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).
The Rohingya people are a stateless people inhabiting the southwestern shore of Myanmar, formerly Burma. For the past three-plus decades, the Rohingya’s illegal status – combined with militant separatist movements (mujahideen) that have arisen from the mostly Muslim group – made it a target of numerous government crackdowns, causing the Rohingya population to flee the area, many into bordering Bangladesh, claiming refugee status. This month, Basmah, a US-based Islamic extremist organization, exploited the plight of the Rohingya by conducting a fundraiser in the Rohingya’s name, featuring various speakers linked to overseas terror.
Bangladesh American Society of Muslim Aid for Humanity (Basmah) was incorporated in the state of Florida, in May 2017. Basmah is a hardline Islamist group that only shows photos of its male staff on its website; females get a generic cartoon image of a Muslim head covering (hijab) without a face. And while the website claims that Basmah is a nonprofit “dedicated to helping people in Bangladesh,” it associates with the most dangerous of individuals. One staffer, Basmah’s Director of Donor Development Ibrahim Dremali, spent time on a federal ‘no fly’ list. Other extremist associations took part on December 5th, at Basmah’s 2020 Annual fundraiser.
One of the speakers at the event was Basmah’s resident imam, the spiritual leader at Margate, Florida’s Masjid Jamaat Al-Mumineen (MJAM), Izhar Khan. In May 2011, Khan was arrested and spent the next 20 months in a Miami federal detention center for his alleged role in shipping $50,000 to the Taliban. As stated in the indictment against him and his family, “Izhar is a Pakistani Taliban sympathizer who worked with [his father Hafiz] and others to collect and deliver money for the Pakistani Taliban… Izhar… provided and attempted to provide material support and resources… knowing and intending that they be used in preparation for and in carrying out… a conspiracy to murder, kidnap, and maim persons in a foreign country.”
Another speaker was Hamas singer Monzer Taleb. In the course of the US government’s prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), in 2007 and 2008, a video was submitted into evidence showing Taleb participating at an event, singing the following: “O Jew, O coward… I am from Hamas and have never cheered for anyone else besides her… And she is the one which marches with the light of Muhammad… towards Jihad.” On his Facebook page, Taleb has referred to Hamas militants as “SUPERHEROES” (August 2014); posted a message that Jews in Israel “should be relocated to Germany” (June 2019); and posted a photo of himself standing alongside convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) member Hatem Fariz (January 2020).
Yet another speaker at the Basmah fundraiser was imam of Brooklyn, New York’s At-Taqwa Mosque, Siraj Wahhaj. In February 1995, along with Osama bin Laden and others, Wahhaj was named by the US government an “unindicted co-conspirator” connected to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Wahhaj had been linked to the bomb-maker of the attack, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, and during the trial, he was a character witness for the spiritual leader of the attack, the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman, whom Wahhaj has openly praised. In one of his sermons, Wahhaj infamously stated about America, “In time, this so-called democracy will crumble, and there will be nothing. And the only thing that will remain will be Islam.”
Basmah does not only associate with dangerous individuals; the group also partners with dangerous organizations. Basmah sponsors tables at events organized by Islamic Relief (IR), and Basmah’s leadership promotes IR on social media. IR has been banned by a number of nations, including Israel which has labeled it a Hamas front. Another country, Bangladesh, perhaps shines a light on Basmah’s own nefarious intent. In October 2017, Bangladesh’s NGO Affairs Bureau banned IR in fear the group would conduct terrorist recruitment of Myanmar refugees. If IR was involved with such activities, who is to say that its partner, Basmah, is not?
Basmah is yet another radical Muslim “charity” operating under the guise of benevolence, while promoting and working with persons and groups with documented ties to terrorism both within and outside its organization. Furthermore, Basmah should be investigated for the role it plays in both Bangladesh and Myanmar. It is not merely the fact that the organization exploits the plight of Rohingya refugees to cynically raise money in the name of the Rohingya. If it is involved in terror recruitment, as its partner Islamic Relief is alleged to be, Basmah should be shut down and its leadership placed behind bars.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.