Joe Kaufman is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Chairman of the Joe Kaufman Security Initiative. He was the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Republican Nominee for U.S. House of Representatives (Florida-CD23).
Usually, when people commit unforgivable crimes dealing with children, the perpetrators of such crimes become ‘persona non grata.’ No one wants to know or be associated with them. That is what appeared to take place with ex-CAIR official Ahmad Saleem – who was arrested for soliciting sex from someone whom he believed to be a twelve-year-old girl – until this author discovered that Saleem had been the keynote speaker at what was billed as a ‘Welcome Party’ for boys, at an educational facility in northeast Pakistan. Was hosting this an honest mistake made by the school’s administrators or did they intentionally ignore his dastardly background?
When it comes to American Islamists, Ahmad Abrar Saleem was a rising star. Indeed, he once referred to himself as such on Facebook. He was President of his university’s Muslim Students Association (MSA) and served in a national MSA position; he was a participant at numerous Islamist conferences and events around the US; in Muslim circles, he was given the honor of being called “Ustad” or Islamic scholar; and finally, he was a leader in the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). All of this vanished, however, when Saleem had become the subject of a police sting operation in central Florida, taking place near his home.
On the night of May 20, 2015, Saleem reportedly was intending to meet and have intercourse with the twelve-year-old girl he had been chatting with online, but instead, he met Sheriff’s deputies waiting to arrest him and 21 others. He was charged with “use of computer to seduce/solicit/entice a child to commit sex act” and “travel to seduce, solicit, lure a child to commit sex act.” In December 2016, Saleem was sentenced to two years in a state prison. Numerous mugshots of his time in custody could be viewed online.
CAIR-Florida went from previously praising Saleem on its website to then-CAIR-Florida Executive Director Hassan Shibly referring to Saleem as “wicked.” An article published in The Express Tribune, a Pakistani publication, labeled Saleem a “paedophile” and said he had “tarnished the image of Islam in the US.”
In November 2018, following the completion of his prison sentence, Saleem flew to Pakistan, himself, where both his parents are from. He would relocate to Pakistan. In December 2018, he would change his name on social media to “Ahmad Shaheen.”
Facing Abuse in Community Environments (FACE), an advocacy organization for abused Muslim women, has recently taken notice of Saleem’s activities and published a detailed profile of him on its website, including a slide show. This has not been the only past CAIR official FACE has targeted. In January 2021, the group launched a “formal investigation” of Hassan Shibly, who had just resigned from CAIR after having been accused by his then-wife of committing physical violence against her in front of their children. Ironically, the founder and Executive Director of FACE, Alia Salem, is the former head of CAIR-Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW).
One of the issues discussed in the FACE profile of Saleem was the fact that Saleem actively posts videos on YouTube. The title of Saleem’s YouTube page has gone from ‘Saleem Academy,’ which is the name of Saleem’s former personal organization, to ‘Shaheen Leaders’ to, now, ‘Baraka Corner.’
One of the videos that Saleem posted on his page was of a speech he had given in October 2019. It was a keynote address at a ‘Welcome Party’ for the Boys Wing of the Askaria Education System’s Askaria Schools & Colleges, located in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. The video introduced him as yet another alias, “Ahmed Minhas.”
Saleem began his speech by mentioning his experience in giving such talks. He stated, “I’ve done many different ceremonies in the US – graduation events, welcoming addresses, university addresses. This is my first big event for students in Pakistan, Mashallah.” The line brought applause from the crowd, which included hundreds of students as well as parents, teachers and administrators. The Chairman of the Askaria Education System, Muhammad Waheed Chaudhary, sat in the front row.
Within his speech, Saleem mentioned how, when he was in high school, while traveling to pick up his sister in his Honda Civic, he had gotten into a serious car accident though was able to escape without injury. He said, following the incident, he would repeatedly think to himself, “How do I make an impact? How do I have a legacy? How do I do something that’s important?” Unfortunately for Saleem, his legacy was solidified, in May 2015, when he drove a different vehicle – a van – to see a different young girl, to allegedly do unspeakable acts to her.
After Saleem spoke, he was presented with a bouquet of flowers and an award.
It is beyond reprehensible that, Saleem, in view of his scandalous background, would be allowed to give the keynote address at such a considerable function, let alone one for children. Given the culture of child marriage in Pakistan, though, it might be that Saleem’s behavior is deemed socially acceptable. It must also be noted that male Askaria students put on skits dressed as women, which makes one wonder if Saleem’s vile proclivities would be considered a stigma at all. Regardless, if the administration was aware of Saleem’s sordid history, the students’ parents should demand that Chairman Choudhary and the administration resign.
Saleem is a convicted child abuser, and although he served his time and his prison sentence is now part of the past, that does not mean that he should be put in a position to occupy the same space as children. Nor does it mean he should be granted any type of award or honor. Indeed, never under any circumstance should children be permitted near Ahmad Saleem, a documented child sex predator, and he should be shunned for the deviant he is.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.