When the Toledo charity KindHearts was shut down this past February, for raising millions of dollars for Hamas, the group’s leaders got off scott free. One of those leaders was KindHearts’ President, Khaled Smaili. Another was KindHearts’ South Asia Director, Zulfiqar Ali Shah. Unlike Smaili, who has remained virtually silent since the closure, Shah has continued to bask in the spotlight. He now sits in his new digs in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Religious Director of a large Islamic institution and the toast of the media. Today, the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee will be sponsoring a Shah talk, taking place at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.
Zulfiqar Ali Shah, a Pakistani-born Muslim, is the ultimate dichotomy. He received his PhD in comparative religion at Wales University in England, while obtaining his Masters degree in Shariah law from the Islamic University in Islamabad, respectively a subject that holds no tolerance for other religions from a location where religious diversity is nonexistent.
Contradictions follow Shah everywhere he goes. In a response to a November 2004 article about a lawsuit derived from the wrongful eviction of a Christian group, from land occupied by Shah’s then-Islamic propagation center – the Universal Heritage Foundation (UHF) – he took the time to defend his empathy for other religions. He stated, “I have befriended many Rabbis, Ministers and Pastors and still enjoy close and brotherly relations with many of them.”
Unfortunately, Shah’s love for his fellow man was not manifest, when, just a few years prior, in June of 2001, he spoke of a wild conspiracy regarding Jews retaking the Saudi city of Medina. He said, “If we are unable to stop the Jews now, their next stop is Yathrib (The Prophet's city of Medina), where the Jews used to live until their expulsion by Prophet Muhammad. That's the pinnacle of their motives.”
Shah also went against his “brotherly relations,” when he performed a speech denouncing Judaism and Christianity (which is currently being sold in video format by a handful of on-line Islamic stores). In ‘An Examination of the Old Testament,’ Shah describes how “stories and descriptions” from the Old Testament “had been corrupted by the hand of man” and how “many teachings presently in the Old Testament go against all human logic and morality.”
As well, another Shah contradiction took place in July of 2005, when Shah, along with a group of 17 other Islamic scholars, created a fatwa (religious edict) against “terrorism.” This was in response to the quadruple subway and bus bombings that took place in London. The ruling states, “The Fiqh Council of North America wishes to reaffirm Islam’s absolute condemnation of terrorism and religious extremism.” However, when one looks into the amount of organizations and individuals Shah has been associated with that were themselves tied to terrorist activity, one seriously has to question if he even read the fatwa that he signed his name to.
Up until recently, Shah had made Florida his home. In 1996, he was the Imam of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida (ICNEF), which is presently the spiritual dwelling of the National Chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Parvez Ahmed. [CAIR, a group created by a front for Hamas, is currently the defendant in a 9/11 lawsuit for the murder of FBI agent John O’Neill.] From at least May of 1996 through May of 1999, Shah acted as a Director for the Islamic center.
Shortly before vacating his board seat with ICNEF, Shah became a Director for the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), a group based in Queens, New York that was founded in 1971 as the American arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Pakistan (Jamaat-e-Islami). Today, the group acts as an umbrella organization for South Asian-based mosques and Islamic centers throughout North America. It also has a youth division called Young Muslims and a multimedia division called SoundVision. Shah was elected President (Ameer) of ICNA in 2001 and held that position in 2002. [According to incorporation papers, Shah is currently listed as President of ICNA’s Florida division. Shah was also the President of the ICNA-affiliated Helping Hands USA relief agency.]
Just prior to 9/11, while Shah was involved with ICNA, the organization asked its followers to give “material support” to groups affiliated with al-Qaeda. While he was National President, ICNA would form a merger agreement with the Muslim American Society (MAS), the American arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. MAS, on its websites, features material discussing the murdering of Jews and the waging of jihad (holy war) against non-Muslims.
Also under his Presidency, Shah would allow for the invitation of numerous radical Islamist lecturers and activists to be featured at ICNA events. One of those events was the ICNA annual convention that took place July of 2001, in Cleveland, Ohio. Speaking at the event were such extremists as: Siraj Wahhaj, an individual listed as a potential co-conspirator to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center; Nihad Awad, the Executive Director of CAIR, who has publicly stated his support for Hamas; Ikrima Sa’id Sabri, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem that has called on “Allah” to “destroy America;” and Fawaz Damra, a man who is in custody for raising funds for Palestinian Islamic Jihad and who had previously set up Al-Qaeda’s main U.S. headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. Keeping with Shah’s dual personality, the title of the event was ‘Islam for Peace and Justice.’
At the time of his ICNA Presidency, Shah was a Principal at an Islamic school for children, the School of Islamic Studies of Broward (SISB), which today goes by the name of Salah Tawfik Elementary School (STEMS). The school, located in Sunrise, Florida, was co-founded by Mohammed Javed Qureshi, the man that is believed to be responsible for ‘Dirty Bomber’ Jose Padilla’s decision to convert to Islam.
In September of 2003, after finishing his jobs as President and Principal, Zulfiqar Ali Shah went on to start his own project. He did this with the help of friends, such as the former President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Muzammil Siddiqi, who, at an October 2000 rally where shouts of support for Hamas and Hezbollah were heard, threatened that if the U.S. continues to take the side of Israel, “the wrath of G-d will come.” Shah’s brainchild was the Universal Heritage Foundation (UHF), a 31-acre Islamic propagation center, located in Kissimmee, Florida, just minutes from Walt Disney World. Shah would be the group’s Chairman and C.E.O. Siddiqi would become a Director.
Unfortunately for Shah, the project was a total failure. Besides the fallout of the lawsuit over the eviction of the Kissimmee Christian Academy (see above), the event that was held to kick off the opening of the new facility was a public relations disaster. One of the keynote speakers (“Specially Invited Guests”) for the December 2003 “inaugural” event, ‘Islam for Humanity,’ was supposed to be Shaikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Sudais, the chief cleric of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Considering previous reprehensible statements Al-Sudais had made, including him calling for the murder of Jews, Christians and Americans, it didn’t make much sense for the U.S. government to allow the man into our country. After this author had stated as such in a news report, Al-Sudais’ appearance was cancelled, the venue was changed, and the turnout for the event was minimal at best.
According to UHF’s now extinct website, www.uheritage.org, part of its mission statement was “to promote a greater understanding and respect for and among people of all faiths, colors, and gender.”
Following the Kissimmee fiasco and a virtually untenable situation with UHF, a new opportunity was presented to Shah. KindHearts, a charity that was formed by leaders from two organizations shut down in December of 2001 for raising millions for overseas terror groups, was looking to expand its reach. In October of 2005, after an earthquake ravaged the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan, KindHearts created a South Asia division to respond to it. Shah was hired to be the division’s Director. But just four months later, KindHearts itself would be shut down for terror fundraising.
Given all of the above, one would think that this man would never be able to find another job again – but the same month the FBI padlocked KindHearts’ doors, the Islamic Society of Milwaukee (ISM) had proudly announced on its website its new Religious Director – Zulfiqar Ali Shah.
Since Shah arrived in town, the media has treated him with glowing approval. A news story from February referred to him as “a renowned Islam scholar;” a report from March called him “a distinguished scholar;” and a report from May described him as “a prominent member of the Fiqh Council of North America.” Another one in May, entitled ‘Defying stereotype through outreach,’ said that, during an “open house” at the Islamic center, Shah conducted “a lively question-and-answer session.” Not one mention, in any of these, about ICNA. Not one mention about KindHearts.
Today, Shah speaks at the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee. How the various media outlets will report on this event is predictable. But what they don’t understand is that it is all a show, made to demonstrate a kinder, gentler side of Mr. Shah that doesn’t really exist. How can we tell it’s a show? Because two of the board members of the Interfaith Conference are the President and Secretary of the ISM.
And so the deception continues.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.
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