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The Tablighi Jamaat movement is an Islamic missionary and revival movement founded in India in the early twentieth Century, as a response to Christian evangelists working among poor and poorly educated Muslims in British India.[1][2][3][4] In recent years, allegations and concerns have risen about whether, or how much, the organization is linked to Islamic terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda.[5] However Tablighi followers insist that they do not preach violence and have denied any involvement with terrorist groups.[6] [7] Ameer of Tablighi Jamaat, along with several prominent members, strongly condemn the enforcement and preaching of Islam through violence.[8]

Background

A December 2001 article by the Boston Herald cited Indian security concerns branches of the jamaat were related to Al-Qaeda. Yet "shoe-bomber" Richard Reid apparently did not remain with the group because they were not violent enough.[9] More recently, on July 19, 2006, Indian authorities questioned two clerics of Tablighi Jamaat in Tripura state regarding the July 11th Mumbai commuter rail bombings, which resulted in the death of 209 people and wounded over 700. In their defense Taibur Rahman, the leader of Tablighi Jamaat in Tripura state, said, "Investigators are free to question them and be satisfied, but they should not be harassed."[10] It is also alleged extremist members of MULTA, with ties to the Pakistani ISI, passed into Bangladesh under the guise of members of Tablighi Jamaat.[11]

A soldier of the Pakistani army accused of attacking former Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf, who was later hanged on the orders of military court, was a member of Tablighi Jamaat, claimed by his father in an interview to BBC Urdu.[citation needed] The person arrested like Rafaqat and Hasnain from Rawalpindi in connection with Mohtarmma Benazir's murder are also said to be members of Jamaat, said by their mother to BBC Urdu.[citation needed]

An article published in NY Times reported quoting Pakistani security officials that the terrorists who attacked Ahmadi community's religious centers killing more than 80 people in May 2010, resided in Tablighi Jammat's headquarters at Raiwind and the Ibrahim mosque, a centre of Tablighi Jamaat in Lahore, for weeks.[12]

According to an article published in the Winter 2005 of Middle East Quarterly, "In 1995, the Pakistani army thwarted a coup attempt by several dozen high-ranking military officers and civilians, all of whom were members of the Tablighi Jamaat and some of whom also held membership in Harakat ul-Mujahideen, a U.S. State Department-defined terrorist organization." A very direct comment from the FBI in the article stated, "We have a significant presence of Tablighi Jamaat in the United States," the deputy chief of the FBI's international terrorism section said in 2003, "and we have found that Al-Qaeda used them for recruiting now and in the past."[13]

On January 18, 2008, 14 men who were alleged to have been members of the Tablighi Jamaat were arrested in Barcelona, Spain on suspicious of organizing a terrorist attack. During the raids, police confiscated material for making explosives, including four timing devices. Using international intelligence, it is thought the group was planning to carry out an attack on Barcelona.[14]

Debate over Tablighi Jamaat's alleged ties to terrorism

While low-level intelligence analysts, in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, have written justifications for the continued detention of Guantanamo captives based on alleged associations between the detainee and Tablighi Jamaat, other organs of the United States government, such as the United States Institute of Peace, take a more benign view of Tablighi.[1]

Bazer Azmy, a Law Professor at Seton Hall University, and one of Guantanamo captive Murat Kurnaz's lawyers, asked three American professors of Religion to write letters explaining to Kurnaz's Administrative Review Board the non-violent and apolitical roots of the Tabligh movement.

  • According to Qamar-ul Huda, a Professor of Islamic Studies and Comparative Religion at Boston College, wrote that: “From the very beginning the Jama’at al-Tablighi has deliberately distanced itself from politics, political activities, and political controversies.”[2]
  • According to Barbara D. Metcalf, Director of the Center for South Asian Studies and the Alice Freeman Palmer Professor of History at the University of Michigan: “I will also attempt to explain why it is implausible to believe that the Tablighis support terrorism or are in any way affiliated with other terrorist or ‘jihadi’ movements such as the Taliban or Al Qaeda's.”[3]
  • According to Jamal J. Ellias. Professor of Religion at Amherst College: “I must emphasize this last point, that the Tablighis formally and actively believe that traveling to engage in missionary activity fully discharges any religious obligation to engage in Jihad.”[4]

A report entitled "Islamist terrorism in the Sahel: Fact or Fiction?", by the International Crisis Group described the Tablighi[15]:

"The other stream of Islamic fundamentalist revivalism practice is strictly non-political, and has never been linked directly to violence."

And[16]:

"As noted above, the Tablighis are best known for their proselytising (among muslims), organised around retreats. It is here that worries emerge. The Jama'at al-Tabligh itself is staunchly apolitical. No source interviewed by Crisis Group could specify an instance of Tablighis breaking the law or engaging in specifically political activity in any of the four countries. A Malian scholar of Islam spent 50 days of itinerant preaching with the Da'wa, and noted no deviation from their apolitical stance. Nevertheless, both Western and African intelligence services consider them a significant potential threat."

Dominic Whiteman describes investigating Muslim groups in order to prepare a list of suspect groups for the United Kingdom government.[17] He wrote:

"Tablighi Jamaat’s leadership is no more guilty for the group’s links to Islamist terrorists than the Pope is for the Catholic church’s links to IRA terrorists. In fact, if all Britain’s Muslims were Tablighi Jamaat devotees and lived their lives according to Tablighi doctrines, there would be little to no problem with violence-espousing, extreme Islamism in the UK."

Lack of documentary proof of how al Qaida was tied to Tablighi Jamaat

Fayad Yahya Ahmed asked his Personal Representative to provide him with a document explaining how al Qaida was related to Tablighi Jamaat.[18] His Personal Representative replied: "We searched for a document to show that there is a connection but did not find one."

Terrorist suspects alleged to have links to Tablighi Jamaat

In the United Kingdom, Shehzad Tanweer, a suicide bomber involved with the 7 July 2005 London bombings, had been an attendee of Tablighi Jamaat meetings. However, the organization maintains it apolitical nature.[19]

American intelligence analysts have justified the continued extrajudicial detention of dozens of Guantanamo captives, in part, on allegations that Tablighi Jamaat has ties to terrorism.

Who Accuser Status Notes
Abdallah Saleh Ali Al Ajmi JTF GTMO repatriated
  • During his Administrative Review Board hearing Al Ajmi and one of the Board members had the following exchange about his participation in the Tablighi Jamaat:
Al Ajmi My role was Template:Sic in this Tabligh Template:Sic to call people to pray, to do good. To let people know that there is an end to this world so they can pray and do well.
Board Member Is it a religious organization?
Al Ajmi Yes it is.
Board Member Al Ajmi I believe that your dedication to your religion is genuine, what direction or path will that dedication take should you be released?
Al Ajmi For peace.
Board Member Ok, having said that I feel with that answer in mind than Template:Sic there is some sense of injustice on the part of your detention Template:Sic. Can that desire for peace and the anger you feel for the injustice coexist or live together?
Presiding Officer Being detained here, does that affect your ideology of the peace concept that you just mentioned?
Al Ajmi I don't blame the Americans for what they did by bringing us over here and detaining us over here. If I were in their place I would go out and look for terrorism all over the world like they did but I have a feeling it is going to be a just decision by the Americans. That is my feeling. I would do the same thing if I were in their shoes. I would capture the bad people, the terrorists and bring them over here and detain them.
Abdel Ghalib Ahmad Hakim JTF GTMO unknown
Abdelaziz Kareem Salim al-Noofayee JTF GTMO unknown
  • Al-Noofayee was told the safehouse where he was captured contained al Qaeda operatives. He said he didn't know any of them, that he was staying there because, when the Pakistani authorities were rounding up all Arabs he asked at the Tablighi Jamaat for a safe house where he could stay.[21]
Abdul Hakim Bukhary JTF GTMO unknown
Abdul Rahman Nashi Badi Al Hataybi JTF GTMO unknown
Abib Sarajuddin JTF GTMO unknown
  • One of the allegations, during his Administrative Review Board hearing, stated:
    • "The detainee indicated his involvement with Tabligh Jamaat was a religious group Template:Sic ten to fifteen people who prayed together. The detainee stated he was in a Jamaat once and he traveled to different villages in his area and preached about Islam and the Koran."[24]
    • "Some al Qaida members have joined the al Dawa al Tabligh religious organization, identifiable with the Jama'at al Tabligh, which was well known for it's (sic) support to Jihadist causes."
Ahmed Bin Kadr Labed JTF GTMO unknown
Ahmed Hassan Jamil Suleyman JTF GTMO unknown
Asim Thahit Abdullah Al Khalaqi JTF GTMO unknown
Bostan Karim JTF GTMO unknown
  • One of the allegations, during his Administrative Review Board hearing, stated: "Prior to his arrest, the detainee traveled in Afghanistan and Pakistan to recruit for the Tablighi. On this trip the detainee claimed that he was the Amir of the Group of Tablighis."[28]
Fahed Abdullah Ahmad Ghazi JTF GTMO unknown
  • One of the allegations, during his Administrative Review Board hearing, stated: "Sheik Muqbil instructed the Detainee to go to the Jama’ah al Tabligh Mosque in Sanaa where he could get a visa and a plane ticket to Pakistan. Since the detainee was still in the twelfth grade, Sheik Muqbil told him to wait until after graduation to make travel arrangements. A year later the detainee went to the mosque, left his passport and some money and later returned to obtain his passport, visa and a ticket."[29]
Faiz Mohammed Ahmed Al Kandari JTF GTMO unknown
  • One of the allegations, during his Administrative Review Board hearing, stated: "The detainee was the leader of a Mujahiden group, Tabligh, in Kuwait. The detainee conducted a lot of meetings with Usama Bin Laden (UBL). The detainee collected money for UBL through a Sheik at a local mosque. The detainee was described as the legal advisor and close friend to UBL."[30]
Fayad Yahya Ahmed JTF GTMO unknown
Fazaldad OARDEC NLEC
  • Faced the allegation that he "admits attending training at Tabligi Jamaat training camp in Raiwand, AF."[32]
Ghallab Bashir JTF GTMO unknown
Hussein Salem Mohammed JTF GTMO unknown
Khalid Mahomoud Abdul Wahab Al Asmr JTF GTMO NLEC
freed
Khalid Saud Abd Al Rahman Al Bawardi JTF GTMO unknown
Khan Zaman JTF GTMO unknown
Lufti Bin Swei Lagha JTF GTMO unknown
Majid Abdallah Husayn Muhammad Al Samluli Al Harbi JTF GTMO Reptriated
  • During his first annual Administrative Review Board Al Harbi faced the allegations[39]:
  • Detainee was recruited by a Jama'at Al-Tabligh Template:Sic associate in Jeddah, who suggested that the detainee travel to Lahore, Pakistan, to teach the Koran and Hadith. The detainee was instructed to contact an associate of the Jama'at Al-Tabligh in Lahore.
  • The Preachers of Islam (or Tablighi Jama'at Organization) has been supporting Islamic terrorist groups in South and Southeast Asia under the cover of conducting religious activities. The group is closely aligned with other Pakistani tettorist organizations and the al Qaida network.
  • Detainee traveled from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Riyach, Saudi Arabia; then on to Dubia, United Arab Emirates; Karachi, Pakistan and finally Lahore, Pakistan. The detainee traveled to Afghanistan during the late September-early October 2001 timeframe to support a Jama'at Al-Tabligh Jihad by teaching the Hadith.
  • During his second annual Administrative Review Board Al Harbi faced the allegations[40]:
  • In late September and early October 2001, the detainee stated that the Jamaat al Tabligh announced a jihad, and he decided to travel to Afghanistan to support the jihad by teaching the Hadith.
  • Jamaat al Tabligh support Islamic terrorist groups, tries to hide their activities under the heading of religious activities, and is closely aligned with al Qaida.
  • The detainee admitted that he received AK-47 training from a known Jamaat al Tabligh member who also taught him how to break down, aim, and shoot the weapon.
  • The detainee met a person associated with Jamaat al Tabligh over a two-month period at the Masid al Malik Saud mosque in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
  • A Jamaat al Tabligh representative in Karachi, Pakistan met the detainee and took him to a mosque in Lahore, Pakistan.
Mohammad Ahmed Abdullah Saleh Al Hanashi JTF GTMO unknown
Mohammad Lameen Sidi Mohammad JTF GTMO unknown
Mohammed Ali Salem Al Zarnuki JTF GTMO unknown
  • Al Zarnuki was captured, on September 11, 2002, during a raid on the foreign student's residence at Salafi University, where he was a student.[43]
  • During his Tribunal Al Zarnuki faced allegations that he was associated with the Tablighi Jamaat. He denied membership, and merely acknowledged that he had studied the Koran with them.
Mohammed Nasir Yahya Khusruf JTF GTMO unknown
Mohammed Sulaymon Barre JTF GTMO unknown
Mohammed Yacoub JTF GTMO unknown
Mohmmad Ahmad Ali Tahar JTF GTMO unknown
Muhammad Abd Allah Mansur Al Futuri JTF GTMO unknown
Murat Kurnaz JTF GTMO released
  • Kurnaz's continued detention was justified by his participation in a Tablighi tour.
  • Kurnaz was alleged to have been friends, in Bremen, with another Turk who became a suicide bomber—who turned out to be alive and well and still living in Bremen.
Musa Ali Said Al Said Al Umari JTF GTMO unknown
  • One of the allegations, during his Administrative Review Board hearing, stated: "The detainee had initially provided the story that he fought with the Taliban. He did this because Pakistani authorities informed him, that if he told the truth about performing missionary work with the Jamaat Tabligh, the Saudi delegation would not help him."[49]
Saad Masir Mukbl Al Azani JTF GTMO unknown
  • One of the allegations, during his Administrative Review Board hearing, stated: "The detainee studied recitation of the Koran at the Al Tabligh School and attended advanced religious school in order to learn religious science and become an imam. The detainee also attended Dar Al Mustaffa College, where he studied religious science for two years."[50]
  • Another allegation stated: "Jama'at Al Tablighi, a Pakistan-based Islamic missionary organization, is becoming increasingly radicalized, and is being used as a cover to mask travel and activities of terrorists including members of al Qaida."
Shams Ullah JTF GTMO unknown
Sultan Sari Sayel Al Anazi JTF GTMO unknown
Usama Hassan Ahmend Abu Kabir JTF GTMO unknown
Yasim Muhammed Basardah JTF GTMO unknown
  • One of the allegations against Basardah, during his Administrative Review Board hearing, stated: "The detainee was recruited by Jamaat Tablighi Template:Sic, a group that recruits young men for Jihad in Afghanistan. Many of these young men are poor and on drugs. The detainee attended meeting sponsored by Jamaat Tablighi for two months."[54]
Yunis Abdurrahman Shokuri JTF GTMO released

The Tablighi movement has triggered the attention of other counter-terrorism agencies. An article in The Guardian quoted an organizer at a Tablighi movement meeting in Britain[56]:

"I know three or four people who come here regularly who are informants, After September 11 the security services met with our elders at our headquarters and told them that they keep the flight records of every Tablighi member who travels abroad. But we are not worried. They can close us down and it will not matter because the effort will continue. We have no fear."

Alleged Tablighi movement participants who fell under suspicion who aren't held at Guantanamo Bay
Who Accuser Status Notes
Ahmed Raffiki Pakistani Intelligence
"Ahmed Raffiki, the supreme amir of the Salafi Jihadi movement of Morocco ... visited Pakistan and Afghanistan and attended the annual conventions of the LET and the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ)."
Amjad Sarwar MI5
  • Daily India reports that Amjad Sarwar, an alleged bomb plotter, confirmed his membership in the Tablighi movement on British TV.[58]
  • The Scotsman reports[59]:
"It is understood special branch detectives are concentrating their efforts on the movements of suspects linked to this religious movement."
Lackawanna Six FBI
"What the five, all of whom were born in the United States, had in common, according to both the FBI indictment and people in the community who knew them, was that they all went to Pakistan in the spring of 2001 to study Islamic religion and culture under the auspices of a group called Tablighi Jamaat."
Kafeel Ahmed MI5
Indian Intelligence
suicide bomber
"The investigation quickly acquired an international dimension. The Ahmed brothers are from Bangalore in India, where their parents are both doctors. Police in the city were probing their membership of Tablighi Jamaat, a Muslim "revivalist" movement - something that brought them into conflict with officials at their local mosque."
"The Ahmed brothers attended a respected school in Bangalore but later fell under the influence of Tablighi Jamaat, the Islamic sect described by French intelligence as the 'ante-chamber of Islamic fundamentalism'. Tablighi Jamaat insists it is a peaceful movement but its emphasis on the Deobandi interpretation of Islam has come under close scrutiny in Britain after it emerged two of the London 7/7 bombers were linked to it."
Mullah Khaliq Dad Pakistani Intelligence
  • Pakistan's Dawn reports that Mullah Khaliq Dad and fifteen associates were apprehended by Pakistani security officials, while on Tablighi Jamaat religious excusions.[63]
Mohammad Sidique Khan MI5 suicide bomber
"Earlier, one of the 7/7 suicide bombers, Mohammad Sidique Khan, was also a follower and Shehzad Tanweer, the other bomber, had visited a mosque that is under control of Tablighi Jamaat in Leeds."
Nadeem Hassan FBI Green Card challenged
  • Detained on re-entry to the USA, after participating in the Hajj due to a past participation in the Tablighi Jamaat.[64]
Sufiyan Patangia Indian Intelligence
  • The director of a seminary affiliated with 'Tablighi Jamaat in Ahmedabad, India.[65]
  • The Hindu reports that he lead terror cell of 18 members, recruited from his students.[65]
Tarkan K. German intelligence

Turkish intelligence

Turkish prison
  • Alleged to have been connected to terrorist training by Tablighi Jamaat leaders.[66]
  • According to Der Spiegel[66]:
"Like two of the London terrorists, Tarkan K. was put in touch with radical groups there by traveling imams associated with Tablighi Jamaat, a religious organization active in Europe and now suspected of radicalizing British Muslims."

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