Joe Kaufman, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is Chairman of the Joe Kaufman Security Initiative and the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Republican Nominee for U.S. House of Representatives (Florida-CD23).
On February 4th to the 5th, Islamic extremist groups and their followers from across the state of Florida gathered in Tallahassee for the 10th annual Muslim Capitol Day to lobby the Florida state legislature on issues of their concern. Participating were leaders from Islamist organizations Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Emgage Action as well as convicted terrorist from Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) Hatem Naji Fariz. Also participating was Iranian-American Florida State Representative Anna Eskamani, who continues to ignore the Islamist threat and work together with such fanatics.
Muslim Capitol Day is the brainchild of former Communications Director for the Florida office of CAIR, Ahmed Bedier. While with CAIR, Bedier acted as the unofficial spokesman in the media for PIJ North American leader Sami al-Arian, who, at the time, was going through a lengthy legal battle, after having been charged with “material support” for PIJ. During a December 2005 TV interview, when asked if he believed al-Arian’s involvement with PIJ was immoral, Bedier notoriously answered, “To a certain degree. Now, before 1995, there was nothing immoral about it.” Prior to 1995, PIJ took credit for five terrorist attacks resulting in eight murders.
Al-Arian was being charged along with five other individuals. One of the defendants, Hatem Fariz, participated at this year’s Muslim Capitol Day. In July 2006, Fariz pled guilty in federal court to providing services to associates of PIJ and received a 37-month prison sentence. According to the indictment against him and the five others, Fariz “was a PIJ member” and did “conspire… to commit offenses against the United States… by making and receiving contributions of funds, goods, and services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
This year’s event was sponsored by several radical Muslim groups, including groups associated with terrorism. One group, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), presently has an imam, Ashrafuz Zaman Khan, who, in November 2013, was sentenced to death for his role as a death squad leader, during the 1971 genocide of Bangladesh. Khan was found responsible for the torture and murder of 18 individuals. Khan has previously served as ICNA’s National Secretary General, National Vice President, and President of ICNA’s New York chapter.
Speaking at Muslim Capitol Day were CAIR’s Hiba Abdul-Rahim, Emgage’s Vetnah “Yemen” Monessar, and State Representative Anna Vishkaee Eskamani.
Hiba Rahim is the Northwest Florida Regional Coordinator for CAIR. Rahim has also had involvement with Islamic Relief (IR). Both groups have major ties to terrorism. CAIR has financial and foundation links to Hamas, and IR has been banned by a number of nations. In September 2019, Rahim posted an anti-American screed onto Facebook accusing the last three Presidential administrations of “committing war crimes” against Muslims.
Vetnah Monessar is the Executive Director of the Florida chapter of Emgage. Monessar received her degree in Islamic studies and religion from an online university run by Bilal Philips, an “unindicted co-conspirator” of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and proponent of amputations and beheadings ‘to fight crime.’ Monessar has used her social media to promote extreme anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan. In October 2019, she spoke at an event hosted by Bassem Alhalabi, a former assistant to Sami al-Arian and who, in June 2003, was charged by the US Department of Commerce with illegally shipping a $13,000 military-grade thermal imaging device to Syria and who is also in favor of chopping off hands to deter thievery.
Anna Eskamani was elected to the Florida State House, in November 2018, representing Orlando. Eskamani grew up in a strict Iranian household, where she claims to have endured sexual repression and, as a female, “was taught not to call attention to myself.” She has spoken at CAIR functions and has been featured at events organized by former CAIR operative Rasha Mubarak, who posts photos of Hamas celebrations onto social media, ridicules Orthodox Jews, and says Israel has no right to defend herself. At the January 2018 Orlando Women’s March, Eskamani introduced Mubarak, and the two warmly embraced in front of the crowd.
Florida State Senator Annette Taddeo, who represents Miami, was elected to the State Senate in a September 2017 special election. Taddeo greeted the Muslim Capitol Day group at her Senate office with a large colorful printed sign, stating, “SENATOR TADDEO WELCOMES YOU TO MUSLIM CAPITOL DAY,” and she posted a picture from it onto her Senate Facebook and Twitter pages. The sign includes both the Muslim Capitol Day logo and the logo of the Florida Senate. Taddeo went as far as to allow event goers to pose for photos, while sitting at her desk.
For Representative Eskamani and Senator Taddeo to participate and involve themselves with such groups and individuals, like the Hamas-related CAIR and a convicted member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, is outrageous and a conflict of interests and suggests that they do not have the moral capacity or integrity to serve the public any longer. Eskamani and Taddeo should either resign or be thrown out of office for failing to safeguard their constituencies.
Organizations such as CAIR, Emgage and Islamic Relief and terrorists like Hatem Fariz and their supporters like Rasha Mubarak are threats (in the case of Fariz, a documented threat) to our social order and national security. For government officials to (literally) embrace these Islamic extremists is endangering the welfare of our citizens. All those holding public office must be called out and held accountable for their actions and be pressured into repudiating their activities or be forced from office immediately.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.