Monday, February 19, 2007

Jamaat ul-Fuqra in Georgia — From the Air

A Gates of Vienna/Christian Action Network Exclusive

Note: Any of the small images shown below that cause your mouse pointer to display the “link” icon may be clicked to show a larger version of the same image.

The Christian Action Network recently made another aerial run over a Jamaat ul-Fuqra compound, this time the one near Commerce, Georgia. Martin Mawyer, the president of CAN, has kindly made the resulting photos available to Gates of Vienna.

The compound on Madinah Road actually has a Royston address, and is about halfway between Commerce and Royston, to the northeast of Atlanta.

Jamaat ul-Fuqra — the terrorist organization whose cover group is known as the Muslims of America — means “community of the impoverished” in Arabic. When you look at the dwellings in the Commerce compound, it seems that the organization is trying to live up to its name.

Most of the residences are trailers and double-wides, some of them decrepit and badly in need of repair. Squalor of this level is not unknown in the rural South, but the Commerce compound definitely ranks near the lower end of the socio-economic scale.
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There is a small farm complex that probably predates the MOA acquisition of the property. It seems to be engaged in some kind of animal husbandry — cows? horses? Presumably not pigs.

The pasture and larger trees standing in the open indicate that the farm has been there for a while. The rest of the buildings and trailers are more obviously recent additions, set back in the woods along the narrow red-clay access roads that snake through the complex.

There is one exception to the general poverty-stricken appearance of the place. I mentally named this building “the Fortress” as I went through these photos, but in fact have no idea what its function is. A community center? A mosque? The house of a JF bigwig? It’s a strange-looking building, very different from anything else on the property.

In his initial pass over the area, Martin’s photos clearly show three cars parked on the concrete apron just above the entrance to the underground garages.

By the time the airplane had made a complete circle over the area and returned to the same spot above the Fortress, the cars had disappeared. You can follow the sequence of successive shots at right — according to Martin, the elapsed time between the first photo of the sequence and the last was les than four minutes. That was an insufficient amount of time for the cars to have driven away, and, in any case, Martin’s team saw no cars moving up the driveway.

The only possible explanation is that during the brief period of time involved, all three cars were driven into the two garages underneath the building. In fact, in the third photo of the sequence, the end of the red car is just visible beyond the southeast corner in the turnaround area. It has been moved, and is presumably in the process of turning around before entering the garage.

In the last three photos of the sequence, none of the three cars is still visible.

Notably odd features of the building are the rounded corners and the various levels of flat roof edged by parapets. Notice the triangular tower sticking up above the rest of the structure, with its narrow slit windows facing southwest and southeast.

With the exception of the tower, the different sections of the roof have beveled areas that slope up from a flat surface almost to the level of the surrounding parapet. You’ll observe that these triangular slopes are all facing northeast and northwest — that is, towards the driveway and the open lawn. None is facing the woods to the south.

It’s possible that these bevels have some unremarkable function that is not immediately evident. Maybe they are designed to funnel rainwater in a certain direction so that it can be gathered into a drain and collected in cisterns.

But my paranoid nature envisions these as positions for riflemen, who could lie prone and expose very little silhouette to an assault down the driveway or through the open area to the north. We know that the Muslims of America see themselves as victims of the next Waco, so this could be a part of their preparation for it.

An argument against this explanation is the fact that there is no evident means of access to the uppermost of the flat rooftop areas. So perhaps there is another explanation for these beveled corners — readers with architectural knowledge are invited to contribute suggestions.

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The impoverishment of the Impoverished does not seem to extend to motor vehicles. There are plenty of cars and trucks visible throughout the compound, and not just at the large building.

The double-wide shown at right has at least ten vehicles parked around or in front of it. Most of them were turned around when parked so that they are facing back up the driveway. Just for convenience? Or for a quick getaway?

There are a couple of hood-tarps in evidence on vehicles. It could be that the car’s hood is missing, and the engine is being worked on. Or maybe the car’s owner is trying to protect the engine and battery against those harsh Georgia winters.

Or maybe the tarp is there to conceal the front license plate from casual inspection if a county deputy comes down the road on a professional visit. Would he be required to show a warrant if he wanted to look at the rear license plate?

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After going through all the photos, I was left with a handful of mysterious objects or structures. These were things that were big enough to be interesting, but which I couldn’t identify. I’m sure that each has an innocuous explanation; it just wasn’t one that I could think of.

The first one is a superstructure at the far end of the gable of the roof of the barn, as seen in the “farm” picture above. The thing appears to have two wheels, and sits astride the crest of the roof at the very end. My best guess is that it is some kind of winch or hoist to bring hay bales etc. up into the barn loft, but I’ve never seen one quite like it.

The next strange object is a rack or frame leaning against a tree way back in the woods away from any of the buildings. A tanning frame for animal hides? That doesn’t look like a hide on it. A piece of roof with some shingles attached?

It’s a mystery to me. I’m hoping the distributed intelligence of our readers will supply the answer. It’s probably something quite commonplace, to be found everywhere in the hinterlands of Georgia.

The other mysteries are these three tall buildings. Each is set back in the woods away from the roads and cars, with no cleared area around it. None seems to have an electric line leading to it. The footprint for each one is small, but all three buildings extend to second-story level.

The first one looks vaguely like a smokehouse, but lacks the roof vents. Notice the peculiar paint job on the end.

The second is ungabled, with a canted roof.

The third seems to have a window on the second floor, with a door underneath it.

A machine shop? A carpenter’s workroom? A meditation retreat? All guesses are welcome.

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As I mentioned yesterday, members of Jamaat ul-Fuqra have defended their organization in letters to the editor of a local newspaper in Charlotte County, Virginia:

We are not terrorists, nor do we or shall we ever subscribe to terrorism. We are American citizens born and raised in the United States, respectful to God and the Constitution of the founding Fathers of this country. Many of us are Veterans ourselves, honorably discharged, by the various entities of the United States Armed Forces. Some of us currently have relatives serving in the Armed Forces overseas in Iraq.

These are fine sentiments. But contrast them with the words of the letter-writer’s own leader and spiritual guide:

In a videotape obtained by The Washington Times, Sheik Gilani calls on American Muslims to help him form an “international organization.”

“We have reached out and prepared them to defend themselves in a highly specialized training in guerrilla warfare,” he says, referring to two camouflage-clad black men flanking him. “Life is becoming more hard for Muslims. Therefore, every man and woman will learn to defend himself or herself.”

Another JF member also wrote to the paper:

The provocative tactics instigated by some members of CAN resemble events that led to the sad memories of Ruby Ridge and Waco. We are hopeful and pray that this venom of hatred never finds it’s [sic] way to Charlotte County, Virginia.

It seems obvious to me that the Madinah Road compound near Commerce is preparing for another Waco. Waco is now the gold standard for confrontations between private armed groups and the government. Any scrutiny of a group’s behavior “invites another Waco”.

Unfortunately for all of us, Janet Reno did for legitimate law enforcement what Joe McCarthy did for legitimate anti-communism. Thanks to Janet Reno, federal authorities are going to tread very, very softly with any group like Jamaat ul-Fuqra, particularly when a racial angle is involved. Law enforcement at the national, state, and local levels will bend over backwards to give the Muslims of America the benefit of the doubt, and then some.

So no new Waco is coming down Madinah Road to the Fortress. It’s not going to happen.

And the comparison of Jamaat ul-Fuqra with the Branch Davidians is spurious. David Koresh’s people did not operate compounds all over the country and in Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean, “villages” in which they stockpiled automatic weapons and gave weapons-training courses to young men recruited from prison. The Branch Davidians did not fire-bomb Hindu temples nor murder members who failed to follow the proper doctrine. They never engaged in massive welfare fraud as a fund-raising measure, nor did they repatriate their ill-gotten gains to a terrorist in Pakistan.

These are apples and oranges.

But my purpose here is not to stimulate some government action vis-à-vis Jamaat ul-Fuqra. I don’t think the government can help us, anyway. We’re on our own.

My goal is to present information, as much as possible. Let the light shine on the Muslims of America — if they are peaceful and harmless devotees of their Sheikh, they will surely welcome the attention.

They have been accustomed to gliding through the shadows, unnoticed by the vast majority of Americans. We want them to move out into the light.

Let’s exchange incognito for in flagrante delicto.

Update: A reader emailed me to ask if the mystery on the roof of the barn might in fact be on the ground beyond the barn. I said that I didn’t think so, because it appeared to overlap the roof of the barn and throw a shadow there.

Well, I was wrong. I scoured through the aerial photos and found another shot taken from a very slightly different angle, and you can clearly see the piece of equipment on the ground in the barnyard. The roof of the barn is damaged, with some tin missing and the joists poking out, so that an optical illusion is created making the wheeled device look like it’s on the roof.

I still don’t know what it is, but at least it’s on the ground, where it belongs.


Georgia Kafir said...

Or maybe the tarp is there to conceal the front license plate from casual inspection if a county deputy comes down the road on a professional visit

Georgia only has rear plates. This car probably fled from VA.

Could that new building be a Madraasah? I am sure it probably has an indoor shooting range as well...looks like a sentry tower on top. No telling what else. Why would they spend so much money on one building w/o fixing up some other things in the compound.

Profitsbeard said...

Baron & Dymphna-

Could you add a music track to the imagery?

Perhaps the banjo "Theme from Deliverance" played on an Aoud?

Nothing good is going to come from this compound.

"Squeal like a pig..." is the essential jihadist message to us.

And too many in the West are bending right over.

It's the multicultural gene.

The most recessive in the world.

showhank said...

Are they required to do inspections in this area? Maybe the plans are on file with the county? If nothing else take a look at the sewage permits. How big is the place allowed to be as per the drain field.

Fellow Peacekeeper said...

RE Squalor : As far as I can tell complete lack of maintainance is a feature of Islamic religious life. From the Balkans to the Hindu Kush, only the new structures and mosques are respectable. Bosnia, Albania, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan are all like that.

RE : It strikes me the otherwise inexplicably flat roofed building is very middle eastern in appearance. The lads who built it do not understand that flat roofed buildings really suck in areas with regular rain. (The USSR used to do the same, their standard building designs were often steppe oriented flat roofers, in wet places like the Baltics they soon leak and break down the building structure.) Afghan (and I hazard Arab) houses in feud prone areas are often like that, made to be fortlike just in case. To me that building cries "foreign immigrant mujahideen".

Always On Watch said...

On abandoned Southern farms, all sorts of "stuff" sits around. I know that from my own experience, having come from a farmette myself. I have no idea as to how those items might or might not look from an aerial view.

BUT I do find that well kept, oddly configured structure worrisome. What is that thing? It definitely has a the appearance of a Middle Eastern fortress.

It doesn't look like a mosque. Of course, Muslims don't have to worship in a mosque; they can worship in specially designated prayer rooms, particularly until the congregation is big enough to build a mosque. And it could be an Islamic center. Some kind of school?

I wonder how that structure was funded? Which construction firm built it? Shouldn't there be records containing that information at the county courthouse? Wouldn't those be PUBLIC records? Follow the money trail.

As to the movement of the cars, that could be coincidental. But I don't think so. I certainly wouldn't move MY cars if I didn't have something "funny" going on on my property.

I definitely don't like JF's reactions, as described in this posting and the previous one.

In addition, flat-roofed structures aren't all that common in that area of Georgia, are they?

I note no livestock. I suppose that this "community" is not one of a working farm.

kepiblanc said...

Seen from a European perspective this is strange. Over here Muslims don't live outside big cities and only leave them in order to make trouble. The map seems to indicate a rural, but not extremely thin populated area. So here is my guesstimate :

Probably not a terrorist training facility. No outside firing range and the noise from gunfire and IEDs would attract attention from neighbors.

So why not assume the obvious - a drug trafficking central ? - The trees give good protection against binoculars, but the forest is too thin for any observer to approach unseen.

X said...

Druig trafficing makes sense. We already know that muslims aren't particularly averse to supplying the stuff - witness the aliban, who dallied with burning popppy farms then ramped up production once they'd cowed the farmers in to working for them - but I don't think it would explain everything. Others have mentioned the vorterss-style of the main building and its middle-eastern appearance. To me it looks like a defensive structure. And roof acess would be a lot easier than you imagine with all those windows and oddly shaped roofs. Of course without an accurate scale it's difficult to say for sure, but a few things spring to mind. In cmforetress2a we can quite clearly see a large double window leading on to a flat roof that has easy access to the sloping black tiled or shigled roof, which in turn provides relativelye asy access to the top of both the "watcgh tower" and the larger flat roof opposite. The "watch tower" also gives one access to two seperate flat roofs though, realistically, those windows appear far too small for people to rush through. Not impossible though.

Looking at it from another light it's quite easy to say that the entire set-up of the roofs is for drainage purposes. I can see drains with characteristic dirt patches around them. To me the whole thing looks dual purpose. Flat roofs are cheap and easier to construct and they also offer a place to lie down.

That watch tower structure looks just a little bit too worrying to me. I don't know how planning regulations work on that side of the pond but over here it's fairly easy to find out how a building is designed on the inside, since the plans always have to be submitted to the planning office. I imagine you aren't quite so bogged down with such red tape. Probably unfortunate in this instance, because I'd really like to know what the internal layout of that place is like.

A coup would have been to get snaps of some people on the roof. Oh well.

The Apostrophe Cop said...

I think that white building looks like it was built as a small commercial building.

A search turns up a "Medina Masjid" in Commerce, GA.

linearthinker said...

CAN may want to consider taking a camera loaded with Color IR film on the next mission. I also just noticed that IR photograpy is possible with digital equipment. Some spectral contrasts and the ability to discriminate better through foliage might enhance interpretation, especially as vege coverage increases through the warmer seasons.

Anonymous said...

Y'all have too much time on your hands.

X said...

Well I was having a slow day at work... no wait, I posted that at home, in the hour I have between arriving home from work and deciding to go to bed. Time is something I have very little of, "mojo" dear. I spend anything up to 12 hours working or commuting and I spend a lot of my time outside work on one of the three following things: sleep, more work, and being with my wife. I'm lucky if I have an hour each day to myself at the moment.

So what's your excuse?

Morgenholz said...

Most "flat" roofs aren't flat. They all have some pitch to them to drain off rainwater, and that's what we have here. What's interesting is the design. It's not a huge building by any stretch, but it looks exactly like the building that would house the department of motor vehicles in any medium sized town. It's "institutional" in design, and was designed and built by somebody who does that kind of work. Betcha 5 bucks...

Jeremayakovka said...

When digging into stories like those, note whether and how local and regional politicians react to such Islamic cults. (btw, I think "Islamic cult" is a fair description.) Pols are often soft on them, to the point of being outright obsequious.

This recent documentary about the Jonestown cult contains footage of Mayor George Moscone and State Assemblyman (later SF mayor) Willie Brown regarding the Jones cult with great appreciation. Never forget that, in addition to the hundreds of sad members, one Congressman was killed by them, too.

Eric said...

Re. the odd, tall buildings, one of which looked like a smokehouse. Is this tobacco country? Might these have been tobacco drying sheds at one time?

Red House Hunter said...

My thoughts exactly: The tall building looks like an old tobacco barn. That's what they're called in the South. Tobacco drying shed is probably a more descriptive term. Anyway, it looks exactly like a tobacco barn with a new roof.

The rural South is fairly highly populated, especially the Piedmont region where the Georgia and both Virginia communities are located. The ability to observe the approach of strangers from a distance is purely a midwinter phenomenon, as during Spring, Summer, and Fall, the foliage is lush to the point of being jungle-like. We often marvel at seeing things at a distance through the woods during the December-February period: houses, barns, old vehicles, rock outcrops, things which you'd have to be virtually standing atop to see in July and August.

So, for 9 months a year, the rural South is a great place to "hide in plain sight". Meth labs, pot patches, other drug activity, and the old-timey favorite- moonshining are all ventures carried out with some impunity, even today.


Baron Bodissey said...

Eric & RHH -- I don't think any of those are tobacco barns. We have plenty of them in my part of Virginia, and I know what to look for.

#1, they almost always have side porches, for the stripping work (or whatever is done before they're hung inside).

#2, they are always at least partially in the open. Those Commerce buildings haven't had open ground around them for many decades.

Red House Hunter said...

Thanks for all of your work and that of Dymphna. I spent years doing field work as a geologist right in your neck of the woods in Virginia, have looked at property to purchase in Chalotte County, and have friends in Appomattox and Buckingham Counties, providing me with a greater appreciation of where you're coming from and what you see around you day-in and day-out.
As to the "barns", I'm just passing on what we regularly observe here in North Carolina:
Tobacco barns were locally built up until the appearance of manufactured "bulk barns" in the 1960s and 1970s. Most barns were fairly modestly built, but were built sturdily since many tons of tobacco would hang on sticks inside to be cured, and these tons of tobacco were the primary annual income for the farm family. The old barns we see around here are fairly close to the fields in order to minimize the travel time from the picking (called priming) of the leaves to the curing barn, but are usually only bordered on one side by open ground. The only open ground needed was that required to U-turn a small farm tractor and trailer for a drive-by unloading. You're dead-on in the observation that lean-to style side sheds were usually attached to provide shade and shelter from rain while the workers were preparing the sticks for curing. Such "porches" also provided thunderstorm shelter for the folks who would sit up all night tending to the oil furnace providing the curing heat. The side sheds, however, needed not be built with the stoutness of the barn itself, so many if not most of the older barns are missing their "porches". Given the sound construction of most of the older style stickbuilt barns, many survive today and are used for other purposes. They're fairly weathertight since they needed to be in order to economize on the fuel oil needed to heat them during curing. A new roof and some new siding, like that seen in the Georgia pictures, are common sights around here. The vegetation around those in Georgia doesn't make me think they're not tobacco barns. Pines, poplars, gum trees, and many other varieties grow very quickly down that way. It may well have been +50 years since those structures were used in a tobacco farming enterprise.
Thanks again for your efforts to keep these communities in the spotlight. Those of us in the region need to know about them, and it is of national importance, as well.

Anonymous said...

Before you start maligning Joe McCarthy, you need to learn about this matter. Instead of proving yourself to be the product of a public school education, I suggest you read the massive study by M. Stanton Evans titled "Blacklisted by History", which took many years to research & made use of previously classified government documents, finally made available after 50 years. You'll find McCarthy WAS a legitimate warrior against communist subversives. Likening him to that murderer Reno is on an exact par with these Muslims comparing themselves with the Branch Davidians!

Thorwon said...

To start with I don't know where you took the pics of the barn but it's NOT in the "compound" as you call it. You don't even know where the "compound" is because Google and Mapquest are both WRONG on where Madinah Rd is. It shows River Bend turning left and Madinah turning right. This is not correct. Where it shows River Bend turning left there actually is NO road there. River Bend goes all the way to the end of what shows as Madinah rd. Madinah turns right just before the end of River Bend.
There is a community of muslims on Madinah. As for the “the Fortress” it's a school and place of worship. If you want to come check it out drive down River Bend and see for yourself, as you obviously DID NOT do!!!!!

Unknown said...

To Thorwon
I cannot believe the Google sattelite picture over the compound can be faked
Something smells fishy here and I don't believe it comes from the man who posted these photos and article.