On the May 20 broadcast of KNUS 710 AM's Backbone Radio, host John Andrews discussed his recent congressional testimony regarding immigration reform but did not tell listeners he testified that "radical Islamists" purportedly have a training camp near Buena Vista, Colorado. In fact, according to several news reports, the camp was broken up years ago and the "radical Islamists" Andrews referred to have not been active in the state for more than a decade.
On the May 20 broadcast of KNUS 710 AM's Backbone Radio, host John Andrews noted that he testified about immigration before a U.S. House subcommittee on May 17. Andrews, however, did not mention that in arguing against a proposed immigration reform bill, he told the subcommittee about a "national news report" alleging that "radical Islamists have a paramilitary training camp" in Buena Vista, Colorado. In fact, the "radical Islamists" Andrews apparently referred to have not been active in Colorado for more than a decade and the "camp" near Buena Vista has not existed for years, according to numerous reports.
From the May 20 broadcast of KNUS 710 AM's Backbone Radio:
ANDREWS: Well it's a good thing we got some backbone on this radio station, because, by golly, Matt Dunn, Joshua Sharf, I found very little of it under the dome of the United States Capitol when I was out there on Thursday. The great immica -- gration cave-in by the United States Senate Republicans, flanked by Bush Cabinet members, happened, very much by coincidence, at the very moment I was there at the Capitol, invited to testify and bring Colorado's plea to secure the border first and foremost, and not to give amnesty -- giving that testimony before a House immigration subcommittee, a fine honor and opportunity for yours truly, John Andrews, host of this Backbone Radio program and welcoming you to our Sunday, May 20th, 2007, edition of the show.
As first noted by the Colorado-based weblog SquareState.net, beyond bringing "Colorado's plea" to secure the U.S. border, Andrews also mentioned the existence of an "Islamist paramilitary training camp in Buena Vista, Colorado." According to testimony posted on Andrews' Backbone America website, he told the subcommittee: "Colorado is close to the front line of America's unsecured southern border. We are a conduit for massive illegal traffic into this country. I dealt with the consequences as Senate President, 2003-2005. I bring you an appeal from our state to build the fence and secure the border first and foremost." After stating that Coloradans are not "complainers" or "alarmists," Andrews later testified:
I grew up in a Colorado mountain town called Buena Vista. This week there was a national news report alleging that radical Islamists have a paramilitary training camp at Buena Vista. I wonder if some of them are illegal aliens, similar to the Fort Dix cell that was recently broken up. That's the risk we take with an unsecured border in the middle of a global war.
Andrews apparently was referring to a May 11 article posted on the website of the Canada Free Press, a Toronto-based organization that describes itself as "Canada's fastest growing independent news source" which "brings readers the best available in hard-hitting investigative journalism." The website also states that its founding editor, Judi McLeod, "is an award-winning journalist with 30 years experience in the print media. Her work has appeared on Newsmax.com, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com, Glenn Beck and The Rant."
The May 11 article discussed an active camp reportedly run by Jamaat ul-Fuqra -- a Muslim organization that had at one time been included on the U.S. State Department's list of "other terrorist groups" in its annual terrorism report, according to a 2002 release. While the compound at issue in the article is located in upstate New York, the Free Press observed that Jamaat ul-Fuqra "ha[s] ... established" other such camps in the past, known as "hamaats or compounds ... which are considered to be above local, state and federal authority." And while the article named "Buena Vista, Colorado," as one such locale among many where such hamaats have existed, it gave no indication the Buena Vista camp was still active.
Contrary to Andrews' suggestion that a "paramilitary training camp" is active in Buena Vista, The Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International reported in its Spring 2002 edition (accessed through the Nexis database) that the camp no longer exists. As the journal reported, "One example of an Al Fuqra 'compound' was a 101 acre rural property outside of Buena Vista, Colorado. This hideaway carried the name 'Mohammed's Commandos, Section # 5.' The site was raided by law enforcement personnel who confiscated a cache of explosives, numerous firearms, silencers, ammunition and US military manuals."
As a recent press release from the office of Colorado Attorney General John Suthers explained, the camp "had been located in a remote mountainous area near Buena Vista, Colorado prior to Colorado's prosecutions in the mid-1990s." The press release further noted that following a two-year investigation, "five FUQRA members were indicted by the statewide grand jury in September 1992 on racketeering charges involving theft, mail fraud, and forgery":
Six months after the indictments, further racketeering charges, including theft of rental property, conspiracy to commit murder and arson (the Denver Hare Krishna Temple), were also filed against the five individuals and a sixth person -- all FUQRA members. Some of the fraudulently obtained workers' compensation funds were traced directly to payments for a parcel of land near Buena Vista used by the group as a residence compound and training site.
One of the FUQRA defendants convicted is James D. Williams. After his conviction in 1993 for conspiracy to commit first degree murder, racketeering, and forgery, Williams fled and remained a fugitive until being apprehended in Virginia in August 2000. He was returned to Colorado and sentenced this past March to 69 years in prison. From at least the middle 1980's through 1990, Williams was a leader of a Colorado FUQRA.
The Daily News of New York (accessed through Nexis) reported on February 2, 2002, that Colorado SWAT teams carried out the raid on the Buena Vista camp in 1992. Furthermore, the March 18, 2002, edition of the conservative Weekly Standard reported that by 1993, "Fuqra [had] abandoned its Buena Vista, Co., location in the wake of conspiracy convictions" stemming from that raid.
Finally, as the State Department's 2002 release noted, "Jamaat ul-Fuqra has never been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. It was included in several recent annual terrorism reports under 'other terrorist groups,' i.e., groups that had carried out acts of terrorism but that were not formally designated by the Secretary of State. However, because of the group's inactivity during 2000, it was not included in the most recent terrorism report covering that calendar year."