9/11 was a tragedy among tragedies, as 3000 innocent people lost their lives at the hands of foreign Muslim fanatics. Today, on what is the fifth anniversary of the attacks, a new tragedy will occur, as a man that was part of an organization that helped raise funds and recruit fighters for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, before and after the attacks, will be the guest speaker at a 9/11 symposium. That man is the Imam of the Islamic Center of Des Moines, Iowa (ICDM), Ibrahim Dremali.
The event is being held at the Newton Campus of the Des Moines Area Community College. According to the school’s website, “This open forum will focus on the effects of the War on Terrorism on Muslims living in the United States.”
The war on terrorism certainly has had an effect on Dremali’s life. Because of it, a Hamas-related charity connected to his previous mosque that was being run by one of his wives was shut down, and he himself has been placed on the federal ‘no fly’ list. These two things are just the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to Dremali and the subject of terrorism, much of which has been exposed previously by this author. However, one important fact about Dremali has been made little of, and that is his connection to an organization that was soliciting “material support” for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) was founded in 1971 to replicate the Muslim Brotherhood of Pakistan, Jamaat-e-Islami, a group with documented ties to Al-Qaeda. ICNA has many subdivisions throughout the United States. One of these is its ICNA South East Region (ICNASE).
ICNASE, today, is based in Atlanta, Georgia. However, when the group began, it was solely a Florida enterprise, running from Miami up through Orlando. When the organization moved, so did the group’s website. Going on the website now, one will find an announcement to a June 2006 event and links to all of ICNA’s various Islamist projects. This is a far cry from the old site, which featured disturbing links to terrorist organizations. They included the official websites of Hezbollah (www.hizbollah.org) and Hamas (www.palestine-info.net). But what was even more alarming on the ICNASE site was this group’s apparent complicity with regard to the terrorist group Al-Qaeda.
On the old website for the ICNASE, the following message was found: “Remember Your Fellow Chechnyan Muslims. ICNA requests all Muslims around the world to include Chechnyan Muslims in their daily and Qunut prayers. We must show our spiritual and material support for our brothers and sisters being oppressed by the brutal Russian forces.” Directly under the message was a link to the website, www.qoqaz.net (a.k.a. ‘Jihad in Chechnya’). The site was a project of Azzam Publications, an organization named for Osama bin Laden’s mentor, Abdullah Azzam.
Qoqaz.net was created specifically to raise finances and recruit fighters for Al-Qaeda related groups and the Taliban. In August of 2004, the individual that operated the website, Babar Ahmad, was taken into custody by British law enforcement. [Ahmad had resided in London.] As reported by the United States Department of Justice, the charges against him included “Conspiracy to launder money with intent: (1) to support the Taliban; (2) to kill persons in a foreign country; and (3) to provide material support to terrorists.”
The ICNASE plea to provide “material support” in conjunction with the link to qoqaz.net, ran from the opening day of the site, March 1, 2000, through September 27, 2001, sixteen days following 9/11. All throughout this time, a series of names were found on the same page as the solicitation, listed as “Contacts” for the organization. One of those names, along with his phone number, was Ibrahim Dremali. Shortly after, Dremali had his name removed. But the damage had already been done.
This was not the first time that Dremali had been tied to Al-Qaeda support. Prior to coming to ICDM -- while he was the Imam of the Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR) -- for over three years his mosque’s site advertised Al-Haramain, a Saudi “charity” which according to the U.S. government was “a major source of funds for Al-Qaeda.” The organization has since had its offices shut down.
When Ibrahim Dremali left town to become the Imam of the Islamic Center of Des Moines, it was at a trying time for his Boca mosque. A member of the mosque, Rafiq Sabir, was being investigated for his relationship with Al-Qaeda. Sabir is currently awaiting trial in New York, charged with being an operative for the group.
Arriving in Des Moines has been a pleasure for Dremali. He has gotten lots of positive press coverage, and local educational institutions have been embracing him. But the facts are the facts. Today, the students at Des Moines Area Community College will be lectured by the worst of extremists, on the worst day possible. Can the horrific memory of 9/11 be made any worse?
Beila Rabinowitz, the Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.