Rumors of tank, underground bunkers prove false
FBI says group considered 'model' citizens
BY BRAD HEATH
Press & Sun-Bulletin
-- First there was the rumor about the tank.Members of the Muslims of the Americas, Inc. had one hidden away in their isolated settlement here, or so the rumor went. Turns out, it was a bulldozer.Then, there's the one about the underground bunkers -- where, rumor had it, theMuslims of the Americas were stashing weapons. No bunkers either, it turns out.Most of the houses and mobile homes that dot their settlement in rural DelawareCounty don't even have basements.Other rumors swirled. A link to the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Therattle of machine gun fire echoing through the hills. Plans to poison a nearby NewYork City reservoir. Some people heard Osama bin Laden himself might havevisited. And some school children were kept home earlier this year after a rumor circulated that the group was planning to blow up a school, the FBI said.The FBI has heard all of them. None of them, it says, are true."People are calling in with all kinds of stories," said Special Agent StephenBenjamin, the head of the FBI's office in Binghamton. "Some things have come upand they have turned out to be nothing."The FBI met with Muslims of the Americas members Sept. 12 because they wereconcerned there might be a backlash against Muslims in the wake of the terroristattacks on Washington and New York. But other than that, he said, he has had littlecontact with members of the group."They are considered fairly model members of the community out there," he said.State police have reached the same conclusion.Every allegation, every complaint, has proven itself unfounded, said Maj. WilliamFoley, the commander of the state police Troop C, which includes DelawareCounty. Neither Benjamin nor Foley would say whether their agencies have investigatedMuslims of the Americas in the past.Muhammad Hasib Abdul-Haqq, a spokesman for Muslims of the Americas, saidsome of the rumors are laughable.