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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Deconstructing Imam Ibrahim Dremali : Former Jihadi leader of Islamic Center of Boca Raton portrayed as 'peacenik' in Iowa

Deconstructing Imam Ibrahim Dremali : Former Jihadi leader of Islamic Center of Boca Raton portrayed as 'peacenik' in Iowa

Unsubstantiated report of 'assault by rednecks in a pickup truck' deflected attention from mosque's anti semitic web postings
May 2, 2005

MIM: Last month Ibrahim Dremali was welcomed by the Des Moines Register as the new Imam of the Islamic Center of Des Moines who was 'taking time from his busy schedule' to post flyers announcing the anti Iraq war demonstration. Dremali was quoted as saying that, "my mission as a Muslim is to bring peace". Which is a far cry from Imam Dremali's statements at a Florida Jihad rally in 2000 at which he exhorted the crowd, "not to be sad for the martyrs, or be afraid to die for what they believed in". In a recent Des Moines Register article, Dremali was portrayed as having found 'refuge' in Des Moines, and he told the journalist that the statements had the Jihad rally had been 'words which were put in my mouth'.What Dremali failed to reveal was that the article had been written by an associate (who was said to be his co wife) Um Ahmad, aka Lamyaa Hashim. http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/508

It was none other than Dremali's own mosque spokesman, Hassan Shareef, who told the Boca News that, Dremali had made the statements, "in the heat of the moment".http://www.bocanews.com/index.php?src=news&prid=5239&category=LOCAL%20NEWS

The article below shows that Ibrahim Dremali deliberately distorted the truth to the Des Moines Register, knowing that he could count on help from a paper whose proven eagerness to portray him as a 'peace loving Muslim victim', despite proof to the contrary, would overide their public obligations of journalistic integrity .

The author of the piece further eroded her credibility, by asking Ibrahim Hooper ,of the Council of American Islamic Relations, to comment on the charges against Dremali. A top official of Hooper's organisation, Gassan Elashi, had been convicted on 21 counts of terrorism related charges, which included 'conspiracy, money laundering and dealing in the property of a terrorist', only 5 days before.



MIM:Deja vu all over again, as Dremali cries victim to the Palm Beach Post in 2001, which falsely claims that he 'went into hiding' much like the Des Moines register claimed he had 'found refuge a Des Moines mosque'. Dremali was a high profile leader of the Islamic community in South Florida who worked as a professor at Broward Community College, lectured for the Muslim Student Association, and took a job as an engineer at a coastal planning firm in 2003.

A 2001 item in 'The Year in Review' summed up the story :

"...The spiritual leader of the Islamic Center of Boca Raton, Imam Ibrahim Dremali, is forced into hiding after being shoved up against the van in his driveway by two men with a shotgun. He was warned, "If we see you in church tomorrow, you're dead meat." Dremali assumed they were referring to a highly publicized interfaith community service on terrorism that was to take place in Boynton Beach. But he had already withdrawn from the event due to Jewish leaders' concerns over anti-Semitic statements that appeared on the Islamic Center's Web site. A United States citizen and a teacher at Palm Beach Community College, Dremali wanted to spread the word of peace but found himself retreating. "I'm like a paranoid. Every truck I see on the street, knock on the door — I never had to look before. Now I say, ‘Who is this?' " Dremali told The Palm Beach Post . http://www.citylinkmagazine.com/cover/coverstory010202.html



Deconstructing Imam Ibrahim Dremali


May, 1, 2005

by William A. Mayer, E & P - PipeLineNews.org

Beila Rabinowitz, E & P MilitantIslamMonitor.org.


It is with a rising sense of alarm that we observe the domino effect currently taking place in America with regard to radical Islam.

On many fronts - in the media, Fox Broadcasting and National Review and in high tech manufacturing, Dell Computer - we are witnessing a caving process taking place that is granting undeserved legitimacy, and with it increased power, to Islamist organizations which are inimical to secular Western institutions.

Groups like CAIR and other Saudi funded Wahabi pressure groups are following a pattern established over a thousand years ago, one which is quite familiar to scholars of Muslim history.

In the West many people are familiar, in a general sense, with Mohammed, the founder of Islam. Similarly they are familiar with city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which is considered Islam's most sacred city.

Most however are not conversant with the manner in which Islam, with Mohammed as its military leader, conquered the city in the first place.

Why is this story important?

It is relevant in helping to understand a facet of Islam which helps place its current feigning of moderation in perspective.

A brief primer.

In the early 600s Mohammed resided in the city of Mecca. Though his power was on the rise, it was not yet sufficient to defy the Quraysh tribe which controlled the city. Biding his time, he fled the city in 622, taking refuge in Medina. By 628 Mohammed realized that his strength had increased to the point where the Quraysh might be challenged, but instead he opted for a tactic which would become from that time on, associated with Muslim military strategy. He declared a truce with the Quraysh and a treaty was signed - the Treaty of Hudaybiya - in the town of the same name, but it was a one-sided truce.

Over the next two years Mohammed built alliances and added tremendously to his fighting forces and in 630 succeeded in conquering the city of Mecca, the Quraysh being so awed by Mohammed's formidable army that they surrendered without a struggle.

Since that time the concepts associated with the Quraysh and Hudaybiya treaty, have become inextricably incorporated into Muslim thought and practice. For example in 1994 after having successfully cowed the Israelis with talk of a bloody jihad into a series of concessions, Yassir Arafat defended his actions to even more radical hardliners as follows:

"[we] see this agreement as being no more than the agreement signed between our Prophet Muhammad and the Quraysh in Mecca."

For more on this subject see, Lessons from the Prophet Muhammad's Diplomacy - Daniel Pipes - Middle East Quarterly, September 1999

Fortunately Arafat is no longer with us, but the method that he referred to lives on, now funded by Saudi money and embodied in the Wahabbist sympathies of most of the so-called mainstream American Muslim organizations such as CAIR.

At its most extreme we see the lessons of Hudaybiya and the Quraysh embodied in the Takfir Wal Hijra group.

Takfir ideology is such that its members may ignore normal Islamic proscriptions. They may lead riotous lives, attending lap-dance clubs, having indiscriminate sex, eating prohibited foods such as pork and drinking to excess in order to better blend into the Kufir [infidel] society, from whence at an appointed time they spring into murderous action.

"[They appear to be] regular, fun-loving guys, but they'd slit your throat or bomb your building in a second..." - Time Magazine

This was the very MO of the 9/11 plotters; ignoring it will certainly not make it go away.


Imam Ibrahim Dremali has led a busy life since he came to the United States after fleeing Egypt as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, apparently to spread the message of jihad in America under the guise of seeking religious freedom. http://members.bellatlantic.net/~vze43v8m/page4.html

In February he suddenly left his position as Imam of the 7-acre Boca Raton Islamic Center to take over the tiny and reportedly cash strapped Islamic Center of Des Moines, Iowa.

In recent newspaper coverage Dremali casts himself as a hapless 'refugee' who was hounded out of Boca Raton, because he was a Muslim, feigning tears of relief at finding peace and quiet in Iowa.

Born in Gaza when it was still controlled by Egypt [Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula, the Eastern sector of Jerusalem and the Golan heights were all liberated by Israel during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war]. Dremali later moved to Egypt where he was educated in Islamic religious theology and geology at Al Azhar University.

While there Dremali started his religious training. Dr. Ibrahim Dremali -Sheikh Ibrahim - has a degree in Shariah from Al-Azhar University and a PhD in Geology. Al Azhar University was also the alma mater of Bin Laden's mentor Abdullah Azzam as well as being a center of Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Jihad activities which included the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

Dremali fled to the US where he continued his education in geology. In 1998 Dremali co-founded the Islamic Center of Boca Raton, together with FAU professors Bassem Al Halabi and Khalid Hamza, and becoming its Imam.

It didn't take Dremali long to become a political activist in the United States. He participated in a series of pro-Palestinian demonstrations that were held across from the Israeli Embassy in Miami in 2000. At these events vitriolic speeches were made while Israeli flags were burned.

In October at one of these events - as demonstrators shouted "Haya al Jihad" [Long live Jihad] and "With jihad we'll claim our land, Zionist blood will wet the sand" - Dremali shouted to the crowd:

"...[don't] be sad for those who were martyred and to not be afraid to die for what they believe in."

So Dremali brings along considerable baggage as we attempt to understand one of the seminal events in his life; an "anti-Muslim attack" which allegedly occurred in 2001 and which is being bandied about by Dremali now in his new digs in America's heartland.

Two Weeks Post 9-11

Ibrahim Dremali has claimed for over three years now, that he was the victim of an aggravated assault which took place just a few weeks after the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

Dremali claims that at about 9:50 PM on the night of Wednesday, September 25, he left the Islamic Center of Boca Raton - where he served as Imam. He says that he was followed home by a white Ford F -150 type truck that flashed its lights at him once along the way. As Dremali pulled into his driveway and collected his briefcase and cell phone, the driver of the truck parked it in a lane of traffic immediately behind Dremali's vehicle.

Two white males, the driver carrying a shotgun, the passenger a handgun, exited the vehicle and confronted Dremali in the driveway of his home. There the shotgun-wielding driver warned Dremali not to appear at an interfaith religious meeting scheduled to take place on the following afternoon or he was "dead meat." The two assailants then got back into the truck, the subject with the shotgun got into the passenger's side and the subject with the handgun into the driver's side, and they drove off.

There were no eyewitnesses aside from Dremali.

Dremali's tale has been used to gin up sympathy and cast him as an aggrieved party who has been subjected to Christian intolerance. More specifically, this incident has been used by Mr. Dremali to explain his hasty departure from South Florida, to supposedly more hospitable climes in Iowa.

Sources close to the case - which is now inactive - have provided PipeLineNews with evidence that casts grave doubts as to whether the alleged attack ever took place.

The story is suspicious from many angles, but possibly the most obvious is that the entire account of the incident reads like a bad script for a "B" grade movie. The story conforms to what might be the worst preconceptions about Christian America by Muslims.

Not only that but Dremali continues to embellish the story

In an article entitled Imam, His Family Find Refuge in Des Moines which appeared in the Des Moines Register April 18, 2005 edition, Dremali stated that:

"...someone jammed a double-barrel shotgun into his chest. A second man was waving a pistol so he would be sure to see it."

However in the police report Dremali - "said that the driver of the truck had the shotgun, the gun had a single barrel." He said that the passenger was holding the pistol, not brandishing it or waving it so that is was more evident.

The Register article continues:

"After the men left, the police were called. "I showed them the bruises on my chest," Dremali said. "I canceled the lecture." Dremali, the dynamic leader of a growing mosque in Boca Raton, was given police protection."

The police report states that - "a round red mark on his upper left pectoral where Dremali claimed the shotgun was placed." The physical evidence consisted of a single small red mark, no "bruises" as Dremali stated. This is certainly not the type of injury one would expect from having the sharp steel 28 or 30 inch long muzzle of a shotgun rammed into one's chest by a powerful, 6 foot tall 200 pound male in a bad mood.

Dremali's reference in the Des Moines Register article, of canceling the speaking engagement makes it appear that he did so to avoid the threatened physical injury by his assailants, but the police report states:

"...no one knew that he had changed his plans and had cancelled his engagement. He said that he was not going to speak at that church. Dremali said that there had been some controversy regarding some of the things that have appeared at the Center's website. He said he is not responsible for the content of the website."

Yes there was "controversy" regarding Dremali's website because it contained an openly anti-Semitic essay that referred to Jews as being "known for their treachery and corruption" and quoted from a Muslim text that read, "O Muslim! There is Jew behind me, kill him!"

Not surprisingly, the hate-speech had become the focus of media scrutiny.

Dan McBride, spokesman for the Boca Raton mosque, said the essay, titled, "Why can't the Jews and Muslims live together in peace?" generated three e-mail complaints, so they took it down.

He went on to say, "as fellow Americans, we're all a little sensitive right now and we don't want to increase any tensions, so we're trying to be a little politically correct right now."

Which is not to say McBride, or Dremali for that matter disagreed with anything in the essay.

In furtherance of Dremali's ruse of victimization, he claimed that he was under police protection, but there was no provision of police protection, nor was any really indicated because aside from two pieces of questionable mail, nothing additional happened.

On the day of the event an officer was dispatched to the church:

- "0315 Hrs., I responded to the area of the Ascension Lutheran Church located at 2929 Seacrest Blvd, Boynton Beach. While there the Multi Congregational Church meeting took place without incident. A Muslim leader from Fr. Lauderdale spoke at the meeting without incident."

It seems that whoever was trying to "intimidate" Dremali from speaking at the event had absolutely no problem with another Muslim speaking at the convocation.

Dremali stated that the Mosque had received two pieces of hate type mail. One - a letter written on the margins of a newspaper article dated October 5, 2001 stated:

"As long as there are Muslims there will be terrorism as the barbarians practice their barbaric religion as taught in the used toilet paper Koran. Islam is a barbaric religion!!! Go back to camel dung land, Muslim countries."

It's hard to believe that the above passage was authored by a native-born English speaker. Representing it as a statement of hate is ludicrous. Using the word "barbaric" three times in a mere 17 word rage-filled excoriation strains credulity to the point of breaking.

Americans don't talk that way.

And "camel dung land?"

Possibly "your shitty country," but "dung" and "land" really seem more like the type of usage one might expect from a non-native English speaker.

Possibly someone from the Middle East?

The type of cardboard figures Dremali has described as his attackers are stereotypes. They are the worst of the kind that one might imagine, taking the law into their own hands - red-neck bigots responding to the events of only a few weeks previous, 9-11.

These are not the words of some Southern-type "crackers." The term "camel dung land" and "barbaric" are alien to that type of speech pattern, when more colorful colloquialisms might be more in character.

The other, earlier, piece of "hate" mail that arrived at the Mosque was an envelope which included a letter and an article written by Hal Lindsey entitled "The Rapture." The letter read - "I will bless those who bless Israel and I will curse those who curse Israel."

The quotation is derived from the first book of the Old Testament, Genesis, in which God was speaking to Abram, soon to become Abraham.

We say the quote was derived because the actual [extended] Biblical passage is - "I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Genesis 12: 3).

Since the Israelites are commonly understood to be the children of Abraham the passage is often used - substituting the word "Israel" in the appropriate places - by evangelicals to show the degree to which God supports the nation of Israeli - and hence, Zionism.

Hal Lindsey is a Christian Zionist. He is also widely regarded as a person well versed in Biblical prophecy especially with regards to the final book of the New Testament, Revelation.

Lindsey is renown for using such passages to argue in support of Israel.

While it is not common knowledge among many Christians, it is a common theme in Islam that they also consider themselves children of Abraham, so many of them might be familiar with this passage.

Using this type of Biblical passage and a noted, fervently pro-Israel evangelical writer, injects the issue of Zionism into this equation in a big and rather insidious way. Ultimately it's transparent, building on an important element of Islamist bigotry to eventually yield a not so cleverly assembled straw man.

So what can we glean from all of this, the alleged assault followed in close order by threatening "hate" mail?

It seems to be a not-so-subtle ruse, concocted by Dremali to take attention away from the hate-speech on his Mosque's website language which made it necessary for him to cancel his address at the 9/27 multi-congregational event not because as he claimed he was threatened and fearing for his life, but because he is an Islamist and a bigot and was asked not to attend.

Taken as a whole the "assault" makes no sense - Dremali leaves the Mosque, someone follows him apparently, blinking their lights and yet he ignores them. They follow him to his home, inexplicably drawing attention to a criminal action underway, parking in the middle of traffic right behind Dremali's vehicle, but he still doesn't see them.

The driver of this truck is carrying a single barrel shotgun [Dremali later claiming it was a double barrel shotgun] but he states that he never even saw the car so how could he possibly know who the driver was?

The subject with the shotgun accosts Dremali roughly pushing the shotgun into his left pectoral chest area, yet only a small red mark is left.

Further muddying the account, Dremali claims to have at some time attained a 3rd degree black belt in a martial arts discipline. Those familiar with self-defense know that if someone physically touches you with a rifle or a shotgun - instead of just aiming it at you from a reasonable distance - they are making a huge mistake since disarming techniques and counter-moves are then more easily employed.

On the other hand most "bad guys" instinctively know that the whole reason why guns, especially long guns like rifles and shotguns, are so effective is that they project power from a position where the user can't be harmed, i.e., you stand a certain distance away from someone you want to intimidate so they can't harm you. You certainly don't give up your advantage by actually poking someone with the barrel of the gun when it might possibly and rapidly be brushed aside and then taken away, with movements that require little strength and little training - let alone the skills that someone with a 3rd degree black-belt presumably might have.

The only possible reason that the use of shotgun in this manner was essential to include in Dremali's fable was because he thought it was necessary to leave at least one piece of physical evidence, because without that little "red mark" there is no physical evidence except for the equally absurd hate mail.

The "attack" is a stereotypical concoction featuring just about every anti-Christian clichι imaginable - a white, gas guzzling Ford truck adorned with American flags containing a shotgun wielding Caucasian with close cropped hair wearing a white shirt and blue jeans. His Caucasian buddy is a similarly concocted yahoo armed with a pistol.

The lead attacker, the "driver" with the shotgun, spouting the idiomatic line "you're dead meat" sounds oddly restrained when isn't it more likely to include much profanity? Wouldn't something on the order of "Look you little raghead &%$#hole, if you show up at church tomorrow we'll blow your &$#%ing brains out," be more apropos?

Now THAT is a red-blooded-white-trash-American-with-a-shotgun, type threat.


When you factor in the "Zionist" content of the "hate" mail the assemblage becomes parody, a completely pre-planned but ham-fisted attempt to direct the community's attention away from Dremali himself.

In the days after the incident - which none of Dremali's neighbors witnessed - the surrounding area was abuzz with the assertion that the whole thing was invented.

We agree, this entire affair is nothing so much as a totally self-serving bad cartoon.

Hudaybiya In Iowa

Dremali's actions in this matter must be understood in a larger context, as part of a pattern which he has used over the years in an attempt to turn criticism and outrage against him to his advantage and one which he is currently employing to explain to gullible journalists to explain why he fled Boca Raton.

About Dremali's above referenced pro-jihad Miami speech "[don't] be sad for those who were martyred or to be afraid to die for what they believed in"] he told the Des Moines Plains that "they put words in my mouth".

The "they" Dremali refers to is Lamyaa Hashim - aka Um Ahmad - alleged to be none other than Dremali's co wife [Islam permits multiple wives, in obvious conflict with American law].

Dremali has been linked with Hashim for over a decade. Hashim was a congregant at the Islamic Center of Boca Raton and was - more importantly - the president of The Health Resource Center Palestine.

The HRCP was closed down after it was exposed as a terrorist funding front, HRCP included Dremali and his brother Ishaq among its administrators.

Even more damning is the fact that the spokesman of his own Mosque - Hassan Shareef - stated to the Boca Raton News that:

"...He [Dremali] had made those comments in the heat of the moment..." Shareef statement

For further clarification regarding this incident see Militant Islam Monitor: New Jihadi on the block: Ibrahim Dremali leaves Boca Raton to become Imam of the Islamic Center of Des Moines.

In the same Boca News article Dremali lied when asked about his connection to Adham Hassoun, at whose immigration violation trial he had already testified as a witness for the defense.

When asked about his relationship with Hassoun Dremali, stated "I don't know the guy."

Dremali's statement was refuted by Hassoun's own attorney, Akhter Hussain who said that, "Dremali has known [Hassoun] for more then a couple of years...I know that."

Adham Amin Hassoun, who ran the Benevolence International Foundation, an Al Qaeda fundraising operation in South Florida, is now the defendant in a March 7, 2004 10 count indictment.

Hassoun is being charged with, "trying to obstruct a federal investigation and hiding his role in recruiting fighters and raising money to support a global holy war."

The government is alleging that Adham Hassoun had been hand-picked by Bin Laden emissary Arnaam Ernaout to run BIF.

Another example of Dremali's mendacity can be found in the way he played upon the obvious preconceptions of Ms. Ragsdale, the author of the Des Moines Register article which painted a sympathetic treatment of his story - Imam, His Family Find Refuge in Des Moines.

In that piece he denies allegations that his links to terrorists have followed him from Florida stating, "...he and his wife began talking about leaving South Florida."

This supposedly occurred after a 3-hour questioning at the Miami airport when he returned with his son from a visit to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

"...Three hours was like 300 years in my life," Dremali says. "The way that guy looked at me and my son, it's like we were terrorists." When he asked what he was being charged with, Dremali says, he was told to "sit down, or you'll go to jail."

True to form, in other accounts of the interrogation - easily available to skeptical journalists via an internet search - Dremali claims when he finally got home, he and his wife decided it was time to leave the country, not just Florida. All that was stopping them was that they just didn't know where to go.

To a St. Petersburg Times reporter, Dremali further played upon the persecuted Muslim angle:

"Our Constitution says justice for all," Dremali says. "I'm going to send a letter telling Bush that he should add 'except Muslims.'" Dremali letter

Dremali thus has a long history of dramatizing such events to journalists, portraying himself as the victim.

There might have been a very good reason why Dremali, if he really had considered leaving the country, might refrain because he had "nowhere to go."

Perhaps that might be the result of the not-so-small matter of his previous association with the Muslim Brotherhood, and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. When one ads in his - along with his brother's - involvement in an "Islamic charity" which was shut down by law enforcement for funneling money to terrorists in his hometown of Gaza, there might have been more than ample reason for him to question ever returning to his native Middle East.

The irony of Dremali's seeking sanctuary in the US due to his involvement with groups trying to overthrow the Egyptian government, degenerates into an obscene travesty when Dremali complains about being victimized by US government officials who questioned him when he returned from what was a suspicious "business trip"to the Middle East.

Contrast his indignation - holding the US government responsible for investigating the terrorist ties of the Al-Qaeda funding front, Benevolence International Foundation, an Al Qaeda funding front & run by Dremali's long time friend, Adham Hassoun - against his belligerent defense of his former Islamic Center of Boca Raton's $17,000 contribution to that very group, making the unbelievable statement that it was none of his business that the money might have been going to Al-Qaeda, that was the purview of the Federal government.

"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." Dremali blasts US government.

The Dremali family seems to have an affinity for aggravated assault, since Mr. Dremali's 13 year old son was charged in a stabbing incident involving a schoolmate - Joshua Reynoso - in the Boca Middle School.

Apparently basing its assessment on what Dremali told them, The Des Moines Register sanitized the event as follows:

"...In 2003, after being taunted and spit on by a schoolmate, his oldest son was in a locker-room fight, involving scissors, with another boy..."

The article stated that Dremali's son pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, but noted that the plea was not an admission of guilt.

The lack of admission of guilt [technically "guilty in his best interest"] is similar to a no-contest plea - a distinction without a difference.

The police report stated:

"Reynoso told police that Dremali spit on him and, after the two briefly argued, Dremali stabbed him in the back, neck and arm with scissors, leaving puncture wounds, according to a police report.

In light of the fact that Dremali's son was ordered to pay $1500 in damages, do 50 hours of community service as well as receive a psychological evaluation, it's pretty clear who was guilty and who did the stabbing.

Dremali's son was transferred to an Islamic School in Broward - it will probably not strain the credulity of our readers to point out that the school has been personally endorsed by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Ikrima Sabri, in 2003, and that Sabri is notorious for having praised child suicide bombers.

As we draw this down, one thing is obvious; trouble follows the Dremali family and all of it appears to be of their own making. The sheer audacity of Dremali's verbal -sleight-of-hand in which he and his family become victims instead of perpetrators is brazen.

While Dremali whined to the press that "Our goal here is to raise our kids in a safe environment, it's the No. 1 reason we came here," it was really the consequences of his family's actions that made life difficult in Boca Raton.

According to our sources, Dremali's children are now in public school, which raises the question as how safe those environments will remain.

We believe that Ibrahim Dremali has proven by his actions and statements to be someone who is unfamiliar with the concept of truth.

On numerous occasions he has contradicted himself in various public forums and concocted flawed denials of numerous associations with Islamist groups and individuals both domestic and foreign.

His outlandish, totally unsubstantiated, story of a 2001 "anti-Muslim assault" when seen in this context is laughable. We feel that it is a complete fabrication.

One final point need be made.

It revolves around the concept of complicity.

Dremali has obviously brought his campaign of fabrication and deception along with him to Des Moines, however this would not be possible if people like the religion writer for the The Des Moines Plains Register, Shirley Ragsdale, was in the least bit skeptical of Dremali's Swiss-cheese explanations.

Generally skepticism is a hallowed journalistic attribute, but in matters such as this another, even more powerful tradition takes over - the politically correct, liberal invocation not to speak ill of the disciples of Islam.

This subject is far beyond the scope of this piece, we have extensively written about it in our series on multiculturalism and diversity however.

Tarred in this same sentiment is the head of Des Moines local Reform Temple, David Kaufman.

Kaufman gushed, nonsensically that "...Dremali knows his stuff on Islam," at the same time dismissing Dremalis' presence at a Miami jihad rally, where radical Muslims shouted "With Jihad we'll redeem the land - with Zionist blood we'll wet the sand."

Des Moines Plains' reporter, Ms. Ragsdale - who called the Council on American Islamic Relations [CAIR] for comments - uncritically accepts the group's own self-characterization as being a group that simply monitor's "anti-Muslim" activity in America. She is either unaware or unconcerned about the fact that the group is underwritten by the Wahhabi sect in Saudi Arabia - a country which just this week arrested 40 Christians, accusing them of spreading the "poison" of Christianity Saudis Arrest 40 Christians For "Spreading The Poison" Of Christianity. Furthermore, Ragsdale ignores the fact that CAIR is anti-American, advocating the imposition of an Islamic theocracy in place of the United States' secular constitutional government and that the group is currently a defendant in a 9-11 terrorism case.

Ragsdale, Rabbi Kaufman and other people acting as agents of the public trust thus do a terrible disservice to their fellow citizens when they allow liars with possibly evil intent like Dremali to not only go unchallenged but to essentially vouch for their character, thus granting them increased stature, not increased scrutiny.

And unrelenting scrutiny is all that people of Dremali's ilk deserve.

© 1999-2005 William A. Mayer, E & P - PipeLineNews.org, Beila Rabinowitz, E & P MilitantIslamMonitor.org, all rights reserved.


MIM: The Des Moines Register religious affairs editor Shirley Ragsdale described CAIR as "The Council of Islamic American Relations ,which monitors anti - Islam and anti American actions nationwide ..."

In the interests of clarity the following account of CAIR's terrorist connections( and anti American actions) should be duly noted: .Ghassan Elashi, founding board member of CAIR's Texas chapter and businessman convicted of terrorism-related charges on April 14, 2005. According to AP "Ghassan and Bayan Elashi and their company were found guilty of all 21 federal counts they faced: conspiracy, money laundering and dealing in property of a terrorist...The brothers, all born in the Middle East, were convicted the same day jurors began deliberating, after nearly two weeks of testimony, and are to be sentenced Aug. 1. Prosecutors said each count carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence."

Bassem Khafagi former director of Community Relation for CAIR, plead guilty to bank and visa and has been deported to Egypt. According to Fox News, "The FBI said Khafagi is a founding member of the Islamic Assembly of North America, a charity that purports to promote Islam...Federal investigators said Islamic Assembly has funneled money to activities supporting terrorism and has published material advocating suicide attacks on the United States."

Randall Todd "Ismail" Royer, a former communications & civil rights specialist for CAIR, according to AP "Royer...admitted helping members of the conspiracy join the militant Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks.He pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting use of a firearm in a crime of violence and aiding and abetting the carrying of an explosive during commission of a felony. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison."

Siraj Wahhaj CAIR advisory board member named as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the "Blind Sheik" Omar Abdel Rahman bomb plots by US Prosecutor Mary Jo White; Rahman is serving a life sentence.

CAIR has been the focus of Senate hearings on Capitol Hill and was cited as funding the families of sucide bombers and Hamas.

CAIR is currently a defendant in a 9/11 terrorism lawsuit which is being brought by the family of FBI agent John O' Neill who was killed in the WTC attacks. http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/32

On April 13, 2005, Ghassan Elashi, founder of the Council on
American-Islamic Relations - Texas (CAIR - Texas) chapter, long-time
associate of CAIR's top leadership, and beneficiary of CAIR fund-raising
support, was convicted on Islamic terrorism related charges in Dallas,


According to the federal indictment, Elashi was laundering money for
Islamic terrorist organizations from 11/95 through 4/01 (pages 21 & 22).
Dating back to the early 1990s, Elashi had close ties to CAIR's leaders.
Elashi founded the CAIR - Texas chapter sometime before October, 2000
(CAIR - Texas first appeared as an affiliate on the CAIR National web site
in October 2000). Therefore, it is evident Elashi was a high-ranking CAIR
official at the time he committed the pro-terrorist crimes for which he was
found guilty by a jury of our fellow American citizens..."

"... In light of all these facts, we ask why anyone, any media organization,
politician, or government agency, would ever care about CAIR's opinion?


Imam, his family find refuge in Des Moines mosque

He denies terrorist allegations that follow him from Florida.


A few weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Imam Ibrahim Dremali arrived at his Florida home late in the evening. As he stepped out of his car, someone jammed a double-barrel shotgun into his chest. A second man was waving a pistol so he would be sure to see it.

Dremali, who was scheduled to talk about Islam at a local church that week, was told: "If we see you at the church, we'll kill you."

After the men left, the police were called. "I showed them the bruises on my chest," Dremali said. "I canceled the lecture."

Dremali, the dynamic leader of a growing mosque in Boca Raton, was given police protection, but he and his wife, Safaa Eissa, would not let their four children play outside afterward. The incident was one of several that prompted Dremali to leave Florida and come to Des Moines, where he is the new imam at the Des Moines Islamic Center, the city's largest mosque.

Dremali had visited Iowa twice and felt it might be better for his family.

"I prayed for guidance three times, and each time I received a sign that encouraged me to come," he said. "I have visited all over the United States, except Alaska. Iowa is the only place I've been where there was no discrimination. It's the only place where people don't look at me as if I were a stranger."

Iqbal Kapadia of Des Moines, a member of the Des Moines mosque, said fellow members are fortunate to have Dremali.

"When we heard him and spoke to him, we were impressed by his knowledge and communication skills," he said.

Dremali, a naturalized American citizen who came to the United States from Egypt in 1987 as a student, said he was also dogged in Florida by groups that accused him and his mosque of having links to terrorist organizations, an activity and intent that he has repeatedly denied.

"After the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, they accused us of being terrorists," he said. "We are Americans, and we are in the same boat as everyone else. I am 100 percent against what happened in New York. I came to this country to get peace and democracy. Instead of trying to divide people (with suspicions and allegations), we should work together."

Still, the terrorist allegations have followed Dremali to Iowa. Beila Rabinowitz, whose Web site, militantislammonitor.org, has labeled Dremali a "radical Islamist," has contacted Des Moines-area news media and Des Moines Jewish leaders about Dremali.

"Iowans are probably nice people and mean well, but they are gullible if they are taken in by Dremali," Rabinowitz said. "People should know his track record..."

Rabinowitz's Web site accuses Dremali of leaving Gaza City in 1996 against the orders of Israeli defense forces and participating in a pro-Palestinian rally in Miami in 2000. Dremali has repeatedly said he did not make statements at the rally that were attributed to him.

"They tried to put words in my mouth," he said.

The Web site notes Dremali was a witness at a trial of Adham Hassoun, who is accused of raising money in Florida for the Benevolence International Foundation, an organization the government said funneled money to al-Qaida. Dremali said he was invited to the court as a specialist on Islam and mosque operations.

The Web site also labels as "leftist" the interfaith sponsors of peace events in March in Des Moines. It alleges that educational forums about "Revival of Islamic Identity in Iowa" sponsored by the Ames Muslim Student Association at Iowa State University that same weekend were organized by "radicals."

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which monitors anti-Islam and anti-American actions nationwide, said Web sites such as Rabinowitz's have attacked almost all American Muslim groups and leaders at one time or another.

"The contact person for the domain militantislammonitor.org is the same person who maintains www.danielpipes.org," Hooper said. "Both are maintained by an Israeli settler named Grayson Levy who lives in a West Bank settlement. And Pipes is regarded by many Muslims as America's leading Islamophobe."

Local Jewish leaders said they have met Dremali, and he made a good impression. They've also read about him on the Internet.

Rabbi David Kaufman of Temple B'nai Jeshurun has shared a speaking appearance at Des Moines University with Dremali.

"He knows his stuff on Islam," Kaufman said. "There's a lot of stuff about him on the Internet, most of it circumstantial. Either he was in the wrong place at the wrong time or he ran with the wrong people. I can see why he would want to get out of there."

Dremali said he has never been arrested, charged or even questioned by U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials. He has offered to help law enforcement officials, he said. "I cooperated, just like any decent American citizen," he said.

On his return to the United States from a visit to Egypt and Saudi Arabia with his son in 2002, Dremali was detained for three hours by immigration officials. He said the ordeal seemed like 300 years in his life. It was then that he and his wife began talking about leaving Florida.

In 2003, after being taunted and spit on by a schoolmate, his oldest son was in a locker-room fight, involving scissors, with another boy. Both boys were injured. The boy pleaded "guilty in his best interest," a legally distinct plea that is not considered an admission of guilt in Florida. He was sentenced to 50 hours of community service and restitution. Dremali withdrew his son from public school and enrolled him in a Broward County Islamic academy.

"Our goal here is to raise our kids in a safe environment, it's the No. 1 reason we came here," Dremali said. "And in three months, I can see a big difference."

Mohamad Khan, imam for the Muslim Community Mosque in Des Moines, said he finds Dremali to be "a very sincere American." There has been no talk about Palestinian and Israeli politics, he said.

"We don't get into those kinds of things," Khan said. "We are trying to get people to straighten up their own lives, to not get involved with drugs and alcohol. We speak of family values and Muslim unity."

Khan said he, too, has been called a "radical Muslim" on a local AM radio talk show.

"If you come from that part of the world, you are always going to be singled out," he said. "Any part of the United States where there are Muslims and Jews, we don't have any problems when it comes to the Abrahamic religions. What we do have a problem with is agreeing on politics. And I believe that the Israelis and Palestinians are the ones who must solve the problems there."

Dremali is sorely missed at the Islamic Center of Boca Raton, according to Mirsad Krijestorac of Fort Lauderdale, a mosque member.

"He was excellent," Krijestorac said. "He helped people find their spiritual ground, which is important when you live in a society where everyone is chasing material things. You get lost. We miss him very much."

Dremali said that he is eager to make a different life for his family. As a father, he has enjoyed having more time with his children. The family has been making friends, "from day one." And so far, he has found the serenity he was seeking.

"For the first time, I sleep in peace," Dremali said. "My only worries are how to make the mosque and school better."



MIM: Letter welcoming Ibrahim Dremali by Iowa resident in response to Des Moines Register article



I want to welcome Imam Ibrahim Dremali and his family to Des Moines and to Iowa ("Imam, His Family Find Refuge at D.M. Mosque," April 18). Raised Christian, I have been blessed by opportunities to study and experience Judaism, Christianity and Islam: the Abrahamanic religions, which carry the same basic truths expressed in varied ways in order to reach all who choose to listen. How wonderful to have a new spokesperson to talk to us about a religion so few of us really understand! Welcome Imam Dremali!
-Elizabeth S. Mayfield,



MIM: Less then a month after the Des Moines register article came out with Dremali's lies regarding his terrorism connections the Des Moines public schools selected his mosque as a stop on the schools interfaith program.

More proof of the gullibility of people in Des Moines who refuse to recognise Dremali's track record for what it is - a documentation of international terrorism connections and support for Jihad, both in word and deed.



Students take spiritual journey

From synagogue to mosque, seventh-graders tour religious sites across Des Moines


What is a basilica?

Do you have to be from a certain country to be Muslim?

Inquisitive seventh-grade minds were reeling Friday as 110 students from West Des Moines' Indian Hills Junior High School toured five religious sites around Des Moines. The field trip concludes a social studies unit in which students studied different cultures and religions.

"This is great. I didn't really get it until we came here," said Natalie Leeper , 13, as she sat in the pew of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, after listening to animated church member Jim Zeller explain where the religion began and answered students' questions.

The class also visited Beth El Jacob Synagogue , the Basilica of St. John, Lutheran Church of Hope and the Islamic Center of Des Moines.

How long does it take to inscribe a Torah?

What is a basilica?

Do you have to be from a certain country to be Muslim?

Inquisitive seventh-grade minds were reeling Friday as 110 students from West Des Moines' Indian Hills Junior High School toured five religious sites around Des Moines. The field trip concludes a social studies unit in which students studied different cultures and religions.

"This is great. I didn't really get it until we came here," said Natalie Leeper , 13, as she sat in the pew of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George, after listening to animated church member Jim Zeller explain where the religion began and answered students' questions.

The class also visited Beth El Jacob Synagogue , the Basilica of St. John, Lutheran Church of Hope and the Islamic Center of Des Moines.

.Religion in public schools can be a touchy subject, and the field trip was optional, although everyone, to the organizer's knowledge, attended. Parent Robert Dubansky , along as a chaperone, said he thinks the field trip is a good way to show students the diversity that exists even among their classmates.

"My son just had his bar mitzvah, and a lot of his classmates were there," Dubansky said. "It's good for other people to see what Jeremy's religion is about."

The first stop Friday morning was an intimate synagogue, where Rabbi Aaron Schwarzbaum walked around in front of a giant stained glass window, unwound a Torah for his visitors and urged students to raise their hands and ask questions. He explained a favorite saying - that those who are bashful do not learn.

Schwarzbaum also explained good deeds and bad ones, noting that Jews value actions more than words.

"By being nice to someone at school or going and talking to a friend to make them feel better, you've changed the world," he said. "It's that idea that if you save one life, it's as if you saved the whole entire world. And that goes back to Adam and Eve."
Jordan Grantham , 13, was surprised to hear Schwarzbaum's estimate that it takes at least six to eight months to create a handwritten Torah - scrolls containing Jewish scripture and law - and only if the scribe worked full time.

Walking into the Basilica of St. John, classmate Trevor Gearhart took in the ornate architecture.

"You learn a lot more when you actually see things in person," he said.

The students learned that the basilica, a type of building used by the government in ancient Rome, was also adopted by the Roman Catholic Church.

Added Nicole Vincent, 13, after leaving the basilica: "It is magnificent to see the architecture."

At the Islamic Center, after students removed their shoes to enter the mosque, Imam Ibrahim Dremali took the opportunity to explain that Muslims do not condone any sort of terrorism. He also sang prayers for the students and joked with them about whether prayers or being a "nerd" earned him straight A's in school.

Although they only spent 45 minutes at each site, many students said the trip was eye-opening.

"I thought at first this would be boring," said Leeper. "But this isn't at all."


Des Moines Register article which portrayed radical Islamist Dremali as anti Iraq war 'peacenik'


March 19, 2005

A new wave of activists helps hold the anti-war banner at weekend rallies.


You'd never know by the scale of it, but today's "Peace is the Way" rally on Court Avenue in Des Moines was pulled together by a bunch of amateurs.

To Kathleen McQuillen of the American Friends Service Committee and other longtime Des Moines peace advocates, this is a sign of great progress - and great hope..."

"...It includes spiritual leaders like Ibrahim Dremali, the new imam at the Islamic Center of Des Moines, who just moved from Florida with his family..."

"...Dremali didn't have to look far for a reason to be involved in his first peace rally in his new hometown.

"Anywhere there's a rally like this, it is my duty as a Muslim to be part of it," he said. "We have 99 names of God. One of those names is the peace, the one who brings peace to the Earth. My mission as imam and as a Muslim is to bring peace."

Dremali, a 43-year-old husband and father of four, was already consumed by his responsibilities as an imam, which he described as "father to everyone, friend to everyone, spiritual leader to everyone. I have to be there whenever someone is in need."

But he found time last week to crisscross Des Moines with a stack of fliers, stopping in businesses and stores and asking if he could post one..."


MIM: Egyptian Islamic Jihad - Dremali's former cronies in their own words :


By Betsy Hiel

Sunday, December 1, 2002

CAIRO, Egypt — Gamal Sultan sits in his home office near Ain Shams University, where students often stage anti-American protests, and rants against U.S. policies in the region.

"America is a supporter of tyranny and oppression," Sultan says. Once a member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, he was imprisoned in the 1980s after the terror group assassinated Egypt's president, Anwar Sadat.

In another part of the city, Kamal Habib fingers amber prayer beads and speculates that Arab regimes "feel endangered by the United States and will move closer to the Islamists." A former deputy emir of Islamic Jihad, he spent more than a decade in prison for helping to plot Sadat's assassination.

Sultan and Habib belong to a movement that, for decades, has tried to turn Egypt into an Islamist state. Its bloody battle tore the country apart through the 1990s.

Both are connected to Pittsburgh, too: They wrote for Assirat Al-Mustaqeem, an Arabic-language magazine embracing radical, anti-U.S. views that was published in the city from 1991 to 2000.

Sultan traveled to Pittsburgh in 2000 and remembers other Islamists calling it the "Kandahar of America." The hilly terrain reminded them of the Afghan city that was a base of the now-deposed Taliban regime and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

The clash between mosque and state in many Muslim nations is not just a threat to those regimes, experts here say; it threatens U.S. strategic interests as well. An Islamist victory in a nation like Egypt could enable terrorists to strike America even more easily, especially given the links between foreign radicals and U.S. groups uncovered since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"These governments can't keep America's interests safe anymore," says Negad Borai, an Egyptian human-rights lawyer and democracy activist. Worse, the troubled regimes have "exported their problems … these fundamentalist ideas and terrorism, to the West."

Authoritarian regimes also have driven their own citizens to the Islamists, Borai and other experts say. Embittered by official corruption, the jailing and torture of dissidents, and grinding poverty in crumbling cities, many people see the activist Islamists as the only option, since moderate opposition groups are generally banned.

Radicals have fought to establish rule by the Quran and shariah, or Islamic law, since at least the 1920s, when the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood formed here. The Brotherhood is considered the father of scores of modern Islamic movements.

In Egypt — America's largest Arab ally — the long, deadly fight continues. But the "holy warriors" use different tactics now.

'Defeated on the street'

In 1981, gunmen of the Islamic Jihad and Islamic Group, or Gama'a Al-Islamiyya, killed Sadat during a military parade, then battled the Egyptian state for nearly two decades. They also targeted minority Coptic Christians, liberals and intellectuals — killing writer Farag Foda in one attack, stabbing Nobel Laureate author Naguib Mafouz in another.

In 1997, the Islamic Group slaughtered 58 foreigners and six Egyptians in Luxor, a popular tourist site. The attack turned most Egyptians against the movement, radical leaders now acknowledge.

Today, the government of Hosni Mubarak appears triumphant, says Emad Shahin, an expert on Islamic movements at American University in Cairo. Many militants remain imprisoned; the Muslim Brotherhood is banned from politics — though its leaders operate relatively openly. The government refuses to authorize new religiously based political parties.

But the Islamists are far from vanquished, Shahin says. "It doesn't mean that they are losing their popularity. It means that they are not as outspoken and explicit as their constituents would like them to be, but they are still there."

While the regime appears to control its security, public opinion increasingly favors religion over the government, he and others say.

"I believe Egypt was victorious by being able to stop the jihadi (holy warrior) operations," says Nabil Sharif El Din, a former state security officer, "but it was defeated on the street. The simple Egyptian has come to adopt the ideas of the Islamists, even if (he is) not a member of the group."

Sharif El Din, who fought the Islamists for 15 years, sees a growing number of veiled women on Cairo streets as a sign that Egyptian society is turning more religious.

"This is the fruit the Muslim Brotherhood is reaping from the spilled blood of the jihadis," he says.

Abdel-Monein Said, director of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, agrees. "What has happened during the past three-quarters of a century is that the balance between religion and state has become so skewed as to give rise to the Taliban, and under its protective wing, al-Qaida," he wrote recently.

Shahin, the university expert, says the U.S.-led war on terror — and, now, a looming war with Iraq — is persuading more Arabs to see the Islamists as "the people who can still resist, who can still say 'no' to the elements of globalization and international hegemony."

Disguised as moderates

Sharif El Din, the former security officer, sees another danger from "opportunistic and maneuvering groups" claiming to be reformed moderates.

The only difference between the radicals, he declares, is the means used to reach their goals. "The Muslim Brotherhood way is to slither into all of the institutions of the society."

Meanwhile, imprisoned militants are renouncing violence; eight Islamic Group leaders published books with titles such as "Shedding Light on the Errors of Jihad." All have denounced bin Laden and the Sept. 11 attacks.

Former jihadist Gamal Sultan is forming a new political party called Islah (Reform). Although Islah wants Islamic rule, Sultan insists it endorses democracy, free speech, a free press and will lead its followers from "secret and violent activity, to public and open activity."

By refusing to grant Islah a license, he warns, Egyptian officials are closing the door on peaceful groups and pushing young Egyptians toward violence: "They become attracted to secret groups, and this is very, very dangerous for the government and the whole world."

Yet even as he professes that "political violence is not justifiable," he quibbles that it is only an "impulsiveness used during particular periods of conflicts. All the parties have used violence."

Mona Makram-Ebeid, a former Egyptian parliamentarian and now a professor at American University in Cairo, says she "would give them the benefit of the doubt, but I am not convinced." Those who claim to renounce violence should "convince us that they really think in a different manner … more democratically, and that they can join in a society that is pluralistic."

Secularists like Sharif El Din and Makram-Ebeid are not alone in their suspicions.

Abou Elela Mady is a moderate Islamist and founder of the Wasat (Center) party. It includes women and Christians, he says, and "accepts plurality." As with Sultan's Islah party, the government refuses to license Wasat.

Mady, who left the Muslim Brotherhood to form Wasat, insists his party is the one true moderate voice among the Islamists. Other groups praise moderation but secretly cling to an ideology that is "scary and difficult to ignore … difficult to deal with because they are combative."

The real meaning of slogans such as the Muslim Brotherhood's "Islam is the Solution" remains unclear, he argues, and Islamists should be forced to openly discuss their attitudes on democracy, women, non-Muslims and international relations. Most, he warns, still reject the government's legitimacy and denounce it as a kafr (infidel) state.

Mady believes "the majority of the Islamic groups want the clash" that bin Laden has encouraged between Muslims and "infidels."

Sharif El Din likens them to a disease: "When you treat them with antibiotics but you don't finish the treatment, the virus becomes more vicious."

Hijacking democracy?

With the Egyptian government controlling the political rules, Islamists are concentrating on culture, according to Gamal Ghitani, a novelist and editor-in-chief of the weekly Akhbar Al Adab (Literary News).

Sultan, the former Islamic Jihad member, is an example of the new Islamist direction — and of the links between Islamists in Egypt and the United States.

Besides forming the Islah party, he edits Al Manar al Jadeed, a quarterly Islamist journal. The journal is published in cooperation with the Islamic Assembly of North America in Ann Arbor, Mich., which is connected to a variety of Islamic groups and activities in the United States.

Among those was the Pittsburgh-based magazine, Assirat Al-Mustaqeem. The Islamic Assembly also has had financial ties to Attawheed, a Pittsburgh-based foundation that operates a mosque, a school and other activities.

An Aug. 4 special report by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review detailed the three U.S. groups.

Al Manar's most recent edition contains a diatribe against Egyptian secularists written by Sultan's brother, Mahmoud. Both men wrote in the past for Pittsburgh's Assirat magazine.

The Al Manar article describes Islamists as superior because they follow a moral code, while secularists are loyal only to a "much-trumpeted ideology: the separation of church and state." It accuses secular groups of "parasitic activity," "cronyism" and "political opportunism."

Salah Bedeiwy, a member of the banned Labor party and a writer for Al-Shaab, an Islamist newspaper, insists "we believe 100 percent" in Western-style democracy "because it is perfectly compatible with Islam."

Yet Labor and Al-Shaab recently led a blistering campaign against a novel they deemed un-Islamic. One Al-Shaab headline militantly proclaimed: "God is great! Who will give me his allegiance that he is prepared to die?" The campaign ignited violent protests at Al Azhar University, a center of Egypt's hard-core Islamic scholars.

Officials closed Al-Shaab, but the newspaper posts material — including anti-U.S. declarations and fatwas (Islamic legal opinions) endorsing Palestinian suicide operations — on a Web site.

Bedeiwy denies a contradiction between his professed commitment to democracy, including press freedom, and the book-banning campaign: "The novel humiliated Christianity and Islam."

Such actions disturb secularists and moderate Islamists, however.

"When we talk about democracy, we talk about inclusion," says Makram-Ebeid, the parliamentarian-turned-professor. "Democracy sometimes brings to power people who are not committed to democracy and (who) sometimes even hijack the system."

'Give us five years to win'

Islamists reject such criticism. "Those are the extremist secularists who are non-religious people, mostly leftists, who want to fight against the Islamists and who will use any argument against us," Sultan replies.

But if the Islamists want to be part of Egypt's political system, others say, they must play by the rules. "The major rule is that Islam is a religion and it must continue as a religion," declares human-rights lawyer Borai. "We will not allow them to continue the Saudi Arabian experience," in which religion rules that country's political and social lives.

He, like others, accuses Egypt's government of tolerating the Islamists at the expense of moderates, to make up for its own lack of political legitimacy. "Our people hear two voices. One is the corrupt government, and the other is the fundamentalist through the mosque. The question is, where is the third voice?"

Complaining that religious organizations are more easily established than pro-democracy or human-rights institutes, he wants "an alliance between the civil society and the government against fundamentalism."

Sharif El Din agrees and says Egyptians stand "with the sea in front of them and the enemy behind them," to describe the desperate battle ahead.

Borai also believes Egyptian officials allow the Islamists to flourish, to frighten U.S. officials with the specter of a fundamentalist takeover and ensure continued U.S. aid — a ploy he feels is doomed. Instead, he proposes a timetable for democratic elections: "Give us just five years with real work inside this country, and we can fight against the fundamentalists and we will win."

U.S. help is imperative for a democratic transformation to succeed, he admits. "We want to convince the Americans to assist us to build together a democracy and human rights and to bring freedom to our people."

And to emphasize why America should help, he adds a chilling caution. The Islamists "want to destroy your civilization, and then come back and destroy ours."

Betsy Hiel can be reached at [email protected] or .

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