Islamberg, New York, is a Militant Muslim Enclave – Disputed!
Summary of eRumor:
A Muslim community in Upstate New York called “Islamberg” has its own government, laws and actively trains Muslim extremists.
These claims have been tied up in a federal defamation lawsuit, and parties on both sides dispute each other’s claims.
The eRumor started with a blog post on the Christian Action Network’s website. Founded by Martin Mawyer in 1990, the group says it’s a public advocate for “biblical principals, values, traditions and American ideals.” The blog appears under the headline, “America’s First Islamic Government,” and it describes the so-called town of Islamberg in Hancock, New York:
“The Town of Islamberg is a bold attempt by an Islamic community, located about 3 hours northwest of New York City, to set up its own city-state with its own laws, its own government and even its own military. The group behind the initiative is an organization called, Muslims of the Americas (MOA).
MOA has nearly three-dozen villages, camps and Islamic compounds scattered around the United States, all of varying sizes and population. But this camp in Hancock, which also serves as their headquarters, is the first to be so brazen to set up its own Islamic government.”
The blog describes an oppressive and extremist environment in the community, details that were allegedly uncovered by an informant who spent eight years embedded there. That account was also included in Martin Mawyer’s book, Twilight in America: The Untold Story of Islamic Terrorist Camps Inside America.”
TruthorFiction.com has confirmed that there is a Muslim community in Upstate New York. The rest of the eRumor’s claims, however, can’t be independently verified. It should also be noted that the community wasn’t referred to as “Islamberg” in any court documents or media accounts, so it’s unclear where that name came from.
A number of claims made in “Twilight in America” and the Christian Action Network’s blog led the Muslims of America Inc. to file a lawsuit that sought $18 million in damages for defamation. According to court documents:
“This is an action against Martin J. Mawyer, Christian Action Network, and Patti A. Pierucci, defendants, for the malicious, repetitious, and continuous, pronouncements and publication of defamatory statements against Plaintiff. The provocative and defamatory statements were included in the book: Twilight in America: the Untold Story of Islamist Terrorist Training Camps in America, authored by Martin J. Mawyer and Patti Pierucci, (October 2012), uttered by Mawyer on various media outlets including Fox News (October 2012) and posted on CAN’s (Christian Action Network’s) website www.Christianaction.org at various dates and times.”
Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, an attorney representing the Muslims of America, said the group’s residential communities are peaceful, the Washington Times reports:
“The property upstate has farms; it has gardens; it has buildings for work; it has little stores,” she said. “It’s a community of families and of individuals who are just trying to get by day to day.”
Their common denominator is their faith, she said. “Everyone believes in one God and the Prophet Mohammed as his messenger.”
In court documents, lawyers for Muslims of America said the group was founded in the mid 1980s — a claim that would later prove to be a huge factor in the case. Lawyers also said the group bought 60 acres in rural Hancock, New York, to provide a “safe haven” for families that lived in the inner city. A Hancock town official told TruthorFiction.com that the property was not located in Hancock, but in the nearby town of Tompkins. The group also owns properties in Georgia, Michigan, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, Canada and Trinidad.
The Washington Times reports:
“The group said that it has always counseled members and residents to abide by U.S. laws and avoid criminal, immoral and antisocial behavior. The communities include doctors, engineers, nurses, teachers, tradesmen, farmers and business people, with workshops, seminars and interfaith outreach open to the public.”
It turned out that the Muslims of America — as the group exists today — was legally established in January of 2013, after the book was published. A previous version of the group, the Muslims of Americas (plural) formed in the mid 1980s but dissolved in February of 2013 b
ecause its incorporation was “fraudulent as it identifies a fictitious board of trustees, signatures and dishonest notary attestation,” the Washington Post quotes from court documents:
“’Cunning members’ who were Wahhabists ‘falsely presented themselves’ and ‘created a Trojan horse by linking Muslims of Americas legal status with the negative history of IM,’ IM being Ikhwanul Muslimin (apparently meaning the Muslim Brotherhood).”
Wahhabists are members of a strict Muslim sect founded by Abdul Wahhab in the 1700s. The sect is known for strict observance of the Koran and has historically been described as part of the Islamic reform movement.
In the end, the federal judge dismissed the defamation lawsuit for procedural reasons, so the merits of the case were never fully argued in court. Representatives of the Christian Action Network maintain that their claims are accurate, and members of the Muslims of America maintain that they are the victims of defamation. That means this eRumor remains disputed for now. Future updates will be posted here.