This month, the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR is holding three annual conferences for the year 2015. The first, held in Orlando, featured a Hamas-linked, Chicago-based imam, Kifah Mustapha. The second, held in Tampa, featured a racist comedian, a US named co-conspirator for a terror trial, and an Islamist who has threatened the wrath of God on world leaders. Essentially, the CAIR speakers represented what CAIR itself has represented since it began over two decades ago: hatred and violence.
CAIR was established in June 1994 as part of the American Palestine Committee, a terrorist umbrella group headed by then-global head of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook. From the time of CAIR’s founding, a number of officials from the group have been imprisoned in and/or deported from the US for reasons related to terrorist activity. Others from CAIR have utilized the worst of incendiary rhetoric to spread the group’s radical message, like CAIR founder Omar Ahmad, who stated, “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith but to become dominant.”
CAIR-Florida has carried on this disturbing tradition with zeal. CAIR-Florida Executive Director Hassan Shibly has referred to Hezbollah as “basically a resistance movement” and “absolutely not a terrorist organization” and, in August 2014, tweeted, “Israel and its supporters are enemies of G-d…” In December 2010, CAIR-Florida CEO and Statewide Regional Operations Director Nezar Hamze repeatedly refused to denounce Hamas, when given numerous chances to do so, stating “I’m not denouncing anybody. I’m not getting involved in the politics.”
On November 14th, CAIR-Florida held its second annual fundraising banquet for 2015, in the beautiful city of Tampa Bay, Florida. Executive Director Shibly and CEO Hamze were accompanied at the event by all three advertised speakers: comedian Amer Zahr, imam Siraj Wahhaj, and Islamic lecturer Yasir Qadhi.
Amer Zahr is an Arab comedian of Palestinian descent, who grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. In February, Zahr wrote, “Arabs who engage in any sort of racism should be utterly ashamed. We, more than anyone else, should know better.” Yet, Zahr himself engages in racism – lots of it.
Zahr’s comedy routine includes an inordinate amount of bigoted humor aimed at white people. According to him, he took 18 months to create a film, titled ‘We’re Not White.’ In it, he not only looks to offend whites, but he also takes aim at members of the black community; he jokes about how blacks love watermelon, an iconic racist stereotype made to dehumanize blacks. Zahr has also joked about how Jews are cheap, again a hateful stereotype.
Zahr’s animosity toward whites is only exceeded by his virulent hatred for the nation of Israel. Last month, he tweeted the following: “Describing defenders of Israel as ‘scumbags,’ ‘pigs,’ and ‘bastards’ is not necessary. ‘Zionist’ is [sic] sufficently insulting.” In July 2014, at a rally held in Dearborn, Michigan, Zahr told the crowd, “Israel knows that its days are numbered.” As well, Zahr continuously repeats the lie about how Israel “stole” Palestinians’ land, an often-used canard debunked by news reports and the historical record, which irrefutably proves otherwise.
On November 17th, Zahr outrageously told conservative commentator Sean Hannity, on Hannity’s radio program, that there would be no problem with the United States taking in “one or two or three terrorists” mixed in with a number of Muslim refugees brought to the US from Syria. This, only days after it was reported that a Syrian passport was found at the scene of the deadly Paris, France ISIS attacks, suggesting that at least one of the attackers may have been a Syrian refugee.
Siraj Wahhaj is the imam of the At-Taqwa Mosque, located in the Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn, New York. Wahhaj has spoken at a large number of CAIR events and has previously served as a member of CAIR’s National Board of Advisers. Wahhaj has also been a member of the Nation of Islam (NOI) and has recently taken up the cause of speaking at functions for and doing fundraising for rabid anti-Semite and NOI leader Louis Farrakhan.
In 1995, along with Osama bin Laden and bin Laden’s mentor, Abdullah Azzam, Wahhaj was named by the United States government as an “unindicted co-conspirator” for a federal trial dealing with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, an act which resulted in the deaths of six innocent Americans. Wahhaj had been linked to the bomb-maker of the attack, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, and during the trial, he was a character witness for the spiritual leader of the attack, the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman, whom Wahhaj has openly praised.
Yasir Qadhi (aka Abu Ammar Yasir Qadhi) is the Dean of Academic Affairs at the AlMaghrib Institute and an assistant professor at Rhodes College, located in Cordova, Tennessee. In August 2010, Qadhi wrote, “Never say something today that you have to apologize for tomorrow.” Qadhi, like bigoted comedian Amer Zahr, needs to heed his own words.
Qadhi has been a consistent supporter of those accused by the US government of terrorist activity. This includes Aafia Siddiqui, a female al-Qaeda operative who was sentenced to 86 years in prison for shooting at and attempting to kill US soldiers and FBI agents in Afghanistan. In July 2014, Qadhi accused the US of torturing Siddiqui and called on his followers to sign a petition to repatriate Siddiqui back to Pakistan, where she was born and raised.
Another was Ali al-Tamimi, who was given a life sentence for his role as the spiritual leader of the ‘Virginia Jihad Network,’ a group of violent radicals whom al-Tamimi had told to go overseas to attack US troops. In October 2008, Qadhi decried the Bush Administration’s incarceration of al-Tamimi, claiming he was “innocent.” Qadhi also said al-Tamimi was a mentor to him, writing, “I personally owe a lot to Sh. al-Timimi, and I can say (with pride)… he played an instrumental role in shaping and directing me to take the path that has led me to where I am today.”
Qadhi, on a number of occasions, has used his position as an Islamic scholar to threaten the wrath of God on certain world leaders he does not agree with. One of these leaders is India’s Narendra Modi. Qadhi said he was saddened by Modi’s election to Indian Prime Minister, in May 2014, due to Modi’s alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat, India riots, which took the lives of hundreds of Muslims and Hindus. About Modi’s future existence, Qadhi stated, “Justice will be served, if not in this life, then most assuredly the next.”
Last month, Qadhi threatened another leader, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Qadhi, who once took a course Blair had taught at Yale, was upset for what he called a “half-hearted apology” from Blair for his role in the War in Iraq, which Qadhi believes was “a ploy to retain some honor and dignity.” He describes Blair as “callous” and a “megalomaniac.” Qadhi’s threat to Blair: “May Allah give him what he deserves! Already, the level of hatred his own people have for him is a pathetic reality for him, and what the future holds will be even more disturbing.”
Qadhi’s harsh rhetoric has garnered him criticism in the past. In 2001, during one of his Islamic Tafsirs (explanations), Qadhi delivered a viciously anti-Semitic rant. Qadhi stated, “As for 80 to 90 percent of the Jews in our times, they are Ashkenazis, i.e. Khazars, i.e. Russians… Look at them – white, crooked nose, blonde hairs… These are not a Semitic people. Look at them! They don’t look like Semites, and they are not Semites.” Qadhi then told his audience to read more about it in a book called ‘Hoax of the Holocaust.’ He called it “a very good book.”
A short time following an article this author had written in September 2006, exposing Qadhi’s inexcusable speech against Jews, Qadhi issued a lengthy explanation for his actions. It was no apology, not even the “half-hearted” one he accused Prime Minister Blair of making. Although, he did say his comments were “unfortunate” – while providing a torrent of excuses for them: a remark made in passing, a youthful indiscretion, got information off an illicit website, etc.
Regardless of the excuses or stated regret, can anyone ever trust someone who defends terrorists or who threatens world leaders with the wrath of God?
The truth is Qadhi, Wahhaj, Zahr and CAIR all have much to apologize for.
And law enforcement and intelligence agencies need to monitor them for every one of those things.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.