A "ready reckoner" on "Hizb-ut-Tahrir's activities in the United States" is available in the Jamestown Terrorism Monitor (Vol V, Issue 16) since August 2007.
Madeleine Gruen, who had penned the account, wrote: "Globally, HT presents itself as confident and optimistic, and it is progressing according to the strategy its founding members outlined in 1953. Hizb-ut-Tahrir America (HTA) is enjoying a similar pattern of progress.
"Its founders, most of whom immigrated to the United States from the Middle East as adults in the early 1980s, had a hard time overcoming cultural differences with their young American target audience, and they were sometimes unable to compete with other extremist groups with more money, more aggressive strategies and better established operations. However, the HTA founders managed to bring in enough committed members during the first 10 years to secure the party's future. HTA has continued to evolve, using the same methodology as its other branches and is now exhibiting signs of vitality," Gruen said.
A nucleus of committed members kick-started the HTA activities. "Chief among them were Palestinian-Jordanian Iyad Hilal, an Orange County, California-based grocer, who was most actively engaged in HTA's development from the late 1980s to the beginning of 2000, and Mohammed Malkawi, a computer engineer based in the Chicago area (Spotlight on Terror, March 23, 2004). Both had been long-time members of HT in their home countries. Hilal and his associates initiated HT activities in New York and in Orange County simultaneously, while Malkawi and his associates established party roots in Wisconsin and Chicago," says the ready reckoner.
Post-9/11 scenario in America helped HTA to grow "without much public scrutiny". Result: HuT's presence has spread beyond the two coasts. Some of HTA's most influential members are in the Midwest. HTA's online presence "reveals" that their membership has spread beyond New York, Orange County, Chicago and Milwaukee.
Doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers and university professors, and business owners are among its members. Amongst the prize catches is Naveed Butt, who went on to become the influential spokesman for HuT Pakistan. After graduating from the University of Illinois, he worked for Motorola at the same time as Mohammed Malkawi.
As Madeleine Gruen points out, the recruitment of such a high-ranking member in the United States is "an important victory" for HuT as a whole.
The biggest plus with HuT and therefore a cause for greatest worry for Home Land Security is the fact that HTA serves often as a starting point in the radicalization process for Muslim youth. The ranks of such youth include Tel Aviv pub bomber Omar Sharif, and Abu Issa al-Hindi, who plotted to attack several New York-based financial targets (New Statesman, April 24, 2006).
Already HuT has led to the formation of even more radical and militant groups than itself, such as the al-Muhajiroun (AM), combining as it does Marxist-Leninist methodology and Western slogans with reactionary Islamic ideology in order to shape the internal debate within Islam.
When HuT propounded its core philosophy - replace the Judeo-Christian-dominated nation-state system with a borderless Islamic Umma - it appeared as an extreme if not impossible idea. Today, most Islamists have adopted the HuT call for a return to the Islamic society (Caliphate).
What is more Islamists have begun to subscribe to the HuT theory that contemporary international politics is dominated by American efforts to wage a "fourth crusade" against Muslims.
This elaborate take on HuT is only to drive home the point, which Zeyno Baran also made in her 2008 testimony, that there has been a false sense of security in the US "that derives from the belief that American Muslims are well-integrated--that the US will not face the same threat Europe is facing from its alienated Muslim youth, and that if we look at the number of attempted home-grown terror plots that were prevented (often by pure luck) we need to be very concerned."
By August 2007, the New York Police Department (NYPD) came out with a report titled: "Radicalization in the West: The Home-grown Threat". It outlined several European- and American-based Islamist terror cases, and declared that the home-grown threat was indeed serious in the US.
"This is where the MB comes in--the most prominent Muslim organizations in America were either created by or are associated with the Brotherhood and the wahhabis and are therefore been heavily influenced by Islamist ideology. Over the course of four decades, Islamists have taken over the leadership in almost all Islam-related areas in America. This is worrisome, yet almost no one in the US government deals with it," lamented Zeyno Baran -- a lament that is relevant today as it was in 2008.
The Hudson scholar literally held a class on how Islamist networks in America primarily focused on indoctrination of the youth, "which marks the critical first step of the bottom-up approach that these organizations use". (To be continued)
A blogger since July 2008 James Duglous Crickton is a London based consultant working with a consultancy firm focusing on Asia, particularly South Asia and East Asia. Political Research is his functional focus area. While his interests are (more...