In April of 2007, Pam Iorio was sworn into office for her second term as Mayor of Tampa Bay, Florida, given the confidence of Tampa’s citizens that she will help protect them from harm. Yet every year for at least the last four years of the six-plus years she has served, Mayor Iorio has honored CAIR, a radical Muslim organization, with a Proclamation naming a day for the group. Is the Mayor just trying to placate a fringe constituency or has she submitted to terror?
Tampa has had an Islamic terrorism problem for more than two decades. Elements of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood have infected the population, rendering it vulnerable to those who wish to do harm to the city.
From August of 1986 till February of 2003, when he was taken into custody by law enforcement, Sami Al-Arian, a university professor, built an entire PIJ infrastructure within the Tampa area. He did so in the guise of a charity, a think tank, a children’s school and a mosque -- the latter two still in existence.
Youssef Megahed and Ahmed Mohamed, Tampa-area university students, were arrested in South Carolina, in August of 2007, and indicted for possession of explosive materials which were found in the trunk of their car. Mohamed later pled guilty to a separate charge of trying to assist terrorists by creating a video demonstrating how to use a remote-controlled toy to detonate a bomb.
From June of 2004 till July of 2006, the Tampa office of the Muslim American Society (MAS-Tampa) posted onto its website violent material, including one text calling on Muslims to “wage jihad until death.” Other subjects found on the site dealt with the beheading of Jews and the burning of homosexuals.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group created by Hamas operatives, set up shop in Tampa, in 2003, led by the unofficial spokesman for Al-Arian, Ahmed Bedier. Bedier is notorious for a remark he made about PIJ, on a Tampa TV talk show, in December of 2005. Appearing as a CAIR representative, when asked if he believed it was immoral to be associated with PIJ, he said that, prior to 1995, there was “nothing immoral” about it.
Unfortunately, some politicians ignore the actions of extremists and give the groups and individuals a free pass. Sometimes, they even honor them.
A little over a month after his disastrous statement, in January of 2006, Bedier shared the stage with Mayor Iorio, at an evening event honoring the memory of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Earlier in the day, a photo was taken of the two, smiling for the camera with their arms around each other. Under the photo, which is found on Bedier’s personal website, he writes, “Enjoying the morning with City of Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio…”
This was not Mayor Iorio's first involvement with CAIR. On October 1, 2005, the Mayor attended CAIR-Tampa’s 3rd Annual Fundraising Banquet. While there, she told the crowd, “I want all of you to know how much I appreciate being here tonight and all of the good work that you do.” According to the St. Petersburg Times, she then “turned the stage over to Hillsborough County Commissioner Kathy Castor, who read Iorio's proclamation of Oct. 1 as ‘CAIR Day’…”
Mayor Iorio had honored CAIR -- a group that had been founded by leaders of the American propaganda wing of Hamas, a group that had been established as part of the global head of Hamas Mousa Abu Marzook’s Palestine Committee, a group that had a number of representatives that were convicted and/or deported for terror-related crimes -- with a signed Mayoral Proclamation.
And not only did she sign a Proclamation for “CAIR Day” in 2005, but she did it for 2006, 2007 and 2008, as well. And each one coincided with the date of CAIR-Tampa’s banquet -- providing evidence of coordinated efforts between Mayor Iorio and CAIR -- the latest being November 15, 2008.
When Mayor Iorio signed both the 2007 and 2008 Proclamations for CAIR, it was at a time when the group was named as an “unindicted co-conspirator” by the U.S. Justice Department for a federal trial dealing with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. On November 24, 2008, the trial ended, and all of the defendants were found guilty on all counts. That means CAIR was found guilty as well, albeit as an unindicted entity. Now more than ever, Mayor Iorio must withdraw the award she has granted CAIR.