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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Florida Trail of Terror Revisited :Padilla, Hassoun, and Jayoussi's local friends and supporters fall silent after terror conviction

Florida Trail of Terror Revisited :Padilla, Hassoun, and Jayoussi's local friends and supporters fall silent after terror conviction

August 17, 2007

MIM: Deafening silence on the part of South Florida's Muslim community after Jose Padilla the terrorist convert they groomed and financed is convicted on all charges as are his accomplices and mentors Adham Hassoun and Kifal Wael Jayoussi.

Some local Muslim leaders say the connections are incidental and should be expected in a community where men routinely visit several mosques to pray and to socialize.

"I saw (El Shukrijumah, Padilla and Mandhai) at different times in different mosques, and I always said hello," says Sofian Abdelaziz, director of the American Muslim Association of North America, a community services group in North Miami Beach. "Does that make me a terrorist?" Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout 8/16/03 USA Today


At Majid al-Iman, Padilla met one of the men with whom he is on trial — Adham Hassoun. Prosecutors say Hassoun was instrumental in recruiting Padilla into al-Qaida and getting him involved with the global jihadist movement. Sofian Zakkot, a member of the al-Iman mosque, is a friend of Hassoun's. He says the terrorism charges are flat wrong.

"He is a very, very, very nice guy and doesn't deserve what he is going through," Zakkot said. "The jury has been brainwashed against just the look of Adham and Padilla."

Zakkot said outsiders are too quick to link conservative mosques such as al-Iman to terrorism. He says there is no definitive way to predict whether a mosque will inspire violence at all. 6/27/07 NPR



Florida Trail Of Terror

By Beila Rabinowitz & William A. Mayer

From dirty bomb plotter Jose Padilla - employed at a Ft. Lauderdale Taco Bell - to Padilla's alleged partner - Adnan El Shukrijumah [apparently fingered by recently captured senior al-Qaeda planner, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed] - who was last sighted at a Subway sandwich shop in Tampa 2001, the trail of terror continues in Florida.

Fourteen of the nineteen September 11 hijackers either came from or through Florida – The 3 main ringleaders - the "pilots" - Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi & Ziad Jarrah and 11 of the foot soldiers - Ahmad Al Haznawi, Ahmed Alnami, Satam M.A. Al Suqami, Wail M. Alshehri, Waleed M. Alshehri, Fayez Rashid Ahmed Hassan Al Qadi Banihammad, Ahmed Alghamdi, Hamza Alghamdi, Mohand Alshehri (not related to Wail & Waleed Alshehri), Saeed Alghamdi, Ahmed Ibrahim A. Al Haznawi.

Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged 20th hijacker also has roots in Florida.

Other notable Floridians - Imran Mandhai, Shueyb Mossa Jokhan – accused of conspiring to bomb the Miami Israeli Consulate and Safraz Jehaludi - currently being held on charges of threatening to blow up the White House.

Despite elaborately embroidered rejections of radicalism and events constructed to showcase Islam's "moderate" nature, the fact remains that Federal investigators say they have heard it all before. One senses that the claims of moderation are ringing hollow with increasing frequency, and for good reason.

For residents of the area, it's déjà vu all over again. Virtually every Florida Mosque and Islamic Center has played host to one or more people who are either fugitives from the law, or in jail on terrorism related charges.

Florida universities continue to harbor professors with militant Islamist agendas. Professors like Mustafa Abu Sway - a documented member of Hamas and the FAU visiting Fulbright Scholar - are exploiting their positions at Florida universities. They further their radical Wahabi agendas, hiding behind the facade of "interfaith outreach." Sway teaches a course about Islam at the FAU Lifelong Learning Center; one of his lessons is entitled - "Jihad and Otherness."

Why Florida?

Why not?

For starters, Florida, especially South Florida, is home to 150,000 Muslims, mostly of Middle Eastern extraction.

The area is also home to at least 23 Mosques.

It is in many ways a transient society; nearly eight million tourists from all over the globe shuffle through the area each year, bustling amusement parks, cheap accommodations, miles of strip malls – offer plenty of cover in which to remain anonymous.

"It's a melting pot. It's not like in Montana where you would stick out like a sore thumb," said Ben Graber, a Broward County commissioner. "Here you just blend in with the population."

Quiero plutonio?

Back in the good old – pre domestic terror - days your biggest concern about the guy behind the counter at a Taco Bell restaurant was that he might spit in your burrito. But this is the 21st century and now you have to worry if he's working for Osama bin Laden and trying to build a radiological weapon on nights and weekends.

Mohammed Javed Qureshi, the owner of a South Florida Taco Bell, employed Jose Padilla and his wife Cherie Stultz.

It was Padilla's association with the Pakistani born Qureshi that sparked his interest in Islam. It directly led to he and his wife's conversion. After their conversion to Islam, Padilla and his wife - now known as Al Muhajair and Marwa - continued working at the Taco Bell until leaving in 1994.

"If you had known him, you would have never thought of him as a violent person," said Raed Mousa Awad of the Al-Imam Mosque that Padilla attended in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "He was a polite, shy, serious gentleman, according to my observations." ABC News - June 17, 2002

Unfortunately, the pattern linking obfuscation, disinformation and sketchy characters continues, as Raed Awad was also under observation by law enforcement for his involvement in terrorist fundraising. He left South Florida around the time Padilla did and "moved to Alabama". His children claim they do not have his address.

Awad claimed he did not know when Padilla converted to Islam or who converted him. He says that he met Padilla in 1995 and that he attended services daily - sometimes once or twice a day.

"He [Padilla] was very active in the social activities of the Mosque and well known in the Muslim community." – ABC News

Yet Awad claimed not to remember him.

A leader at Awad's Mosque, Yusef Shakoor, remembers Padilla as shy and helpful, but went on to say that he had no standout qualities or personality.

In addition to attending prayers at the Mosque, Padilla studied the Koran on Saturday at the Dar Ul Uloom Institute in Pembroke Pines.

Maulana Shafayat Mohammed, the prayer leader at the Institute, described Padilla as an oddity who definitely stood out - "...he was a Hispanic who converted to Islam and always wore a red scarf over his head."

From no "standout qualities" to an "oddity," everyone in the Muslim community appears to have a different and conflicting story about Jose Padilla. There is an obvious reason for this subterfuge - to confuse the media, investigators, researchers and above all, the public. It is not an accident that Qureshi, Rafiq Mahdi and others have given varying accounts to the regarding South Florida events involving Muslim extremists.

It is now common practice for these people to go by two, three or more differing names; arranged in varrying order - depending upon the demands of the occasion. For example - Mohammed Qureshi, Mohammed Javed and Mohammed Javed Qureshi - all the same individual.

In like manner, Qureshi never refers to himself as the owner of the Taco Bell that employed Padilla, he usually says that he was Padilla's supervisor, which is technically correct but seemingly calculated to avoid disclosure of the fact that he was not only his ultimate supervisor but his employer as well.

"Da' wah in North America begins with the packaging"

Muslims are called upon to be evangelical and the practice of Da' wah underlines that philosophy. It means reaching out through religious preaching to those not of the faith - attempting to convert them. The devout are supposed to spend at least two hours every week engaged in such activity.

Compared to Muslims, most fundamentalist Christians are pikers in that regard.

This "packaging" concept really is a marketing ploy and if truth in advertising were applied to the above statement - which was taken directly from the from the Islamic Foundation of South Florida website - it should be rephrased - "Da' wah in North America begins with lying."

To claim that Jose and Cherie Padilla weren't "well known in the community" is absurd. As a chubby Hispanic, red durag [a biker head scarf] coiffed, gangsta' - with a Jamaican born wife - it would stand to reason that Jose would have been remembered by the community who took him in.

However, after Padilla's arrest the community was struck by a bout of collective amnesia prompted, no doubt in no small part, by the nature of his overseas sales pitch to al-Qaeda.

Managing complex fabrications is difficult, sometimes the truth just slips out. One spokesman for the community, Sofian Abedelaziz Zakout, the director of AMANA, the American Muslim Association of North America, has spoken of meeting Padilla, Shukrijumah and two - now jailed - terror suspects.

Shukrijumah was particularly fond of employing a withering blizzard of aliases - El Shukrijumah, Jumah Adnan El Shukri, Muhammad Shir Muhammad Khan, Mohammed Essagh, Abu Arif, Ja'far Al-Tayer, Jaffar Al-Tayyar, Jafar Tayar, Jaafar Al-Tayyar.

Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout employs the same tactic.

In some cases the spelling is merely altered - as is the case with Shukrijumah's father, Gilshair - Shukri Jamal M.

After Adnan Shukrijumah had been identified as a dirty bomb suspect and Mohammed Atta's possible successor, the Mosque that employed his father, which is also the Islamic Caribbean American Society fired him due to the unwanted negative publicity.

Zakkout identified Gilshair as one of the directors of the Shamshuddin Islamic Center in North Miami Beach.

In 1999 Sofian Abdelaziz Zakout was the Vice President of a now defunct "charity" called Health Resource Center Palestine which solicited funding for the Islamic Association of Palestine on it's website - IAP is a virulently anti-Semitic group which distributes hate filled "news" content to the Arab press.

"I am in support of the Hamas movement" - Nihad Awad, the former PR director for the IAP

The HRCP also listed the brother of the Islamic Center of Boca Raton's, Ibrahim Dremali - Ishaq - as its Gaza coordinator. His name was spelled Drimly instead of Dremali. Both Ibrahim Dremali and Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout testified as character witnesses on behalf of Adham Hassoun, who is accused of setting up the Florida office of the al-Qaeda front group, Benevolence International.

Hassoun is also the man authorities believe is responsible for financing Jose Padilla's trip to Egypt.

Dremali and Zakkout both made indignant statements to the media regarding Hassoun's detention.

After speaking with Hassoun by phone, Muslim community activist Sofian Abdelaziz said Hassoun's civil rights "have been broken."

The Principal of the School of Islamic Studies in Broward - Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah [co-founded by Mohammed Qureshi and associated with a Mosque on the same property which was attended by Padilla and Hassoun] made the following understatement:

"Hassoun has been an active part of the local Muslim community for many years"

Shocked, amazed and astonished!

"I'm astonished," Shah said of the arrest and of other recent arrests tied to federal investigations of possible terrorist activities in South Florida.

Qureshi and Imam Madhi of Masjid Al-Imam have given Islam friendly but conflicting versions of the conversion story to the media.

Qureshi said Padilla constantly marveled at how peaceful he seemed. "He asked me where could he go to be a Muslim." Qureshi allegedly told him - "to find a Mosque through the yellow pages" - a strange response, to say the least, from a devout Muslim who was the proprietor of a school/Mosque complex.

According to Querishi, Padilla stated that "something [at the Mosque] touched his heart. He said he had wanted peace of mind, and now he said he felt at peace with himsel" and then added "He [Padilla]changed his demeanor."

Denial of associations reigned supreme - Imam Rafiq Mahdi of the Al-Imam Mosque in Sunrise held a press conference with Sheriff Ken Jenne and stated "that there was no record of Jose Padilla having attended any services".

Mahdi merely stated the obvious, since they don't register their worshippers, no record would exist. It's a poor ploy - several newspapers reported that Padilla and his wife were very much in attendance at Masjid Al-Imam.

Hassoun and Padilla worshiped at the same Fort Lauderdale Mosque, Masjid Al-Imam, through much of the 1990s, according to prayer leader, Rafiq Mahdi. Members of the Masjid Al-Imam - which has about 200 worshipers - said Padilla and his wife regularly attended.

The spiritual leader in those years, Raed Awad, was chief Florida officer of another charity targeted for possible terror links, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.

Peter Feaver, director of the Triangle Institute for Security Studies at Duke University, said it wouldn't be surprising if al-Qaeda sleeper cells and sympathizers are continueing to use Florida as a base. CBS news reports the same.

Local government officials there are more specific, openly speculating that there may be as many as 1,000 "sleepers" living outwardly normal lives.

It may be total happenstance, but Qureshi's Taco Bell is situated quite close to the offices of the Benevolence International Foundation, whose director - Adham Hassoun - was well known as a "Palestinian activist" in local Islamic circles.

Hassoun had been chosen by Ernaam Arnaout - bin Laden's personal envoy - to set up an office for the al-Qaeda fundraising operation known as the Benevolence International Foundation. Hassoun, a Jordanian national, is now on jail on charges of funding terrorism and is fighting deportation from the U.S.

Arnaam Ernaout - a Syrian national married to an American - was recently sentenced to 12 years in jail for supporting al-Qaeda. He admitted to using money from BIF to buy tents, sleeping bags and boots for Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

Law enforcement officials believe that Hassoun met Jose Padilla at the Mosque belonging to the school for Islamic Studies in Broward. It was Hassoun who recruited Padilla, assisted him in acquiring an American passport and supposedly paid for his trip to Egypt - his "Arabic language study" sabbatical. Jose Padilla was arrested on May 8, 2002 at O'Hare airport in Chicago returning from Pakistan and is currently being held in a military brig, held as an irregular enemy combatant.

Before they left, Qureshi remembers the couple seeking advice on how to buy a car with the little money they were able to scrounge up. They were hoping to find better-paying jobs — she in office work, he in construction, he recalled.

"I mean from Taco Bell in Davie, the guy's boarding the plane in Pakistan?" he said. "What is going on in this world?"

What indeed, Mr. Qureshi?

Mohammed Javed Qureshi had kept in touch with Cherie Padilla after Jose left for Egypt in 1999. According to Qureshi, Jose was being taking care of by friends, listening and learning.

Padilla started calling himself "Ibrahim." Eventually he legally changed his name to Abdullah al Muhajir, even though "Jose" was tattooed on his arm.

He quit the Taco Bell in 1994, and by 1998 was headed to Egypt, telling friends he hoped to teach English in Cairo.

Javed said he would occasionally hear from Padilla's ex-wife that he was "doing fine, that someone had provided him shelter, that he was listening and learning."

The Padillas were divorced in 2001 with Jose giving an address in Egypt.

During the divorce, Padilla's wife Cherie, sought counseling with the father of Padilla's alleged partner in terror, Adnan Shukrijumah.

Gilshair's own terror connections went back to the followers of Sheik Abdel Rahaman in Brooklyn. In 1995 Gilshair testified as a character witness on behalf of Clement Hampton El who was convicted of plotting to blow up the Holland tunnel and the United Nations.

An enterprising tour guide could come up with a "Terror Tour" of South Florida. It would include at least 23 different Mosques in addition to schools and other dwellings within a 20 mile radius of the - "last seen" location - of some the FBI's most wanted terror suspects. The tour could finish up at the empty homes of those currently matriculating at various federal - maximum security - gated institutions of higher learning.

The Qureshi name is ubiquitous in the school registry of the Islamic Foundation of South Florida - now the parent organization for Shah's School for Islamic Studies.

The IFSF site lists Pasha Qureshi as a registrar. Samina Qureshi on the Al-Falah [success committee] and Zahra Qureshi on the Youth and Camp Committee. The Principal of the Elementary School - Zulfiqar Ali Shah - is the president and CEO of the Universal Heritage Foundation in Kissimmee.

Shah showcased his new foundation with an innaugural - and highly controversial - Islamic conference the theme of which was supposed to portray Islam as a religion of peace and religious accommodation. The original list of conference speakers read like a who's who of radical Wahabis and the event ended up giving UHF a very black eye in the community.

Shah's organization is situated on a 31-acre parcel of land, which it shares with Pastor Lee Wasson's Kissimee Christian Academy. The landlord is Super Stop Petroleum, Inc. It obtained the property in a bankruptcy proceeding. Wasson's tennancy considerably predates Shah's as he was a tennant of the party in bankruptcy, David Peoples, who operated a travel and culinary school on the propery called the Southeastern Academy. It is this former Southeastern Academy that UHF now occupies.

Super Stop Petroleum is one of approximately 160 companies in which Denise Qureshi is the registered agent. In addition to Super Stop, the Florida Department of Corporations lists – MAQ Financial Group, Q Research Group, Pembroke Park Investments, American Money Orders, 441 Investments, Homestead Subco, HWY 31 Investments, HWY 80 Investments, and on and on and on.

We have extensively covered this a previous article [scroll down to: Florida Islamic Conference Outed As Jihad-Fest] which detailed that Zulfiqar Ali Shah and Mohammed Javed Qureshi - in an apparent display of anti-Christian bigotry - are conspiring to drive the Kissimmee Christian Academy into bankruptcy through legal harassment, primarily a frivilous eviction proceeding.

We must conclude, from the circumstances surrounding the court action, that Super Stop Petroleum is run not by Denise, but by Mohammed Javed Qureshi. In Pastor Wasson's only successful effort to talk directly with Super Stop Management, he was put in touch with Javed Qureshi, not Denise. After only briefly listening to the Pastor's request to attempt to work things out amicably, Javed abruptly ended the telephone call, snorting insolently "I am a busy man."

End of conversation.

In their only face to face conversation with Wasson, Dr. Shah made the claim that he didn't even know Qureshi, despite his numerous dealings with him.

Though this amounts to persecution by Muslims who are knee deep in associations with terrorists - against a struggling Christian School whose presence on the property predates UHF's arrival - local major media in Florida has shunned the story. PipeLineNews has even contacted Fox News in New York and they won't touch it either.

Zulfiqar Ali Shah has a long history of senior management positions with extremist Muslim organizations. He was the former president of the Islamic Circle of North America, about which Steve Emerson author of American Jihad, stated - "…openly supports militant Islamic fundamentalist organization, praises terror attacks, issues incendiary attacks on western values and policies, and supports the imposition of sharia [Islamic code of law]."

So serious is the problem with the Islamic Circle, that in December, 2003 the Senate Finance Committee - under the leadership of Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) - requested from the IRS tax returns, lists of contributors, applications for tax-exempt status, and all materials from examinations, audits and criminal investigations on 25 noble sounding Muslim groups, one of which is Shah's former haunt, the Islamic Circle of North America.

During Shah's period of leading the ICNA, Ashrafuzzman Khan was its Vice President - as well as the head of the ICNA local chapter in Queens New York.

To many immigrants, however, Khan was better known as the mad-dog leader of a death squad active in the Bangladesh war.

On 24th September 1997, a criminal complaint [case no. 115/1997 Ramana Thana] was filed against Asrafuzzaman Khan, as a result of war crimes allegedly committed by him during the Bangladesh Liberation War.

It is alleged that Khan personally murdered at least 7 intellectuals during that war, that he was a member of the much feared Al-Badr terror squads.

Professor Giasuddin Ahmed was killed as a result of the death squad activity. His sister, Mrs. Farida Banu, filed the case in Bangladesh.

In the complaint Mrs. Banu claims that Khan, along with others, kidnapped Ahmed. His body was found later at the Rayar Baazar killing fields, a disposal site used by the Al Badr death squads.

"Asrafuzzaman Khan, was one of the chief Al-Badr executioners. It has been clearly proved that he himself shot to death 7 teachers of the Dhaka University in the killing fields at Mirpur. A certain Mofizzuddin, who drove the vehicle, which took these helpless victims of Asrafuzzaman to Mirpur, has clearly identified Asrafuzzaman as the "chief executer" of the intellectuals. After Liberation, Ashrafuzzaman's personal diary was recovered from 350 Nakhal Para where he resided. On two pages of the diary, the names of 19 teachers of the University have been entered, as well as their addresses in the University quarters" - From the Weekly Thikana, a Bengali print journal published from New York December 15, 2000

This really is only a cursory glance at what is going on, not just in South Florida, but also in many other parts of the country.

Connect the dots and follow the associations…they are chilling.

Fact: The Wahabi brand of thought dominates Islam in the Middle East. Middle Eastern nations are directly and primarily responsible for funding the majority of US Islamic institutions.

In his book, Inside Islam, Reza F. Safa states that the majority of American Mosques are funded by jihadist Saudis, that over the last 25 years they have spent nearly $90 billion on such projects in the US and the West and that 80% of this nation's 1,200 Mosques were built as a result of this effort.

Islam is a supremely aggressive religion. The Muslim American Society has single handedly converted 1 million American Blacks to Islam, the Saudis have contributed $8 million towards building Los Angeles' biggest Mosque.

From their mouths, to Allah's ear

"Either the best Muslim will get power, or the worst Kaffir [worst infidel, etymology – comes from a North African word essentially the same as nigger, not so surprising since it was the Muslims who sold the African slaves]. Allah has created us as the Khaleefah [leaders] and we do not know Biology, Chemistry, Geology, when the Muslims knew those sciences they rules those lands and controlled them. We need to learn these sciences then we know how to control this earth. Rasool (S) struggled for 13 years, he was tortured abused, made sacrifices, even lost his uncle. Victory will not come sitting down. We need to prepare ourselves in all aspects." - Zulfiqar Ali Shah from remarks on the History of Islam prepared for the consumption of young Muslims.

Anyone - who with a critical eye - has elevaluated the manner in which the Islamic world has operated for 1.400 years will note that it has demonstrated little tolerance for other beliefs - hence the origin of "holy wars against infidels" - jihad.

This intolerance, in the face of 911 and increased public scrutiny, continues unabated. Supposedly mainstream Islamic institutions expressly created for educating Muslim youth, in reality operate as thinly disguised Madrasses - little factories of fundamentalist religious bigotry and hate.

"…The fundamental theme of Islam throughout history has been -there is no god but Allah…Islam alone can provide the power for Muslims to liberate oppressed peoples from The control of those who worship the false gods of modernist and postmodernist cultures, namely, from taghut, so that these false gods will no longer be in a position to persecute or put obstacles in the way of sincere people and so all religion will be exclusively for Allah.

Our task in general is to stand against the flood of modernist civilization overflowing from the swamp of materialistic and sinful desires…Western secularism moved into a Muslim world already estranged from its Qur'anic roots, and delayed its advancement for centuries, and will continue to do so until we drive it from our lands. Moreover, we will not stop at this point, but will pursue this evil force to its own lands, invade its Western heartland, and struggle to overcome it until all the world shouts by the name of the Prophet and the teachings of Islam spread throughout the world…" Jan 18, 2004 Young Muslims USA Newsletter.

The Young Muslim USA organization has even bussed Muslim teenagers into Washington, DC so they could add their voices in protest against the war in Iraq, which liberated 25 million of their Islamic brothers and sisters.

The slick looking signs these kids were given were obviously done by professionals.

The placards they held carried familiar leftist slogans such as "Defend Iraq Against US Imperialist Attack" - "For Class Stuggle Against US Capitalist Rulers" and "No Justice, No Peace" many complete with the logos of the Socialist Worker's Party, a communist front group.

Unbelievably, only a few years ago, Muslim youth organizations were actually soliciting impressionable Islamic kids to participate in Summer Jihad Camps, here it the headline of a flyer, from the Young Muslim USA organization.

Young Muslims North East Region


Jihad Camp

August 20th - 26th, Pennsylvania

Note that the date was exactly two weeks before September 11, 2001.

The Summer camps continue, albeit under a different guise. Sometimes now they are called Akhira camps. Akhira is the Arabic word for afterlife. Nice concept - Summer Death Camps.

"Our [Young Muslim USA] Summer Camp will help educate and prepare the youth with the proper understanding of the concept of the Akhira (The Hereafter) in Islam. This camp is for brothers with ages ranging from 14 to 25 years"- from the flyer

Curious...healthy young people - males only - preparing to meet Allah.

The speakers at these events always include radical jihadis.

For example, in addition to Zulfiqar Ali Shah, three of the speakers at the 'Jihad' and Akhira [afterlife] camps were:

  • Sirraj Wahaj - a member of the advisory board of CAIR and in 1995 was declared an unindicted co conspirator in the attempt to blow up New York City monuments.
  • Imam Abdul Malik who runs the radical Masjid Tarwhid in New York. He also spoke at the UHF's 'Islam for Humanity' inaugural event Malik recently produced an audio tape entitled "Thugz in the Masjid" which "explores issues related to thug life and it's adaptation by Muslim Youth."

The activities at these Muslim youth camps?

Wrestling - Archery - Paintball Combat Sports

For some reason the paintball images have been pulled from the Young Muslim USA site, but the following comes from similar Muslim paintball activity, this from of all places, Kentucky.

Makes you feel all warm and cozy, brings you right back to...Afghanistan?

Had enough? Feel reassured now that you understand the Islam is the religion of peace?

This is the real problem when dealing with Islam in a Western setting. The religion is not being truthfully evaluated because an invidious process has been set in motion. Our own loss of intellectual vigor is partly to blame. It is manifested as an inability [or even desire] to critically reason about such demanding subjects, but the main antagonist is the left's moral relativism, which causes many to take at face value high sounding statements by Muslim spokesmen, like Shah, Qureshi and others.

As has been written here in the past until we see significant and meaningful - concrete - demonstrations of good faith by the Muslim community, we remain unconvinced of the sincerity of claims of moderation. Until we see Imams stand before their followers and reject Hamas, Yasir Arafat, religious martyrdom and the Palestinian Intifada, until we see young Muslim men demand to join the US Armed Forces so they can participate in the war on terror and rid the world of those who have allegedly defiled the true spirit of Mohammed, we remain unconvinced.

We remain unconvinced because it is all cheap lip service, frosting on a poison tart, marketing, packaged Da'wa.

"...Law enforcement officials are not sure what exactly El Shukrijumah may be planning, but they say he could target gas stations, fuel trucks, subway systems, trains, or bridges. "Our No. 1 priority," Larry Mefford, assistant director of the FBI's counter terrorism division, told U.S. News, "is to find sleeper cells if they exist"

Since Mr. Melford broached the subject, let's pursue it a bit - we don't advocate giving people ideas but this type of speculation is already out there.

There is absolutely no doubt that al-Qaeda and other Islamic terror groups are actively planning further, even more devastating attacks against the United States. Unless we are 100% effective in stopping them, the question is only a matter of when the next attack will occur, not if.

Suppose that entire chains of - lets say - gas stations or fleets of fuel tanker trucks - or both - come under surreptitious control of al-Qaeda types.

The standard gasoline transport tractor trailer rig features two stainless steel containers, each with the capacity of approximately 8,500 gallons, for a combined single vehicle capacity of 17,000 gallons of gasoline. According to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission - that amount of gasoline is equivalent in energy content to over 100,000 pounds of TNT.

A similar load of liquid hydrogen would be far more deadly, it has over twice the energy content of gasoline and its laminar flame velocity is nearly 10 times as fast [2.7 to 3.3 m/s for hydrogen vs. .37 to .43 m/s for gasoline] hence a far higher potential explosive effect.

Of course that number is theoretical and you are not going to get these kinds of yields by simply tossinging a few books of matches in front of fuel carrying semis. However, with the proper amount of oxidizer and correctly applied ignition, the energy release from such potential mobile bombs would be massive.

Imagine the effect that would be caused by the simultaneous detonation of hundreds of gas stations during rush hour while gasoline, liquefied natural gas and propane transports were set off on major bridges, as well as outside political and military targets?

There are many other possibilities along these lines, the point is merely that in a high tech society such as the United States it is impossible to control every potential source of destructive energy available to crafty, scientifically aware, foes.

Absent that we have to judge people by what they do, what they say in private, when they think they are not being overheard by outsiders and by their associations.

On these three fronts American Islam, not to mention the Islamic movement outside of the United States, stands looking very suspicious, at least.

At worst?

Well let's just say it's a sobering thought and that failure to fully plan for nightmare scenarios - given the stakes - is not an option.


Sunrise man who befriended 'dirty bomber' denied bail


YellowTimes.org) – Supporters of Adham Hassoun, a computer programmer from Sunrise who befriended alleged "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla in the 1990s, blasted the justice system Thursday after an immigration judge refused to release Hassoun on bail.

After two days of testimony and evidence, Immigration Judge Neale Foster declared Hassoun, 40, a Palestinian from Lebanon, a potential danger to the community based on evidence presented in a sealed courtroom.

Agents from the South Florida Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested Hassoun on June 12 because of his connection to Padilla, who converted to Islam in South Florida and was a friend of Hassoun's. Padilla is being held in South Carolina as an "enemy combatant," accused of plotting to detonate a bomb on U.S. soil that would spread radioactive material around its target area.

Federal investigators say that they want to know more about the relationship between Hassoun and Padilla. The Immigration and Naturalization Service will not comment on the case.

Hassoun has contributed to several Islamic charities that the government now accuses of supporting terrorism, and he worked briefly for one in 1993. He was a circulation contact in the United States for an Australian-based militant Islamic magazine, The Call of Islam.

Hassoun has denied that he supports terrorism and dismissed media accounts that he had recent contact with Padilla.

His attorney, Akhtar Hussain, said he was shocked at the nature of the proceedings in Immigration Court at Krome detention center, which he said were closed to the public over his objection.

Hussain is barred from discussing the details of the hearing by court order, but he said Padilla was never mentioned and that the best evidence the government presented involved "somebody overhearing something in 1997."

"I have never seen anything like this in my 22 years in practice - there is no evidence, no witnesses, nothing," said Hussain, who said he was prevented from subpoenaing witnesses to rebut government evidence.

"They did not rebut my client's denials. They have no one there to back up what they're saying," Hussain said. "I would be satisfied if they brought something; then I could counter that. How can I counter a ghost?"

Friends of Hassoun, who has three small children, were crestfallen.

"We were so optimistic today, and we feel the system betrayed us," said Sofian Abdelaziz, director of the American Muslim Association of North America.

He was one of about 15 Muslim community leaders, friends and colleagues at Krome for the hearing.

"They don't have anything against him. It's just because he is Muslim. This is how we feel," Abdelaziz said. "The guy is clean. If there's anything wrong, we would have known, and we wouldn't go there for him. But they have no respect for him, no respect for his religion, no respect for us - as if we don't exist at all. This is not good."

Seeing two of Hassoun's young sons sitting outside the courtroom with sad faces and unable to speak, Ibrahim Dremali said they looked like orphans.

"That broke my heart, believe me," said Dremali, the religious leader of the Islamic Center of Boca Raton.

During more than an hour of questioning, Dremali - one of four witnesses called in Hassoun's defense - said he never had the sense the government had anything solid against Hassoun.

"I feel they want to show the American people they are doing something," he said.

Dremali said that prosecutors didn't appear to have a good understanding of Islam, and that he felt their questions became accusatory.

"Am I a witness here, or am I on trial?" he asked. "Is Islam on trial?"



Critics questioning Boca mosque's past ties
Islamic Center of Boca Raton draws ire; officials there say all they want is peace
Published Sunday, April 27, 2003 1:00 am
by Aaron Shea

By Aaron Shea
It was billed as an enlightening evening with Islamic leaders and scholars to raise money for a new, permanent mosque in the heart of Boca Raton – a sprawling 27,000-square-foot complex planned to include a worship center and education facility.
Among the speakers at the Islamic Center of Boca Raton's Nov. 16 fund-raising dinner last year was Dr. Rafil Dhafir, a respected Fayetteville, N.Y., oncologist and nationwide lecturer.
Four months after his speaking engagement at the benefit held at the Hilton in Deerfield Beach, however, Dhafir was arrested by the federal government for allegedly conspiring to funnel more than $2.7 million to Iraq—a country that has been subject to economic sanctions since the first Gulf War in 1991.
Dhafir's appearance at the fundraiser and his subsequent arrest are among several incidents that worry well-known terrorism researcher and "American Jihad" author Steven Emerson. He joins other critics who question the political views and intentions of the organization's spiritual leader, Imam Ibrahim Dremali.
"There are questions of [Dremali's] associations in the past which I think merit further investigation," Emerson told the Boca Raton News.
Dremali and others at the mosque, however, strongly deny that he and the local Islamic center have any goal other than to provide a peaceful place for Muslims to worship and for others to learn about Islam.
In any case, Dhafir certainly knew a lot about fundraising before his arrest, federal officials said. After a three-year probe, federal officials said Dhafir and three other alleged conspirators — using an Iraqi aid charity called "Help the Needy" — solicited contributions from people in the United States, deposited the funds in several New York banks and laundered much of the money to Iraq through accounts maintained in the Jordan Islamic Bank in Amman. The charity failed to obtain the required licenses to provide humanitarian aid to Iraq, prosecutors said.
The February indictment also alleges Dhafir directed checks as large as $100,000 to be cut from the relief group for individuals located in Baghdad.
Dhafir, who has been charged with 12 counts of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, remains in jail without bail.

‘An unfortunate

Since Dhafir's arrest, leaders at the Boca Raton mosque have denied any prior knowledge of Dhafir's alleged illegal activities. His appearance at the mosque's November fund-raiser, they say, was simply an unfortunate coincidence.
"He just happened to be [in Florida], and we invited him for the fundraiser," said Dr. Bassem Al-Halabi, a Florida Atlantic University computer engineering professor who co-founded the Islamic center, which today is based in a storefront on Northwest 20th Street. Al-Halabi is also a former treasurer for the mosque and current board member.
"We know that he is a good fundraiser," he explained. "Not too many people know him in the mosque, but the people involved in fundraising in this mosque do know about him. He's visited many [Islamic] centers in the past."
In a brief phone interview with the Boca Raton News, Dremali, who has been the imam of the mosque since its inception in 1998, said he did not know Dhafir.
But Dhafir's presence at the fundraiser has added fuel to the fire for critics of the mosque and its spiritual leader. Detractors point to published reports quoting Dremali allegedly supporting Arab martyrdom against Israeli Jews and affiliations the mosque has made in the past.
All the accusations have been denied or discounted by Islamic Center of Boca Raton officials, including Dremali.
"We're a small mosque, but even when we are a small mosque, some don't want us to exist," said Dr. Mohammad Khalid Hamza, a FAU professor who co-founded the Islamic center with Al-Halabi. The mosque today has more than 200 members.
One of the mosque's most determined critics has been Joe Kaufman, chairman of a group that calls itself "Citizens Against Hate."
Kaufman, who is Jewish, is leading a crusade to halt construction of the planned 27,000-square-foot Islamic center and mosque.
Recently, the Tamarac resident's Web site, www.Joe4Rep.com, was criticized by a national Muslim group for having a link to an anti-Arab Web site, which in turn linked to Kach, a Jewish organization recognized as a terrorist group by the U.S. government. Kaufman has since removed the links.
The 3.3-acre mosque project on Northwest Fifth Avenue north of Glades Road, which has gotten the go-ahead from the city, is far behind in its fundraising goals, Dremali said, and the mosque will hold another fundraiser May 10 at the Hilton in Deerfield Beach to raise cash for the complex.
Kaufman is convinced that a new, large mosque could attract anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish elements and should not be built in Boca Raton.
"It's not the Muslims we are fighting," Kaufman has said. "The mosque might be a threat to the community. If it is built, we don't know what is going on behind the walls."
Bill Gralnick, southeast regional director for the American Jewish Committee, supports Kaufman's views.
"It's not necessarily the physical mosque or Islam that gives me anxiety," Gralnick said. "It's who might be going through its doors or the types of other things that might or might not be going on in a political, social respect."

‘A question of character'

Just as he refuted knowing Dhafir, Dremali also denied to the Boca Raton News that he had any close ties to accused terrorist and Sunrise resident Adham Hassoun, who was arrested by a South Florida terrorism task force last June for his alleged ties to Jose Padilla. Padilla is a former Broward County resident accused of having ties to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network al-Qaeda and conspiring to explode a radiological device in the United States. Padilla is being detained by the federal government as an "enemy combatant" of the U.S.
Hassoun remains locked up in the Krome Detention Center in Miami on an immigration charge.
Yet in an August 2002 bail hearing at Krome Detention Center Dremali was called as a witness for Hassoun's defense. Dremali, however, said he only met Hassoun once when the alleged terrorist visited the Boca mosque four or five years ago.
"I don't know the guy," Dremali said, adding that the testimony he gave during the hearing "was not about [Hassoun]. It was about Islam."
Hassoun, a Palestinian, has also been accused of being a member of a militant Islamic group linked to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, engaging in an assassination plot and soliciting people to engage in terrorist activities.
Hassoun has denied the charges.
Hassoun's Miami attorney, Akhtar Hussain, said Dremali was primarily used as an expert witness during the hearing to discuss how a mosque runs and how charitable donations are handled. But, Hussain added, Dremali did speak about Hassoun's character as well.
"He was for the most part an expert witness," said Hussain. "[He discussed] how a mosque runs, its membership, how charities work and where the money goes. It boiled down to [Jose] Padilla, because he was a member of Hassoun's mosque.
"Dremali slightly spoke about how long he knew [Hassoun]. What kind of person [Hassoun] is," Hussain added. "[Dremali] has known [Hassoun] more than a couple of years. I know that."
Hussain would not offer further details.
In addition, Hassoun founded the Florida chapter of the Chicago-based Benevolence International Foundation, which was shut down by the government for suspected terrorist ties on the same day the Global Relief Foundation was raided.
In December 2001, the government shut down and froze the assets of the Global Relief Foundation based in Illinois after alleging the charity had links to terror financing. The Boca Raton Islamic Center donated nearly $17,000 to the charity, but officials from the mosque have said all along they were under the impression they were only giving money to the destitute in the Middle East.
"When people come to your mosque for money, you cannot say, ‘No,'" explained Dremali, referring to the importance the Muslim faith places on the worshipers to help those in need. "It's not our job to investigate [charities]. That's the job of the government."

‘Further investigation'

Among those who say he is taking a hard look at the Boca Raton mosque and its leader is Steven Emerson, the nationally recognized terrorist expert, former CNN correspondent and founder of the Investigative Project, which was created to root out possible terrorist cells in the United States and came to prominence following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
"I think the activity of Dremali and the mosque has raised serious questions on whether he is tethered to a militant Islamic group," said Emerson.
Emerson also produced the controversial 1994 PBS documentary video "Jihad in America" and wrote the best selling book "American Jihad," in which he claims members of the al-Qaeda network had set up shop in Boca prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. It was discovered shortly after the planes hit the twin towers that several of the hijackers lived in nearby Delray Beach.
During the 1990s, Emerson insisted there were Muslim professors at the University of South Florida active in the terrorist organization Islamic Jihad, which was documented in his video. It wasn't until this past February, however, that federal agents arrested USF professor Sami Al-Arian and Emerson's accusations were substantiated. Al-Arian has been charged with running the U.S. operations of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Some have accused Al-Halabi—the Boca Islamic Center's co-founder—of associating with Al-Arian. But the FAU professor and former USF student denies any such link.
"He was a teacher at the university when I was a student there, but I had no relations with him of any kind," Al-Halabi said.

‘Disparaging words'

Critics of Dremali and the mosque have also focused on issues unrelated to anyone indicted for alleged terrorist ties.
Following the escalation of Palestinian violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in late 2000, known as the intifada, tempers began to flare among many Jews and Muslims in the United States. One of the hot spots in South Florida was in Miami.
During one pro-Palestinian rally there in October 2000, according to a report from a Web site called IslamOnline, demonstrators issued a call for Muslims to stage a "jihad" to reclaim land they said was rightfully theirs.
During the tense demonstration, Dremali—a native of the Gaza Strip who is constructing a second home in the war-torn territory—reportedly "urged the crowd not to be sad for those who were martyred, and to not be afraid to die for what they believe in," according to the Web site report.
Last year, former Boca Islamic center spokesman Hassan Shareef, who now lives in Saudi Arabia, told the News that Dremali had made the comments in the heat of the moment.
But this month, Dremali, married and the father of four, denied to the Boca Raton News that he ever made the comments, although he acknowledged attending the rally.
"I never said that. I don't know where [the author of the article] got that," said Dremali, who came to the United States 15 years ago from Egypt. "I need peace and nothing else."
The author of the article could not be reached for comment.
A year after the rally and shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Dremali invited Rabbi Merle Singer of Temple Beth El of Boca Raton and Gralnick to his home. According to the Palm Beach and Broward county editions of New Times, Dremali told the two Jewish leaders that the Muslims do not like the Jews in Israel, but don't hold the same kind of animosity towards Jews in America.
"He did say that," Gralnick confirmed. "That's not an uncommon thing with anti-Semites. [Jews] don't make that distinction between the ones in Israel and the ones here."
In addition, a story in the Boca Raton News recently publicized a link on the Islamic center's site that provided access to the Palestine Information Center, which in turn offered anti-American and anti-Israeli articles and photographs. The major link to the site, called Islam Q&A, was removed days later and all other remaining links were severed from the site within the following week.
Mosque leaders including Dremali, Hamza and Islamic center spokesman Dan McBride denied having any knowledge that the Palestine Information Center site had been accessible from the Islam Q&A link.

‘We are not terrorists'

Today, Dremali said he can't understand those who claim he promotes anything other than peace and his Muslim faith at the mosque on Northwest 20th Street.
"We are not terrorists. We want to live in peace with no problems," said Dremali, who is a professor. "We have a very peaceful religion. We are Americans. I love this country and that is why we stay in this country."
An FBI spokeswoman at the Miami bureau would not comment on whether the mosque or Dremali has ever been investigated or is under investigation now.
Hamza said he cannot figure out the determination of some to run the mosque out of town.
"We've had it up to our ears with [opposition] spreading rumors," said Hamza, who accuses FAU professors of anti-Arab bias against him and plotting to rid him from the university. A state board cited discrimination as a factor in Hamza's denial of tenure. University officials have disputed the report.
"They're scaring the hell out of our community," he added. "What do they want us to do, go away and die?"
Among the more frightening moments for the mosque came immediately following Sept. 11 when Dremali told Boca Raton police he and other members of the mosque had experienced anti-Muslim backlash firsthand. The religious leader also claimed to have been threatened with guns by unknown assailants outside his Boca Raton home.
"I want to live in this country in peace," Dremali said. "We are Americans and people have to understand that. We work in this country together. I say all of this from my heart."

Staff Writer Brian Bandell contributed to this report.


Mosques Reflect on Padilla's Islamic education


Jose Padilla, the so-called "dirty bomber," is entering the seventh week of his trial in Miami. He stands accused, among other things, of providing material support to a terrorist organization.

Padilla is typically described as a former Chicago gang member, but there was a southern chapter to his life, as well. He converted to Islam in Florida. He learned Arabic and how to read the Koran at one mosque there, and was introduced to a stricter form of Islam at another.

According to mosque officials, Padilla arrived at the Darul Uloom Mosque in 1992 eager to learn Arabic and study the Koran. He had just been released from prison and wanted to convert to Islam. He told his teacher, Shafayat Mohammed, that he hoped it would help him straighten out his life.

"I remember once when I taught him to read Arabic, I had selected him to come up and recite what he'd learned," Mohammed said. "I considered it something of a success to see him learn and to see him participate. It was nice to see a convert guy learn Arabic and get along so quick. It was very impressive."

The Darul Uloom Mosque looks more like a stop at a strip mall than a place of worship. It shares space in a one-story converted supermarket with the Pool Bethesda Christian Center. Christians file into the left side of the building. Muslims enter to the right.

Shafayat Mohammed started the mosque more than 15 years ago. It attracts thousands of worshippers on Fridays because, Mohammed says, the mosque welcomes Muslims and non-Muslims, and he keeps politics out of his sermons.

The mosque also sits on a main thoroughfare in Pembroke Pines, Fla., which means Muslims from all over South Florida drop in on the way to somewhere else. Mohammed recalls Padilla ending his classes and leaving Darul Uloom mosque in the late 1990s.

"Maybe where he went to after he left here, maybe with whom he was affiliated with was where that whole syndrome that took place in him," he said, looking back on Padilla's path to Islam. "Here was just a primary school level for him."

Padilla's Islamic education continued at Majid al-Iman, a one-story building in a lower-income neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale. The FBI says a previous imam there had ties to a group accused of financing terrorism and, unlike Darul Uloom, sermons often touch upon American foreign policy and politics.

At Majid al-Iman, Padilla met one of the men with whom he is on trial — Adham Hassoun. Prosecutors say Hassoun was instrumental in recruiting Padilla into al-Qaida and getting him involved with the global jihadist movement. Sofian Zakkot, a member of the al-Iman mosque, is a friend of Hassoun's. He says the terrorism charges are flat wrong.

"He is a very, very, very nice guy and doesn't deserve what he is going through," Zakkot said. "The jury has been brainwashed against just the look of Adham and Padilla."

Zakkot said outsiders are too quick to link conservative mosques such as al-Iman to terrorism. He says there is no definitive way to predict whether a mosque will inspire violence at all.

Consider Majid al-Iman and Darul Uloom. Padilla may have attended Majid al-Iman but he started at the more permissive Darul Uloom. Two of the Sept. 11 hijackers stopped to pray at Darul Uloom when they were living in Hollywood, Fla.

Altif Ali, the head of the Council of American Islamic Relations in South Florida, says that because of the way visitors might tarnish a community mosque, local Muslims have become suspicious of new arrivals.

"Muslims are starting to look at newcomers with different eyes," Ali said. "People are starting to wonder if this will be a person who will do something and paint the whole community with a broad brush. There is a lot of fear being associated with certain places of worship because of the negativity associated with different places."

Members at al-Iman say attendance has dropped off, particularly since the Padilla trial started last month. Prosecutors say that Padilla and his co-defendants used al-Iman mosque to plan their jihad, and that the mosque provided their financing.

Defense attorneys say the government is confusing the men's desire to help oppressed Muslims with violence against the United States.

Padilla's trial is expected to continue through August.

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