On February 26, 1993, a truck bomb exploded under the North Tower of the World Trade Center killing six people and injuring over a thousand others. The bomb was meant to collapse the building and, if successful, would have taken the lives of thousands, as we later witnessed during 9/11. On February 22, 2020, just days shy of the 27th anniversary of the ’93 bombing, one of the named unindicted co-conspirators of the attack, Brooklyn imam Siraj Wahhaj, will be the main speaker at the South Florida annual banquet for ICNA Relief. Besides its sorrowful anniversary, this shameful event is a reminder, as well, that radical Islam is thriving in America and that Florida is a hotbed of Islamist activity.
Siraj Wahhaj is the imam of the At-Taqwa Mosque, located in Brooklyn, New York, and the President of the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA). In 1995, along with Osama bin Laden and bin Laden’s mentor, Abdullah Azzam, Wahhaj was named by the US government as an “unindicted co-conspirator” for a federal trial dealing with the 1993 World Trade Center (WTC) bombing. Wahhaj had been linked to the bomb-maker of the attack, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, and during the trial, he was a character witness for the spiritual leader of the attack, the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel Rahman, whom Wahhaj has openly praised.
Wahhaj recently made the news, when his son, two daughters, son-in-law and daughter-in-law were arrested on charges of abusing children at an alleged terrorist training compound in New Mexico. According to Reuters, “Eleven children ranging from 1 to 15 years of age were found ragged and starving.” Another child and grandson of Wahhaj, 3-year-old Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, was found dead at the compound, after his reported abduction by Wahhaj’s son, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, from the Atlanta, Georgia home of the child’s mother. According to prosecutors, the children were being trained at the compound to commit school shootings.
This month, Wahhaj will be the keynote speaker at the 2020 annual banquet for ICNA Relief, taking place at the Marriott Coral Springs Hotel and Convention Center. The location has become a go-to venue for radical Muslim events, as the Hamas-related Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) just held their annual banquet there, this past October.
ICNA or the Islamic Circle of North America, the sponsor of the banquet, has its own terror-related history. ICNA is the American affiliate of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), South Asia’s largest Islamist group, and has links to South Asian terrorist groups and terrorist financing. In November 2013, former ICNA Secretary General, Ashrafuzzaman Khan, was sentenced to death for his role as a death squad leader during Bangladesh’s 1971 War of Independence. In July 2014, ICNA co-sponsored a pro-Hamas rally outside the Israeli Consulate, in downtown Miami, Florida, where rally goers repeatedly shouted, “We are Hamas” and “Let’s go Hamas.”
Abdul Rauf Khan is the Secretary of the Florida chapter of ICNA and Chief Operating Officer of ICNA Relief USA. This past December, following a ‘sit down’ with Wahhaj, Khan stated on his Facebook page about him: “I respect and admire him. I feel so blessed to be part of his company whenever we meet… May Allah reward him.” Khan has used this same Facebook page to promote: anti-Jewish bigot Louis Farrakhan, Egypt’s banned Muslim Brotherhood, and anti-gay propaganda. In July 2014, Khan posted a link on Facebook to an anti-Semitic video labeling comedian talk show host Bill Maher, “Zionist Jew Bill Maher.”
Wahhaj is not the only featured speaker at the ICNA banquet. Also speaking will be the former Executive Director of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Tayyab Yunus. Yunus is currently an instructor for Islamic Relief (IR), an organization that has been banned by a number of nations. In May 2012, Israel labeled Islamic Relief a front for Hamas. In November 2014, the UAE government designated IR a terrorist group. Also in 2014, Britain’s HSBC bank cut ties with IR over concerns about “terrorist financing.” In October 2017, Bangladesh’s NGO Affairs Bureau banned IR in fear the group would conduct terrorist recruitment of Myanmar refugees.
Another ICNA banquet speaker will be former Vice President of ISNA, Altaf Husain. Husain uses social media to promote and/or contact groups associated with Palestinian terror. These groups include: CAIR, whom Husain praises on Facebook and Twitter; the BDS movement, whose BDS National Committee (BNC) consists of such terrorist organizations as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ); and American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), whose Chairman Hatem Bazian has called for an intifada in America and whose Executive Director Osama Abu-Irshaid said, “Palestinians, if they don’t take what they want willingly, they will take it forcefully.”
Radical Islamic fundraisers, such as this one, attract like-minded individuals who pose a threat to our community and our nation. This banquet represents numerous ties to terrorism, from the sponsoring organization through to its speakers, one of which was named a party to the deadly 1993 WTC bombing, the precursor to the 9/11 attacks that traumatized Americans and stunned the world two decades ago.
It is high time for the Florida community and institutions like the Marriott to take a stand and cease giving ‘aid and comfort’ to those who wish harm for our nation. This event, this organization, and anti-American Islamists like Wahhaj should be shut down and denied a platform. Patriotism must be placed long before profit and political correctness.
Joe Kaufman, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Horowitz Freedom Center, is Chairman of the Joe Kaufman Security Initiative and the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Republican Nominee for U.S. House of Representatives (Florida-CD23).