Joe Kaufman, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is Chairman of the Joe Kaufman Security Initiative (www.kaufmansecurity.org) and the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Republican Nominee for U.S. House of Representatives (Florida-CD23).
Effective on the date of November 28, 2019, South Florida Muslim leader Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout was removed from the Board of Directors of Crime Stoppers of Miami-Dade County. This was just one day after this author’s video aired on Facebook calling for Zakkout’s removal and just months after another anti-crime group, Citizens’ Crime Watch, cut ties with him, a measure which was also initiated by this author. Zakkout’s numerous extremist and bigoted activities warranted such actions.
Zakkout has promoted Holocaust denial. In February 2016, Zakkout circulated a report claiming that “the Holocaust was faked.” It begins: “The alleged ‘Holocaust’ of ‘6 million Jews’ at the hands of Adolf Hitler and National Socialist Germany during WWII is the biggest lie ever foisted upon humanity.” It was produced by The Realist Report, an anti-Jew, anti-black, anti-gay independent media outlet, which describes Hitler as “the greatest leader in modern Western history.” Zakkout posted the following about the report: “100% pure, unadulterated truth… Hard to argue with this. After all, you can’t deny something if it never happened, can you?”
Zakkout has memorialized dead/assassinated terrorist icons from al-Qaeda and Hamas. In March 2016, Zakkout posted onto his Facebook page a graphic containing the images of several deceased terrorist leaders. They included Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarzawi, Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, and Hamas bomb maker Yahya Ayyash.
Zakkout has threatened his fellow Muslims with death. In February 2015, over a graphic of deceased Hamas founders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, he wrote, “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 has organized pro-Hamas rallies. In July 2014, Zakkout led a pro-Hamas rally outside the Israeli Consulate in downtown Miami, where his rally goers repeatedly shouted, “We are Hamas” and “Let’s go Hamas.” Zakkout is shown on video from the rally smiling, as the crowd makes these chants. Above photos from the event, Zakkout wrote, “Thank God, every day we conquer the American Jews like our conquests over the Jews of Israel!”
Zakkout has frequently referred to Jews as “monkeys and pigs.” In November 2017, he posted a video onto social media with a message in Arabic saying, “Spread the video to beat the fucking Jews.”
Zakkout has been a leader in a Hamas-related charity. In August 2000, Zakkout became the Vice President of the now-defunct Health Resource Center for Palestine (HRCP). At the time, the Secretary and Treasurer of HRCP was Syed Khawer Ahmad, a then-web developer for Hamas, who had designed and maintained the first website for the Islamic Association, al-Jamia al-Islamiya, the Gaza-based parent organization of Hamas.
Zakkout, who is originally from Gaza, has fully embraced Hamas. In August 2014, Zakkout declared, “Hamas is in my heart and on my head.” Last April, he tweeted that “Israel doesn’t exist.”
Zakkout has praised white supremacist leader and former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke. In February 2016, Zakkout wrote of Duke, “I respect him for his honesty!” In October 2015, Zakkout referred to Duke as “David Duke, a man to believe in.” In July 2010, Zakkout’s organization, the American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA), was condemned by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for posting what the ADL called a “venomous” anti-Semitic video, featuring Duke, on AMANA’s official website. AMANA’s site, as well, has labeled Jews and Christians “enemies of Allah.”
Zakkout has not stopped, even after his removal from Crime Stoppers. This month, Zakkout posted a video promoting numerous Palestinian terrorists, including dead Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Commander Baha Abu al-Ata, dead Hamas bomb maker Mohiyedine Sharif, and imprisoned Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Secretary General Ahmad Sa’adat. In December, Zakkout posted: a picture once again memorializing Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin; a graphic calling for the unity of all the Palestinian terrorist factions; and a photo quoting notorious self-hating anti-Semite Jew, Hajo Meyer, with the caption, “Jew don’t say?”
The removal document (Articles of Amendment), regarding Zakkout’s board status, was signed by Crime Stoppers of Miami-Dade County’s Executive Director Suzette Rice, someone who previously told this author of her reluctance to take such action. It was posted onto Crime Stoppers’ Florida corporation page, on December 3rd.
Besides Zakkout, the status of two other Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers board members, Vice President Dahwood Akhtar and Director Lorena Zapustas, changed, as well, as the two swapped positions, with Zapustas now serving as VP and Akhtar becoming a Director. It is unknown by this author whether or not this further change had anything to do with Zakkout’s removal.
While this author has been unrelentingly critical of Crime Stoppers, because of the group’s (now past) association with Zakkout, today, Crime Stoppers has taken a big step in regaining its credibility and restoring its once-sullied reputation. Hopefully, the nation’s top community-based anti-crime operation will maintain its integrity and place its mission above the type of political correctness that leads to the embrace of and hesitation to part with someone like a Zakkout.
Crime Stoppers should be commended for finally doing the right thing.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.