said he was being used as a “scapegoat.”
After he defended Moussaoui and admitted his close friendship with him, the FBI arrested Menepta on terror-related charges. Agents who raided his home found an assault rifle, shotgun, handgun and over 1,500 rounds of ammunition. His family claimed he was peaceful and merely enjoyed hunting and target practice. As a felon, it was illegal for him to possess guns.
The warrant for the raid stated that Menepta was under investigation for involvement in a terrorist plot and involvement in a seditious conspiracy to levy war against the U.S. His cell phone had contacts that were the subjects of criminal investigations including money laundering and drug trafficking in Oklahoma City, St. Louis, Detroit, El Paso and Kansas City.
Gray writes that Menepta expressed anti-American extremism in his presence. He would accuse the U.S. of terrorism for slavery and oppressing Muslims. Menepta claimed he confronted an individual he suspected of being a FBI agent for allegedly harassing Muslims.
Menepta and his wife also engaged in fraud that is consistent with Fuqra/MOA operations. After his arrest, the government learned that she did not declare their marriage to the state welfare authorities, which could reduce their government assistance. She was accused of receiving over $2,400 in state money including food stamps over the course of the unreported marriage.[vii]
Al-Qaeda operative Wadih El-Hage, a secretary for Usama Bin Laden who was convicted of involvement in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, conducted surveillance for the Fuqra/MOA plot in Arizona to kill Imam Rashad Khalifa in Tucson, Arizona in January 1990.
In 1988, El-Hage attended a major Islamist extremist conference in Oklahoma City. It was organized by individuals linked to Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood.
Hage developed Al-Qaeda cells using an international Islamist network known as Al-Kifah, which was intertwined with Fuqra/MOA. He met with an Egyptian named Mahmud Abouhalima at the Al-Kifah office in Oklahoma City. The Egyptian was later convicted of involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Talihina Training Camp
A MOA-affiliated source confirmed that Talihina was the location of a covert MOA camp in the late 1980s that was overseen by Muhammad Jamal, more commonly known within the group as M.J. Most of the residents moved to the camp in Dallas, Texas that was later abandoned in 1991. The source did not know the status of the Talihina camp since. Another MOA-affiliated source confirmed hearing about a presence in Oklahoma as late as 2002 but did not know any more details.
Mitchell Gray told Ryan Mauro of the Clarion Project that a law enforcement in the state confirmed that a MOA camp existed in or near Talihina by a wooded area. The source had direct knowledge of a small compound in eastern Oklahoma whose members operated mostly in Le Flore County and Lattimore County. The site had about six trailers and was suspected of involvement in drug and weapons trafficking.
The source said that a drug raid took place at the site and explosives were found. It was noted that several Pakistanis claiming to be doctors were in Talihina at the time.
A MOA member in Maryland in 1994 named Bilal Abdullah Ben Benu had an Oklahoma driver’s license. He is linked to the aforementioned address in Oklahoma City that was also used by Mujahid Menepta and the MOA “jamaat administrator” for the state.
He was previously convicted in1992 for lying about his conviction for possession of crack cocaine in Maryland.[viii] Ben Benu had a SKS assault rifle, 9 mm pistol and AK-47 ammunition.[ix] In December 2001, he was arrested while living at the Red House compound in Virginia for weapons trafficking.
The owners of the aforementioned address also owned a mosque in Oklahoma City named Masjid Al-Fatah. A friend of Menepta’s preached there. The friend is from Brooklyn and, like Menepta, was once a Black Panther.
Individuals linked to the address also incorporated the Masjid Al-Salaam mosque. It was the first mosque that Moussaoui contacted after he arrived in the state from Pakistan.
[i] Kane, John and April Wall. “Identifying the Links Between White-Collar Crime and Terrorism,” National White Collar Crime Center, September 2004.
[ii] “Jamaat ul-Fuqra: Gilani Followers Conducting Paramilitary Training in U.S.,” Regional Organized Crime Information Center (dissemination limited to law enforcement), 2006.
[iii] Gray, Mitchell. (2015). I Heard You Were Going on Jihad. Mill City Press.
[viii] “A Nation Challenged: Briefly Noted; Muslim’s Court Case.” New York Times.