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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Danya Shakfeh: " Ms. Jihad U " How Sami Al Arian's cronies push an Islamist agenda at the University of Southern Florida

Danya Shakfeh: " Ms. Jihad U " How Sami Al Arian's cronies push an Islamist agenda at the University of Southern Florida

March 30, 2006

Danya Shakfeh: Ms Jihad U: How Sami Al Arian's cronies push an Islamist agenda at the University of Southern Florida

March 29, 2006


Danya Shakfah aka Salika Sulfisticate and her brother Ibrahim.

Danya's radical Islamist agenda includes support for Al Arian, working for CAIR, and trying to push related issues via her position in the student government. She refers to Judaism as "an alleged religion". Danya's mother Samar (who is also an USF student) and father Samir aided and abetted the founder of Palestinian Islamic Jihad Sami Al Arian.

Pictures and documentation from the blog which she removed were saved and can be found here:http://www.americansagainsthate.com/SalikaSufisticate.htm

(Her father Samer is listed as director on the registration for Al Arian's Islamic Academy in Tampa. The school had it's vouchers revoked because of terrorism funding.The Shakfeh's contributed $10,000 dollars to the 'school'.)

At present her father Samir Shakfeh is the director of The Advanced Women's Health Center.

(He lost a malpractice suit ) (see below)

Her mother Samar Al Hennawi Shakfeh runs a company registered as Amana LLC.

Both Samar, and Samir Shakfeh's names appeared in court documents at the trial. Danya also attacked MIM in her blog many pages of which were removed after publication of this article.


File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML
from Islamic Concern Project. payable to Islamic Academy of ... Hamoui, Saad Saad, Mustafa Alvi, Dawood. Alisha Syed, Samir and Sama Shakfeh...
www.flmd.uscourts.gov/Al-Arian/ 8-03-cr-00077-JSM-TBM/docs/2186212/0.pdf - Similar pages


Ms. Jihad U

By Joe Kaufman

January 15, 2002, the Student Government of the University of South Florida (USF) voted to support USF President Judy Genshaft's decision to fire Sami Al-Arian from his job as a professor with the school. The nearly decade-long investigation into Al-Arian's involvement with an overseas terrorist organization had finally taken a toll on the university. Two weeks later, on January 28th, the student newspaper, The Oracle, on its website, published letters to the editor about the vote, written by members of the Student Government senate. One of the letters drew the ire of a teenage girl named Danya Shakfeh. In the future, she would see to it that this "problem" would not be repeated.

The Resolution

I received a couple of e-mails from an anonymous source, which contained links to documents that were said to be of interest to me. Respectively, they were a USF Student Government resolution against my group and the minutes to the March 6, 2006 Student Government meeting where the Senate voted on it. The resolution, which specified the organization I chair by name, quoted a press release put out by us concerning an event taking place at USF, sponsored by the Muslim American Society of Tampa (MAS-Tampa). It read, [sic] "Whereas, the American Against Hate weblog states, ‘if USF hosts MAS-Tampa's 2006 Olympics, it would give the appearance that USF approves of MAS-Tampa's propagation of hatred and violence towards non-Muslims, as witnessed on the group's website.'"

Our organization believed that it was outrageous for a state-run university to allow a group – a group whose website curses Jews and Christians and calls for waging war against non-Muslims – to use school grounds. Statements found on MAS-Tampa's e-Library, include: "A Muslim must always worship Allah and wage jihad until death in order to reach his ultimate goal… Regularly make the intention to go on jihad with the ambition to die as a martyr." And "The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: ‘May Allah curse Jews and Christians for they turned the graves of their Prophets into places of worship.'"

The quote from our press release, found in the resolution, was one of the few things contained in the resolution that had any basis in fact. The USF document states, "Whereas, bloggers are not a reliable source of information and can easily be a tool to spread lies and false accusations towards the Muslims in Tampa." In an effort to minimize the impact our organization has had in the arena of counter-terrorism, the author has erroneously labeled us as "bloggers." Americans Against Hate, in fact, is a civil rights organization and terrorist watchdog group. We hold rallies, publish articles, put out press releases, work with law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and give lectures, all in an effort to alert and educate the public and assist in the safety and security of our nation. Second, every bit of information we put out is backed up by source material. Nothing is made up! To say that we are making "false accusations" or "spreading lies" is a lie in itself.

Another blaring mistruth in the resolution is the following: [sic] "Whereas, the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Muslims Student Association (MSA) are both peaceful organizations." Now, the truth: Both the MAS and the MSA were created by members of the violent Muslim Brotherhood. As such, both propagate a radical strain of Islam. This is indicative in the speakers that they bring to their venues and the material they disseminate.

The resolution overwhelmingly passed, 21-6, with 2 abstentions. How was this possible? According to the person that e-mailed this to me, the piece was shoved through, last minute, so no one had a chance to research the matter. That being the case, wouldn't it make sense for them to have voted to review the matter on a later date? Obviously, that did not happen. So what did happen? A clue can be found at the bottom of the resolution, where the author's name is located. It was none other than the girl that wrote the reply to the student paper's Al-Arian editorial, Danya Shakfeh.

Who is Danya?

Danya Shakfeh is a 19 year-old student at USF. She has a very strong Islamic identity, having taken it upon herself to practice the religion at a very early age. Shakfeh's parents, both of which are Hernando County doctors, were born and raised in Syria. She, herself, refers to Syria as "the motherland." Her father, Samir, is an attending obstetrician at Spring Hill Regional Hospital, the scene of a neurological injury to an infant that had occurred in 2001, to which he was successfully sued for medical malpractice.

Her mother, Samar, along with physician Ayman Osman, run two area medical centers. Their business came under scrutiny, when it was discovered that the manager of the facilities, Hatem Fariz, was working with Sami Al-Arian to finance overseas suicide operations for Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Osman, who had previously given over $30,000 to the Global Relief Foundation – a large Islamic charity shut down by the U.S. for funding Al-Qaeda and Hamas – has been questioned for his ties to Al-Arian, as well. Osman was on the Board of Directors of the children's school founded by Al-Arian, the Islamic Academy of Florida (IAF). IAF had its government funded student vouchers revoked, in 2003, for being part of the "PIJ enterprise." Shakfeh's parents, whose names appear on courtroom documents with regard to the Al-Arian trial, were also active in IAF. Samar was President of the academy's PTA, and both had donated thousands of dollars to the school.

Shakfeh, a former student at IAF, has, too, been involved with Islamic radicals. Throughout 2004, she held the position of News Editor for the Tampa chapter of the United Muslims Association (UMA). UMA, as its unacronymed name infers, brought all Tampa-area Islamic institutions (mosques, schools, organizations, and taskforces) together under one umbrella. In doing so, UMA regularly came to the defense of Sami Al-Arian and his fellow terrorists. In addition, while Shakfeh was with UMA, the group told its website viewers to "become a member of" the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), two groups with significant ties to Muslim fanatics.

Today, Shakfeh is a Course Correspondent (Teaching Assistant) for SunniPath, an online Islamic academy, which like MAS-Tampa, has a website filled with hate and violence. In the SunniPath e-Library, under the section ‘Fighting the Jews,' it is stated, "The Final Hour will not come until you fight the Jews and until the stone behind which the Jew is hiding calls out, ‘O Muslim! This Jew is behind me, so kill him!'"

Shakfeh is also affiliated with one of the aforementioned groups, CAIR, with whom she attends "executive meetings" for its Tampa chapter. This bit of information is located on a weblog that she created (Salika Sufisticate) and that she posts to, on a near daily basis.

Danya the ‘Blogger'

Shakfeh is very into blogging on the internet. [A weblog – blog for short – is a website that acts as a personal journal.] This is interesting, as stated previously, she wrote in her USF resolution against my group that "bloggers are not a reliable source of information" and are "a tool to spread lies."

Last week, Shakfeh posted to her weblog a page devoted to ‘The Doha Debates: Recognizing Hamas,' whereby the audience, who is responsible for the outcome of the event, overwhelmingly voted in favor of the international community's acceptance of Hamas "as a political partner." This in itself would not be a crime, except for the fact that Shakfeh devotes entire pages to fellow Palestinian terrorist Sami Al-Arian. She includes a full-color picture of the Islamic Jihad leader, in her page entitled, ‘FREE SAMI AL-ARIAN.' On another page, she posts numerous photos from a recent rally for Al-Arian. Ahmed Bedier, the Director of CAIR-Tampa and unofficial spokesperson for Al-Arian, is shown prominently in the pictures. She devotes pages to Bedier, as well. Bedier has stated that, prior to 1995, there was "nothing immoral" about Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

On her blog, Shakfeh praises anti-Jewish and anti-Christian Islamic "scholar" Abdallah Ibn Alawi Al-Haddad. On her page entitled, ‘Why I love Imam Al-Haddad,' she writes, [sic] "I recently (well no so recently) read Imam Al-Haddad's Lives of Man and I think he is an absolute genius masha'Allah!" In the book, Al-Haddad states, "People in the second category will remain in the fire [Hell] forever: they include the Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians and others who are all to remain in the Fire permanently." He (Al-Haddad) then quotes from the Quran, by stating, "Those who disbelieve and die as disbelievers, upon them is the curse of G-d, and of the angels and men combined. Eternally therein: the torment will not be lightened for them, nor will they be reprieved." [Surah 2: 161-162]

Shakfeh displays her own contempt for Jews, when, in discussing the koshering of food, she refers to the Jewish religion as "their alleged faith." She writes, "I was no longer convinced by the ‘People of Book' argument. Not because I don't believe they are really People of the Book but the fact is, they don't slaughter these animals according to any book, regardless of their alleged faith."

According to her blog, Shakfeh has been active in her university's Muslim Students Association (MSA). She states, on her blog, that she controls an MSA listserv, from which she sends e-mails. She also discusses the misogynistic tendencies of the male members of the MSA. She says that because "the graduates of the Islamic schools do not [know] how to assimilate into university life," the guys from the MSA, who all attended Muslim high schools, "had a hard time when a female was in leadership."

Danya's ‘Blogroll'

Shakfeh's weblog contains a blogroll or links section, complete with a full array of extremist sites. They include:

  • A Mother From Gaza. In her blog, "journalist" Laila El-Haddad gushes over new Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah, whom she recently met. She states, "My first impression of Haniya (besides his towering height) was his warmth and casual demeanor. I also couldn't help [from] noticing his eyes… They are these soft emerald-grey-green colour that somehow leave you at ease when you talk to him." She proudly says she also met former Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi, and number 2, in her "top ten" most memorable moments in the last two years, was her meeting with Sheikh Ahmed Yasin, the founder and former spiritual leader of Hamas. [Both Rantisi and Yasin were executed by the Israelis.]
  • Brilliance of Islam. This blogger features pictures of Fatah and Hamas fighters and laments over the imprisonment of Holocaust denier, David Irving. He/she also repeats the often heard martyr's mantra, "A believer wants his death more than life so that he could meet Allah."
  • Izzy Mo's Blog. This "Southern-born Muslima" gives long talks about her attendance at ISNA and MAS conferences. In her blog, she lauds potential co-conspirator to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, Siraj Wahhaj, as a "Notable Muslim of African Descent."
  • idealmotion (a.k.a. Jenn's Blog). Jennifer Valko runs this blog. She has been active with the MAS, CAIR, UMA and MSA. This past New Year's, Valko was the contact for a jihad retreat sponsored by MAS-Tampa. The retreat featured Mazen Mokhtar, the developer of a website that, prior to 9/11, raised finances and recruited fighters for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. On Valko's blog, she lauds co-defendant in the Al-Arian trial, Sameeh Hammoudeh, as "such a sweet brother, big heart." She said he had her and her Arabic class over his house for dinner.
  • Realm of Truth (a.k.a. Jinnzaman's Blog). This blog is run by Abdul Haqq, whose entire interests include "Jihad of the Sword and Heart." Haqq is not happy with those that "try to define Jihad solely as being defensive," and he does not recognize Israel as a legitimate state. He writes of a chilling future, when he states, "The victory of HAMAS and the Muslim Brotherhood in elections, the continued persistency of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the formation of an entrenched Iraqi resistance, Muslim protests against Western hegemony… are we finally witnessing the long-awaited Islamic response to imperialism?... Islam is coming up from the underground and it will seize the day." He also says that he wants the MSA to take "active steps" to "instigate" an "Islamic revolution."
  • Mujahideen Ryder. This blogger rates the conferences of various North American radical Islamist groups. He also devotes a page to Siraj Wahhaj, whom he states "has done a lot for Islam in North America. May Allah continue to bless him!"
  • Sunni Sister. On this blog, one can find pictures of "peaceful" Palestinian children. One is parading around with a Hamas flag. Under it appear the words: "al Nakba," translated "the catastrophe," a reference to the creation of the state of Israel. And one is about to slingshot a rock at an Israeli. Under this pic is the statement: "Listen to the stones as they dent the pride of Goliath."

Al-Arian Ending

On October 12, 2004, Danya Shakfeh triumphantly posted to an MSA discussion board the following revelation: "Salamaat everyone, we now have TWO new Muslim senators, Rehana and Ramzy, YA!!" By "Rehana and Ramzy," she meant Rehana Hakeem, her cousin and fellow UMA activist, and Ramzy Kilic, an MSA officer and the author of an Oracle letter to the editor, entitled, ‘Reasons for Al-Arian arrest unjustified.' The USF Student Government, which manages the activity and service fees for the university (campus recreation, lecture series, student organizations, etc.), was going through a sea change. If USF was not to defend Al-Arian, then USF was to become Al-Arian!

Judy Genshaft, in her official statement about the firing, is quoted as saying, "We have determined that USF must sever all ties to Sami Al-Arian once and for all." But did the school, in fact, sever all ties to this man – the man that is said to have been the North American leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad – the man that personally saved the terror organization from financial collapse? It seems that, in the case of the University of South Florida, even while behind bars, Al-Arian's presence is still felt, and the inmates are in control of the asylum.


Blogger User profile of Danya Shakfeh

About Me

I am an 18 year old university student. I am double majoring in international studies and communication and insha'Allah seek to further study in the motherland (Syria) the traditional Islamic sciences.


Favorite Music

Favorite Books


MIM: A page from Shakfah's hastily erased blog includes a message from Muhajideen Ryder. A photo of him in a suicide bomber headdress and mask appears on his site.

Salika Sufisticate

Journey in a Wayfarer's Journey


Happy Birthday Ibraheem

Posted in Daily Ramblings at 2:59 pm by Danya

Today my brother is turning 18, happy birthday. I love you :)



  1. Jenn said,

    January 26, 2006 at 6:18 pm · Edit

    does ur bro have a blog?

  2. Danya said,

    January 26, 2006 at 6:20 pm · Edit


  3. Salman said,

    January 27, 2006 at 1:13 am · Edit

    Salamu ‘Alaykum

    This may be out of place but seeing your posts on speeding and tickets I thought youd be interested in this:


    Wasalam : )

  4. talkislam said,

    January 27, 2006 at 2:56 am · Edit

    allahu akbar, may Allah (swt) grant him and us all a more light to understand His Glory with every second that we grow

  5. Mujahideen Ryder said,

    January 28, 2006 at 1:33 am · Edit

    this is biddah!!!!! grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr


Leave a Comment


Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

We arrived in Makkah a couple of days ago and I have to say, I feel like I'm in another world. Makkah and Madinah are very different cities. Subhanallah. Madinah was cosier and I felt more at home. When I left Madinah, I really missed the Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم). I feel like I had gotten to know him and that I had left a piece of my heart in his home. Despite the awesome decor and architecture of his (صلي الله عليه و سلم) mosque, the little green dome is so humble and very befitting of his character and the mark he left behind.

Makkah feels very big. It's not so snug. I feel awestruck. I look at the Kaaba and wonder, "Whoa, is it really in front of me?" All those pictures I've seen just came to life. This morning, the tawaf circle was almost as big as te court area around the Kaaba. It's really larger than life. I walk around the Haram and I just hear all the pleas to our Creator and Sustainer. It rings in my ears and I even hear it in my sleep. Subhanallah.

Alhamdulillah, I got to do Umrah twice now. The best time to go is between 1 - 4 a.m. It's pretty cool and not terribly crowded.

Wa sallahumma ala sayyidina Muhammad wa ala wa sahabihi tasliman kathira.


MIM :Posting on a weblog in which Shakfeh boasts of her travels to terror countries like Syria which she refers to as 'the motherland' and Lebanon. Her father's connections with Sami Al Arian and Palestinian Islamic Jihad means that the Shakfeh's have many connections in the Middle East.

Hi everyone, my name is Danya Shakfeh and I live in Florida. Word. I am 18 years old and am a junior in university double majoring in international studies and communications. My parents are from Syria. I like going to New Mexico. My favorite color is blue. My favorite food is (can't decide).

This summer I spent my time in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, and New Mexico. Last week I went to Chicago.

I don't like ignorance and I really don't like when people chew with their mouths open.

Any questions?


Danya Shakfeh

MIM: The resolution proposed by USF senator Danya Shakfeh to ignore information on blogs because "they can easily be tool to spread false lies and hate" .Perhaps this explains why she took down her blog immediately after the above article appeared!

University of South Florida

File Format: Microsoft Word - View as HTML
Maxon Victor, Student Body President Date. Author: Danya Shakfeh, College of Arts and Sciences. Sponsor: Danya Shakfeh, College of Arts and Sciences.
www.sg.usf.edu/files/Resolution%203.doc - Similar pages

University of South Florida

Student Government

Resolution # 03

46th Term

Spring 2006

Whereas, bloggers are not a reliable source of information and can easily be a tool to spread lies and false accusations towards the Muslims in Tampa.

Whereas, bloggers are not authorities on political affairs in and of themselves.

Whereas, the American Against Hate weblog states, "if USF hosts MAS-Tampa's 2006 Olympics, it would give the appearance that USF approves of MAS-Tampa's propagation of hatred and violence towards non-Muslims, as witnessed on the group's website."

Whereas, the Muslim American Society (MAS) and the Muslims Student Association (MSA) are both peaceful organizations.

Whereas, the University of South Florida has yet to complain about MAS's usage of their facilities for the "MAS Olympics".

Whereas, Dr. Sami al-Arian has been found Not Guilty by a jury of peers on 8 counts and acquitted on the remaining 11 counts (Source: United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida).

Therefore, be it resolved, the University of South Florida Student Government does not believe nor entertain such baseless accusations and by supporting and hosting this event, USF is not propagating hatred and violence as USF believes that no such threat exists. Moreover, a blog will not affect the University of South Florida Student Government's decision to host the MAS Olympics or any other decisions regarding the Muslim community.

Date Introduced: ______________ Date Passed/Failed: _______________

Vote: ______For ______Against ______Abstain ______Acclimation



"...Danya Shakfeh, 18, Hakeem's cousin and an international studies major from Spring Hill, began wearing a hijab when she was 10.

"It's a statement that says I am who I am," Shakfeh said. "I want you to look at me for what I am, not what I look like."

Many non-Muslims have the wrong impression of the hijab, said Shakfeh, whose mother, also a student at USF, wears one.

"They assume that because we cover, we're back 200 years ago," Shakfeh said. "They think it's oppression. We don't see it that way..."

Hijab Sign Of Modesty, Pride For USF Wearers (Tampa Tribune)

TAMPA - On a college campus where hot weather and MTV make shoulder-baring tank tops and above-the-knee skirts the norm for many women, Rehana Hakeem's modest attire makes her stand out.

The 18-year-old University of South Florida freshman, who is Muslim, scribbles notes like the rest of her Introduction to Philosophy class.

Unlike them, Hakeem is dressed in khaki pants, a long- sleeved black T-shirt and a traditional Muslim head scarf, known as a hijab.

Her light green hijab matches her Kate Spade handbag. Her T-shirt reads "Hijab: Oppression or Liberation. I'll decide."

Hakeem, born and raised in Plant City, is a bubbly, thoroughly modern young woman. The daughter of a surgeon father, and a mother who manages an apartment complex, Hakeem plans on becoming a dentist.

She also is among a growing number of female Muslim students at USF who follow the dictates of the Koran by wearing a hijab and loose-fitting clothing. According to the Koran, Muslim women should dress in clothes that do not accentuate the shape of their bodies and cover all but their hands and faces.

Garment A Sign Of Modesty

Wearing a hijab is something many, but not all, Muslim women choose after the age of puberty as a sign of modesty and religious devotion.

About half of the roughly 250 to 400 female Muslin students on campus wear hijabs, said Hassan Sultan, president of USF's Muslim Student Association.

The practice has received more attention on campus after the school said on Sept. 10 it would petition the National Collegiate Athletic Association to allow a Muslim basketball player to wear a head scarf, long-sleeve jersey and long pants on the court.

The player, Andrea Armstrong, later quit the team, saying she did not want to become a distraction to her teammates.

USF students who wear the scarfs call it a liberating experience, a declaration of faith that has brought them closer to their religion. They say have experienced few problems on campus.

It has also become a bond at a school where Muslims number fewer than 1,000 out of a student body of nearly 42,000.

Groups of friends exchange them. They hold "hijab parties" to encourage women who have started to wear them.

Choosing to wear a hijab is a decision made after much introspection, students such as Hakeem say.

"It's not a phase you're going to grow out of," she said. "It's a serious decision you don't take lightly."

Hakeem began wearing a hijab at age 15, while in high school, the only Muslim student at Tampa's Academy of the Holy Names, a Catholic girl's school.

Hoping To Dispel Stereotypes

She had been thinking of wearing a hijab for some time, but decided to do so after the Sept. 11 attacks. She wanted to identify herself publicly as a Muslim.

"I'm not a bold person," Hakeem said. "But I thought it would be a good thing for people to see there are good Muslims out there."

That was the experience of many other young Muslims, who felt if they were more apparent about their faith it could dispel anti-Muslim sentiment, said Ahmed Bedier, Florida communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"People would recognize that my neighbor is Muslim, my co-worker is Muslim, and they're not bad people," Bedier said.

Danya Shakfeh, 18, Hakeem's cousin and an international studies major from Spring Hill, began wearing a hijab when she was 10.

"It's a statement that says I am who I am," Shakfeh said. "I want you to look at me for what I am, not what I look like."

Many non-Muslims have the wrong impression of the hijab, said Shakfeh, whose mother, also a student at USF, wears one.

"They assume that because we cover, we're back 200 years ago," Shakfeh said. "They think it's oppression. We don't see it that way."

Mehnaz Ismail is one of a group of Muslim students seated at a table outside the USF library discussing what the hijab means to them.

"It's like this indescribable feeling," said Ismail, 21, an English education major from Tampa. "Once I started wearing it, I felt so complete inside, so much closer to God. I regretted not wearing it before."

Both Ismail and her sister Mahwish, a 19-year-old sophomore, wear a hijab. Mehnaz Ismail remembers the day in January 2001, when at 17, she took the step shortly before starting at USF.

Their younger sister, who was 14 at the time, wore a hijab, but Ismail was hesitant because of what some people might think.

"That's such a silly thing to not follow your religion because you're afraid people are going to stare at you," she says.

Four years later, Ismail said, "I feel weird without it. It's such a large part of my life."

Ismail said wearing a hijab makes her feel she must be a role model because non-Muslims will form impressions about all Muslims based on her behavior.

"I just have to be a better person, because I'm carrying this flag with me wherever I go," she said.

Mahwish Ismail started wearing a hijab just after her 16th birthday, when she was a student at Wharton High School. She returned from winter break wearing it.

"I got a lot of surprised looks from a lot of people," says Ismail, whose book bag sports a button reading "I am a Muslim. Ask me about Islam."

"You find out who your friends are," she said. "Some people avoid you, and some people want to get to know you better."

These young women say wearing a hijab hasn't slowed them down on the athletic field.

Last March, 2,500 Muslim students from across Florida, and as far away as North Carolina and Alabama, came to USF for the Muslim-American Society Olympics. The day included volleyball and soccer tournaments for the women, who played dressed in hijabs, long-sleeve shirts and long track pants.

The Tampa team, on which Hakeem, then a high school student, played, won both events.

"We had no problems," she said. "We kicked everyone's butt."



Local ties to Islamic school are intricate

Four members of the board of the Islamic Academy of Florida are from Hernando County.

By ROBERT KING, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 16, 2003

The Islamic Academy of Florida, recently described in a federal indictment as a base of operations for a local terrorist cell, is in Hillsborough County. But its ties to Hernando County are strong -- stronger than geography alone would suggest.

Four of the 10 people who sit on the Islamic Academy's board of trustees are from Hernando.

The school is owned by the North American Islamic Trust, the same Saudi-backed organization that owns Hernando County's lone mosque.

And the trust's president, Dr. Bassam Osman, is the brother of Dr. Ayman Osman, a Hernando County physician and Islamic Academy board member.

Founded in 1992 by University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian, the Islamic Academy lists its mission as encouraging the religious, academic and social growth of its students.

Yet in the federal indictment unsealed last month, the Islamic Academy earned seven mentions in relation to Al-Arian and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an organization the U.S. government says is committed to the use of violence to thwart the Middle East peace process.

Already, the terrorism indictments had hit close to home for Hernando County.

One of the eight men indicted was Hatem Fariz, who moved to Spring Hill from Chicago last year. Alleged to be one of Al-Arian's "co-conspirators," Fariz was the practice manager for Dr. Ayman Osman, whose two Hernando offices have been searched by the FBI.

The indictments also raise questions about the Islamic Academy, a school clearly with more than casual ties to Hernando County.

The people in a position to best answer those questions -- local parents and board members -- have adopted a code of silence.

What little has been said came two weeks ago when the Times had a brief interview with Dr. Samir Shakfeh and his wife, Samar, the Islamic Academy's Parent Teacher Association president. They described the academy as a drug-free, violence-free school with a strong academic mission.

Mrs. Shakfeh, who also is a member of Islamic Academy's board of trustees, said she had served on the budget committee and felt certain that money donated to the school had not been diverted. She also expressed certainty that the school's arrested officers would eventually be cleared.

Yet, Mrs. Shakfeh has declined to answer follow-up questions. Other academy board members from Hernando County -- Dr. Allam Reheem, Nuha Armashi and Osman -- have not responded to phone messages, faxes and hand-delivered letters from the Times. The same is true of the school's principal and board chairman.

The indictment alleges that the Islamic Academy was, effectively, a base of support for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a group said to be responsible for the murders of more than 100 people in Israel and its occupied territories.

It says the academy's offices were used to communicate with Islamic Jihad operatives. And it says a woman seeking to support the Palestinian cause was told simply to write a check to the academy.

Along with Al-Arian, the indictment prompted the arrest of the Islamic Academy's treasurer, Sameeh Hammoudeh, and a raid of the school's offices by federal agents, who carted out more than a dozen boxes of materials.

Key questions remain.

Was the Islamic Academy a front for an operation to raise money for terrorism? Have donations that were intended for academic purposes been diverted to terrorists? And what kind of oversight did board members provide to safeguard their school from subterfuge?

Norman Gross thinks such questions deserve answers.

As chairman of the Anti-Hate Committee for the Greater Florida B'nai B'rith, an international Jewish organization, Gross has long been concerned about Al-Arian's association with groups involved in terrorism against Israel.

Now, Gross said, board members at the Islamic Academy should be talking about what has been going on within their school. "Where does the money go? There doesn't seem to be any real accountability," Gross said.

After numerous tries to gain comment from Islamic Academy representatives, the Times was contacted by a Tampa representative of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and asked to stop harassing people affiliated with the school.

Council spokesman Ahmed Bedier said the allegations in the indictment are levied against individuals, not the Islamic Academy itself. He notes that the University of South Florida received similar mentions.

"It's basically saying that -- wherever those people worked or lived -- those are places that might have been fronts to do those things," Bedier said. "It's not necessarily the type of organization it was -- an Islamic school. It could have happened everywhere else."

The school's Web site says there are 313 students enrolled at the Islamic Academy this year. Despite Hernando's substantial representation on the board, the Shakfehs said only six or seven children from Hernando County attend the academy.

The holders of the title to the school property, the North American Islamic Trust, also holds title to the mosque at 130th Ave. E in Temple Terrace and the Hernando mosque at 6307 Barclay Avenue in Spring Hill.

The trust owns about 27 percent of the 1,200 mosques in the United States. Its president, Dr. Bassam Osman, did not return calls. Nor did Dr. Husam Shuayb, whom local property records list as the local contact for the North American Islamic Trust.

Shuayb's son, local dentist Mohammad Shuayb, flatly rejected an e-mail request from the Times for an interview.

"There is nothing to talk about," he said. "The continuous assault on Islam by the media is unprecedented. We have no trust in the media. No news at this point is the best news. We have no 'need' to talk about anything."

-- Times researchers Cathy Wos and Caryn Baird contributed to this report, which includes information from Times files. Robert King covers Spring Hill and can be reached at 848-1432. Send e-mail to [email protected] .



"...Shakfeh said she and her husband have given the academy $10,000 over the past two years in donations beyond what they spent on tuition..."

Al-Arian, doctor had contact

Hernando physician Ayman Osman was on the board of a Muslim school founded by Sami Al-Arian, who is accused of leading a terrorist organization.

By ROBERT KING, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 25, 2003

SPRING HILL -- Dr. Ayman Osman has described his relationship with Sami Al-Arian, accused last week of being the North American leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as only casual -- not really friends.

But Osman is one of 10 people who serve on the board of directors for the Islamic Academy of Florida, a school for Muslim children in Tampa that was founded by Al-Arian. Osman has raised cash for the school. He has two children who go there.

Osman and Al-Arian saw each other at least once a month for school business that included meetings outside of the board room, said Samar Shakfeh of Spring Hill, the president of the Islamic Academy's PTA as well as a member of the board.

"They were friends," said Shakfeh, whose husband, Samir Shakfeh, is a doctor in Hernando County too. "How close I don't know."

A woman who once answered Osman's phones said Al-Arian used to call there every day. Another former worker said that Osman gave free medical treatment to Fedaa Al-Najjar, who is married to Al-Arian's brother-in-law.

Then there was Osman's office manager -- Hatem Fariz.

Fariz, a 30-year-old resident of Spring Hill, was named in a federal indictment last week as a key player in Al-Arian's efforts to raise money for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a group the government says is responsible for the murder of more than 100 people in Israel and the occupied territories.

In one passage, the indictment said Fariz and Al-Arian were overheard talking on the phone last September about collecting donations from Fariz's employer. At the time, Fariz worked for Osman, though the indictment does not mention Osman by name.

The connection was tight enough that FBI agents spent a full day raiding Osman's two Hernando County offices. The FBI would not discuss whether Osman is a suspect. But some residents in Spring Hill said the FBI has asked them questions about Osman.

Osman, who was not available for comment Monday, said last week that he is not a suspect in the case and has only encouraged his staff to cooperate with authorities. If Fariz was involved in terrorist fundraising, Osman said, it must have occurred before Osman hired him last year. As a doctor, Osman said, he couldn't support any cause that promotes "senseless acts of evil."

Yet Osman has given more than $30,000 to the Global Relief Foundation, a non-profit organization that has been under investigation for terrorist connections. Other local Muslims, including the Shakfehs, said they have given money to Global Relief. They said giving opportunities were presented to them -- even at the mosque in Hernando County -- as an opportunity to help the poor.

Osman's former employees have said they never saw fundraising activities of any kind in their offices. But there were other things they couldn't explain.

Osman and Fariz had a habit of stockpiling free drug samples left by pharmaceutical company representatives and, then, the drugs would disappear overnight. Even the pens and pads of papers given to staffers by the drug representatives were collected by Osman and Fariz, one staffer said, so they could be given to charities.

Office workers said both men zealously guarded mail deliveries and faxes and that no one else was allowed to look at them or handle them.

Those workers asked not to be identified by the Times for fear of reprisals.

Linda Hoins, a former billing clerk for Osman, said she was allowed to mail out bills, but never to take in the cash. Osman took it all, she said.

Workers said such procedures were outside the norm of their experiences at other offices.

Fariz came to Spring Hill last year from Chicago, where he was president of the Chicago Islamic Center and the listed agent for a charity known as the American Muslim Care Network.

Osman said he hired Fariz after he answered a help wanted ad.

Both Osman and Fariz both sent their school-age children to Al-Arian's Islamic Academy. The children rode the same academy bus with the Shakfeh children, the Shakfehs said.

Al-Arian founded the academy 11 years ago. It has grown from 23 students -- three of them Al-Arian's -- to more than 250. The school, with children from kindergarten to grade 12, boasts a teaching staff of about 35. It sits on 14 acres in an unincorporated swath near Temple Terrace in Hillsborough County.

Al-Arian taught classes several days a week. He has said in the past that he took no salary from the school. Most academy students go on to graduate from college, according to the school.

Samar Shakfeh said she was not concerned that the negative attention drawn to the academy might cost it its non-profit status or its private financial support. She is convinced that the school "will come out clear."

"I have no doubt in my mind the school is running a perfectly legal operation," said Mrs. Shakfeh. "I see the budget and there is not a penny that goes outside the school, much less outside the country."

Shakfeh said she and her husband have given the academy $10,000 over the past two years in donations beyond what they spent on tuition.

-- Robert King covers Spring Hill and can be reached at 848-1432. Send e-mail to [email protected] . Times staff writer Graham Brink contributed to this report.


MIM: The perfidiousness and vile cynicism of the Muslims involved in the terrorist group run by Al Arian is highlighted by this account of an interfaith event with Mazen Najjar, the brother in law of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader, who was deported from the United States because of terrorism activities.

"...About 350 people from various religious denominations took part in a service at the Islamic Academy of Florida in Temple Terrace. Speakers touted faith in God, tolerance and hope for greater understanding.

Pilar Saad, president of the United Muslim Association, cried while describing the fear of retaliation many local Muslim women now feel. Some people associate them with the terrorists who are thought to be Muslim.

Samar Shakfeh is a member of the mosque in Spring Hill that someone shot at last week. "It just broke my heart to know there were mothers, fathers and children on the plane and in the building," she told the group. "We have not done anything wrong and hope the people in this country realize that."

Still, there was a sense of unity even here.

"Tonight's important," said Mazen Al-Najjar...."

"This is a good time for the community to know each other . . . to provide mutual support," Al-Najjar said. "And this will make the community at large richer and stronger."


MIM: Both student Danya Shakfeh and her father Samir contributed to Cynthia McKinney the Jihadi's favorite candidate.


Muslims find strength in faith, frustration in politics

Author: Robert King


MIM: The minutes to this 2002 MSA meeting show that Leena Al Arian was a representative of the Muslim Student Association at the University of Southern Florida.

TheMSA mission statement shows they intend to wage Jihad through conversion via Da'wah .

"....The MSA Florida Councils chapter was established in April 2002 to further unite and strengthen the Muslim Student Associations within Florida. The goals for this council are to establish bonds between Muslim leadership organizations, at the college level across the state, and to create a platform through which the Muslim brothers and sisters can become more familiar with one another. By working together to achieve the same goals the council's hopes to establish a clear, unified message and share ideas in order to maximize the efficiency of our dawa'ah efforts on each Florida university campus.

There are two representatives from each university on the Florida Councils - each elected during the election procedure of each MSA - during the academic school year. The Florida Council will act as an advisory committee where MSA representatives can participate in the Council's meetings and speak on behalf of their city. In turn, the Council will be a link to MSA National and form a network between all MSAs, both nationally and regionally. Currently there are about 8 Councils, with about 4 to 5 being created. The goal of MSA National is to have 50 Councils representing 50 states, thus creating a national Shurah. The Florida Councils aims in establishing these bonds and attaining these goals.

InshAllah, Allah (swt) will help us attain our goals and guide us in our cause. Ameen!..."


MSA FL Council Officers
2005 - 2006 School Year

Chairman Bro. Naveed Kamal
Tampa, FL
Secretary Sis. Sumayya Qadri
Orlando, FL
Advisor Dr. Yasmeen Qadri
Orlando, FL
Co-Advisor Sis. Iman Zawahry
Tallahassee, FL

Council Delegates


Bro. Farhan Qadri
Orlando, FL


Minutes for Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Online Meeting #1


University Representative
Rollins College
Fadia Ananif
University of Central Florida
University of Florida

Umbreen Jabbar
Iman Zawahry

University of Miami
Minal Ahson
University of South Florida
Mohammed Nasim
Aliyah O'Keeffe
Leena Al-Arian
Layelle Saad
Unviversity of West Florida
Samer Sbeih


I. Introduction

A. Recap of 1st meeting in April 13th 2002 in Gainesville

  • Chairperson, Iman Zawahry re-stated reasoning for establishing Florida MSA councils "to unite the MSA's in Fl and for us to help eachother in any way possible to spread the deen of Islam Insha'allah"
  • Elected secretary, Hadia Mubarak had to resign position due to presidential responsibilities to her own MSA. New secretary Umbreen Jabbar recapped minutes from the 1st meeting. If you would like a copy of the 1st meeting minutes please e-mail: [email protected].
B. Efficient MSA Council Meetings Insha'Allah
  • Iman Zawahry suggested that when we have on-line meeting we should type our MSA name first and then type our message. For example: USF: Assalaamu alaykum.
  • Each MSA must have only two representatives that are constant and attend on-line and live meetings. This creates a more productive and beneficial meeting environment. Switching MSA reps or having more than two will result in confusion and inefficiency.

II. Florida MSA Councils Monthly Newsletter

A. Suggestions:

  • Have each msa write about one main event or issue they take part in each month, so that all MSA's are in touch with other
  • Every month the newsletter should have a different theme following the issues happening
  • Post the events each MSA has for that month.
  • Don't be limited to one subject within the newsletter
  • Each newsletter letter should have a political, dawah, community, and masjid article. Each month a different MSA will be assigned to one specific area/topic.

Agreed Upon in the newsletter:

Each newsletter will have certain topics (political, dawah, community, and community masjid)we discuss in each newsletter and also a summary of each MSA's events every month. Thus, each MSA will be responsible for submitting atleast two articles per mont

B. Volunteers to help with the newsletter:

Layelle Saad (journalism major) from USF and Joe Aldridge volunteered to be editors of the Fla. MSA Council newsletter. Their responsibility will be to edit all of the MSA articles sent via e-mail and making sure that each MSA has submitted their articles.

Aaliyah O'Keefe and Iman Zawahry also volunteered to help the editors with the newsletter.

C. Newsletter Format/Publication Information:

  • The newsletter will be printed as well as online.
  • The printed version will be sent to the MSA representatives and they will be responsible for making printed copies for their MSA.
  • Online will be convenient access for all.
  • Printed versions will be useful at the dawah table and passing out to Musim and Non-Muslims on campus and in the community.
  • The deadline for submitting articles for the first newsletter will be November 1st, 2002 insha'Allah.

III. Webpage Update

Webmaster Samer Sbeih updated us on what was being planned for the Fla. MSA Council website insha'allah. The webpage will include: a main page, links to different links, MSA sites, the newsletter, minutes from meetings, conference updates, and posts of current issues.

Brother Mohammed Nasim volunteered to help with the webpage.

IV. First Annual Florida MSA Council Conference-"American Muslims"

A. Location:

Orlando, Florida (decided at April council meeting)

Zehra and Hiba are working on reserving rooms for the conference on UCF or Rollins campus insha'allah.

B. Time:

The initial vote in April was to have the meeting in January of 2003. However, it was suggested that we have the conference at a later time in order to plan more efficiently.

It was decided that a weekend in late February of 2003 would be a good time which would not coincide with exams, spring break, or other holidays.

C. Funding for the Conference:

Suggestions: The council should have membership fees, getting money from the community, or each MSA allocates money from their MSA to the Councils or each MSA can split the costs of having a speaker (For example USF pay for the honorarium of Siraj Wahhaj and UF pay the travel) - We will need $3000(air fare) plus an honorarium for each speaker.

Decision: To have each MSA allocate money from their MSA to the Council based on the travel, air fare and honorarium.

D. Speakers and Topic:

Speakers: Siraj Wahhaj, Abdul Hakim Jackson, and Amma Shabaaz (reconfirmed from last meeting).

Topic: "American Muslims: Making our mark in society", "American Muslims: playing an essential part in society

E. Food:

Give a list of Muslim restaurants for conference attendees to eat at.

F. Advertisement:

Advertise through the local Muslim restaurants (whom we will be advertising for during the conference when we give the list of places to eat.)


V. Next Florida MSA Council Meeting Insha'Allah:

Saturday, October 19th, 2002 in Gainesville, Florida at the Hoda Academy Insha'Allah.

Chair person, Iman Zawarhy will be sending more details about the time of the meeting via e-mail Insha'Allah.

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