Young Muslims (YM) was established in the early 1990s in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area as a subsidiary of the Islamic Circle of North America. Striving to “build a solid understanding of the principles of Islam” among Muslims aged 14 to 25, YM seeks to provide Muslim youth with “an Islamic atmosphere” wherein they can “form bonds of brotherhood with their peers” and gain an understanding of their “individual and collective obligations as Muslims.”
Founded on the guiding principle that the “Qur’an and Sunnah shall be the primary source of guidance” for all, YM expanded rapidly during its first decade. By January 2008 the organization had seven chapters (or “neighbornets”) in New York State, four in New Jersey, three in Illinois, three in California, and one in Pennsylvania. YM also maintains a presence in Canada.
Over the years, YM has held a number of events featuring some of the most radical guest speakers in the Muslim community. Among these events are youth camps which, prior to the 9/11 attacks, were sometimes referred to as “jihad camps.”
In August 2004, controversy visited one particular jihad camp that was held on the 23-acre property of the Foundation for Islamic Education in Villanova, Pennsylvania. Shortly before the camp was scheduled to begin, FBI officials raided the house of guest speaker Mazen Mokhtar and seized his computers. Soon thereafter it was revealed that prior to 9/11, Mokhtar (who had since become youth director of the Muslim American Society's New Jersey chapter) had created a website to solicit funds for the Taliban and Chechen mujahedeen; his site was also used as a portal to the official website of Hamas, a group that Mokhtar described as “heroic.” Eventually (in April 2007) Mokhtar was arrested for tax fraud.