Skip to comments.Islamic Radicalism in Mexico: The Threat from South of the Border
Posted on 06/02/2006 11:32:21 PM PDT by MinuteWoman1776
Islamic Radicalism in Mexico: The Threat from South of the Border
By Chris Zambelis
The ongoing controversy surrounding the debate over illegal immigration and border security issues in the United States, specifically as it applies to the porous U.S.-Mexico frontier and the status of millions of undocumented workers and other migrants that enter the country each year from Mexico, continues to dominate headlines. Although the overwhelming majority of those entering the United States from Mexico each day are in search of opportunity, many observers worry that it is only a matter of time before al-Qaeda exploits this vulnerability for its own ends.
In assessing this threat, Muslim communities in Mexico have come under increasing scrutiny by U.S., Mexican and international security officials both as potential enablers for terrorist infiltration and as ideological sympathizers for the brand of radicalism characteristic of al-Qaeda. Muslim conversion trends in Mexico and Latin America have also raised concerns, especially given al-Qaeda's successes in luring some Muslim converts to its cause. To date, however, these assessments have been way off the mark and in many respects divert attention away from the far more pressing threats at hand. A closer look at the nature of Islam and the outlook of Mexican Muslims may explain why.
Islam in Mexico
Compared to other countries in Latin America that are home to sizeable Muslim communities with longstanding ties to the region, Mexico's Muslim minority is tiny. At the same time, it is one of the most diverse and dynamic in the region. Despite varying figures and scant data, only a couple thousand Muslims are believed to live in the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country. Nearly all are Sunni Muslims. Of this group, approximately half trace their origins to what is modern-day Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine, mostly the descendants of traders and peasants who emigrated from the Middle East in the latter part of Ottoman rule. Mexico's Arab Muslim community is assimilated in major urban centers such as Mexico City. Significantly, Mexico is also home to a much larger Arab Christian community, also originating from the Levant, which numbers in the tens of thousands. Both communities share close ties and feel a shared sense of pride for their common Arab heritage .
The other segment of Mexico's small Muslim community is made up of Mexicans who converted to Islam in recent years. Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in the world, partially as a result of intermarriage and religious conversion. This trend is also evident elsewhere in Latin America, despite the longstanding influence of the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, widespread and growing disenchantment with the Catholic Church is leading many Mexicans and others in the region to find spiritual solace elsewhere, including Islam.
One of Mexico's longest running and most influential Muslim organizations is the Centro Cultural Islamico de Mexico (CCIM). Founded in 1995, the CCIM is a Sunni Muslim organization based in Mexico City. It is led by Omar Weston, a British Muslim convert who was born Mark Weston. It runs two mosques and an array of social welfare and education programs that include Arabic language training and a dawa (call) for conversion. It also has links with Muslim communities elsewhere in Latin America and the Caribbean (http://www.islam.com.mx). Despite some vague and unsubstantiated reports, there is no evidence implicating Weston and the CCIM to radicalism or terrorism.
Mexico is also home to a number of small Sufi orders led by two women, Sheikha Fariha and Sheikha Amina, the most prominent being the Nur Ashki Jerrahi order, a branch of the Halveti-Jerrahi Tariqat community of dervishes based in the Masjid al-Farah in New York City and other major U.S. cities. The group has branches in Mexico City, Curernavaca and Oaxaca (http://www.nurashkijerrahi.org). The group has been described as adhering to an unconventional blend of traditional Sufi mysticism and New Age ideologies . There is no evidence implicating these groups to radicalism or terrorism.
The Murabitun (the Almoravids, after the African Muslim dynasty that ruled North Africa and Spain in the 11th and 12th century) also has a presence in Mexico (http://www.cislamica.org). The group is a well-funded international Sufi order based in Granada, Spain that claims thousands of followers across the globe, including many European converts. It is also regarded as one of the most aggressive missionary movements in Latin America and a major rival of Omar Weston's CCIM. It was founded in the 1970s by Sheikh Abdel Qader as-Sufi al-Murabit, a Scottish Muslim convert born Ian Dallas who was formerly a playwright and actor. Dallas is a controversial figure who, among other things, is a vocal critic of international capitalism and modern forms of finance. Although there is no evidence linking him or his organization to violence or terrorism, he has been accused of harboring pro-Nazi leanings and other radical ideologies. Othman Abu-Sahnun, an Italian Muslim convert and former ranking member of the Murabitun who had a falling out with the group, dedicates an entire website accusing his former leader of extremism, corruption and being party to alleged sinister conspiracies involving Freemasonry (http://www.murabitun.cyberummah.org).
In recent years, Mexico's volatile and impoverished southern state of Chiapas, which is home to a predominately indigenous population that traces its ethnic and cultural lineage to the Mayans, has been the target of Muslim missionaries. The indigenous peoples of Chiapas are underserved and face severe discrimination in Mexican society. In fact, these circumstances are one of the main reasons why Evangelical and other Protestant Christian sects target them in search of new adherents, an ongoing trend in Chiapas and elsewhere in Latin America. In an effort to win over converts, Christian missionary organizations have been running social welfare and humanitarian programs for decades targeting Mexico's indigenous communities. In doing so, they emphasize what they describe as the failure of the Roman Catholic establishment to cater to the spiritual and material needs of the people in the region, often with great success .
Muslim missionary groups, especially the Murabitun, which is led by Aurelino Perez in the region, and Omar Weston's CCIM, use similar tactics in an effort to win over adherents in Chiapas. In addition to providing much needed social welfare and humanitarian aid, the Murabitun argue that Catholicism represents a vestige of European imperialism that is directly responsible for the destruction of Mayan culture. Likewise, Catholicism is seen as a tool of the state that is to blame for the poverty and plight of the indigenous peoples. The anti-capitalist message of the Murabitun in particular also resonates with some of the impoverished locals. Murabitun discourse even emphasizes what it describes as the close cultural and ethnic links between the indigenous peoples of the region and the Muslim Moors who once ruled Spain. Therefore, conversion to Islam represents a reversion to their original identity, essentially an assertion of cultural and ethnic identity long suppressed by European colonialism. The Murabitun went as far as to engage Subcommandante Marcos and his Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), following the group's armed rebellion in Chiapas in 1994, in an effort to gain support (http://www.ezln.org.mx).
The number of indigenous peoples who have converted to Islam is believed to number in the hundreds. Significantly, the majority of indigenous peoples converting to Islam are among those who previously converted to Protestantism and other sects. Although religious affiliation in Chiapas tends to be more pluralistic relative to the rest of Mexico due to the influence of indigenous beliefs and customs, Mayans who turn away from the Catholic Church often face discrimination and violence. Many have even been expelled from their homes by violent gangs and are now known locally as the expulsados (the expelled). For example, many of the Muslims of Chiapas trace their lineage to the Tzotzil Mayan village of San Juan Chamula. A large segment of this community was expelled decades ago for adopting Evangelical Christianity. They now reside in Nueva Esperanza, an impoverished section of San Cristobal .
In addition to the Murabitun, Muslim missionary activity in San Cristobal has been attributed to the efforts of a group known as the Mission for Dawa in Mexico, represented locally by Esteban Lopez Moreno, a Muslim convert from Spain who is also linked to the Murabitun . Organizations such as the Murabitun and other Muslim groups line up alongside Pentecostals, Jehova's Witnesses, Mormons and other proselytizers in the hunt for new adherents. Under these circumstances, impoverished locals will often convert to a new faith based on which congregation could provide the most benefits. Many, however, take their newfound faith seriously. With the financial support of local and international groups, Mayan Muslims made the pilgrimage to Mecca in 2005, the first group from Chiapas to do so .
Reports pointing to possible terrorist links with Muslim missionaries in Chiapas have surfaced in the Mexican and Spanish media. Spanish authorities have raised suspicions about possible links between Spanish members of the Murabitun living in Chiapas and radical Islamists in Spain. Other reports have even linked the group with Basque separatist movements such as ETA. Othman Abu-Sahnun is a proponent of this theory (http://www.murabitun.cyberummah.org). Mexican authorities have also investigated the activities of the Murabitun due to reports of alleged immigration and visa abuses involving the group's European members and possible radical links, including to al-Qaeda . Despite these allegations and extensive media hype in Mexico and other Spanish-language press, no concrete evidence has surfaced to date substantiating such claims.
U.S. policymakers and security officials should continue to worry about border security and the potential for al-Qaeda infiltration into Mexico. Given the evidence to date, however, any potential inroads by al-Qaeda into Mexico is not likely to come through ties with Mexico's Muslim communityand this includes local converts or otherwise. Washington would be better served by concentrating its resources to confront Mexico's weak institutions, corruption, the influence of drug and other criminal gangs and poverty that may be exploited by al-Qaeda as a means to a greater end, as they have all too often in other parts of the world.
1. Luz Maria Martinez Montiel, "The Lebanese Community in Mexico: its Meaning, Importance and the History of its Communities," The Lebanese in the World: A Century of Emigration (New York: I.B. Tauris, 1993). 2. Natascha Garvin, "Conversion and Conflict: Muslims in Mexico," International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World Review [Netherlands], Spring 2005). 3. Thelma Gomez Duran, "Muslalmanes en Chiapas," WebIslam: Islam en Latinoamerica, No. 132, July 20, 2001. 4. Bill Weinberg, "Islamic Sect Targets Chiapas Indians," Native Americas Journal, August 28, 2003. 5. "Los musulmanes del sureste mexicano," Univison, October 4, 2004. 6. Dawn, January 28, 2005. 7. Natascha Garvin, "Conversion and Conflict: Muslims in Mexico."
that's fine and dandy my dear chap: nuff talk--how do we ACTUALLY DO IT!
Welcome to FR. I hope.
(Venezuela, China....hello...anyone??? Bueller?)
I don't buy the Communist threat thing. It's old hat. China is not Communist. They are a brand of nationalist-socialist-capitalist. I can't figure it out.
But I am worried about terrorists.
You're going to need a good icepick or something for your descent down that slippery slope...
The first element?
Islam, a Religion of Peace®? ( links, blogs, quips, quotes, aggravating pictures ) is located here- click the Pic, and scroll backwards:
Does that "salute" remind you of the "followers of the broken cross?" It should...
The other, somewhat interlocking element is this one:
"Thunder on the Border," click the picture:
Work backwards on my links to see all the shady left-wing and terrorist-enabling organizations backing this rubbish.
sorry, but i'm a new fr'per. did not know that there is a limit.
We could pay the Mexican people smugglers a bounty for turning in Muslim illegals. We could stop jailing small scale marijuana users and sellers, and make space for dangerous illegals.
LA of Mexico!!!
God awful frightening.
I'm with you: legalize pot. fight terrorism!!! lets focus on the real threats, hugh?
I don't think there is a limit. Freepers kid hard. Develop a tough skin and have fun.
Got that right. Islam is an enemy political ideology with religious elements, not a "religion" qualifying for constitutional protections. Osama Bin Laden is their Pope.
Excellent post...there have been hints of this before, but I've never seen it laid out so completely. The answer will be, of course, integration with Mexico, already in progress. In fact they're busy reworking vocabulary...we won't read 'the US', but 'the North American Union' or its equivalent. God knows what Canada thinks of all this, but Americans are still being kept in the dark. Mexican officials, however, know all about it and brag about it in print. Mexico on her terms, warts and all. Corruption endemic, drugs, violence, you name it, and now al Qaeda. The US gets to pay the freight.
One has to really wonder how many jihadist killers have already mingled in with all the other illegal aliens and are lurking & observing coupled with awaiting further 'orders' from Tehran, Damascus or al-Qaida?
undocumented guests = thieves who break into your home
undocumented workers = illegals who break into your country
undocumented bank customers = bank robbers
>>the Murabitun argue that Catholicism represents a vestige of European imperialism that is directly responsible for the destruction of Mayan culture.
It was a culture that was crying out for destruction, and good for Cortez and his men for doing so.
Human sacrifice as a primary basis for a society/religion/culture is an ugly thing.
When you use a religious analogy like that, you undercut your argument.
Osama Bin Laden is their Fuhrer.
No one is asking for Muslims to be painted with one brush - and yes, there are a lot more peaceful Muslims than there are terrorists. As mentioned on an earlier thread - what if 5% of Christians supported bombing abortion clinics? Would the left be screaming bloody murder about murderous right wing nuts? You can bet on it. But if 5% of Muslims support AlQaeda, there's not a peep out of liberals. We have a problem. But your solution is not the answer. Muslims have the right to worship as they see fit - if they're Americans they have all the rights you have and all the rights I have and that's how it should be. Now, the illegals? That's a different story. Those people need to go home.
BRING BACK THR INQUISITION!!!
For me this is the crux of the immigration issue. With uncontrolled borders and I'm not just talking about the south, you can't hope to truly maintain a lawful state of affairs.
I know those for open borders will scream that the 9/11 bastards were here on over stayed visas and they're right about that. However, how can we expect ICE or local LEO's to track and find visa violators when the streets are full of illegals and you can't question those who appear not to belong.
By first locking down the borders and stopping the entry of criminals and those with questionable backgrounds, you would then free up our people to sort out the trash already here. Will we ever get them all, of course not, but we can make one hell of a difference and increase not only our security but reinstate the value of American Citizenship.
As for a north american union/ integration with mexico, it would be myopic to believe that the borders of this country would not change over time. I would love to expand them to include portions of mexico and canada, if those people and ours CHOOSE to become one. It can be done and done properly by granting territorial or commonwealth status and then increasing education and infrastructure standards over time thus instilling the true privilege it is to be American.
The current state of forced integration being perpetrated by Washington and mexico can't work, it tears down too many American institutions and will balkanize the region rather than uniting it. It will result in war and it doesn't have too, which makes me question just what does Washington, really want.
Therein lies the problem there are many of us who are concerned about this invasion of mexicans who are supposedly "wonderful family people who just want a job".
Any similarity to the truth is purely coincidental.
The U.S. had enough of our own poor but to allow or invite 20 million and counting of poor people from mexico who came here ILLEGALLY and may be converts to islamism is outrageous. And to give away all those benefits reserved for American poor subsidized by American taxpayers is criminal.
The 1200 illegals they arrested recently were not only let go but they have an atty representing them to get their jobs back. Legal citizens cannot afford an atty to get their jobs back but those here illegally have an atty and are suing our country and are allowed to? Is this a bad nightmare or a joke? A very bad joke perpetrated on Americans except none of us find this funny.
We that are truly concerned about this great country and are disgusted with having to pay to support a bunch of lawbreakers and their employers are referred to by some as
"borderbots", "whackos", "immigration hysterics", when in truth those calling us names need to see the scam perpetrated on all Americans by socialist liberals, only liberals are inviting these good for nothing illiterates into this country with the main goal of destroying this country so why are Republicans and conservatives at that
calling us names and fighting against us??
NONE of this debauchery makes any sense.
And there is nothing at all we can do about this debauchery.
It's happening right before our eyes and yet there are some here that call us whacko's. We are truly concerned about what we are seeing happening, are feeling frustration to see this great nation overtaken by a group of foreign national extremist radicals and we are called whackos by supposed Republicans. Feel like we are living in the twilight zone?
But W finds it more important to waste time on the damn Marriage Amendment!
Build the wall.
In other words, "anti-U.S." There are a lot more similarities between islam and mayan than between Christianity and mayan - theocracy being at the top.
It was a culture that was crying out for destruction, and good for Cortez and his men for doing so.
Wasn't it the Aztecs that Cortez took on?
You are correct, and I stand corrected on my previous post. Oops!
Well, at least I knew the Incas weren't it! ;-)
(Venezuela, China....hello...anyone??? Bueller?)
George W. Bueller?
Welcome to the Angry Conservative Forum... err....Free Republic.
It should be outlawed in America. But then again, laws don't seem to have much meaning in W's America anymore. To his credit, that's been trending that way for quite some time.
Either way, it's far too late for that. Who knows what will happen in this country when push comes to shove however.
Canadian cities along our northern border have huge Muslim populations. Perhaps we need a wall there, too?
"Given the evidence to date, however, any potential inroads by al-Qaeda into Mexico is not likely to come through ties with Mexico's Muslim community..."
Soooo, are these "inroads" more likely to come through ties
to Mexico's Jewish community???
Oh yes and instead of worrying about muslims we should spend
more money on Mexico's poor.....
So, we need a Canadian wall to keep out the thousands of Canadians and their coyotes rushing furtively through the US borders?
This article reads like a script for the old TV program "Mission Impossible" gone berserk. Up to and including "Western" rabble rousers who have changed their names to blend into the local population that is the target of their manipulations.
Why does it seem that most movements in the world today fomenting hatred for the white race and Western civilization and all its institutions including the sovereignty of the U.S. seem to be instigated by dysfunctional extremists who are frequently the offspring of wealthy families who have amassed their great wealth largely as a result of the success of the societies their offspring are now so psychotically motivated to destroy?
We might want to consider monitoring more carefully the education and development of the offspring of the international and national dynastic families birthed in America and in Europe and in Asia and in the Middle East. Most of the players on the world stage today fit that category. May be that once you have everything money can buy, and more, your world becomes a chessboard and the only way you can feel like you are really alive is to play god with the lives of nations and with the destiny of the human race itself.
"by dysfunctional extremists who are frequently the offspring of wealthy families who have amassed their great wealth largely as a result of the success of the societies their offspring are now so psychotically motivated to destroy? "
Usually it is the offspring of wealthy socialist, liberal families. Kennedy family comes to mind.
This could be a big problem in the upcoming decades.
OK Osama Bin Laden isn't the Pope of Islam, he's the Dope of Islam.
But I do seem to remember the Chiapas rebels being Lefty heroes, can anybody confirm my memory, and whether they are among those prone to Islamic conversion? Sometimes it seems like Mohammed is the new Che.
I am not so familiar with the situation. The author in the article I posted seems to downplay the Islamic conversion as a threat in Chiapas. He says so in the Chiapas section. Who knows?
I just know we have a big problem here and our politicians--including W--don't know what to do.
Yes, I fear that. But the author seems to downplay the threat. It seems like he is saysing that Mexican Muslims are not the threat but Mexico is because of its vulnerability.
Who knows? I just know that I am Bushfatigued!!!!!!! Can we have a real convervative in power next? Don't think it will happen. And please, no Christian Convervatives!!! I had enough of W's whining. He is worried about the Marriage Amendment while our boys are dying in Iraq and terrorists are plotting us more harm. Somebody, please help!
well, radical jews are pretty nutty too, i might say. especially those settler types.
let's protect america's borders and american interests. Can't wait for W to go so we have a shot at a real conservative.
thanks. good to be here. i am having lots of fun and learning too.