The shadowy leader of an American Muslim organization accused of running terror training camps in the U.S. could find himself being questioned under oath if his outfit follows through on its $30 million defamation suit against the Christian group that leveled the charges in a best-selling book.
Muslims of the Americas, a group founded in the 1980s by elusive Pakistani Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, is suing the Christian Action Network for defamation and libel following CAN's recent publication of the book "Twilight in America: The Untold Story of Islamist Terrorist Training Camps Inside America." Co-authored by CAN founder Martin Mawyer and Patti Pierucci, the book accuses MOA of "acting as a front for the radical Islamist group Jamaat al-Fuqra."
In the suit, filed this year in federal court in Albany, N.Y., the Muslim group accuses Mawyer, Pierucci and CAN of "malicious, repetitious and continuous pronouncements and publication of defamatory statements against plaintiff."
"We're calling their bluff," said Mawyer. "I would have thought this would have been dropped a while ago, but I guess they feel they have to defend themselves to their own members."
Many of the book's allegations are based on the claims of a former NYPD undercover informant who spent eight years posing as a member of the Muslim group, which has secretive bases in rural areas around the country, including Hancock, N.Y., and York County, S.C.
The book alleges organized criminal activity on the part of MOA and claims profits from "street crimes, drugs, brothels, unemployment fraud and other offenses" have been funneled to Jamaat al-Fuqra. Part of the money has been used to establish a series of Jihadi training camps on American soil, according to the book.
Both Muslims of the Americas -- made up primarily of African-American converts to Islam -- and the Pakistan-based Jamaat al-Fuqra, are guided by Sheikh Mubarik Ali Gilani, a highly controversial cleric who lived in the U.S. during the 1980s and who was the subject of an investigation by the late Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl.
In 2002, Pearl was in Pakistan on his way to a pre-arranged interview with Gilani when he was kidnapped by Al Qaeda and eventually beheaded in a brutal case that shocked the world. Gilani was questioned in relation to the investigation but released without being charged.
"Twilight in America" highlights some 17 purported terrorist training camps inside the U.S. Mawyer said he learned of the camps from NYPD informant Ali Aziz, who said one of the camps – often attended by 100 or more followers -- was only 30 miles away from the CAN office in Forest, Va.
Aziz allegedly passed on vital information to authorities about MOA's plans, its activities across the U.S., and the powerful presence of Gilani.
"If Gilani told everyone, 'Set yourselves on fire,' everybody would burn themselves," Aziz told www.christianaction.org. "This has been going on for 30 years. And people praise him. They give him money. They kiss his feet. It's crazy."
Despite the evidence presented in the book, neither MOA nor Jamaat al-Fuqra is currently designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.
"The chapters on the former undercover agent really put them over the edge, as their members knew who Ali Aziz was," Mawyer told FoxNews.com. "It then became very difficult for the leadership to continue to convince the women and children on the compounds that they weren't associated with terrorists. They had to sue us to protect the wealth that they derive from the thousands of members they have in the U.S. I fully expect us to win this lawsuit."
Mawyer and Pierucci say in the book that MOA has been linked to 10 unsolved assassinations and 17 bombings since the 1980s, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Gilani, who describes himself as "Vice Chancellor of the International Qur'anic Open University, Imam of the Muslims of the Americas and a direct Descendant of the Holy Last Messenger [the Prophet Muhammed]," has previously been accused of inspiring so-called "Shoe Bomber" Richard Reid and John Allen Mohammed, the Beltway sniper attacker who, with a young accomplice, killed 10 people during a brief reign of terror in October 2002.
Mawyer said if the civil suit goes to trial, he will move to bring Gilani to the U.S. and put him on the stand. For an organization that so jealously guards its privacy, that may be enough to drop the suit.
"I think they hoped that we would not have the money to fight it and it would serve the purpose of telling their own members, 'See, we took care of that Martin Mawyer fellow,'" Mawyer said. "They say we have declared war on Islam, but I can tell you that is definitely not the case. This group is against Christians, Hindus, Hari Krishna, Jews, and any Imams who do not preach their strict view of Islam."
MOA officials could not be reached, and the group's attorney, Tahirah Clark, did not return calls. But in a January statement on The Islamic Post website, the group's official mouthpiece, Gilani denied claims he is a radical. He said he has weeded out militant Muslims who had infiltrated his inner circle, including a man he said was a hitman for the Muslim Brotherhood.
Mawyer and the CAN have no intention of backing out of the legal fight with Muslims of the Americas, a group described by the Anti-Defamation League as "virulently anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers."
"People's concerns about home-grown terrorism have obviously been raised by the recent events in Boston," said Mawyer. "They should know that this is the group that has led the way in the U.S. for 30 years."
Paul Alster is an Israel-based journalist who blogs at www.paulalster.com and can be followed on Twitter @paul_alster
At the intersection of Fate and Lotto, Thuan Le made a very fortunate error.
The California single mother of four is thanking her lucky stars after mistakenly slipping an extra dollar into the self-service Lotto machine at her local CVS store in Mission Viejo.
That superfluous dollar wound up getting Le the SuperLotto Plus ticket holding the five winning numbers -- 5, 33, 25, 46, 32 -- plus the Mega number, 26, selected randomly in the April 24 drawing.
In all, Le won a $14 million jackpot.
"Thuan Le is a hardworking single mother of four sons," according to a release from the California Lottery.
"She is also very excitable. In fact, when she ran her SuperLotto Plus ticket through the terminal and realized she had won a $14 million jackpot, she ran screaming out of the store!"
Le reportedly plans to buy a house, travel, and visit her parents in Vietnam with the proceeds.
According to the lottery website, Le and a friend would normally go together and buy their lottery tickets at the same time. But on that fateful April day, Le went by herself to purchase her usual $4 worth of POWERBALL® and $1 in SuperLotto Plus.
"She accidentally put $6 in the self-service terminal and bought her tickets," the lottery reported. "When she realized she still had $1 in credit, she thought, 'I might as well get another SuperLotto Plus ticket.' That sixth ticket was the winner."
It had been approximately a month – and eight unsuccessful drawings -- since anyone picked all six numbers to win the SuperLotto Plus jackpot when Le won the grand prize, according to a local Patch.com website.
The odds of winning are about 1 in 42 million, according to the California lottery.
An 8-year-old boy undergoing treatment to fight a rare skin disease has been kept out of his Christian school over his hairstyle.
Zion Williams, who attends the Shiloh Christian Academy in Philadelphia, suffers from Alopecia, a skin disease that causes hair to fall out, Fox 29 reports.
Williams has been getting shots at Drexel University to help the hair grow back, but the academy sent him home Wednesday for violating a school ban on long hair.
"I think it's heartless," his mother, Talia Mann, told Fox 29. "It's heartless that he would actually take him out of school because of something so simple as a haircut."
The school rejected a doctor's note calling for Zion to be exempt from the rule due to his medical condition.
However, Bishop Derrick Williams, who is the principal and pastor of the Shiloh Christian Academy, said Zion would be allowed back in school Tuesday.
It was the biggest beehive that that Ogden beekeeper Vic Bachman has ever removed — a dozen feet long, packed inside the eve of a cabin in Ogden Valley.
"We figure we got 15 pounds of bees out of there," said Bachman, who said that converts to about 60,000 honeybees.
Bachman was called to the A-frame cabin last month in Eden, Utah. Taking apart a panel that hid roof rafters, he had no idea he would find honeycombs packed 12 feet long, 4 feet wide and 16 inches deep.
The honeybees had been making the enclosed cavity their home since 1996, hardly bothering the homeowners. The cabin was rarely used, but when the owners needed to occupy it while building another home nearby, they decided the beehive wasn't safe for their two children. A few bees had found their way inside the house, and the hive was just outside a window of a children's bedroom.
They didn't want to kill the honeybees, a species in decline that does yeoman's work pollinating flowers and crops.
So they called Bachman, owner of Deseret Hive Supply, a hobbyist store that can't keep up with demand for honeybees. Bachman used a vacuum cleaner to suck the bees into a cage.
"It doesn't hurt them," he said.
The job took six hours. At $100 an hour, the bill came to $600.
"The bees were expensive," said Paul Bertagnolli, the cabin owner. He was satisfied with the job.
Utah calls itself the Beehive state, a symbol of industriousness. Whether this was Utah's largest beehive is unknown, but Bachman said it would rank high.
"It's the biggest one I've ever seen," he said. "I've never seen one that big."
He used smoke to pacify the bees, but Bertagnolli said honeybees are gentle creatures unlike predatory yellow jackets or hornets, which attack, rip apart and eat honeybees, he said.
"They just want to collect nectar and come back to the hive," he said. "Most people never get stung by honeybees — it's a yellow jacket."
Bertagnolli reassembled the hive in a yard of his North Ogden home, while saving some of the honeycomb for candles and lotions at his store. He left other honeycombs for the cabin owners to chew on.
"We caught the queen and were able to keep her," Bertagnolli said. "The hive is in my backyard right now and is doing well."
The widow of a Navy SEAL gunned down at a rifle range by a Marine reservist in February says her husband's death – and other recent gun-related tragedies – is no excuse to curtail the right to bear arms.
Speaking at the National Rifle Association's convention in Houston, Texas, Taya Kyle reportedly told a packed auditorium of gun enthusiasts to continue their defense of the Second Amendment in the face of those who would legislatively curtail it.
"I challenge anyone to tell me there isn't evil in this world," Kyle said, according to The Los Angeles Times.
"From the days of Cain and Abel, we know all too well there will always be evil, but that evil shouldn't take away our freedoms. In fact, the only way to take away evil is by taking advantage of those freedoms. America needs people like you who are willing to stand up and fight."
Kyle is the widow of Chris Kyle, the author of "American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History."
The book recounts Chris Kyle's experiences during four tours in Iraq, where he reportedly said he killed at least 160 insurgents.
Kyle, 38, and friend Chad Littlefield, 35, were shot to death by a fellow Iraq veteran – 25-year-old Eddie Ray Routh -- on Feb. 2, according to The Times. The duo had squired Routh to a gun range after Routh had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Routh turned his weapon on them.
"Thank you for understanding the difference between the use of guns in terrorizing innocent people in our country and abroad and the use of guns in fighting an evil that will not be reasoned with," Taya Kyle, 38, reportedly said at the NRA's convention.
Wearing her late husband's dogtags, Taya Kyle added that Chris Kyle, with whom she has two children, was at work at the time of his death on a book called "American Gun." The tome, which she has finished in his honor and will publish next month, tells the story of 10 historic guns and the people who used them, according to The Times.
The uncle of a Boston Marathon bombing suspect killed in a gun battle with police arrived at a funeral home Sunday to arrange for his burial.
Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md., and three other men met with Worcester funeral home director Peter Stefan. The men who accompanied Tsarni plan to wash and perform Muslim burial rites on the body of 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Stefan said.
Tsarnaev, who had appeared in surveillance photos wearing a black cap and was identified as Suspect No. 1, died days after the April 15 bombing, which killed three people and injured more than 260 others.
Stefan said he still hasn't found a cemetery that is willing to bury Tsarnaev. He plans to ask the city of Cambridge, where Tsarnaev lived, to provide a burial plot, Stefan said, and if Cambridge turns him down, he will seek help from state officials.
Stefan said protesters have gathered outside his business in recent days, upset with his decision to handle the funeral. But he believes everybody deserves a dignified burial service, no matter the circumstances of his or her death, he said. No protesters were camped outside the funeral home Sunday.
Tsarni has denounced the acts that his nephews — Tamerlan and younger brother Dzhokhar — are accused of committing and has said they brought shame to the family and the entire Chechen ethnicity. The brothers are ethnic Chechens from Russia who came to the United States about a decade ago with their parents. Both parents returned to Dagestan last year.
Dzhokhar, 19, is in a prison hospital, facing a potential death sentence if convicted of the terrorism plot.
A New Hampshire auction house will soon accept bids on space and aviation artifacts, including an electrocardiogram of Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong's heartbeat taken when he first set foot on the moon.
Amherst-based RR Auction will take bids on the EKG, which registered a normal heartbeat, and other artifacts during an online auction from May 16 through May 23.
Other artifacts include the joystick controller operated by Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins in the Apollo 11 command module.
Auction officials say over 85 lots of Apollo 11 material will be featured in the auction.
Armstrong took his "giant step for mankind" on July 20, 1969. Buzz Aldrin later joined him on the moon's surface.
Armstrong, an Ohio native, died in August at age 82.