For years, Sofian Zakkout, the President of the American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA), has been broadcasting his memberships into the boards of directors of two local anti-crime entities, the Miami, Florida offices of Crime Stoppers and Citizens’ Crime Watch. Last month, Zakkout took the horrific occasion of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting to tout his credentials once again. Given Zakkout’s extraordinary background in dehumanizing Jews and supporting terrorist activity, shame and denouncement should be brought down upon Crime Stoppers and Citizens’ Crime Watch for allowing this to go on for as long as it has.
On October 27th, during the morning Shabbat services, a mass shooting took place at the Tree of Life – Or L'Simcha Congregation, in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Eleven worshippers were murdered. It was the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States.
The next day, Zakkout posted onto Facebook what seems to be a message of condolence towards the victims. He wrote, “This crime is a terrorist attack against civilians performing their prayers. Due to the teaching of Islam I condemn strongly this crime act and wish to see a maximum punishment to the shooter and if any assistants behind it!” He signed it, “Sofian Zakkout, the Director of AMANA, the American Muslim Association of North America & Board of Directors of the Miami-dade Crime Stoppers and the Crime Watch of Miami-Dade county.”
Indeed, if no one was aware of Zakkout’s history of defaming Jews and supporting and affiliating with terrorist groups, this message would seem welcome. Yet, just two days prior to his post - one day prior to the shooting - Zakkout posted a graphic on YouTube depicting five interlocking hands, each hand bearing the logo of a different Palestinian terrorist organization, all surrounding a map of the state of Israel draped in a Palestinian flag. The week before, he posted a video of a crowd in Lebanon cheering the kidnapping of an Israeli by Hamas.
Two weeks after his condolence post, he reposted the interlocking hands graphic. Three days following his repost, he placed on Facebook a video showing two dozen terrorists brandishing rifles and showing and glorifying a recent Hamas missile attack on an Israeli military bus, which left one IDF soldier seriously wounded, with the statement, “Keep the fire of the resistance.”
The next day, Zakkout disparagingly labeled Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a “Zionist Jew” for announcing his support of Israel as a Jewish state and labeling Hamas a threat to Saudi Arabia’s national security. And days after this, he posted a video containing a graphic of an Arab dressed in typical Gulf clothing, kneeling on an American flag, and bowing to a giant menorah topped with a Jewish star.
None of this is new for Zakkout. Zakkout regularly posts Hamas-related propaganda onto social media. He, himself, has led pro-Hamas rallies, and in August 2014, he declared in Arabic, “Hamas is in my heart and on my head.” In February 2015, over a graphic of assassinated Hamas founders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, he 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.”
Zakkout frequently refers to Jews as “monkeys and pigs.” In February 2016, he circulated on Facebook a report claiming that “the Holocaust was faked” and that it is “the biggest lie ever foisted upon humanity.”
In July 2010, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) condemned Zakkout and his group AMANA for featuring what the ADL called a “venomous” anti-Semitic video on the AMANA website. The video was produced by and featured white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke, whom Zakkout has referred to as “David Duke, a man to belief in!”
With all of this and so much more, why would security-focused groups, such as Crime Stoppers and Citizens’ Crime Watch, continue to allow an openly terror supporting anti-Semite to be a member of their boards and legitimize him by counting his name among their hierarchy? To be certain, currently Zakkout is listed as a Director on both Crime Stoppers’ and Crime Watch’s Florida corporations and annual corporate reports. As well, his name is listed on the Citizens’ Crime Watch Executive Committee, on both the official websites for Citizens’ Crime Watch and the group’s youth division, Youth Crime Watch of Miami-Dade County, FL.
It is a disgrace for anti-crime groups to be affiliated with terrorism and bigotry. It is a disgrace for groups that have major connections to law enforcement to be affiliated with the vile and insidious hate propaganda that Sofian Zakkout posts and disseminates on a near daily basis. What a dishonor to the reputations of two (what may have once been) respectable organizations, and what a dishonor to anyone involved in those groups.
Shame on them all for harboring and protecting such dangerous filth!
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.