Former CAIR representative Ahmad Saleem, who made national headlines when he was arrested for soliciting sex from a 12-year-old girl, is in the market for a wife, and he may have found the perfect place to find one. It is Pakistan, a haven for child marriage.
On the night of May 20, 2015, Ahmad Abrar Saleem (a.k.a. Ahmad Shaheen) was arrested in Clermont, Florida, a short distance from his Orlando home. Saleem was intending to meet the twelve-year-old girl he had been chatting with online but, instead, met Sheriff’s deputies waiting for him and 21 others in a child sex sting operation. He was charged with “use of computer to seduce/solicit/entice a child to commit sex act” and “travel to seduce, solicit, lure a child to commit sex act.”
In July 2014, Saleem referred to himself as a “rising star.” Indeed, his celebrity within the Islamist community was growing. He had held the position of President of the University of Central Florida’s (UCF) Muslim Students Association (MSA) and, countrywide, served as MSA National Service Director; he was being invited to speak at mainstream Islamist conferences; and he had been named Orlando Regional Coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
On May 5, 2015, Saleem posted on Facebook a photo of himself posing with 60 other CAIR leaders from around the nation. He is seated in the front row only five seats from CAIR’s founder and National Executive Director Nihad Awad. About the photo, he wrote, “Proud to upgrade this year to be sitting and being amongst such community giants… May Allah bless the CAIR National team across the country…”
Two weeks later, all of this would come to an end, as Saleem’s fanfare was replaced with notoriety.
The arrest caused a huge backlash, which reached international borders. A blog from the Pakistani publication Express Tribune labeled Saleem a “paedophile” and claimed that he had “tarnished the image of Islam in the US.” The piece stated that parents of children, who had been in contact with Saleem, were questioning his behavior and how long this conduct had been going on for.
No doubt, during the years 2014 and 2015, Saleem posted numerous photographs onto social media of him posing with children, containing inappropriate language and in compromising positions. One has Saleem holding the hand of a small girl [maybe five-years-old] with him referring to her as “My little lover.” Another has him with the same girl playfully putting a stuffed dog to his face with him writing, “Is this your way of kissing me, A’aishah?” Yet another has him lounging on a bed with two small girls laying on his lap with him writing, “Get off me?... please? lol.”
In December 2016, Saleem was sentenced to two years behind bars in state prison. He was released this past August and has relocated to Denver, Colorado.
Not long before his arrest, in December 2014, after someone affectionately referred to Saleem as “Bachelor of the Year,” he answered stating, “DEF not one of those titles you want to hold onto for a long time, lol. May Allah unite all us single folk with companions that will bring to us mutual happiness in this life and the next. And may He make us lower our standards and be less picky to consider those we didn’t consider before if things aren’t working out for us.”
In January 2015, he posted onto Facebook a photo of himself, presumably at a wedding, sitting on what he referred to as a “marriage swing,” placing a necklace around his imaginary wife, who is represented by a black oval with a white question mark inside it, with the caption, “#Practicing lol.” About the photo, he wrote, “I learnt that in our Desi (South Asian) Tradition there is a belief that the person who sits on this marriage swing after the bride and groom is likely to be the next person getting married. #HowExciting.”
It is obvious that Saleem is desperate to get married, even if he has to, as he puts it, lower his standards. We can also surmise that, given his crime, he prefers underage girls, who may not be too picky about his looks or who may not have a say in the matter.
This past November, following his release from prison, Saleem flew to Pakistan, where both his parents are originally from. He stated on Facebook that he intended to stay at least till the middle of January. While there, he may very well have been on the lookout for a child bride.
According to UNICEF, 21 percent of girls under the age of 18 and 3 percent of girls under 15 get married in Pakistan. Many of these marriages are forced marriages. Many are marriages performed by Sharia (Islamic law) courts, which recognize a girl’s puberty instead of age. And though there may be legal issues with these marriages, Saleem’s record would suggest that he would not be overly concerned about them.
However, others should be concerned. In a February 2019 piece written for the Nation, regarding child marriage in Pakistan, columnist Assad Ali Lund states, “Child marriage is one of the leading causes of death among girls aged between 15 to 19 during pregnancy and child birth.”
On March 26th, Saleem made a Facebook post commenting on the “Statistics of the Unmarried population of Pakistan” for people age 15 and up. He wrote a report about it that is over one-fourth the size of this author’s article. He concludes by saying, “Still single? Looking to get married? Then Punjab or Sindh are still best places with most unmarried population. Want to live where getting married isn’t as big an issue and divorce rates are least? Then move to Balochistan, haha! If all else fails, hire a rishta aunty (matchmaker) or uncle near you.”
It appears that this post was less a message to others and more a message to Saleem, himself. If this is the case, one should expect nothing good to come of it.
Normally, when someone expresses their wishes to be married, it is warmly welcomed. People have an appreciation for it. However, given Saleem’s recent criminal and perverted record, a wedding for Saleem has the potential to end in disaster for the girl, their future children, and the girl’s family, who may be unsuspecting of any malicious intent on the part of Saleem.
For this and many reasons, Saleem’s whereabouts and activities must be closely monitored and thoroughly scrutinized. Sexual predators are known to commit repeat offenses, and provided the amount of time he has spent in Pakistan, away from his Colorado home, it appears he is not pursuing regular therapy sessions, if any at all. Additionally, the organizations he has been a part of are Islamist in nature and, therefore, have histories of radical behavior. CAIR, itself, has significant ties to Hamas and has had a number of its past representatives convicted of terror-related crimes.
The conceivable threat Ahmad Saleem poses to young children and society in general, whether in Pakistan or in the US, should not be taken lightly. Any potential marriage partners and their families are hereby forewarned.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.