Ramadan makes for the strangest of bedfellows, but for politicians who are hungry for votes, a radical mosque headed by an anti-homosexual imam is not such a bad place for a photo op. That is just what happened earlier this month, when Florida State Representative Rick Stark and Vice Mayor of Pembroke Pines, Florida Jay Schwartz joined imam Maulana Shafayat Mohamed and others for a Ramadan meal at Darul Uloom, a South Florida mosque where at least five al-Qaeda operatives have passed through.
On June 22, 2015, an iftar (break-the-fast) dinner was held at the Darul Uloom mosque in Pembroke Pines. The event was sponsored by Emerge USA, a group that attempts to dupe politicians into attending its functions by seducing them with a “Muslim vote.” In reality, though, regardless of the group’s patriotic-sounding name, Emerge is nothing more than a front for anti-American and anti-Israel Islamists.
A founder and co-chair of Emerge, Khurrum Wahid, is a South Florida attorney who has become known for representing various high profile terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda. Wahid previously served as a legal advisor for the national office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR has been linked to Hamas leadership and has been cited by the U.S. government for its involvement with Hamas financing. CAIR was also recently named to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) list of international terrorist organizations.
Co-founder and trustee of Emerge, Saif Ishoof, is a former organizer and contact for the extreme anti-Israel group, March for Justice. 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.”
Acting on its sinister mission, Emerge invited a number of local politicians to speak at at an event hosted by the Darul Uloom mosque, an Islamic center with ties to terrorist-related and viciously anti-Semitic individuals. The group had takers, including at least two with Jewish backgrounds.
One of the politicians was Florida State Representative Rick Stark. Another was Vice Mayor of Pembroke Pines Jay Schwartz. And yet another was Judicial Candidate Andrea Gunderson, who in a woeful act of self-debasement, wrapped her head in a big purple scarf to emulate a Muslim woman’s hijab (head covering). Each addressed the crowd in front of a large Emerge USA backdrop.
Schwartz is no stranger to Emerge. He has spoken at at least one previous Emerge function. In February, he told Emerge, “[T]here’s a group of people, in this room, who are changing America as we know it, and that’s a great thing… If there’s anything I can do to help the cause, I’m a phone call away.” Schwartz has also spoken at Darul Uloom before. At the end of that talk, he and the spiritual leader of the mosque gave each other a warm embrace. That spiritual leader was Maulana Shafayat Mohamed.
In February 2005, an article written by Mohamed was published on the Darul Uloom website, entitled ‘Tsunami: Wrath of God,’ claiming that homosexual sex caused the 2004 Indonesian tsunami. He stated, “I have been pondering over the reasons for the recent Tsunami, ever since the incident took place on December 27th 2004. A time when thousands would have been enjoying themselves during the holidays in the ‘GAY PARADISE’… [A]fter days of pondering, I was able to find a major similarity with the Tsunami and Sodom & Gomorrah.”
The article doesn’t just target gays; it also takes aim at Jews and Christians. It quotes from the Quran, describing Muslims as being superior to others (“the best of peoples, evolved for mankind”) and declares that most Jews and Christians (“People of the Book”) are “perverted transgressors.”
Currently on Shafayat Mohamed’s biography page on the Darul Uloom website, Mohamed is pictured holding a version of the Quran that was banned by the Los Angeles public school system, in February 2002, for containing a large amount of anti-Semitic commentaries. It is The Meaning of THE HOLY QUR’AN, and its commentaries describe Jews as “arrogant,” “blasphemous,” “jealous,” “selfish,” “twisters of words,” and “under divine displeasure.”
As well, on the Darul Uloom website, there is located a photo of Shafayat Mohamed shaking hands with now-deceased bigot Ahmed Deedat. Deedat, author of the book ‘CRUCIFIXION OR CRUCI-FICTION?’ was infamous for going around the world giving lectures on how Christianity is a false religion. In his book, ‘Muhammad the natural successor to Christ,’ he repeatedly refers to homosexuals as “sodomites.” He states, “Euphemistically they call them ‘gays’ a once beautiful word meaning - happy and joyous - now perverted!”
The photo of Mohamed with Deedat, whom Shafayat Mohamed said he “had a good relationship” with, was taken in Durban, South Africa, at what was then named the Bin Laden Center. Deedat, who according to The New York Times was "a vocal anti-Semite and ardent backer of Osama bin Laden," personally received millions of dollars from bin Laden for the center.
Mohamed founded Darul Uloom – formally Darul Uloom Institute & Islamic Training Center – in 1994. Since then, a number of al-Qaeda terrorists have passed through the mosque. They include “Dirty Bomber” Jose Padilla and one of the 9/11 hijackers. As well, now-deceased al-Qaeda commander Adnan el-Shukrijumah was a prayer leader at the mosque, and his father, Gulshair el-Shukrijumah, who was a translator for the spiritual leader of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, “Blind Shaikh” Omar Abdel-Rahman, taught classes at Darul Uloom.
This past year, Darul Uloom and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), an Islamist group with ties to terrorist financing, have gotten very close. Last September, Shafayat Mohamed delivered the Juma kutba (Friday sermon) at ICNA National’s New York headquarters, and in October, ICNA National President Naeem Baig returned the favor by delivering the Friday sermon at Darul Uloom.
In August 2006, ICNA was the top donor and partner to the Pakistani charity Al-Khidmat Foundation (AKF), when AKF traveled to Syria to hand deliver roughly $100,000 to the global head of Hamas, Khaled Mashal. ICNA has used the web to promote a number of terrorist organizations, including Hamas, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Taliban. Additionally, ICNA partners with the Muslim American Society (MAS) for all of its yearly national conventions; MAS, like CAIR, has been named a terrorist organization by United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Darul Uloom has a media center called Al-Hikmat. This includes a bimonthly magazine that goes by the same name. In the May/June 2015 issue, Al-Hikmat highlighted a “Quran seminar” held in May that was conducted by Taliban sympathizer and imam of the Margate, Florida Jamaat Al-Mumineen mosque, Izhar Khan. Al-Hikmat hailed the event as “a great success with visitors from Tampa and Orlando. MaaShaa Allaah!”
In May 2014, Khan was arrested along with his father, Hafiz, and charged with providing financing and other material support to the Pakistani Taliban. The judge in the case dismissed the charges, claiming lack of evidence, though the court previously said Izhar “gave money himself to the mujahideen (terrorists) while traveling in Pakistan in 2009.” The father, who was represented by Emerge USA’s Khurrum Wahid, was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
In the September/October 2014 issue, Al-Hikmat honored Zulfiqar Ali Shah in the “Recognition Corner” of its magazine. Shah is the Executive Director of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) and Director of Religious Affairs at the Islamic Society of Milwaukee (ISM). Shah previously held the position of President of the South Asia Division for KindHearts, a charity that was shut down by the U.S. government for providing millions of dollars to Hamas.
In June 2001, Shah spoke of a wild conspiracy regarding Jews retaking the Saudi city of Medina. He said, “If we are unable to stop the Jews now, their next stop is Yathrib (The Prophet's city of Medina), where the Jews used to live until their expulsion by Prophet Muhammad. That’s the pinnacle of their motives.”
In the same issue of Al-Hikmat that featured the award for Shah, in its “Question & Answer Corner,” Shafayat Mohamed authored a piece entitled, ‘Avoiding Evil Friends.’ It would seem that Mohamed wrote this specifically for politicians like Stark, Schwartz and Gunderson to avoid people such as himself – people who surround themselves with evil friends – people who should be repudiated by and shunned from society, not embraced and legitimized.
It is incredible that, post-9/11, some public officials refuse to exercise due diligence, vis-à-vis the organizations and individuals with whom they interact, and fail to recognize that outreach to radical Muslim institutions only serves to prop up the facade of moderation and tolerance these odious groups wish to maintain.
Pandering to Islamists, who eschew democracy, by appearing at their events in order to garner a few lousy votes, is not only a travesty, but undermines national security and the values these public servants have sworn to uphold.
It is time we hold politicians accountable for the harm they cause the rest of us.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.