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February 15, 2002
0040 IST

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Pearl case: US Muslim group being probed for terrorist ties

T V Parasuram in Washington

Authorities in the United States are probing the activities of a militant sect of Black Muslims operating in the country, which has links to Sheikh Sayeed Mubarak Ali Gilani, detained in Pakistan in connection with the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

Investigators are probing suspicions of money laundering, weapons violations and abetting of terrorism by the sect - Muslims of the Americas, which operates out of rural communes throughout the US and is linked to an alleged terrorist outfit called Al Fuqra, which has been founded by Gilani.

The justice and treasury department is also involved in a comprehensive review of militant outfits founded by Gilani.

Muslims of the Americas, a tax-exempt corporation registered in several states, has documented ties to Al Fuqra, which has been linked to numerous fire bombings and murders in the US and Canada, the Washington Times reported quoting officials.

Gilani claimed that he had received money from California, where schools run by his disciples are the focus of a state investigation concerning missing government money.

The schools were shut down in January after they failed to account for the money.

A former community of the Muslims of America in Colorado was found, in 1993, to have sent money to Pakistan, funds that were scattered into more than a dozen Pakistani banks.

That money was later linked to Gilani, said Susan Fenger, an investigator for the Colorado department of labour and employment.

The latest investigation is focuses on communities composed entirely of Black Americans in New York, California, South Carolina and Virginia. The groups operate under several names but all adhere to the teachings of Gilani and own rural land in those four states.

Pearl was seeking to interview Gilani when Pearl 'disappeared' on January 23 in Karachi.

Gilani, who is in custody in Pakistan, has denied any knowledge of the abduction.

PTI

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