Joe Kaufman is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Chairman of the Joe Kaufman Security Initiative. He was the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Republican Nominee for U.S. House of Representatives (Florida-CD23).
Convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) member Hatem Fariz is back in Israel, once again leading a tour for his terrorist supporting friends. This particular trip has them attending different weddings. One of the attendees, Isayed Darawad, is a surprise, as he is a member of the US Army. And though he may wear green camos with a ‘Stars and Stripes’ patch, this is a man who believes America’s friend Israel doesn’t exist and wants to see her Jewish citizens dead. Why is Israel allowing terrorist operatives into her country, and why is the US allowing their supporters into the military?
In February 2003, the FBI announced the arrests of four individuals whom the law enforcement agency described as being members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a group recognized by the US government as being a terrorist organization. One of the individuals was Tampa-area resident Hatem Naji Fariz, a then-manager of a medical clinic. After a lengthy trial, Fariz pled guilty to providing material support to PIJ. Following his jail sentence, Fariz became managing director of Al-Qassam, the mosque founded by his PIJ co-defendant, Sami al-Arian, and named after one of the main inspirations for PIJ, deceased Palestinian militant icon, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam.
Through Al-Qassam, a.k.a. the Islamic Community of Tampa (ICT), Fariz runs a travel agency, the Adam Travel Tampa Hajj Group, which he uses to take excursions to Israel, a nation PIJ is sworn to destroy. Many of the people Fariz takes with him on these trips have like feelings towards Israel and Jews in general. They post videos on social media of Israelis being blown up during ambushes and videos of successful rocket attacks on Israeli civilian structures. They post memorials for their favorite dead leaders from Hamas and PIJ. They call on “Allah” to “take revenge on the Jews.”
Similar radicals accompanied Fariz on this latest trip. They included: Tampa resident Ayman Saed, who lauded Abdullah Barghouti, a Hamas commander serving 67 life prison sentences, as an “exemplary man,” who “deserves to be honored”; Ramallah resident Fayez Habash, who posted a video featuring a young boy dressed in PIJ regalia and a pic of his own grandsons wielding rifles; North Carolina resident Hasan Kanan, who promoted a modern-day antisemitic ‘blood libel,’ claiming Israel sells stolen organs; and Chicago resident Saadeh Alqam, who labeled 1975 “refrigerator bomber” Ahmed Abu al-Sukkar, killer of 14 Israelis, a “hero martyr.”
Two more fanatics traveled with Fariz to Tiberias and the Golan Heights, which for Israel acts as a vital security barrier. One was Ramallah resident Jihad Sukar, who posts several photos of armed/masked Palestinian militants and who believes all of the Palestinian terrorist groups should unify against Israel. The other was Akram Sukar Ijbara, a fan of Hamas and knife attacks against Jews, who insinuated that all of the Jews involved in the Biden Administration are agents of Israel and wrote of his wishes that “one day, all the Palestinians will do this in Israel to get our land back… Shoot them looters [i.e. Jews Palestinians claim stole their land].”
During this July trip, Fariz attended different weddings with others, in Ramallah. One of the weddings was for Alaa Hammoudeh, the daughter of one of Fariz’ alleged Tampa PIJ co-conspirators, Sameeh Hammoudeh, who was deported from the US for federal tax evasion and who died in 2019. Joining Fariz at the event was past President of the Tampa Al-Qassam mosque, Ziad Taha.
Another wedding that Fariz attended was for his cousin, Ramallah resident Rateb Salim Rabah (Darawad), who is also a fan of Palestinian terrorists. On a Facebook post containing the images of deceased terror leaders, including Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, he exclaimed in Arabic “The voice of the people above all!” and, in a post dedicated to jailed terrorist and founder of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Marwan Barghouti, he wrote “Marwan, we are with you heart and soul…”
What was of most interest about this second wedding, though, was the attendance of Rabah’s brother, Birmingham, Alabama resident Isayed Darawad (Abu Ayoub), who has been serving in the US Army since 2019. All three – Fariz, Rabah and Darawad – are seen smiling for a family photo together at the wedding ceremony.
On Darawad’s Facebook page, which is almost entirely in Arabic, one finds several photos and videos of him brandishing and shooting high-powered firearms. And while this may not seem unusual for someone in the military, one also finds pictures of armed terrorists. One is a January 2018 memorial to deceased Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade Commander and terror cell leader Ahmed Sanaqrah; Darawad refers to him as “the hero martyr Ahmed Sanaqrah.” Another is of an October 2015 post of a masked militant, whose uniform and headband bear the logo of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and whose mask is eerily similar to the one worn by Darawad in another photo.
Rabbah and Darawad have a sister they are close with, Chicago resident Jamila Awwad. When Rabbah got engaged, Awwad wrote “Congratulations, my love.” Darawad calls Awwad “My dear sweetheart.” In December 2017, Awwad wrote “Oh God, let us see the Jews in a black day.” In October 2015, she posted a photo of a militant holding a stone while handing a flower to a girl with the caption “Plant it on my grave and I will plant terror in their hearts.” In July 2014, she posted a picture of an Israeli soldier caught in a giant rat trap, writing “Go back to your graves” and “Oh God, destroy the Zionists… [G]rant victory to our Mujahideen brothers everywhere.”
It is disturbing that Israel allows Hatem Fariz, a convicted member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad – and all of the individuals mentioned in this piece along with him – to travel around Israel without consequence. It is equally disturbing, if not more so, that the US military has allowed a supporter of Palestinian terrorism (and possible terrorist) into its ranks. Both of these instances represent dangerous precedents and need to be rectified.
Israel cannot afford to allow any of these radicals to get into her nation, and it is crucial that the US Army remove/terminate Darawad from service immediately. These threats to America and Israel must not be ignored.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.