Temple 'Terror' Terrace:Mayor Ross, Police Chief Albano & Deputy Staley Pose For Fotos With Hamas & PIJ Operatives
Tampa Officials Show Support For Muslim Community Which Has Been Promoting Jihad For Decades
Temple Terrace, Florida Mayor & Police Stand with Those Linked to Palestinian Terror Orgs
A disturbing photo is posted by Islamic Jihad's Hatem Fariz, days after October 7th attacks.
November 16, 2023 by Joe Kaufman
Temple Terrace, Florida, a suburb of Tampa, has the inauspicious distinction of having been the location of a US network for the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). The ringleader of the network has since been deported, but significant elements of the network yet remain. Days after Hamas' barbaric attack on Israeli civilians, a photo was posted on social media of the Temple Terrace Mayor and his police chief meeting with one of the town's PIJ remnants, Hatem Fariz, and operatives from the Hamas-tied CAIR. The curious event showed that the network and its dangerous friends possess undue influence over local government and law enforcement.
Sami al-Arian was born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents and spent the latter part of his childhood in Cairo, Egypt. He arrived in the United States as a student, in 1975. Four years later, he was back in Egypt to marry his best friend Mazen al-Najjar's sister and help lay the groundwork for what is known today as "Palestinian Islamic Jihad." Both al-Arian and al-Najjar would create a PIJ infrastructure within Temple Terrace, consisting of a think tank, World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), a charity, Islamic Concern Project (ICP), a mosque, Islamic Community of Tampa (ICT), and a children's school, Islamic Academy of Florida (IAF).
In February 2003, al-Arian was indicted along with seven others – half of whom were overseas and not subject to extradition – on charges of "operating a racketeering enterprise… that supported numerous violent terrorist activities associated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad." Following a long-drawn-out trial, al-Arian and one other defendant, Hatem Naji Fariz, were convicted of providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
According to the indictment against him, Fariz "was a PIJ member" and did "conspire… to commit offenses against the United States… by making and receiving contributions of funds, goods, and services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad." Among other things, the indictment discusses how Fariz laughed and made light of a June 2002 PIJ suicide bombing that had just taken place in northern Israel, which ended the lives of 17 people and which his PIJ colleague described to him as being "successful."
After serving out his sentence, Fariz was named Director of ICT. The mosque also goes by the title Masjid al-Qassam, named after Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, the Palestinian religious and jihadist icon and key inspiration for PIJ.
On October 11, 2023, merely four days after the horrific attack on Israeli civilians that was organized and staged by Hamas and aided by PIJ, Fariz posted a photo on his social media of himself standing alongside Temple Terrace Mayor Andy Ross, Temple Terrace Police Chief Kenneth Albano, and Temple Terrace Police Deputy Chief Rob Staley. Also standing with the smiling Mayor and police in the photo were the Executive Director of the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Abdullah Jaber and former CAIR-Florida Interfaith and Youth Program Director Aida Mackic.
CAIR was founded, in June 1994, as a part of a Muslim Brotherhood umbrella organization led by then-global head of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzouk. CAIR's seed money came from the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), a Hamas charity that would be shut down shortly after the September 11th attacks. CAIR used its websites to raise money for HLF, and when HLF and its leadership were being prosecuted by the US government, CAIR was named a party to the crime as an "unindicted co-conspirator."
When it comes to Palestinian terror, there is no daylight between CAIR's parent organization and its Florida chapter. In July 2014, CAIR-Florida co-sponsored a pro-Hamas rally, where rally goers chanted "We are Hamas" and "Let's go Hamas." The group has defended the convicted leaders of HLF and Sami al-Arian, as well. And when it comes to al-Arian's mosque, then-CAIR-Florida Executive Director Hassan Shibly stated, at a 2017 CAIR media brunch, that the group depends on ICT for "programs, fundraising" and more. He said, "Really, we couldn't do the work without the tremendous support we get from the mosque."
In May 2021, when Israel was previously at war with Hamas, Hatem Fariz and CAIR-Florida joined forces to organize anti-Israel rallies. One of the rallies was held outside the office of US Representative Kathy Castor, who upset the rally organizers by condemning Hamas and tweeting that Israel "has a right to defend itself." At the rally, standing together with others behind the podium were Fariz, Abdullah Jaber and Aida Mackic, who was then-part of CAIR and, along with Fariz, a contact for the rallies.
Ironically, now, Mackic is, once again, upset at a Castor for support of Israel. This time, it is Tampa Mayor Jane Castor (no relation), who has borne the brunt of Mackic's ire, for lighting up City Hall in royal blue and posting a photo of it on Facebook. Castor wrote, on October 14th, "Old City Hall will be lit up again in the colors of Israel as we stand in solidarity." Mackic replied to the Mayor, quoting numbers of Palestinian deaths, while mentioning nothing about the brutality of Hamas that was the cause of those deaths along with well over 1000 Israeli – mostly civilian – brutal murders.
This episode shows a stark contrast between the Tampa Mayor, who along with her police department helped provide supplies to Israeli troops, and the Temple Terrace Mayor and police, who stand with those associated with the terrorist groups that have raped, burned and beheaded Israelis, in the worst violence committed against Jews since the Holocaust.
Embracing individuals like Hatem Fariz and groups like CAIR is not just a dereliction of duty on the part of Mayor Ross and Police Chief Albano, but it is a threat to our nation's security.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.