A smiling Rasha Mubarak is featured atop the Orlando, Florida government page devoted to Mayor Buddy Dyer’s newly appointed Committee on Multicultural Affairs. The committee was intended to project a positive message of inclusion to the local community. However, this month, Mubarak’s smile is also featured on a group photo taken for an event sponsored by Islamic Relief, an organization that has been banned by different nations due to its terror-related activity, including activity associated with the financing of al-Qaeda. How long can a committee devoted to diversity continue to harbor and legitimize the extreme pursuits of Mubarak?
Rasha Ahmad Mubarak has devoted a large part of her life to involvement in radical causes. She organizes rallies against Israel that, often times, devolve into the worst of anti-Semitism. She makes statements against the Jewish state that can only be described as extreme bigotry, such as her repeated claim that Israel has no right to defend herself. She uses her social media to promote material from Hamas-affiliated websites, sites that depict Jews as bloodthirsty and demonic. And lastly, she attaches herself to organizations linked to worldwide terrorism. One of these terror-related groups is Islamic Relief (IR).
On Saturday, October 12th, Mubarak spoke at an Islamic Relief fundraiser. She tweeted photos of herself speaking and claimed/praised that she helped the group raise $250,000 for “Islamic Relief’s Palestine programs.” In the recent past, there have been major issues with IR’s “Palestine programs.” According to Israel, they are, instead, programs in support of Hamas.
In May 2012, Israel labeled Islamic Relief a front for Hamas. Israel then proceeded to deport IR’s head of Gaza operations, Ayaz Ali, who had been detained by Israel for three weeks. According to the Israeli government, Ali “worked to transfer funds and assistance to various Hamas institutions and organizations… He also admitted that he worked in Jordan and cooperated with local Hamas operatives.” In June 2014, Israel banned IR from operating in the West Bank.
Israel was not the only nation to take action against Islamic Relief. In October 2017, Bangladesh’s Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Affairs Bureau banned IR from working with refugees from the Rohingya community of Myanmar, in fear that IR could lure vulnerable refugees into becoming Islamic militants. In November 2014, the government of United Arab Emirates (UAE) designated IR a terrorist group. Also in 2014, Britain’s HSBC bank cut ties with Islamic Relief over concerns about “terrorist financing.”
In October 2005, Russia accused IR of supporting terrorism in Chechnya. In 1999, IR was reported to have collected and sent over $6 million to Chechen rebels with ties to Al-Qaeda. As well, in 1999, IR received $50,000 from Human Concern International (HCI), a Canadian charity that the US Department of Treasury then-described as a “Bin Laden front.”
The Orlando event featuring Rasha Mubarak was sponsored by the US office of Islamic Relief, IRUSA. According to the Middle East Forum (MEF), Khaled Lamada, the Chairman of IRUSA, has “circulated text praising the ‘jihad’ of the ‘Mujahidin of Egypt’ for ‘causing the Jews many defeats’” and has “republished claims on Facebook that praise Hamas for inflicting a ‘huge defeat’ against the ‘Zionist entity.’”
The Communications Director of IRUSA is David Hawa. In August 2014, Hawa, who takes his young children to anti-Israel protests, made light of the rocket attacks perpetrated by Hamas onto Israeli neighborhoods – attacks that had led to a number of civilian deaths. He wrote, “1 Billion rockets fired by people who like Hummus is making people of Israel feel scared. Doesn’t Masad know everything, as small as Gaza is your telling me you can’t find these thousands of rockets they have. How can a so called super advance military be tricked by a bunch of sheep herders.” Hawa likened the tunnels Hamas has built to something out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
Hawa’s statement appears to jibe with Mubarak’s own radical beliefs regarding Israel. That and her attachment to Hawa’s group are parts of a pattern of behavior that is extreme and dangerous. But what is even more dangerous is the fact that the mayor of a major American city, Buddy Dyer, has ignored Mubarak’s conduct and excesses and has inappropriately rewarded her with an appointment to a committee led by him.
Mayor Dyer needs to understand that his and his committee’s harboring of Mubarak reflects poorly on both him and the committee. The Mayor should also know that, as long as Mubarak remains on the committee, the issue is not going to go away, as the public has a right to know whom the Mayor is involved with.
Rasha Mubarak’s participation in the Mayor’s Committee on Multicultural Affairs needs to end immediately. Diversity and terror do not mix.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.