"Proud to be Ibrahim Dremali " Ex Boca Raton Imam linked to mosque with Al Qaeda arrest tries to get removed from 'no fly list'
April 20, 2006
Published April 19, 2006
Accusations still follow imam in Iowa
He said the acceptance was in stark contrast to the hostile environment he left behind in Florida, where, after Sept. 11, 2001, he and members of his mosque were accused of being terrorists.
"Iowa is the only place I've been where there was no discrimination," Dremali said at the time. "It is the only place where people don't look at me as if I were a stranger."
Since coming to Des Moines, Dremali has held a high-profile position in the community, inviting Christians to visit the mosque to learn about Islam and speaking alongside Jewish and Christian leaders at schools and churches. He is in much demand as a panelist at student events across the nation.
However, the groups that dogged him when he was imam for a Boca Raton, Fla., mosque continue to bombard Des Moines media outlets with anti-Dremali e-mails.
The most recent, sent by Joe Kaufman of Coral Springs, Fla., chairman of Americans Against Hate, was headlined: "Episcopal Cathedral to Host Radical Islamist." The e-mail noted Dremali would be a speaker in the "From the Root of Abraham" at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral. The Lenten series incorporated Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious texts. Kaufman called on St. Paul's to cancel the event and bar Dremali from its premises.
"We cannot fathom why an Episcopal Cathedral would invite someone like Ibrahim Dremali to speak at its religious institution," Kaufman said in the e-mail. "Except to provide Dremali a cover for his past actions and affiliations."
Although the Rev. Robert Alan Schiesler, dean of the cathedral, received the e-mail, the event took place, and Dremali was invited back to speak again.
At the event, Dremali said he never imagined that people would "work so hard at trying to deceive the American public. I never thought such people existed until I started to read fabricated stories about myself. . . . They follow a specific agenda claiming that they are Americans against hate. Instead, they spread hate."
Kaufman said Monday that he is driven by a desire for security and safety in the United States and that he believes Dremali is a security risk. Kaufman's crusade began with an article he found on the Internet about a pro-Palestinian rally at which Israeli flags were burned and anti-Israel slogans were chanted. Dremali was quoted in the article as telling the crowd not to feel sorry for the martyrs. Kaufman interpreted the remark as an endorsement of suicide bombers. Dremali has denied he made the statement.
After Sept. 11, Kaufman and others in Florida began building their case against Dremali using his connections with Islamic charities and Muslim organizations, reports of people who spoke at or were otherwise affiliated with the Boca Raton mosque.
Rabbi David Kaufman of Temple B'nai Jeshurun, who is not related to Joe Kaufman, has received the anti-Dremali e-mails and has visited groups' Web sites.
"These sources lean heavily on hearsay, innuendo and guilt by association," Kaufman said. "They seem to be out to attack the Muslim community and Dremali in particular."
Joe Kaufman has taken his information to law enforcement and intelligence agencies, to no avail. "I was told it is very difficult to take action against anyone in regard to terrorism and terrorist activities," Kaufman said.
Dremali said he believes the allegations raised by Kaufman led to his name being placed on a federal no-fly list, which causes him to spend extra hours in airports every time he flies. He has appealed to Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa for help in having his name removed from the list.
"I cannot imagine how it is considered a crime to be born in Gaza or to be a Muslim, but (to these people), as long as you are a Muslim, you are a criminal," Dremali said. Yet, he said that he is confident that his ordeal by Internet and e-mail will end and that the motives of those who continue to torment him will be made clear.
In the meantime, "They cannot prevent me from continuing to pursue a peaceful life in America," Dremali said. "I'm proud to be American, I'm proud to be a Muslim and I'm proud to be Ibrahim Dremali."