Florida International University (FIU) Vice President of Engagement Saif Ishoof likes to present a happy face to the community. Photo after photo on his twitter account shows a smiling Ishoof ‘rubbing shoulders’ with South Florida’s ‘movers and shakers.’ Yet, there is a sinister side of Ishoof that many know nothing about. Recently, a terror umbrella group for South Florida’s many radical Muslim organizations made a post onto social media referring to Ishoof as “our very own.” Given his contact with local leaders, including businessmen and politicians, and FIU’s students, this evil association is extremely alarming and jeopardizes community safety.
The South Florida Muslim Federation (SFMF) is an umbrella group for South Florida’s radical Muslim institutions. Last month, SFMF announced that it would be conducting town hall meetings led by a cast of extremist imams, including Islamic Center of South Florida (ICOSF) Imam Hasan Sabri, who has referred to the United States as the “enemy” and Masjid Jamaat Al-Mu’mineen (MJAM) Imam Izhar Khan, who was charged by the FBI with helping to finance the Taliban. Recently SFMF cut ties with its Facebook manager, Abdur Rahman al-Ghani, after it was exposed that al-Ghani made posts on social media calling Jews “demonic” and gays “evil.”
This past May, SFMF posted onto its group Facebook page a copy of a page from the Miami Today newspaper, featuring a story about FIU’s Saif Ishoof. Alluding to the image of the newspaper page, SFMF described Ishoof in its post as “our very own Saif Ishoof.”
One might ask, “Why would someone in a position of importance, such as Ishoof is, have any connection to a terror umbrella group?” Answer: While Ishoof carries the prestigious title of Vice President of Engagement at a prominent university, he has, as well, a long history of fanaticism.
Following his graduation from the University of Miami Law School, in 2000, Guyana-born Saif Yamani Ishoof became an organizer for the now-defunct Miami-based March for Justice, an extreme anti-Israel group then-headed by Muslim Brotherhood operative Nidal Sakr. In March 2014, Sakr was handcuffed and detained by US Homeland Security after fleeing Egypt, where he was an advisor and rally organizer for the Brotherhood and where he soon would be sentenced to death for the murder of an Egyptian police officer. Since then, while in the US, Sakr has called for President Trump’s “execution” and has said that Israel will be “obliterated.”
In October 2002, at the University of Miami, Ishoof organized a March for Justice event that labeled then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon “the world’s longest standing terrorist” and Israel an “illegitimate state.” Ishoof said he was “outraged” that his former university would host then-senior advisor to Sharon, Raanan Gissin, referring to Gissin as “a mouthpiece of state sponsored terrorism.” Both Ishoof and Sakr were listed as the contacts for the event.
In November 2006, Ishoof co-founded Emgage Action (formerly Emerge USA), an Islamist group and current SFMF member organization that attempts to pass its extremist agenda off as political advocacy. [Ishoof’s wife, Amira, is also a co-founder of Emgage and represents Emgage on the Dean’s Advisory Council of FIU’s Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs.] In March 2015, when FIU announced Ishoof’s appointment as VP of Engagement, the school stated in its press release that Ishoof “serves as co-founder and trustee of EmergeUSA.”
Ishoof explained the beginnings of Emgage, during a March 2014 interview: “Born immediately after 9/11, Khurram Wahid and I were some of the only Muslim attorneys here and together, we started what is today Emerge USA. It first began in 2006 as the Center for Voter Advocacy, to encourage Muslim Americans and minority engagement in civic organization. In 2008, we went through a rebrand into Emerge USA.”
Fellow Emgage co-founder and current Chairman Khurrum Wahid is a lawyer for high profile terrorists and was a national legal advisor and local Director for the Hamas-related Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Both CAIR and Islamic Relief, a group that has been banned in a number of countries, are listed as ‘Partners’ on Emgage’s most recent annual report. According to the Miami New Times, Wahid was placed on a federal terrorist watch list, in 2011.
The South Florida Director of Emgage is Syed Ammar Ahmed. In February 2010, following a debate he participated in at a school, Ahmed wrote on Facebook, “I hate white people” and joked that he “should have threatened to blow up the school.”
During his involvement with Emgage, Ishoof became a Director for Cooper City-based Nur-Ul-Islam Academy, a Muslim children’s school whose former Vice President was Hamas fundraiser Raed Awad. Awad was the Florida representative for the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), a Hamas charity that was shut down by the US government in December 2001. According to corporation records, Ishoof was officially named a director of the school in January 2008, at a time when the home page of the Nur-Ul-Islam website contained links to websites that advocate terror and bigotry, including a link to islamway.com, a site that encouraged its viewers to donate to Hamas.
In the 2013 Annual Report for Emgage (Emerge USA), a photograph is found of a smiling Ishoof standing with South Florida Muslim Federation Executive Director Nezar Hamze and SFMF Public Relations Director Wilfredo Ruiz. At the time, both Hamze and Ruiz were working for CAIR; Ruiz still is.
For Ishoof to cavort with leaders of a Hamas-related group is certainly a legitimate concern. And that concern is heightened by the fact that Hamze and Ruiz are now heading up SFMF, and SFMF is claiming that Ishoof is one of the group’s “very own.”
Saif Ishoof has undue access to South Florida’s most influential persons and very disturbing access to college youth. Given his radical background and given the probability that he is continuing to involve himself with extremist Muslims, FIU needs to investigate the matter and take action. Ishoof’s association with fanatical Islamic groups and individuals must not be ignored!
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.