The American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA) and Emerge USA are prominent radical Muslim organizations located in South Florida. This past month, the leader of AMANA, Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout, had some not-so-friendly words towards the leader of the Emerge, Khurrum Basir Wahid. The dispute was over a trip Wahid took to the Middle East, one year ago, that was funded by an Israeli organization which purports to be seeking peace between Muslims and Jews and that included a violent confrontation initiated by one of the attendees.
Sofian Zakkout is an angry man. Most of his ire gets taken out on Jews. He repeatedly refers to members of the Jewish community as “pigs” and “monkeys.” In July 2014, after Zakkout had organized a pro-Hamas rally held outside the Israeli Consulate in Miami, where rally goers repeatedly screamed, “We are Hamas” and “Let’s go Hamas,” Zakkout wrote the following in Arabic on Facebook, above photos from the event: “Thank God, every day we conquer the American Jews like our conquests over the Jews of Israel!” He signed it “Br. Sofian Zakkout.”
On January 16th, Zakkout turned his wrath on one of his own, the co-founder and co-chairman of Emerge USA, Khurrum Wahid.
Emerge USA, despite its patriotic sounding name, has an extremely radical agenda based on terrorism and bigotry.
The group holds events at terror-linked mosques, like Tampa Bay, Florida-based al-Qassam (a.k.a. Islamic Community of Tampa), which was founded by Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami al-Arian, and Pembroke Pines, Florida-based Darul Uloom, where “Dirty Bomber” Jose Padilla was a student and now-deceased al-Qaeda Global Operations Chief Adnan el-Shukrijumah was a prayer leader. And Emerge sponsors speeches made by Muslim extremists, such as Sayed Ammar Nakshawani, who has before called for the destruction of Israel.
The main individual behind Emerge USA is Khurrum Wahid. Wahid is a South Florida attorney who has built his name on representing high profile terrorists. This includes members of al-Qaeda and financiers of the Taliban. Wahid previously served as a legal advisor for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Hamas-related group that was named a terrorist organization by the government of United Arab Emirates (UAE). According to the Miami New Times, Wahid himself was placed on a federal terrorist watch list in 2011.
In January 2015, Wahid joined others in a trip to the Middle East sponsored by the Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI). MLI is an initiative of the Shalom Hartman Institute, a think tank located in Israel. According to the Hartman website, MLI “invites North American Muslims to explore how Jews understand Judaism, Israel, and Jewish peoplehood” and “encourages participants to experience how Palestinians… identify themselves, while exploring the issues of ethics, faith, and practice.”
While the MLI program has received praise from some circles, Islamists have accused MLI participants of being a vehicle for Zionist propaganda. That was the case, during Wahid’s trip.
One of the other participants on the trip with Wahid was former Mayor of Teaneck, New Jersey (now Councilman) Mohammed Hameeduddin. Previously, Hameeduddin had partaken in an April 2012 Emerge fundraising banquet with Wahid, held in Fort Lauderdale. Hameeduddin had replaced Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the event’s keynote speaker, after Wasserman Schultz had abruptly canceled due to criticism she received from this author for her agreeing to help raise money for a radical Muslim group.
On the MLI trip, when someone posing as a reporter began asking questions to one of the MLI participants, on the grounds of the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Mayor Hameeduddin appeared to have assaulted him. A video of the altercation is found on Electronic Intifada (EI), a terror apologist website based in Chicago, Illinois, where the “reporter,” who goes by the name Zalameh, is a contributor.
Both Wahid and Hameeduddin have been vilified on Electronic Intifada, as has MLI, itself. The EI website refers to MLI trips as “faithwashing junkets.” It is rhetoric like this that has placed a dangerous spotlight on the MLI participants. According to the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA), the imam behind the program, Muslim Chaplain at Duke University Abdullah Antepli “has received death threats.”
One person who is incensed over Muslim participation in MLI is AMANA’s Sofian Zakkout. Of Israel, he has written, “Israel is the most active terrorist group in this earth… They are the cause of all problems in the world.”
Zakkout had some choice words for Wahid, following Wahid’s trip. On January 16th, Zakkout wrote, “A lawyer from South Florida Khurrum Waheed got paid by an Israeli representative US agency! Tickets and full accommodation to visit Israel. And went to Jerusalem. And Khurrum himself [p]unched a Palestinian on the face to prevent him exposing them by video! Please watch video. Shame on you Khurr[u]m!”
It seems that Zakkout mistakenly believes it was Wahid who assaulted the individual and not Hameeduddin. Be that as it may, it is interesting that Zakkout would choose to publicly pick a fight with Wahid, as they are both part of the same Islamist circle in South Florida. However, as we have seen overseas, time and time again, radical Muslims have no problem targeting those of the same ilk.
Because of this, Zakkout’s harsh words should serve as a warning for Wahid.
In February 2015, over a graphic of deceased Hamas founders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, Zakkout wrote the following violent threat in Arabic, “It is an obligation to kill those who left our religion. It is an obligation to kill those who fight our religion and to intimidate our enemies and the enemies of the religion. Everything is from the Quran, not from me.” And he signed it, “Sofian.”
Sofian Zakkout vents his anger on Jews on a nearly daily basis, and now, he has done so on a Muslim whom he believes has behaved like a traitor to the Islamist cause. The fact that he accuses fellow traveler Khurrum Wahid of being ‘tainted’ by Jewish influence shows how fanatic and dangerous Zakkout’s mindset is and that no one is immune from his wrath.
Sofian Zakkout is a threat to the community and, as such, needs to be constantly monitored by law enforcement. He is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.