2 Investigates: Islamic compounds in Georgia

ATLANTA — An attack at a cartoon contest in Texas that featured images of the Prophet Muhammad has renewed questions about the possibility of terrorism in the United States.

Several Channel 2 Action News viewers have asked about a compound in Georgia -- a compound that was first investigated by Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne in Nov. 2007.


Winne took a closer look at two compounds in Georgia and a leader facing terror allegations from several watchdog groups.

The outposts of the Muslims of Americas, or MOA, are located in rural areas of Franklin County and Wayne County.

The founder of the MOA, Pakistani Cleric Sheikh Mabarik Ali Gilani, denied any links to terrorism at the time.

However Winne found at least two reports that Gilani as founder of Jamaat Ul Fuqra. A report from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service calls Fuqra a "terrorist group" and details investigations as far back as 1983. The report says "it is suspected that Fuqra members and associates have been involved in at least 13 murders and 16 fire bombings."

The report also refers to "covert training compounds" and mentions at least 13 states, including Georgia.

Winne tried visiting several camps to get a response but only received a voice mail saying they would not give an interview.

A few days later a DVD arrived. On the video Gilani says "Thousands and thousands and thousands of youngsters have been reformed. They live peacefully in their 22 towns."

He then directs American Muslims to never do anything wrong against their country.

Critic Martin Mawyer of the Christian Action Network told Winne in 2007 that he had video of Gilani too that he claims is a terrorist training video. Mawyer says it was likely made overseas about 1990.

"Is it fair to use it against his followers 17 years later?" Winne asked Mawyer.

"Everything that is in this video can be used to this day. How to hijack cars, set off bombs, shoot people, and strangle people. There's nothing in it that's outdated," Mawyer responded.

Winne checked with sheriffs in both counties who said the FBI is aware of the compounds but they've had no local problems.

A press release from a MOA related group says that U.S. authorities have exonerated Gilani from terrorism and removed MOA from a terrorist watch list.

Two years after his initial report Winne went in search of an alleged terror camp in New York but learned little about the camp from those inside or the police.

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