Habitat for Humanity does a great service to the community, by building homes for those who are in need but wouldn’t normally afford a decent place to live. No one can dispute this fact. However, when the group allowed radical Muslim organizations, earlier this year in Miami, to assist in the building, it tarnished Habitat’s good name. And to make matters worse, the Jewish Federation – presumably the Greater Miami Jewish Federation – joined in the process.
According to the ‘About Us’ page on the Habitat for Humanity website, “As a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian ministry that builds with people in need regardless of race or religion, we welcome volunteers and supporters from all backgrounds.” By welcoming volunteers from all backgrounds, that must include radical Muslim groups associated with terrorism, because that is who Habitat embraced this past February in its second annual Habitat Interfaith Build Day.
The groups included Emerge USA, the Youth Coalition of South Florida (YCSF), and the most visible group at this year’s Interfaith Build, with its bright yellow shirts, ICNA Relief.
ICNA Relief is the main charity of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the American affiliate of South Asian Islamist group Jamaat-e-Islami. ICNA has been involved in the financing of both Hamas and al-Qaeda and has used the web to promote a number of terrorist groups, including Hamas, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Taliban. ICNA conducts annual functions along with the Muslim American Society (MAS), a group that has been named to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government list of international terrorist organizations.
In August 2006, ICNA Relief was the top donor and partner to Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan charity Al Khidmat Foundation (AKF), at the same time AKF took a delegation to Damascus, Syria to hand deliver nearly $100,000 to Hamas global leader Khaled Mashal. Mashal thanked the group and said Hamas would continue to wage “jihad” (war) on the “Zionist yoke” (Israel). ICNA Relief continues to work directly with AKF overseas.
Leading the ICNA delegation at the Habitat event was ICNA Relief Assistant Executive Director Abdul Rauf Khan. On Khan’s Facebook page, he has posted: dozens of official Jamaat-e-Islami videos and photos; two videos glorifying rabid anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan; and a link to an anti-Semitic video labeling comedian talk show host Bill Maher, “Zionist Jew Bill Maher.” He also posted a dedication video to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, and in August 2013, he participated in an event discussing the violence in Egypt and Syria while wearing a yellow shirt with a large Muslim Brotherhood ‘Rabaa’ logo on it. Both the Brotherhood and the logo have been banned by the Egyptian government for respectively being an institution and a symbol of terrorism.
Emerge USA is the brainchild of Khurrum Wahid, a South Florida attorney who has represented a number of individuals involved in terrorist activity against the United States. They include: Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who was given a life sentence for being part of al-Qaeda and for plotting to assassinate President George W. Bush, and Hafiz Khan, a Miami, Florida imam who shipped $50,000 to the Taliban specifically to murder American troops overseas. Wahid previously served as a legal advisor for the national office of the Hamas-linked CAIR, and according to the Miami New Times, Wahid himself was placed on a federal terrorist watch list in 2011.
In 2014 and 2015, Emerge featured as a speaker at its annual benefit dinners Sayed Ammar Nakshawani. Nakshawani who is a follower of former Iranian terror leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, has previously called for the destruction of Israel. In a speech he made, titled ‘Sayed Khomeini’s Quds Day,’ he states, “The shame in this world is that, if we put ourselves down to a two-state solution, we would allow a country which has broken 60 UN resolutions to have their own freedom of peace. It is barbaric that this Zionist state is allowed to continue.”
Representing Emerge at the Habitat event was Emerge co-founder and trustee, Saif Ishoof. Prior to getting involved with Emerge, Ishoof was the rally organizer and contact for the extreme anti-Israel group, March for Justice. While with March for Justice, Ishoof organized an event at the University of Miami, in October 2002, which labeled then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon “the world’s longest standing terrorist” and Israel an “illegitimate state.” Ishoof said he was “outraged” that his former university would host then-senior advisor to Sharon, Raanan Gissin, referring to Gissin as “a mouthpiece of state sponsored terrorism.”
The other Islamist group at the Habitat event was the Youth Coalition of South Florida (YCSF). The Youth Director for YCSF is former CAIR official Cyrus McGoldrick. He has also worked with ICNA in the past. McGoldrick refers to supporters of Israel as “Zionist beasts,” and in July 2014, he tweeted: “Praying for Palestine today and everyday. Allah, either guide the oppressor ‘Israeli’ regime or give us the strength to destroy them.”
Under the leadership of McGoldrick, YCSF and the Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR), a radical mosque with a number of terrorist associations, teamed up for weekly youth and family events at ICBR. A co-founder of ICBR, Bassem Alhalabi, was charged with the illegal export of a $13,000 military thermal imaging device to Syria. Another co-founder, Syed Khawer Ahmad, was a web designer for Hamas in Gaza. One former imam of ICBR, Ibrahim Dremali, was placed on the federal “no-fly” list, and another, Muneer Arafat, admitted under oath that he was an affiliate of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Further, a member of the mosque, Rafiq Sabir, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiring to provide material support to Al-Qaeda.
According to Emerge and the television station WSVN, also involved in the Habitat interfaith day was the Jewish Federation. If this is accurate, it is a travesty and embarrassment for the Jewish community. A photo found on the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Miami website depicts an individual wearing a yarmulke sawing wood with Saif Ishoof, the anti-Israel co-founder of Emerge. As well, a number of photos from the event show a smiling Tom Heyn, the rabbi of Temple Israel of Greater Miami, alongside Ishoof, ICNA’s Abdul Rauf Khan, and others.
In recent years, Jews have been all too willing to join “feel good” events which involve those who would wish them and their brethren harm. This was clearly the case, when it came to their participation in this year’s Habitat Interfaith Build Day. This may be due to either simple ignorance of facts or an intensely stubborn unwillingness to view their enemy as an enemy.
And Habitat for Humanity is supposed to be a Christian organization. Do its leaders not know what the associates of these Islamists, like the Muslim Brotherhood, are doing to their fellow Christians overseas? Are they willing to sell their souls just to build a section of a house?
The Jewish Federation and Habitat for Humanity must never again work together with Islamists, whose goal is nothing more than to cynically exploit these charitable endeavors in order to gain legitimacy – never again – no matter what the cause.
Any potential group to which they partner with must be carefully vetted, so that there is no chance of them unintentionally aiding and abetting the enemy.
Interfaith with members of other religions is one thing. Interfaith with your enemies is quite another.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.