Tayyab Ismail’s family-life appears to be over, or at least it is going to take a very big hiatus. On Friday, December 14th, Ismail was arrested on terrorism-related charges. Federal authorities claim that he repeatedly posted bomb-making instructions on forums frequented by Islamic extremists and expressed support for the Islamic State. For years, he was leading up to this moment, making terrorist threats, affiliating with radicals like himself, and violently putting his wife’s life in peril. Question: Was his wife aware of any of it?
Tayyab Tahir Ismail and Romaisa Waseem, both Pakistani-born immigrants to the US, were wedded on April 30, 2012. About a year later, the couple had a child. This was not the model family, though, as just three years into the marriage, while their two-year-old daughter was with them in their Miramar apartment, an enraged Ismail nearly strangled his wife to death. According to court documents:
“On Friday, November 7, 2015, The Defendant and victim (Romaisa Waseem) were both involved in a verbal altercation when the Defendant did commit the act of battery by placing both of his hands around the Victim’s neck in a choking manner... The Victim advised defendant struck her 5 to 6 times with an open hand in the face and choked her with both hands not allowing for her to breathe. Victim stated defendant also placed an unknown article of clothing in her mouth to prevent her from screaming. Victim stated defendant let go of her once he saw she was becoming unconscious. Victim stated once defendant let go of her, she and her 2 year old daughter left the residence to Miramar Regional Hospital.”
Did Waseem know about Ismail’s violent tendencies, when she married him? It is an honest question, as it has been reported that, in October 2010, Ismail allegedly made terrorism threats at a Florida homeless shelter, claiming he was an “al-Qaida soldier” and would “blow it up.” Ismail is further reported to have responded to an insult from a woman by saying, “We throw women like her in the ditch.”
However, maybe Waseem was able to overlook such things.
Today, when viewing Waseem’s Facebook page – which goes under the name Romaisa Tayyab, a combination of the couple’s first names – one will see a ‘profile picture’ of what appears to be a very happy family. Ismail, Waseem and their daughter all have broad smiles on their faces.
Also on her Facebook page, under her ‘likes’ section, Waseem lists a number of groups of interest, including a Muslim center for domestic violence against women (NUR Center) and three university Islamist organizations, the Muslim Students Association at Florida International University (MSA at FIU), the Pakistani Students Association (PakSA) at FIU, and the International Muslim Association at Nova Southeastern University (IMAN at NSU).
The MSA at FIU has co-sponsored events with and/or promoted events for a number of groups associated with terrorism, including the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). PakSA at FIU has done events with ICNA and has promoted terror-related Islamic Relief (IR). This past October, IMAN sponsored an event featuring the imam of Masjid Jamaat Al-Mumineen (MJAM), Izhar Khan, who In May 2011, was arrested and spent 20 months in a Miami federal detention center on charges of assisting in the financing of the Pakistani Taliban.
While Waseem does not appear to be active in these organizations, she has attended one or more of their events. No doubt, she has had access to them, as she graduated from FIU and is now a dental student at NSU.In October 2016, Waseem wrote of her visit to the Shiva Vishnu Temple of South Florida, providing a very unflattering view of both the temple and the Hindu religion. She said she did so “as part of my assignment.” She wrote:
“I personally did not find this religion to be interesting. Although, their way of practice was new and different to me but it was not appealing. Moreover, I did not like the strong smell that was inside the temple. It was so strong that I started coughing, water started coming out of my eyes, and I had to go outside for some time to get rid of the cough. The most positive result of my visit was my enhanced understanding of Shiva Vishnu Hinduism, a totally different religion than Islam.”
Earlier that year, in April 2016, an associate of Tayyab Ismail, James Gonzalo Medina (aka James Muhammad), was arrested for plotting to blow up the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, a prominent South Florida synagogue, claiming to be a member of ISIS. According to the affidavit on the Medina case, Ismail had been living with Medina – what could have been a respite from the wife and daughter following the strangulation attack – at the time when Medina was working on the bomb plot.
According to an FBI report, “Ismail and Medina engaged in a number of conversations about radicalization and other related topics.” Also, Ismail reportedly knew about the plot but did not alert law enforcement. Following the arrest, Ismail surrendered several firearms to authorities. Medina was given a 25-year prison sentence; Ismail was not charged with a crime.
Nevertheless, two years later, Ismail is dealing with his own terror-related trial.
Earlier this month, Ismail was arrested for posting detailed bomb-making instructions, including for suicide vests, to online sites frequented by Muslim extremists and supporters of ISIS, along with his own support for the terrorist group. He wrote:
“You are surrounded by methods to hit them… kill them devil’s soldiers without hesitation. Make them bleed even in their own homes.” And “There are plenty of methods to attack my brother – take poison in injections and enter malls and inject products with poison – at night come out and cause the fire of houses.”
Ismail’s bond has been set at one million dollars.
Court documents related to traffic infractions made by Ismail and Waseem show that, at least since July 2018 until Ismail’s arrest, the family was living together at the same Pembroke Pines address. Waseem’s (Romaisa Tayyab) Facebook ‘profile picture’ as well as a solo ‘cover photo’ of the daughter are very recent photos.
Did Romaisa Waseem know about Ismail’s past of terrorist threats? Or his association with James Medina? Or his own activities regarding bombs and support for ISIS? Did Waseem know about any of it and, like Ismail with regard to his friend’s bomb plot, say nothing to authorities? And if so, should she be charged as an accessory?
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.