A little over one month ago, this author asked United States Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to distance herself from an Islamic extremist she seemed warm towards and to rid herself from campaign funds she received from the extremist’s radical associate. One month ago, the funds were removed and sent off to charity. It was a laudable gesture on the part of the Congresswoman, and she should be thanked for it. However, she needs to do more.
When it comes to the issues of terrorism and Islamic extremism, U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is always one of the first people to stand up, speak out and vote the right way. When it comes to individuals and organizations which threaten America and her ally Israel, Representative Ros-Lehtinen is always there to defend what’s right. That is why it was so disturbing for this author to discover that the Congresswoman offered praise to someone and took money from someone else whom this author considers threats to the community.
On May 7, 2015, I sent an e-mail to Keith Fernandez, the Communications Director of the Congressional office of Representative Ros-Lehtinen, respectfully asking for the Congresswoman to do the following:
- Take back the kind words she tweeted about an Islamic extremist named Saif Ishoof;
- Formally drop Ishoof from her Young Leaders for Ileana Coalition;
- Return the money her Congressional campaign had received in 2010 from Ishoof’s radical Muslim colleague, Khurrum Wahid.
In my e-mail, I mentioned that I had asked something similar of United States Senator Barbara Boxer eight-plus years ago, and she graciously complied with my request. In December 2006, Senator Boxer’s office had presented an “Outstanding Service” award to Basim Elkarra, the director of the Sacramento, California office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). After I educated Boxer’s staff about CAIR’s links to terrorism and Elkarra’s own extremism, Boxer rescinded the award. I was/am asking Ros-Lehtinen to do likewise.
Khurrum Basir Wahid is a South Florida lawyer, who has devoted a huge portion of his legal career to defending individuals who the U.S. government has charged with terrorism. His past clients include: Rafiq Sabir, who received a 25-year prison sentence for conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda; Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who was given a life sentence for being part of al-Qaeda and for plotting to assassinate President George W. Bush; and Hafiz Khan, a Miami, Florida imam who shipped $50,000 to the Taliban to kill American troops overseas.
Wahid has served as a legal advisor for the national office of the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and a director of CAIR’s Florida chapter. CAIR was founded, in June 1994, as part of a terrorist umbrella run by then-global leader of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook. In 2007 and 2008, CAIR was named by the U.S. Justice Department a co-conspirator for two federal trials dealing with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. Along with ISIS and al-Qaeda, CAIR was recently labeled a terrorist group by United Arab Emirates (UAE).
According to the Miami New Times, Wahid himself was placed on a federal terrorist watch list in 2011.
Today, Wahid is the co-chairman of Emerge USA. He is also one of the founders of Emerge. The group attempts to dupe politicians into attending its events by seducing them with a “Muslim vote,” but in reality, Emerge is nothing more than a front for anti-American and anti-Israel Islamists.
In September 2014, Emerge held an event at the al-Qassam Mosque (a.k.a. Islamic Community of Tampa), the mosque established by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader and former client of Khurrum Wahid, Sami al-Arian. Al-Qassam is named after Izzedin al-Qassam, the individual who was the inspiration for PIJ’s founding. The event was organized by Laila Abdelaziz. In November 2012, when Israel invaded Gaza, following thousands of rockets fired by Hamas at Israeli citizens, Abdelaziz tweeted, “Don’t worry ya Gaza, we’re working hard for you in Florida.”
In May 2014 and April 2015, Emerge featured as a speaker at its annual fundraising dinners Islamic lecturer Sayed Ammar Nakshawani. Nakshawani, who is a follower of former Iran leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, has previously called for Israel’s destruction. In his lecture, titled ‘Sayed Khomeini’s Quds Day,’ he states, “The shame in this world is that, if we put ourselves down to a two-state solution, we would allow a country which has broken 60 UN resolutions to have their own freedom of peace. It is barbaric that this Zionist state is allowed to continue.”
At the May 2014 Emerge/Nakshawani event, a fan of Nakshawani named Mona Nasser Shamsideen was in attendance. A large photo of her with her sister-in-law is found on Emerge’s Facebook site, along with a link to Mona’s Facebook page. On her page are found links to three Nakshawani videos. She also posted different Hezbollah videos on her page, containing images of Hezbollah flags, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, and Hezbollah Commander Imad Mughniyah. She used a graphic of Hezbollah terrorists for her Facebook profile pic.
Saif Yamani Ishoof is a founder and trustee of Emerge. He was also a participant of both Nakshawani events. Prior to getting involved with Emerge, Ishoof was the rally organizer and contact for the extreme anti-Israel group, March for Justice. The other contact and spokesman of the group was Nidal Sakr, who was arrested in March 2014 after returning to the U.S. from Egypt, where he was a rally organizer for the Muslim Brotherhood.
While with March for Justice, Ishoof organized an event at the University of Miami, in October 2002, which labeled then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon “the world’s longest standing terrorist” and Israel an “illegitimate state.” Ishoof said he was “outraged” that his former university would host then-senior advisor to Sharon, Raanan Gissin, referring to Gissin as “a mouthpiece of state sponsored terrorism.”
In June 2002, four months prior to the University of Miami event, March for Justice held a demonstration outside the Coral Springs, Florida Chabad synagogue, where Benjamin Netanyahu that day was giving a speech. Two weeks later, the Jewish center had its windows smashed and swastikas painted on it. A press release announcing the protest described Netanyahu as “one of the world's notorious terrorists, an alleged war criminal and criminal against humanity” – similar language to the Sharon/Gissin protest. The release was titled ‘Netanyaho, Get OUT of HERE.’ The culprits of the synagogue defacement were never found.
Today, Ishoof is a director of Nur-Ul-Islam Academy, a Muslim children’s school located in Cooper City, Florida whose former Vice President was Hamas fundraiser Raed Awad. Awad was the Florida representative for the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), a Hamas charity that was shut down by the U.S. government in December 2001. Awad was also the imam who oversaw the conversion to Islam by convicted terrorist and “Dirty Bomber,” Jose Padilla.
According to corporation documents, Ishoof was officially named a director of the school in January 2008, at a time when the home page of the Nur-Ul-Islam website contained links to violent, anti-Semitic and anti-Christian material, including having a link to islamway.com, a website that encouraged its viewers to donate to Hamas.
Like his organization Emerge, Ishoof has worked hard to get close to politicians. He has had photo ops with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, U.S. Representative Patrick Murphy, U.S. Representative Carlos Curbelo, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, Mayor of Doral, Florida Luigi Boria, and of course U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
When Ishoof was appointed a position at Florida International University, in March 2015, Ros-Lehtinen tweeted, “Congrats to @Saif305 for joining @FIU as VP of Engagement! He’ll work hard for our Golden Panthers!” And in April 2015, she tweeted a series of photos with him, discussing his “inspiring mentorship of the next generation of Miami leaders.” And she tweeted the same photos and message for Arabic readers.
This month, on June 8th, I met with Maytee Sanz, Ros-Lehtinen’s Deputy Chief of Staff, in the Congresswoman’s Miami office, to discuss the matter of Wahid and Ishoof. When I brought up the money – Wahid had contributed $250 to Ros-Lehtinen’s Congressional campaign in 2010 – Sanz told me that the Congresswoman viewed the information on him and made the quick decision to donate the $250 to a worthy charity. This was good news.
Unfortunately, though, when I brought up Ishoof, the Congresswoman’s staffer informed me that Ros-Lehtinen was good friends with him and his family. I said to her, if the information on Wahid was enough to donate his money to charity, then surely the similar information on Ishoof would warrant her rescinding her kind words of him. But the staffer reiterated that they were friends. I thought to myself, with friends like these, who needs enemies?
People like Khurrum Wahid and Saif Ishoof should be shunned from society, not embraced by influential politicians and institutions. These individuals offer nothing of value to the community; they only contribute to its destruction, cynically exploiting people of goodwill to further their Islamist agendas.
If you would like to call Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to thank her for doing the right thing by donating Wahid’s campaign contribution (and to thank her for her years of dedicated service to America), you can contact her Miami office at: 305-668-2285. If you would like to ask her to rescind her warm words about Ishoof and to remove him from her Young Leaders for Ileana Coalition, you can do the same. Please be respectful.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.