American Heritage Schools (AHS) are a pair of high-priced college preparatory schools located in South Florida, with campuses in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. AHS calls itself the “#1 School In Florida.” It boasts the “Highest Number of National Merit Scholars” – 175 for the Class of 2023, 16 Presidential Scholars, and 168 AP/Honors courses with a “94% rate on all AP exams.” Yet, for a school(s) that would appear so smart, it just did something awfully foolish and alarming. It bragged about how one of its clubs raised $10,000 for an entity linked to terror and bigotry. If the educational institution has any integrity, it will demand the money is given back.
On March 8th, the AHS Broward campus, which is located in Plantation, proudly posted on its Facebook page about how its Arabic Club organized a Ramadan food drive to raise money for the Islamic Foundation of South Florida, a radical mosque based in Sunrise. It stated, “The Arabic Club organized a food drive for the day of Ramadan. Led by Mr. Jose Bronca, club advisor, and Mohamed Hachem, club president, the Arabic Club made the Heritage community aware of the needs of the Islamic Foundation of South Florida (IFSF)… Many people donated money to the foundation, raising $10,000. Thank you to everyone that supported this drive!”
This was shocking, given IFSF’s disturbing history.
The former Youth Director and Events Coordinator for IFSF is local Muslim activist Abdur Rahman al-Ghani. Al-Ghani believes Jews are inherently wicked. His Facebook posts have described Jews as “the children of Satan” and “demonic.” About homosexuals, he has written, “If you are gay, you are not a Muslim, you are a stone cold kaffir outside the fold of Islam. No one is born gay, it is a sickness…” He has posted a photo of Hamas militants with the caption (in part), “We love u Hamas. U are the real hero.” He has labeled the US the “World’s Number One Terrorist Organization” and wrote that Islam “will over-take the World in numbers.”
In April 2014, IFSF hosted a talk by Mazen Mokhtar, a former administrator for the now-defunct al-Qaeda financing and recruitment site, Jihad in Chechnya (qoqaz.net). The site was produced by Azzam Publications, named for the mentor of Osama bin Laden and co-founder of al-Qaeda, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam. Mokhtar has described suicide bombings as “an effective method of attacking the enemy and continuing jihad.” About Hamas, he wrote, “One of the reasons of my support for Hamas is that they have very high moral standards…” and “the operations of HAMAS are heroic…”
Of course, Abdur Rahman al-Ghani may no longer be involved with IFSF, and the Mazen Mokhtar speech was nearly a decade ago. However, recent events at IFSF and affiliations of the mosque demonstrate that the radical identity of IFSF is entirely unchanged.
Last month, IFSF hosted an event for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group with financial and foundational ties to Hamas. In December 2022, a sermon was given at IFSF by Shafayat Mohamed, an imam who has been thrown off several Broward boards for his anti-gay rhetoric and whose mosque, Darul Uloom, has been a haven for high-profile al-Qaeda operatives. In June 2022, IFSF hosted a speech by a representative from Islamic Relief, a group that has been banned by a number of nations. And in March 2022, IFSF hosted an event for the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), a group with a variety of links to South Asian terror.
IFSF and its children’s school, Salah Tawfik Elementary & Middle School (STEMS), are currently members of the South Florida Muslim Federation (SFMF), an umbrella organization for South Florida’s many extremist Muslim groups, including all of the entities mentioned already and a number of radical mosques beyond IFSF and Darul Uloom.
One of IFSF’s fellow Federation mosques is Masjid Jamaat Al-Mumineen (MJAM), which promotes on its website material: calling Jews and Christians “enemies,” sanctioning domestic violence against women, glorifying female genital mutilation, and mandating death punishments for homosexuals. In September 2021, IFSF hosted a talk by MJAM’s imam, Izhar Khan. In May 2011, the FBI accused Khan of plotting with members of his family to help finance the Taliban.
Another SFMF mosque, the Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR), was founded by a website designer for Hamas and a former assistant to a leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). In May 2021, IFSF hosted an event with ICBR founding Imam Ibrahim Dremali and IFSF Imam Sultan Mohammed, titled ‘LET’S TALK PALESTINE.’ One day prior, Dremali lauded Hamas and PIJ, saying “The only people right now in Gaza fighting are Hamas and Jihad… Don’t worry. Victory is coming soon.” Dremali also had implored people to read Protocols of the Elders of Zion and said, “If the Arab leaders open the borders for Palestine… the Jews they’ll be inside that ocean.”
Following the August 2020 explosion that devastated Beirut, Lebanon, leaving hundreds dead, thousands injured, and over $15 billion in property damage, the Arabic Club of American Heritage Schools sent two sizable containers filled with clothes, food and medicine to Beirut. It was a legitimate and commendable act, and the group was praised for doing so.
However, what was neither legitimate nor commendable was for the club to raise money for the extremist IFSF. Given the mosque’s numerous links to terrorism and bigotry, not a dime raised was warranted, let alone $10,000. Advisor Jose Bronca and AHS failed to exercise due diligence in investigating the insidious nature of their funds’ recipient. As a result, donors were duped into thinking their money would go to a worthy cause and institution.
The AHS slogan is “Knowledge, Integrity, Compassion.” AHS and its Arabic Club should live up to this motto and show ‘integrity’ by owning up to their mistake and immediately demanding that the money be returned. Providing funds to such an organization as IFSF is both immoral and a threat to security.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.