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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Ex Detroit school official Kifah Jayousi charged with helping terrorists - linked to Hassoun and Daher in Florida

Ex Detroit school official Kifah Jayousi charged with helping terrorists - linked to Hassoun and Daher in Florida

The War Within -South Florida mosques ties to terror
March 28, 2005

MIM: Florida as 'Terror Central'. More then a decade after Kifah Wael Jayoussi founded the Armed Islamic group, the ex Detroit school official was finally charged together with an ex Broward man Kassem Daher, who is now a fugitive in Lebanon . Both men are linked to Adham Hassoun, the Lebaneseborn computer programmer, who is now in jail in Florida awaiting trial on terrorism charges.

At the same time Hassoun had been working at MarCom, a Sunrise Florida computer company, he was raising money for Jihad and distributing a magazine called"The Call of Islam" which encouraged 'martyrdom'. Another member of the group, Mohamed Zaky, was killed in Afghanistan in 1995. Zaky had founded the Save Bosnia Now and American Worldwide Relief 'charity' fronts.

All four men are also connected to Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the spiritual leader of the Armed Islamic Group, (who was jailed for life due to his part in the 1993 WTC bombings. The Armed Islamic Group's magazine, Islam Report, was published by Jayoussi . (See below article to read both The Call of Islam and the Islam Report.)


MIM: The Sun Sentinel reported that ; "...The charges mirror those filed against Palestinian terror suspect Adhan Amin Hassoun, who has been tied to alleged al-Qaida plotter Jose Padilla.And reported that Jayousi will be brought to Miami for trial. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/southflorida/sfl-329terrorties,0,6592000.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

Hassoun, who has been jailed in Florida since his arrest two years ago, was allegedly part of an international network of violent Islamic extremists who recruited terrorists, including Padilla, and financially supported Islamic jihad through murder and kidnappings abroad, including Bosnia, Chechnya, and Somalia..."


MIM: Excerpts from article detailing the charges

"...Jayyousi and Daher are charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources for terrorism and conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure people or damage property in a foreign country. The first charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The second carries a maximum penalty of 35 years to life in prison.

Daher, a former resident of Leduc, Canada, is a fugitive living in Lebanon.

A court affidavit signed by FBI agent John Kavanaugh Jr. said an investigation that began in late 1993 found that Jayyousi, Daher and two other men -- Mohamed Zaky and Adham Amin Hassoun -- were involved in a North American network to raise money and recruit fighters to wage violent jihad around the globe.

Money initially was raised through charitable organizations known as Save Bosnia Now and American Worldwide Relief, the affidavit said. They were founded by Zaky of San Diego, who was killed in Afghanistan while fighting Russians in May 1995.

Hassoun, a Palestinian national who was born in Lebanon, came to the United States in 1989 and has been in U.S. custody since June 2002, is awaiting trial in Miami on similar terrorism charges. He lived in Broward County, Fla..."



Ex-school official tied to terror


March 29, 2005

A former Detroit schools official has been charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.

A criminal complaint unsealed Monday in Miami said Kifah Wael Jayyousi, 43, formerly of Detroit, conspired with Kassem Daher of Broward County, Fla., in the mid- and late 1990s to raise money and recruit Muslim extremists to fight in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya and Somalia. The complaint was issued in December.

Authorities said Jayyousi, a former assistant superintendent, was arrested around 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Detroit Metro Airport after stepping off a flight from Amsterdam. U.S. Customs agents detained him after conducting a routine computer check that showed Jayyousi was wanted on a federal terrorism warrant out of Miami. It's unclear whether he was traveling alone. Authorities said he had flown to Amsterdam from Qatar.

Jayyousi made a brief appearance Monday in U.S. District Court in Detroit, where the U.S. Attorney's Office requested that he be sent to Miami to answer to the charges.

U.S. Magistrate Steven Whelan ordered him held until a detention hearing Wednesday, when his lawyer, Jon Posner, could be present. Posner is in the hospital, according to his law firm.

Jayyousi and Daher are charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources for terrorism and conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure people or damage property in a foreign country. The first charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The second carries a maximum penalty of 35 years to life in prison.

Daher, a former resident of Leduc, Canada, is a fugitive living in Lebanon.

A court affidavit signed by FBI agent John Kavanaugh Jr. said an investigation that began in late 1993 found that Jayyousi, Daher and two other men -- Mohamed Zaky and Adham Amin Hassoun -- were involved in a North American network to raise money and recruit fighters to wage violent jihad around the globe.

Money initially was raised through charitable organizations known as Save Bosnia Now and American Worldwide Relief, the affidavit said. They were founded by Zaky of San Diego, who was killed in Afghanistan while fighting Russians in May 1995.

Hassoun, a Palestinian national who was born in Lebanon, came to the United States in 1989 and has been in U.S. custody since June 2002, is awaiting trial in Miami on similar terrorism charges. He lived in Broward County, Fla.

The affidavit said Jayyousi is a Jordanian national and naturalized U.S. citizen who has lived in San Diego, Los Angeles, Detroit and Baltimore. It said he moved to Egypt in 2003.

After Zaky's death, Jayyousi allegedly took over American Worldwide Relief. He also founded the American Islamic Group. Although that group touted itself as a nonprofit, religious service to protect the rights of Muslims and provide economic aid to needy people, it actually promoted terrorism, the affidavit said.

The affidavit said Jayyousi used the group's monthly newsletter, Islam Report, to raise money and recruit fighters for jihad and to disseminate the accomplishments of terrorists worldwide. The affidavit said the newsletter described murders, executions and massacres committed by terrorists.

The affidavit said all four men were followers of Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, an Egyptian cleric who was sentenced to prison in 1995 for plotting to blow up New York landmarks.

From 1994 through late 1995, Jayyousi allegedly called Rahman in prison to update him about terrorist developments. Much of the information contained in the complaint came from court-authorized electronic surveillance.

Jayyousi worked as a senior engineer at the University of California-Irvine before he was hired in 1997 as assistant superintendent for physical facilities and capital improvement at Detroit Public Schools.

In Detroit, he was responsible for overseeing the early stages of spending of the $1.5-billion school bond. During his tenure, the bond program was mired in two controversies: skepticism about the costs associated with a construction program led by then-Wayne County prosecutor candidate Mike Duggan and the firing of a minority company that managed the bond program, which led to a lawsuit against the district.

Jayyousi also is listed as an adjunct engineering professor at Wayne State University on the college's Web site.

Jayyousi left Detroit Public Schools in 1999 and was hired to run the Washington, D.C., public schools facilities department.


MIM: The Call of Islam is still published in Australia -note that Adham Hassoun is listed as the North American distributor. Among the 'variety of topics discussed ' were "martyrdom missions".



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The 13th issue out NOW!

Read in the this issue (English Section):

* Cover Theme:
The Terrorism Summit in Cairo: An International Conspiracy Against Islam
* A Legal & Historical Perspective
* The Summit's Movitves & Goals

* An Interview With Sheikh Ahmed Deedat

* Brotherhood: The Missing Foundation

* Muslims in Australia... Negative Aspects of Soceity

In addition to many interesting articles, including Qur'an, News, Youth & Companions
of The Prophet (s.a.w.) etc.


The Arabic section covers a variety of topics, such as: Martyrdom Missions,
Political Analysis, News, Economics, History, Aqeedah, Seerah etc..

***Get your copy NOW!***

Buy the latest edition of Nida'ul Islam for ONLY *$2.50!!!

Nida'ul Islam is a comprehensive intellectual magazine published in Arabic and
English in over 60 pages.

Nida'ul Islam is published by the Media Office - Islamic Youth
Movement, Sydney-Australia.

For subscription and queries, please write to:
E-mail: [email protected]
Address: PO Box: 216 Lakemba
NSW 2195 Australia

Contact our Distributor in Northern America, brother Adham Hassoun at:
[email protected]
* Price per copy: Australia: AU$2.50
USA: US$3.00
Canada: CA$3.50
Europe: US$3.00

* * * * * * * * N I D A U ' U L I S L A M * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


American Islamic Group

Bismillahi Alrahmani Alraheem
In The Name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful
Date: 27 April, 1996
JUST IN .... JUST IN ..... JUST IN .....


US immigration and FBI agents arrested Brother Naser Ahmad, the
court-appointed para-legal for the respected Muslim Scholar
Dr. Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who is currently appealing a life
sentence in the US. Brother Naser was on his way for his immigration
hearing last Tuesday 23 April, 1996 when US government agents
arrested him without charge. Attorneys failed until now to receive any
response from the government to why he was arrested.

Brother Naser is considered a key person in the appeal case of Sheikh
Omar because he works in both a para-legal and a translator capacity to
help the Sheikh communicate with attorneys and the courts. He
visited the Sheikh few weeks ago in his Missouri high security prison.
Sheikh Omar was a victim of a conspiracy in which the US government,
mainly the FBI, the INS and the CIA along with the Egyptian regime
intelligence fabricated a case against him. The Sheikh was sentenced
to two lives in prison by the Jewish Judge Michael Mukasey, early this

In April last year and while the hearings in the Sheikh's case were
ongoing, the US government arrested Brother Naser for what they called
immigration charges, they took him to INS offices and threatened him
deportation to Egypt and that he would be handed over with his family to
Egyptian security intelligence if he refused to become a witness against
the Sheikh. He was also told to call FBI agents and to say on the
witness stand what they want. Brother Naser told the US agents that he
would not lie. In the Face of this faithful and brave Muslim, the
US government had no choice but to release.

One day prior to the arrest of Brother Naser, the so called
"Terrorism Bill" was signed into law with the encouragement and
influence of Jews in Washington. The new law allows the government
to deport anyone after tagging him as a terrorist threat, it also allows
agents to arrest people without charge and without allowing them the
right to attorney. Before the victim knows and before he/she gets
a chance to defend him/her self, government agents, by this new law, can
deport him quickly. It now looks that Brother Naser Ahmad may be the
first victim of this law which was meant against Muslims especially that
Islam has become the fastest growing religion in America.

Brother Naser is an Electrical Engineer, married with three children who
live in New York, he was also an officer at Masjid Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq,
which has been the target of both US and Egyptian intelligence agents
the past few years, most recently the Mosque was targeted by law suites
order to destroy its unique Islamic identity. Naser Ahmad has never
a crime or a violation since his lawful entry into the US in 1983. It is
now clear
that the US government want to do anything in its capacity to harm the
appeal case of Sheikh Omar, even if it means deporting his para-legal to
Egyptian security forces where he is surely to be tortured or even
killed. The
US government was involved in the arrest last year and continued
detention of Brother Yusuf Saleh, a US citizen, who was the para-legal
for Sheikh Omar and was visiting Egypt with his family.

Here is the blessed Eid Al-Adha (Sacrifice) coming to us while the best
of our Muslim Scholars and the best of our Muslim youth is spending
his time behind bars in the US and other oppressive regime prisons, away
from their families, children and people.
We condemn this US government cowardly act against Islam and Muslims,
and we see the fingertips of Jews all over this campaign. It was a
judge who sentenced the Sheikh, and it will be a Jewish judge also who
will preside on Brother Naser's case, even the head of the CIA is a Jew,
and so are most of the senior officials in the Clinton's administration,
experts and the think tanks and influential legislatures. We say Hasbuna
Allah Wa Ni'ma Al-Wakeel, and this is an urgent call to every Muslim to
stand with his brother in this hard time and to assist in his defense.

Sayidna Mohammed Salallahu Alaihi Wasalam
said :"and that who point to the good is like the one doing it."
(Aldaalu Ala Alkhair Kafa'iluh)

Please send what you can in defense of Islam and in defense
of Islam Scholars. Every Muslim brother and Sister, whether in
Malaysia or Britain, whether in US, South America, Canada or
Egypt and Aljazirah Al-Arabia have a responsibility.

Please send your contributions to the defense committee of Sheikh Omar
Abdel Rahman, Make checks payable to: "The American Islamic Group"
and send it to:
The American Islamic Group
P. O. Box 711660
San Diego, California 92171-1660
Phone/Fax: (619) 268-8189

Or please send a bank transfer or a money wire to:

Bank of America
Account Number: 09008-14863

Wajazakum Allah Khair
We say: "Hasbuna Allah Wani'ma Al-Wakeel,
Islam Report is published by The American Islamic Group (AIG),
A religious non-profit organization. Islam Report aims to expose
and analyze threats against Islam and Muslims worldwide.


Current Chechyna Qital News

Date: 7 June, 1995

Mujahideen, May Allah Protect Them, must not be held responsible or at fault or be blamed for any inaccuracies and any mistakes which may result out of the translation. This service is meant for Muslims from Mujahideen authenticated media outlets.

AIG's First American Muslim Martyr In Chechnya

We are deeply honored and proud to report to all Muslims the Martyrdom (Shahadah) InshaAllah of one of our own faithful people in the land of Chechnya: Brother Mohammad Zaki.

Brother Mohammad Zaki was the head of our Chechnya Relief effort which was started in November 1994. He is believed to be the first American Muslim to be killed in Chechnya. May Allah count him as Martyr and accept his Jihad.

Brother Mohammad Zaki established contacts and relief routes inside Chechnya along with others, due to his extensive relief experiences in Afghanistan and Bosnia. Brother Mohammad Zaki worked through our sister organization "American Worldwide Relief," based in San Diego with divisions in other states.

Throughout his life, our brother was active in Da'wa in North and South America. Born in Washington DC, he spoke fluent Spanish, Italian, French, English and Arabic. He established the "Islamic Information Center of the Americas" and "Save Bosnia Now" organizations. His life was full of Jihad and hard work, and many people accepted Islam through his Da'wa.

Brother Zaki is survived by his wife and four children here in San Diego. The American Islamic Group has set up a special fund for the family: Please send contributions payable to :

"The American Islamic Group" Note on check that donation is for brother Mohammad's family.


MIM : In the course of a decade the number of Islamic centers and mosques has more then tripled in South Florida. A new Islamic Center is also being planned in Sunrise with many of the people involved with terror linked mosques and Islamic institutions as part of the project. http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/257

MIM:For on Maulana Shafayat Mohamed and Dar Ul Uloom's ties to terrorism see: Maulana Shafayat Mohamed: President of Hollywood Interfaith Council embraces Bin Laden buddies. Dar Ul Uloom welcomes South Florida terrorists.



War Within
Listen to the leaders of two South Florida mosques tied to terror

Clockwise from top left: Imam Rafiq Mahdi addresses questions about the accused "dirty bomber," Jose Padilla, during a news conference with Broward County Sheriff Ken Jenne. Raed Awad addresses a congregation at a Broward County mosque, Nur-Ul Islam, in the late 1990s. Mahdi and Awad have both headed Masjid Al-Iman, which is one of the more fundamentalist mosques in South Florida.
AP/Wide world photo
Was Jose Padilla "made" in Broward County or overseas?
photos/Colby Katz
Shafayat Mohamed (top left and lower right) gives a Friday sermon at Darul Uloom.
Shafayat Mohamed has a dream.

He dreams that one day, little Muslim boys and girls will join hands with Christian and Jewish boys and girls around the world and walk together as sisters and brothers. He really does. The mosque leader dreams that Palestinians and other predominantly poor and uneducated Arabs will pull themselves out of their own dark age and erase the hatred that has held them there. He hopes for the death of Islamic fundamentalism.

Rafiq Mahdi, another Muslim leader in Broward County, doesn't see Islam in the same light; he is a fundamentalist. Mahdi envisions an Islamic empire, a place where, if you don't follow Muslim rules, you are free -- to leave the country. While Mahdi doesn't espouse terrorism in the Middle East, he sympathizes with Palestinian suicide bombers and refuses to call Hamas, which has sponsored the killing of hundreds of civilians, a terrorist organization.

The two men could hardly be more different. Mohamed is a gregarious, highly Americanized extrovert from the West Indies. Mahdi is a somber, highly Islamicized introvert born in Knoxville. Mohamed runs a large and liberal mosque called Darul Uloom in the middle-class suburb of Pembroke Pines. Mahdi oversees a small, fundamentalist mosque, Masjid Al-Iman, in a low-income black neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale. Mohamed waves a United States flag; Mahdi denounces American foreign policy.

It would seem the two men have only their black beards and a belief in Allah in common. But there is another thing: Both of their mosques have gained international notoriety for links to alleged extremists and would-be terrorists. Between them, they've been tied not only to Jose Padilla, the so-called "dirty bomber," but also to a pair of immigrants plotting jihad on Broward County and to two Muslims who raised funds for companies that allegedly serve as fronts for terror groups.

Although Mahdi convincingly says he would report to authorities any Muslims he suspected of planning violence, it's not surprising that extremists would be attracted to his mosque. The explanation for the liberal Mohamed's association with terrorism at his Islamic institute is perhaps more frightening. It seems that if you build it, the extremists will come. Welcome or not.

While the war on terrorism plods along, another secretive battle is being waged within South Florida's Islamic community. Mohamed and Mahdi embody the conflict. Mohamed complains that fundamentalists have threatened his life and that some local Muslims, including Mahdi, are increasingly intolerant of his views. Mahdi, for his part, doesn't approve of Mohamed's liberal pronouncements, which he believes fly in the face of true Islam. These differences are typical of the internecine fight within Islam, a growing battle for power between liberals and fundamentalists, Arabs and non-Arabs, and those who embrace the secular world and those who want to retreat into the strictures of old Islam.

The outcome could mean the difference between peace and war.

Jose Padilla, who the Bush administration alleges was plotting to detonate a radioactive bomb in the United States for al Qaeda before his arrest, attended religious classes at the liberal Darul Uloom, but his real spiritual home after converting to Islam in 1992 was Masjid Al-Iman.

A plain, neatly kept little building across the street from a small public park, Masjid Al-Iman attracts roughly 250 people for the weekly Friday sermon. African-Americans founded the mosque, which is south of Sunrise Boulevard just west of I-95, about 20 years ago. During the past decade, though, it was headed by an Islamic fundamentalist Palestinian named Raed Awad, who counted Padilla as one of his faithful followers.

During a telephone interview from his new home in Alabama, Awad says Padilla never stood out as an extremist before he left for Egypt in 1998. "He was a polite person, very reserved, he was a... what is it? A shy person. He hardly asked any questions," says Awad, who left Fort Lauderdale last year. "I was surprised he would like to travel, because he wasn't that type of outgoing person."

The only private time Awad says he spent with Padilla was when he counseled the young man on his marriage (a dubious occupation for Awad, who is divorced and whose former wife repeatedly accused him, in local police reports and court papers, of physically abusing both her and their children).

Before Padilla left for Egypt, Awad and members of Masjid Al-Iman raised money to help pay for the trip. And Awad undoubtedly has a knack for fundraising. From 1998 through 2000, he served as the registered agent in Florida for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a Palestinian charity group based in Texas. With a briefcase full of checks, he traveled the United States and Latin America raising money from Muslims for the foundation. Although he refuses to estimate how much he collected, he doesn't deny it was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It was dirty money, however, according to the Bush administration, which froze the foundation's bank accounts this past December. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been investigating the Holy Land Foundation for alleged ties to Hamas for years, Awad says. On February 24, 1998, terrorism expert Stephen Emerson testified before Congress that the organization funded terrorism, paid martyred suicide bombers' families, and held rallies "calling for jihad and death to the Jews."

Federal officials have yet to offer proof that the foundation was indeed a front for Hamas, and Awad adamantly denies it. "The money went to help Muslims," Awad says. "There were certain projects in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Jordan. We were instructed never to talk about politics when we raised funds."

The Bush administration also froze the bank accounts of the Benevolence International Foundation and the Global Relief Foundation, two Chicago-based groups with ties to Osama bin Laden that were represented in Florida by Awad friend and fellow Masjid Al-Iman member Adham Hassoun of Sunrise. Hassoun, also a Palestinian, was jailed in June on suspicion he aided Padilla in the alleged bomb plot.

Awad echoes what many local Muslims say about Hassoun: He wasn't an extremist, but he could, with his passionate pro-Palestinian and anti-U.S. foreign policy stance, sound like one. "Hassoun was a member of my mosque, and he would give emotional speeches -- he was a firebrand," Awad explains. "He was a very kind, very sensitive, very helpful man. He would help anyone, but he was passionate. I often told him, 'Your words will bring trouble upon you.'

"He was critical of the U.S. government, and I am critical of the U.S. government. I see American policy as one-sided with the Israelis. I see a double standard."

When Awad stepped down from his position as Masjid Al-Iman's imam, or prayer leader, in early 2000, he asked friend Mahdi, who then headed the Islamic Center of Miami, to take over the congregation. Mahdi, unlike Awad, wasn't born in the heat of Middle Eastern conflict. Rather, he was brought up in Knoxville, in a family that worshiped at an African Methodist Episcopal church. It wasn't until 1978, when he was 24 years old, that he converted to Islam. A carpenter by trade, he helped found a group called the Muslim Community in Knoxville in 1984 and, four years after that, went to Saudi Arabia to study Islam. He returned in 1994 and ultimately became the imam of Miami's Islamic Center four years ago.

Mahdi accepted Awad's offer and took over Masjid Al-Iman, where he has been ever since.

Mahdi doesn't consider his mosque conservative or fundamentalist, just true to the religion: "Islam is Islam, and it has been since it was revealed 1400 and some odd years ago, and it is not the right of any individual to take it upon themselves to change it based on their own rationale or want or desire. We want to keep it in the truest form."

Mahdi sits behind his small desk in his cramped office in the back of his mosque on a recent Monday morning, a framed glass picture of Mecca beside him on the wall. A big man with a big black beard, he wears a flowing white robe and often ignores the high-pitched burbling of his phone, which sounds every few minutes. Occasionally, he takes a call and speaks in rhythmic, fluent Arabic to whomever is on the line. Above his head is a shelf of religious volumes mixed with books on subjects like the Scholastic Aptitude Test and calculus. He uses the textbooks to educate some of his more underprivileged followers.

The 47-year-old Mahdi lives a simple life -- he eschews cable television, for instance -- and is dedicated to outreach in rough neighborhoods like the one that surrounds his mosque. He also counsels inmates at the Broward County Jail and various Florida prisons. As he answers questions during a New Times interview, he is rigidly circumspect, speaking in his smooth, deep voice only after carefully choosing his words.

Although he clearly has strong fundamentalist views, Mahdi doesn't promote political violence in Israel or America. He says he was sickened by the September 11 attacks, as were all other Americans. "It is impossible for me to understand how a Muslim would feel that carrying out the acts of 9/11 in some way is going to benefit Islam and Muslims -- there is no way it does," he avers. "So whoever would come to a conclusion to have some type of war against America, they have without a doubt deviated from any sense of proper understanding of the religion."

Mahdi criticizes the Jewish occupation of Palestine and America's unyielding support for Israel even when the Jewish state commits terrible human rights abuses. He appeals to Americans to consider Palestinians' difficult lives under Israeli occupation before judging suicide bombers. "Is anyone really asking, seriously, how would a young person come to the mind frame that they want to blow themselves up and take along with them as many Israelis as they could?" he asks. "This, of course, is not a normal condition. So I think we need to look at why would that condition come about."

He also disagrees with what he perceives as America's inconsistent and hypocritical foreign policy toward oil-rich Saudi Arabia. "I think that the perception that many Muslims have regarding [America] is that [it] supports unjust regimes, and many Saudis feel that the Saudi government is unjust," he says. "Of course, those of us who are aware of the type of government in Saudi Arabia, we recognize that it is a monarchy where there is no election and there is no choice for the people."

Mixed with these good and reasonable arguments is unmistakable fundamentalist rhetoric. For instance, even as Madhi condemns the 9/11 attacks, he qualifies it by saying that the death and destruction didn't "benefit" Islam. By that logic, it follows that, had the attacks helped Islam, they would have been justified. Further, Mahdi says he isn't convinced that bin Laden was behind the attacks, despite the evidence that has been uncovered. He doesn't say bin Laden is innocent; Madhi wants the leader of al Qaeda captured and brought to trial. "I want to hear his side of the story," he explains.

As for suicide bombings, the imam says he has wrestled long and hard with the question of whether they are necessary and has ultimately came to the conclusion that they are not a "viable military option."

"I don't know the infrastructure of Hamas or its mission statement, but in regard to freeing the occupied territories, I support their goal," Mahdi says. "Not being under the everyday pressure or reality of living in the occupied territories, I find it difficult to blanketly condemn [suicide bombings], although personally I don't see that it will bring about the desired goal.

"Most Muslims would not view Hamas as a terrorist organization, even though there is some debate in the scholarly quarters of the Muslim world about the permissibility of suicide bombing as a military alternative. But even those who reject it... view [Hamas] as being incorrect in their opinion, but not necessarily as terrorists."

(Hamas's slogan, according to its charter, is: "Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Quran its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief.")

Mahdi also implicitly defends the Taliban, saying pointedly that he can't understand why America bombed Afghanistan when 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.

But Mahdi is as critical of Islamic governments as he is of his own. "There is no single government in the Muslim world that is ruling the country according to Islam," Mahdi says. "Even though you have the labels of 'Islamic Republics' in Iran, Pakistan, Sudan... none of these governments are ruling the people according to the belief of the people."

The answer, Mahdi declares, is a return to "true Islam." He wants "the Muslim world to adopt the Islamic model." This may sound a little like the goal of bin Laden and the Taliban, but it isn't. He says he wants it done peacefully.

"There would be no lottery, there would be no liquor stores, there would be no nude beaches," Mahdi says. "But of course, there would be the pursuit of education, the pursuit of wealth, the pursuit of happiness. But certain things would be regulated according to that which is the legislation of Islam."

And if a woman, say, wanted to wear Western-style clothes in this new country? Mahdi's answer is simple: "She would have the choice -- if people don't like the rules, then they can leave."

While Mahdi dreams of a Middle Eastern empire, Shafayat Mohamed professes his love for the United States, where he wants to see Muslims thrive. "I believe that a true Islamic state is when Muslims can live with everybody else," Mohamed says. "That is a true Islamic system, when Muslims can tolerate other faiths and other cultures."

The maulana, or Islamic scholar, doesn't agree with Mahdi on much of anything. Though Mohamed's Darul Uloom is in Pembroke Pines, just 15 miles south of Masjid Al-Iman, the two mosques may as well be on opposite ends of the earth.

With its green-and-white painted fašade and golden tassels adorning support poles, Darul Uloom is more reminiscent of Christmas than Ramadan. Located in a storefront on Pines Boulevard where a Great Value Supermarket used to be, the mosque was renovated a few years ago for $2 million, Mohamed says. He boasts 700 worshipers, whom he may as well call customers, for Mohamed is not only a maulana; he is also a capitalist.

A big, friendly man with a quick smile and a salesman's good cheer, Mohamed sometimes sponsors automobile shows, with flashy Corvettes and Lamborghinis, in Darul Uloom's parking lot. He publishes a for-profit monthly Islamic newsletter, Al-Hikmat, with the motto "Only the Wise Advertise." Inside the institute is a souvenir shop, where everything from small models of Mecca to coffee cups (for just $6 a pop) to toy trucks and talking alarm clocks are for sale.

A patriotic believer in the West, Mohamed displayed a U.S. flag in front of the institute after September 11. During a recent Friday sermon, he preached not about the evil of infidels but about the need to eliminate hatred from within Islam. Standing at his ornately carved pulpit of polished wood, he spoke into a microphone, the words amplified through several loudspeakers in the expansive mosque. Outside, cars jammed the parking lot, as they do for every Friday service. Wearing everything from traditional Islamic dress to Shell gas station T-shirts, his congregation packed Darul Uloom.

After the sermon, when the cars were gone, Mohamed, wearing a gold-threaded black robe, sat down on a simple, steel, folding chair not far from his pulpit. "I am on an antiterrorism campaign," he says, adjusting his spectacles. "We can come together. Jews and Muslims can work together."

Mohamed has done more than his part, forging strong relationships with rabbis and ministers and becoming active in several mainstream community boards. He's won awards for his efforts, and he seems to have been born to unite Islam with other religions; growing up in Trinidad, his family flirted with Christianity and Hinduism, and his father owned a supermarket that served alcohol. "I'm an Islamic scholar, and my father ran a bar," he says with a mixture of mock disbelief and amusement. "At one point, I prayed to Jesus as a child. We had a picture of Jesus in my house. I think that is why my picture of the world is so different."

It's a world-view that has provoked conservative Muslims to oppose him: "Some Palestinian guys threatened me last year when they were having marches. One of them told one of my friends, 'Tell Maulana Shafayat that he doesn't support us, he supports the other people, and we're going to get rid of him.' I get a lot of threat calls, cursing my views, but they are anonymous."

Many Arab Muslims have come to loathe him. "They wouldn't tell me that in my face, so they tell my friends that Shafayat does not like Arabs," he says. "Or that I don't support Palestine.... When they have [pro-Palestinian] marches and they invite me, I don't go. I don't believe in demonstrations.... You don't need to go out and stand like a fool on the street. I don't like it. I think it's a backward operation."

Too many Arabs are driven by hateful politics, Mohamed says, and he says he refuses to fall into their trap. "They call me a hypocrite. They say, 'Are you [with us], or are you with them?'" Mohamed complains. "They say I am bought over by the Americans, that I'm bought over by the Jews, that I don't preach jihad. And I think, 'These guys have got to be crazy guys.' ... I hope they can get a little more educated and stop thinking so foolish."

Mohamed is unambiguous in his support for America's war in Afghanistan ("It tells the world that the radical guys like the Taliban will not be tolerated") and denounces the killing of civilians and all acts of terrorism in America, Israel, and anywhere else in the world. "People say this is fighting for freedom; I say this is a coward's method," he proclaims. "Islam totally prohibits the killing of innocent people."

Not surprisingly, his congregation is from all over the world and includes, as Mohamed puts it, "only a handful of Arabs... a handful who are intelligent and educated and... left the craziness over there."

But the bloody conflicts and polemical politics of the Middle East infect all of Islam, including Mohamed's own Darul Uloom. The alleged "dirty bomber," Padilla, for instance, is of Puerto Rican descent and grew up in Chicago before converting in Broward County. Mohamed says Padilla attended religious classes for a few months in the mid-1990s. He says Padilla was quiet and never spouted radical rhetoric at Darul Uloom. "He wound up amongst the Arabs," Mohamed laments. "And that's where he got his [terrorist] operation."

Another operation, however, started in Mohamed's own institute. Imran Mandhai, an immigrant from Pakistan, and Shueyb Mossa Jokhan, from Mohamed's homeland of Trinidad, were indicted on May 17 for allegedly conspiring on numerous terrorist bombings. In hindsight, Mohamed says that Mandhai also seemed to be an "extremist in practice." The teen once called a visiting imam an "infidel" and openly criticized Mohamed's liberal style. "But I had no reason to think that they were [aspiring terrorists]," the maulana insists. "They are just coming in here and praying, and they could have planned to shoot me for all I knew. Nobody knew what their agenda is."

According to the FBI, Mandhai's agenda was death and destruction in Broward County. The plot, according to federal prosecutors, began in 2000 when 19-year-old Mandhai befriended a Turk named Hakki Aksoy at Darul Uloom. Aksoy told Mandhai that he had been a warrior for Islam in Turkey, had killed two people, and was "very much willing to... engage in Jihad," according to court records.

The pair visited gun ranges and studied explosives. Then in November 2000, federal agents arrested the 36-year-old Aksoy, who was charged with possessing fraudulent immigration papers and a 9-millimeter pistol. Also found in Aksoy's Hollywood home were bomb-making manuals. Aksoy was convicted in February and is serving a ten-year prison sentence.

Mandhai also plotted destruction with a Hollywood man named Howard Gilbert, whom Mohamed converted in early 2001. "I open my arms to anybody. We converted him like anybody else," Mohamed explains. "I never asked Howard what his agenda was. I thought he was a good guy."

What Mohamed didn't know was that Gilbert was an aspiring federal agent, a cloak-and-dagger type who pretended to be a Muslim only so he could infiltrate the Islamic world, uncover militants, and report them to the FBI. Gilbert tricked Mandhai into believing that he was in contact with bin Laden, or "Big Brother," as Gilbert called him. Mandhai, federal prosecutors contend, jumped at the chance to join forces with Gilbert and brought his friend, Jokhan, into the plot as well.

Mohamed says he saw some subtle signs of extremism from Gilbert, who took the Muslim name Saif Allah, or "Sword of Allah": "Gilbert gave a talk here once, and I thought it was a little extreme -- it seemed a little emotional. I think he said something like, '[Americans] hate us Muslims.'"

If Mohamed was naive about extremists in his presence before September 11, he isn't anymore. He says he is now in regular contact with the police and FBI regarding "suspicious Muslims."

"I called the cops and told them that I need protection -- that there are extremist guys who pass through here," he says. "We all hope and think Padilla was made [a radical] when he went to Egypt. But if he was made here... whew, that could mean danger for everybody, for me and you and everybody."

The differences between liberals like Mohamed and fundamentalists like Mahdi have likely been around since Islam began more than 1400 years ago. But it was the attacks on America that sparked the open conflict between the two men. "The liberal people were cool and happy and not thinking of all this craziness," Mohamed says. "But when the September 11 thing happened, the time came to draw this line and say who we are, rather than let extremists tarnish everybody."

The liberals outnumber the fundamentalists, says Walid Phares, an associate professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University. Phares, a Maronite Christian from Lebanon and leading South Florida expert on the Middle East, estimates that about 15 percent of Muslims in the United States are fundamentalist and that another 20 percent lean in that direction. The rest, a strong 65 percent majority, are moderate to liberal. The fundamentalist "activists," however, have dominated the public face of Islam in America. "While moderates were out there working -- as everything from top engineers to 7-Eleven managers -- the fundamentalists were focusing on the religious institutions," Phares says. "The fundamentalists have been busy taking over the religion."

Mohamed agrees with that assessment and calls for all moderates to publicly denounce the radical wing of their religion. But discerning the line between those with spiritual fervor and those who may plan to commit political violence isn't easy. "You have three kinds of people: You have those Palestinians with emotions, you have orthodox conservative Muslims, and you have people like al Qaeda," Mohamed says. "And I am myself confused with the lines between them. I just don't know. The more you get into the extremism thing, the more political it gets. It is raw politics."

Mahdi says he wants to meet with Mohamed but doesn't want to discuss their differences publicly. Asked whether he disagrees with Mohamed's liberalism, Mahdi pauses for two beats before saying, "Well, I'm sure I have said some things [Mohamed] doesn't agree with as well. It is not necessarily a conflict. As Muslims, we have to be aware what we say... because when we speak, we are speaking for the Muslim community."

Mahdi says it is not a personal conflict. "I think all of us need to be concerned about the perception we give the public about Islam while keeping true to the tenets of our religion," he explains.

Mohamed, however, refuses to meet with Mahdi, saying he has nothing to discuss. "Have you ever heard the old saying, 'Never touch trouble until trouble touches you'?" Mohamed says. "Well, I believe in that."


Floridians gave 1.9 million to alleged terror front groups


ORLANDO -- Muslim charities suspected of helping finance international terrorism received at least $1.9 million in the past five years from Florida donors, records show.

Tax returns for the Illinois groups, reviewed by the Orlando Sentinel, show the three U.S.-based Muslim charities are linked through donations.

"It's a disaster," said Dr. Hamida Battla, a retired Windermere internist who has sent at least $20,000 since 1998 to Benevolence International Foundation of Palos Hills, Ill., to support 32 orphans from Afghanistan to Chechnya to China.

Investigators have not disclosed how terrorists might have benefited from money raised by Benevolence and Global Relief Foundation of nearby Bridgeview, Ill.

The two groups are under investigation for financial links to al-Qaida and other extremist groups, Treasury spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos said.

The groups have denied any links to terrorist groups.

The government also contends a nine-year investigation turned up links between Palestinian militants and Holy Land Foundation for Relief & Development of Richardson, Texas.

Together, the charities collected $62 million nationwide since 1996.

Twenty-six people, mostly doctors, and a handful of corporations from Florida gave at least $1.9 million to Global Relief and Benevolence since 1996, according to Illinois state records that list donors of $5,000 or more.

The largest concentration, $1.3 million, came from 15 current and former doctors connected to Oak Hill Hospital in Brooksville, about 50 miles north of Tampa.

One of the biggest single contributors was International Charity Network, a Winter Park company that gave $300,000 to Benevolence in 1996 and 1997 alone. Two other related local firms have given Benevolence a total of $171,210 since 1996.

Roger Simmons, a Maryland attorney for Global Relief, said charity officials are in the dark about the government action.

"I don't know what triggered it," said Simmons, who also is representing the charity in a $125 million lawsuit filed last month in Chicago that accuses six media outlets of defaming the charity in news reports.

Battla, a retired Veterans Affairs doctor, said she called the group several times in recent months to verify it was not on a government "watch list" before making a $1,000 donation. She said she donated out of concern for children living in difficult conditions.

Illinois records show Brooksville orthopedic surgeon Imad "Ed" Tarabishy was the most generous Florida benefactor of Global Relief and Benevolence in the past five years, giving at least $796,600.

More than a dozen other current and former physicians at Brooksville's Oak Hill Hospital, where Tarabishy is on staff, gave another $521,750.

That included $110,000 from Tarabishy's brother, a Florida-licensed surgeon who practices in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Tarabishy said Friday he was angered his personal donations to the charity has been publicly disclosed and said he did nothing wrong in trying to help those in need. He said he knew no more of the charities than anyone else donating through a church or other organization would.

"Every penny I ever paid, I paid to a United States approved, tax-deductible charity," Tarabishy said.

"There is no more place that is more hungry, where people are more sick and in more need that those people. They are human beings like me and you. I don't know where things go wrong sometime, but the bottom line is they are very, very needy human beings."

Major corporate donors for the charities have been the International Charity Network of Winter Park and two affiliated entities, MEF Marketing Inc. and the Muslim Education Foundation.

Ammar Charani, whose family runs the phone, telemarketing and internet companies, said much of the money was raised from a long-distance calling program that allowed customers to designate up to 5 percent of their monthly bills to the charities of their choice.

University of Central Florida traffic-engineering professor Haitham Al-Deek is listed along with the top officers on Holy Land tax returns in 1997 and 1998.

Al-Deek's attorney, Mark NeJame, said his client gave money to Holy Land and donated time to review scholarship applications. He was surprised to see his name on IRS records and may sue to recover his donations if the charity helped finance terrorism, NeJame said.

Raed Awad, the former religious leader at the Al-Iman mosque in Fort Lauderdale, once served as the chief fund-raiser for Holy Land in Florida but also collected funds around the Caribbean and Latin America.

"The FBI has been investigating this organization since 1992, and every time, they've come up with nothing," Awad said.


Sunrise man indicted

A 43-year-old Palestinian from Sunrise is accused of lying about recruiting and financing another Muslim to wage global holy war.
[email protected]

Miami Herald

5 March 2004

An outspoken Muslim computer programmer was indicted Thursday for allegedly lying about recruiting and financing another Muslim with South Florida ties to wage global holy war.

The new indictment accuses Adham Amin Hassoun, a 43-year-old Palestinian from Sunrise, of lying about encouraging Mohamed Youssef to travel to Somalia and Ethiopia and financing him to wage jihad in Kosovo.

Youssef, who met Hassoun while living in Broward County in the mid-1990s, is believed to be in custody in Egypt.

Hassoun has been in U.S. custody since June 2002.

He was indicted in January on a single count of illegal possession of a firearm by a nonimmigrant alien.

The new indictment tacks on seven charges -- one relating to lies he allegedly told to FBI and Department of Homeland Security agents and six based on lies he allegedly told during immigration proceedings.

The case is significant because it marks the first time South Florida prosecutors are using so-called intelligence wiretaps that were off-limits to them prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the enactment of the USA PATRIOT Act.

The wiretaps on Hassoun date back to 1997 and 1998.

Hassoun founded the Florida chapter of Benevolence International in a Plantation strip mall in 1993 but resigned a few months later.

The Muslim charity's accounts were frozen in 2001 after the United States alleged it was funding al Qaeda terrorists.

He has also been linked to two other terror suspects with South Florida ties: alleged dirty bomber Jose Padilla and fugitive al Qaeda operative Adnan El-Shukrijumah.


Palestinian accused of having terrorist ties charged with perjury

Associated Press Writer http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040304/APN/403041127


A Palestinian accused of belonging to a militant Islamic group linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was charged Thursday with perjury for allegedly trying to conceal his activities in recruiting fighters and raising money to support a global jihad, officials said.

Adham Amin Hassoun, 40, was charged with making false statements to Homeland Security and FBI agents, obstructing justice and five counts of perjury during his immigration hearing. He was previously charged with possessing a firearm, which is illegal for a nonimmigrant alien.

If convicted, Hassoun could face 10 years in prison for the firearm charge and five years on each of the other charges.

Hassoun has been jailed at the Krome Detention Center west of Miami since his arrest by a terrorism task force in June. The computer programmer and father of three has lived in Florida since 1989, when he arrived on a student visa.

According to the indictment, Hassoun gave materially false statements to Homeland Security and FBI agents when they questioned him about his activities in recruiting and funding for jihad activities.

He perjured himself when talking about the recruitment, funding and foreign travel of a person for the purpose of fighting a jihad and when asked if he spoke in coded language while discussing jihad activities, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Hassoun also falsely testified that he did not participate in conversations about killing a woman in Lebanon, according to the indictment.

Fred Haddad, Hassoun's attorney, did not return a phone message Thursday.

According to a November petition, the U.S. government accused Hassoun of engaging in an assassination plot, providing material support to terrorist organizations and soliciting people to engage in terrorist activities.

The government also says Hassoun was a member of Al-Gama Al-Islamiyya, an international terrorist organization whose spiritual leader was sentenced in 1996 for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center.

The government also claims Hassoun donated money to charities being investigated for possible links to terrorism and that he recruited Mohammed Yousseff, a "jihad fighter." Yousseff was an Egyptian man Hassoun has said he knew from a mosque.

Hassoun resigned from Benevolence International, an Islamic charity, a few months after he registered it in Florida in 1993. In 2001, the U.S. government froze the funds of the charity on the grounds that it had connections to Osama bin Laden.

Hassoun said previously that he has had no dealings with Benevolence since he resigned and has denied all of the government's allegations, which he said were based on "bits and pieces of a few phone conversations between 1994 and 2000."


Palestinian activist from Sunrise charged with perjury, obstruction of justice
By Christy McKerney
Staff writer

March 5, 2004 South Fla Sun Sentinel http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/southflorida/sfl-phassoun05mar05,0,2213681.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

A Sunrise computer programmer who was arrested nearly two years ago by federal terrorism task force agents was charged Thursday with trying to obstruct a federal investigation and hiding his role in recruiting fighters and raising money to support a global holy war.

Adham Amin Hassoun, who knew several high-profile South Florida terrorism suspects and was known among the local Muslim community for his passionate defense of the Palestinian cause, is accused of lying to a judge and federal investigators about recruiting a "jihad fighter."

He also is charged with concealing his role in an alleged assassination plot overseas and raising money for a holy war or "global jihad," according to a 14-page indictment filed in West Palm Beach federal court.

"The government's efforts to protect national security, through immigration proceedings and investigations of possible terrorist activity, rely heavily on securing truthful, reliable information," said U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft in a prepared statement.

"Those who lie under oath or seek to obstruct these important proceedings, as Mr. Hassoun allegedly did, impair our ability to protect the nation and win the war on terror, and they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Hassoun, a 42-year-old Palestinian national who has lived in the United States for 15 years, faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted on seven counts related to perjury, making a false statement and trying to obstruct the government's investigation. He was charged in January with illegally possessing a Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun in his house -- a charge that carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years.

He has been detained since June 12, 2002, when members of the federal terrorism task force arrested him on his way home from work near the upper middle class neighborhood where he lived with his family about a mile from Sawgrass Mills outlet mall.

Hassoun was being held by immigration authorities for overstaying a 1989 student visa. He is in the Palm Beach County Jail.

Hassoun's lawyer Fred Haddad said the fact his client was held so long without being charged, the timing of the indictment in an election year and the attention from Ashcroft suggests the charges are politically motivated.

"I'll be interested to see what they really have," Haddad said.

Christopher Slobogin, criminal law professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville, said charging suspects with perjury or obstructing an investigation is not unusual if the government does not have proof of a more substantive charge and if the alleged lies are important to an investigation.

"They can use that as a way of getting at someone when they do not have sufficient proof of a more substantive criminal offense," Slobogin said.

In a Feb. 20 bond hearing for the gun charge in West Palm Beach federal court, Haddad held his client up as a respected leader in the South Florida Muslim community and a father of three whose family all live in Broward County.

Hassoun was known to raise money for Muslim charities but has denied raising money to fund terrorism.

He registered the Florida branch of the Muslim charity Benevolence International in 1993 before resigning from the group months later.

The government froze the charity's funds in 2001, connecting the funds with Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Though Hassoun is not charged with terrorism, prosecutors say he lied about his relationship with Mohamed Youssef, an Egyptian man and associate of Jose Padilla.

Padilla, a U.S. citizen who once lived in Broward County, is being held as an "enemy combatant." He is accused of participating in an al-Qaida plot to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the United States.

Many details about the relationship between the three men remain unclear from government documents.

Hassoun said he met both men at a mosque.

Padilla stayed with Youssef after he left South Florida in 1998, according to Hassoun.

And, prosecutors say Hassoun encouraged and helped Youssef travel to Somalia and Ethiopia and gave him money to travel to Kosovo to fight, then later lied about his activities to federal agents.

Hassoun is accused of lying about discussing jihad with Youssef over the phone and about giving him money.

Prosecutors contend Hassoun spoke "in code" with Youssef, by using a discussion about soccer equipment to slip in questions about "if he had enough to launch an attack on the enemy" and talking about "anti-armor tools."

Hassoun told investigators he raised money to help Youssef fix his land and house, but prosecutors say the money was for fighting in a holy war.

And, prosecutors say, Hassoun participated in conversations about killing a woman in Lebanon.

It is unclear from court papers who the woman was. Hassoun denied the allegation.

Hassoun is expected to be arraigned on the new charges as soon as today or early next week in front of a magistrate judge in West Palm Beach federal court.

Christy McKerney can be reached at [email protected] or 561-832-2895.

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