Tampa's Terror for Kids - How the Islamic Academy of Florida became the American Youth Academy
August 20, 2008
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Sami Al-Arian has been in prison, away from his digs in the Tampa, Florida suburb of Temple Terrace, for over five years, yet one of the structures that he left behind continues to propagate the same fanatical ideology that led to his punishment. Al-Arian's mosque, the Islamic Community of Tampa (ICT), has been proudly advertising hatred and violence meant for the eyes of children. The mosque's connection to an area youth academy should have all Americans concerned.
When Al-Arian arrived at the University of South Florida (USF) in 1986, his goals were a lot broader than just to provide a decent education to aspiring college students. From then till the time of his imprisonment, Al-Arian worked tirelessly to build a vast network of terror, whose goal was the destruction of Israel.
Prior to his arrival, Al-Arian had helped to set up the Illinois-based Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), what soon would become known as the American propaganda wing of Hamas. When he came to Florida, it was as an operative for Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a group he helped to found in Egypt in 1979. His Tampa cell consisted of a think tank, a charity, a mosque and a children's school. The former two no longer exist; the latter two this author wishes to expose.
One of the first things that Al-Arian did, when he arrived in Tampa, was to establish a local mosque. He incorporated the Islamic Community of Tampa Bay, Inc. in August of 1986, using the address of a brick housing unit, 11129 Normandy Circle #1. He soon moved the location of the center and reincorporated under the name Islamic Community of Tampa, Inc., with the address 5910 E 130th Ave., which is where it is today. The property is owned by the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), a group recently labeled by the U.S. government as a co-conspirator in the financing of Hamas.
The name "Islamic Community of Tampa" was used to put a public face on the structure. Privately, the mosque was/is Al-Qassam, the identical title of the main PIJ religious center in Gaza. Indeed, one of the past directors of the Tampa mosque, Ramadan Abdullah (a.k.a. Ramadan Shallah), would later emerge in Damascus, Syria as the global head (Secretary General) of PIJ.
Neighboring ICT is the American Youth Academy (AYA), the Muslim children's school founded by Al-Arian. It used to go by the name Islamic Academy of Florida (IAF), until the state pulled its taxpayer funded student vouchers away from it, following the U.S. government's designation of IAF as a PIJ front.
Regardless of Al-Arian's continued separation from ICT and AYA, the school and mosque are still very much connected to one another beyond their physical vicinity. Considering the ICT's current propagation of hatred and violence, this cannot be seen as a good thing.
On different internet forums, AYA uses the address of ICT in place of its own. The AYA contact on these forums is Ibrahim Khader, a former director of ICT. According to courtroom documents, in December of 1999, Khader gave $1900 to PIJ operative Sameeh Hammoudeh, who told Khader the money was going to "orphans" (i.e. families of suicide bombers).
In February of 2000, Khader, along with Al-Arian, incorporated Baraka Group, L.L.C. It has been alleged that money from this organization went towards flight training for 9/11 hijackers. The organization was dissolved in September of 2001, 17 days after the attacks.
One of the directors of AYA is Ayman Nazie Barakat, a used car dealer (Vulcan Auto Imports), whose vehicle inventory has suspiciously made its way to far away places such as the Port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Showing that support for the PIJ leader is still strong in the community, Barakat recently signed a petition asking for Al-Arian's release.
Barakat, like Khader, is a former director of ICT. Presently, he is the Registered Agent for ICT's website, a forum that exists in large part to spread radical Islam to children.
When visiting the homepage of the ICT site, one finds a number of important points of interest. This includes a Flash presentation towards the bottom of the page, entitled ‘BRIEF LOOK AT FAITH: Christians vs. Muslims.' upon viewing it, one might be shocked to read that the Jewish and Christian Bibles "were tampered with by mankind." However, the anti-Semitic and anti-Christian matter that this website seeks to promote makes this statement seem almost insignificant.
Besides the presentation, one cannot help but notice the giant colorful graphic found in the center of ICT's homepage. After clicking on it, the site's visitor is treated to an elaborate video in praise of the Quran and Islam's fundamentalist followers. The video was created by and contains the logo of Islam Web, a website that promotes Muslim extremists and degrades Jews, Christians and women.
In fact, there are a number of links to Islam Web on the ICT homepage, suggesting that the two are inseparable. The reason for this, aside from the case that the mosque goers might actually buy into the extremism, may very well be that lectures from the mosque's former imam, Jamal Shaker Abdullah (who now resides in Amman, Jordan), are made prominent on Islam Web's site. Other individuals whose lectures Islam Web currently promotes are:
Apart from its multimedia sections, Islam Web also features articles written about various religious subjects. Some of these pieces include content which is demeaning towards both women and non-Muslims.
According to Islam Web, in its piece ‘Advice to women regarding marriage – II,' the "wife's role in her home" consists of the following: "This is to serve her husband, bear, nurse, and nurture his children, and be a housewife." In ‘A husband's responsibilities towards his family,' Islam Web discusses the husband's duty to reprimand his wife. It states, "Do not give little importance to implementing the punishment required for any acts in opposition to the Islam, which your wife has committed, whether it is in the home or outside it... If you are forced to place punishment upon your wife after having adviced her and she didn't respond, then let it be by staying away from her at bedtime."
Regarding Jews and Christians, Islam Web has much worse to say. In ‘The obligation of differing from the non-Muslims,' it states, "This Sharee'ah is the straight and correct way... Anything other than this is the way of those who have earned the wrath of Allaah such as the Jews, the Christians and the polytheists." It continues, "[S]ome Muslims will deviate to the doctrines of the religion of the Jews or that of the Christians. Such deviation is made alluring by Satan."
In Islam Web's ‘Valentine Day, birthdays, and other daze,' the issue of Islamic supremacy arises. It states, "Islam is very sensitive about maintaining its purity and the unique identity of its followers... To the voluntary recommended fast on the tenth of Muharram, Muslims are required to add another day (9th or 11th) to differentiate it from the then prevalent Jewish practice. Muslims are forbidden to emulate the appearance of non-Muslims."
Islam Web also features extensive children's sections. Two of the links on ICT are routed to these, one which is in Arabic and one which is in English. ICT refers to this as its "Kids Corner." What is found in the Kids Corner is way more disturbing than anything else previously discussed.
The children's sections contain a variety of animated cartoons. One of them, entitled ‘Mice Eating Diamonds,' portrays a man who receives a diamond from the Caliph (Islamic king). He tells his subservient, sad-faced, shabbily dressed wife, who appears to be an underage girl, that it is too good for her to wear and that he, instead, is leaving it in the care of a merchant. He later, with the help of his wife and their unsuspecting children, kidnaps the merchant's son, because he believes the man stole his diamond. Nowhere in the cartoon are misogyny and/or kidnapping shown as being immoral.
Many of the cartoons depict Jews as being sinister and corrupt and having exaggerated facial features most commonly seen in anti-Semitic imagery of the past. This is demonstrated in Islam Web's ‘The Life of Prophet Muhammad,' where Jews who have wronged Muhammad are led away by their Muslim captors. This cartoon also contains violent scenes, where individuals who have been tied to trees and chained to rocks are whipped and stabbed bloody with spears, where persons have been buried up to their chins in the ground, and where a naked man in a barrel has scorching liquid poured over his head.
In ‘The Forbidden Fishing,' Jews have been likened to apes. The cartoon, which portrays bearded Jews wearing yarmulkes (skullcaps), states, "Allaah inflicted His punishment on all the People of the Sabbath [Jews]. Because of what they did, they were changed into apes, despised and rejected."
As well, Islam Web features written children's stories. In ‘Examples of Jews' Conspiracies,' Jews are described as "hostile enemies" and "snakes" who "spit out their poison in every place." The final paragraph reads: "Since the era of the Prophet... until today, the Jews have been conspiring against the Muslims and spreading dissension and despair among them so that they may not be able to defend their religion and restore their usurped lands. For these reasons, the Muslims must come to their senses and stand united in the face of this Jewish danger and its endless evil goals."
Of course, none of the above can ever be conducive to a child's well being. Yet this is exactly what the Islamic Community of Tampa is advertising as its Kids Corner. And who are the kids most likely to view this material? Answer: The ones that attend the American Youth Academy.
There are a number of photographs found on ICT's site, many of which appear to be taken on school grounds. One, which is dated October 12, 2007, is of an information booth set up by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a radical Muslim group that was created as an adjunct to Hamas. Standing in front of the booth, smiling, is the former Executive Director of CAIR-Tampa and Al-Arian's unofficial spokesman, Ahmed Bedier.
Other photos are of an AYA event reenacting a Hajj trip to Mecca, Saudi Arabia (‘Eid Al-Adha 2007 Hajj Simulation'). An imitation Kabah (cube) is shown in the pictures, placed prominently in an adorned hall. The students are dressed for the occasion, as their parents proudly look on, either unaware of the hatred and violence that their children have been subjected to or unconcerned.
Will the children grow up to be productive and respectful members of American society or will they become the next generation's Al-Arians? Only time will tell, but given the present circumstances – given their close connection to ICT – the latter seems a foregone conclusion.