Joe Kaufman is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Chairman of the Joe Kaufman Security Initiative. He was the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Republican Nominee for U.S. House of Representatives (Florida-CD23).
Former Governor of Florida and current US Representative Charlie Crist is running for Governor again, so he is on the campaign trail looking for votes. Unfortunately, one of the constituencies he is seeking support from is the radical Muslim community. In Florida, this group is sizable and politically active. Last month, Congressman Crist found himself at the Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR), a mosque that has substantial links to terror and bigotry. Given his own history, one can surmise that Crist did not just wander into this particular mosque, as he has embraced Muslim extremists in the past. This article was written to expose a dangerous tendency of Crist.
ICBR was founded via the Muslim Student Organization (MSO) at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). It was incorporated in October 1998. The seed money for the building of its mosque – $600,000 – came from the Global Relief Foundation (GRF), an al-Qaeda-related charity that was shut down by the US government in December 2001 and an entity that ICBR had donated nearly $17,000 to, itself.
ICBR’s founders included Hamas website designer Syed Khawer Ahmad and current ICBR Secretary and ex-assistant to Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Sami al-Arian, Bassem Alhalabi. In 2003, Alhalabi was charged by the US Commerce Department with illegally shipping a $13,000 thermal imaging device to Syria. ICBR’s founding imam, Ibrahim Dremali, was placed on the federal no-fly list. Dremali’s replacement, Muneer Arafat, once roomed with the al-Qaeda operative who delivered the satellite phone used by Osama bin Laden to plan the ‘98 bombings of two US embassies in East Africa and admitted in court that he, himself, was a member of PIJ.
ICBR, in the past, has published violently anti-Semitic essays on its website. One, titled ‘Why can’t the Jews and Muslims live together in peace?’ described Jews as “people of treachery and betrayal” and “enemies” and spoke of a “Day of Judgement” when Muslims will “fight the Jews and kill them.” Another essay, titled ‘The importance of al-Quds for the Muslims – and do the Jews have any right to it?’ stated, “[I]t is clear that the Jews have no right to the land, whether according to religious law or in terms of who lived there first and possessed the land… We ask Allaah to rid Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) of them sooner rather than later…”
On April 14th, Congressman Crist wrote on Facebook, “Grateful to have joined the Islamic Center of Boca Raton for their Ramadan Iftar dinner last night.” Along with his message, Crist posted photos of himself with a number of individuals at the mosque. One has him standing in front of a group of people, alongside Alhalabi and ICBR President Abdulrauf Khan. Khan, who has used social media to target Jews and gays, is also the Chief Operating Officer of ICNA Relief USA, the social services division of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA). A second photo has him shaking hands with Tahsin Nabid, the Outreach Coordinator of ICNA Relief USA.
ICNA is the American arm of South Asian Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). As such, ICNA boasts several ties to South Asian extremists. For 30-plus years, ICNA has harbored Ashrafuz Zaman Khan, an alleged death squad leader from the 1971 Bangladesh Genocide, and ICNA has promoted Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), a banned front for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the terrorist group responsible for the 2008 Mumbai massacre. ICNA has further sponsored anti-Israel events, including a July 2014 pro-Hamas rally in downtown Miami, where rally goers repeatedly chanted “We are Hamas” and “Let’s go Hamas.”
A third photo has Crist arm-in-arm with Junaid Akhter, the Marketing & Public Relations Director for the South Florida Muslim Federation (SFMF), a.k.a. SoFlo Muslims. SFMF is an umbrella group for the majority of radical Muslim institutions throughout South Florida, including ICBR, ICNA and others that promote texts sanctioning female genital mutilation, death punishments for homosexuals, domestic violence against women, and condemnations of Jews, Christians, Hindus and fellow Muslims who do not buy into the same brand of extremism.
ICBR, ICNA and SFMF are not the first radical Muslim organizations Charlie Crist has embraced and aided and abetted.
In May 2005, Crist, acting as Florida Attorney General, wrote an official letter of support for a fundraiser the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was holding in Orlando. The money was being raised in an effort to establish a Central Florida CAIR office. With Crist’s help, the event was a success. Leaders from this office would include: Ahmad Saleem, who lost his job with CAIR after going to jail for conspiring to perform a sex act with a twelve-year-old girl he had been chatting with online, and Ruanne Zein, a.k.a. Ruanne Elmalawani, who resigned her position for posting anti-Jewish Holocaust jokes on social media.
Prior to his letter, Crist assisted CAIR by launching an investigation against a school bus company that CAIR had questionably accused of racism, alleging the company’s bus driver had removed and then refused to board (recent immigrant) Muslim children. According to the bus company, the students “misbehaved… and were verbally abusive to the driver.” While admitting no wrongdoing, the company agreed to establish new antidiscrimination training policies and make monetary payments of close to $37,000, almost $27,000 of which went to Crist’s office for “attorney’s fees and costs.”
Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Crist appears to be a politician who will do anything to get into the good graces of radical Muslim groups. He has no problem showing up to their mosques, shaking hands with their leaders, signing official government letters of support for their events, and helping them to take legal actions against others for potentially dubious accusations.
Crist’s shameless pandering to Islamist constituents and complicity in a CAIR ‘shakedown’ of a Florida school bus company are disturbing, dangerous and unethical. His help in the fundraising efforts to establish a CAIR office in Orlando represents more than a conflict of interests; it is a sign of his total disregard for national security. As of this writing, the CAIR office in Orlando is still up and running.
Elected officials should protect and govern, not pander and grovel to our enemies. Hopefully, the citizens of Florida will make the right choice with their votes.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.