- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 13, 2002

The Department of Justice met yesterday with a New York civil rights group to discuss the recruitment of black American Muslims by terrorist organizations.
Roy Innis, chairman of the conservative Congress of Racial Equality, told officials he fears an increasing alliance between Middle East-based terrorists and domestic black Islamists.
The meeting between Mr. Innis and Justice Department officials marked the first time since September 11 that federal law enforcement agents have publicly confronted concerns about domestic black Muslims as a national security issue.
"There has been a fear because of racial and religious reasons," Mr. Innis said. "But [many federal officials] have been in denial but this has become a very real danger. And there are signs all over the place.
"If we want to ignore this danger then we are not doing a good job to keep this country safe," said Mr. Innis, who added that yesterday's meeting was "informal" and said he hoped it was a prelude to a conference with Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Mr. Innis said that Justice Department officials at the meeting expressed concerned about the "balance of civil liberties and a national security crisis."
"We can go to the Bureau of Prisons, for example, and ask for a review of the various ministers," Mr. Innis said. "This is too important an issue for these kinds of things to not be under review."
Justice Department officials did not return calls yesterday.
Mr. Innis' tax-exempt group which reported $1.2 million in revenue in 1999, the last tax records available will begin a campaign to counter the Islamic recruitment efforts that are prominent in the nation's prisons and college campuses.
The effort will look at groups like the National Islamic Prison Foundation, which coordinates a campaign to convert inmates to Islam. Foundation officials claim an average of 135,000 such conversions per year.
The recent arrest of sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad, a member of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam, and the arrest of several black Muslims in Portland, Ore., have focused attention on black American Muslim converts in the past month.
Since the September 11 attacks, a number of black Muslims have been among those arrested in terrorist-related sweeps by federal and local law enforcement.
Federal investigators also continue to survey small settlements of black Muslims involved with Jamaat al-Fuqra, a group founded in the early 1980s by Sheik Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, a Pakistani with numerous terrorist ties.
In addition, colleges and prisons have been used as recruiting grounds for Islam, places where people who are searching for answers take solace in a culture that appears ready to embrace them.
"There have been many connections between the Saudis and black U.S. Muslims," said Earle W. Waugh, a professor of religion at the University of Alberta in Canada. "I think it is a connection that has encouraged the move of African-American Muslim groups toward a more conservative version of what Islam is."
One black Muslim leader yesterday objected to the idea of Mr. Innis' tax-exempt organization investigating Islamic groups on behalf of the Justice Department.
"I think the government needs to do whatever it needs to do within the confines of the law and the Constitution to safeguard the nation," said Imam Johari, who serves as the Muslim chaplain at Howard University.
"As Americans we should all be treated equally, if there are 'valid' leads into the African-American or other communities, they should follow them, but they have to hold onto the standards of civil rights and liberty for all. History has shown that this is not always what they adhere to, which is the problem; the problem is not who the Justice Department listens to, it's the rush to judgment that's the problem."

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