by David J. Rusin
This year's winners of the U.S. Department of Education's $500,000 Promise Neighborhoods planning grants — used by recipients to "create plans to provide cradle-to-career services that improve the educational achievement and healthy development of children" — include Philadelphia-based Universal Community Homes, under the direction of a man quite familiar to Islamist Watch: Kenny Gamble, a.k.a. Luqman Abdul Haqq. Naturally the above announcement, the summary of Universal's proposal, Congressman Chaka Fattah's press release, and local news stories all ignore Gamble's associates and dubious agenda, but IW is pleased to fill in a few gaps.
Gamble sits on the governing board of the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), a mostly black Muslim group brimming with radicals. The formation of MANA was driven by Jamil al-Amin, now a convicted cop killer; MANA embraces him to this day. Its leader is Siraj Wahhaj, who was fingered as a potential unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and has advocated replacing the Constitution with Shari'a law. Among the board members listed alongside Gamble are Johari Abdul-Malik, outreach coordinator of the terror-tied Dar al-Hijrah mosque, and the late Luqman Ameen Abdullah, a Detroit imam who preached war against the U.S. and was killed in a 2009 shootout with FBI agents.
Gamble's Universal Companies oversees a South Philly real estate empire viewed by many as a burgeoning "black Muslim enclave." Such fears are bolstered by Gamble's United Muslim Movement having a mission of "establishing the religion of Islam," even as its separation from Universal is murky at best. He also has expressed desire to "create a model so that, in the coming years, Muslims would be able to live close to each other, that they would live closer to the masjid, that they would eventually be able to open up businesses so that they would be able to employ each other and develop community life." Confronted about worries that he is building the latest Muslim enclave on U.S. soil, Gamble offered a bizarre endorsement of segregation.
Finally, a recent article exposing the Jawala Scouts, an entity linked to radicals and affiliated with his United Muslim Movement, has opened eyes regarding Gamble's work with children. As described by Joe Kaufman and Beila Rabinowitz, this is an "Islamic paramilitary boys group" whose activities include "hand-to-hand combat, firearms training, and survival tactics."
Imagine the outrage if government funded an organization — regardless of whatever services it provides — headed by a man whose labors suggest an effort to build a "white Christian enclave" and who sits on the board of a Christian group steeped in violent radicalism. Yet Universal has a long history of happily feeding at the public trough. Paul Williams vastly overestimates the total dollar amount in a May 2010 piece, but the real data are bad enough: Philadelphia selling properties, some seized through eminent domain, to Universal for trifling sums; millions of dollars from the city's Neighborhood Transformation Initiative; and on and on.
Universal could receive millions more from D.C. to implement the plan that it now is being paid to conjure up. For readers who believe that $500,000 already is too much for an enterprise led by Gamble, the Department of Ed awaits your feedback (contact info here, email@example.com).
David J. Rusin
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