It has been said that 80 percent of all the mosques and Islamic centers inside the United States are financially and spiritually tied to a radical form of Islam originating from Saudi Arabia. This ideology, identified as Wahhabism, does not promote the inclusion of persons into democratic society.
One of the American locations that Wahhabi influence has been overtly prevalent is the Tampa-St. Pete area of Southwest Florida. It is here that Sami Al-Arian, a college professor, created a wide-ranging operation that assisted in terrorist activity abroad, through Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Within Al-Arian’s universe lies a little known mosque, which has been fomenting hatred and violence. Recognized as the Islamic Society of Pinellas County (Islamic Society as in the predecessor of Hamas) or by its less publicized name Al-Farooq (the same title as Al-Qaeda’s former headquarters in Brooklyn), the mosque has been in existence since 1988.
The congregation’s most prominent member is Ahmed Bedier, who is currently involved with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group whose parent organization was created by the number two leader in Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook. Bedier is the Spokesman for the Florida chapter of CAIR and the Director of CAIR’s Tampa office. Prior to joining CAIR, Bedier had the position of Outreach Director for the Islamic Society of Pinellas County (ISPC). In September of 2002, Bedier represented the mosque when he spoke at an event held in Davie, Florida, entitled, ‘A United and Secure Florida for All.’ Also speaking at that event was a fairly large panel of Islamist radicals, including Rafiq Mehdi, the imam of the mosque where ‘Dirty Bomber’ Jose Padilla was said to have converted to Islam and where terror fundraiser Adham Hassoun worshipped. Recently, Bedier -- the media’s ‘go to’ man for answers to questions concerning Al-Arian -- stated that, prior to 1995, there was “nothing immoral” about Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Bedier credits ISPC with bringing him to his Islamic faith. This is evident in the fact that, shortly after the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, on his personal website, he replaced a link to ‘Disney Online’ with a large golden picture of “Allah” written in Arabic. He also began to look into his Egyptian family lineage, and he proclaimed loudly on an internet site, “YOUR GOD AND MY GOD ARE THE SAME BEING, THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE TRUE GOD, WE WITNESS THAT THERE IS NO GOD BUT GOD. TO FIND OUT MORE PLEASE READ THE QURAN.”
But with his newfound spirituality, something else was brewing. According to the St. Petersburg Times, as his faith deepened, “he questioned his decision to remain in a non-Muslim country.” When one asks why Bedier felt this way, the answer may be all too obvious…and ominous.
ISPC utilizes a website that contains material that is openly anti-Jewish and anti-Christian and which repeatedly calls for fighting in the name of Islam. Arriving at the site, www.ispc-fl.org, the first thing one notices is the ISPC logo, found on the upper left hand corner of the page. On the middle left of the page, there is a Quran that is the same one used by Hamas. On the upper right hand corner, one can find a colorful and elaborate animated graphic. There is a different animated graphic in that same place on every one of the ISPC web pages. When clicking it, one is taken to the site Islam Way.
Islam Way, or www.islamway.com, was co-created by Sami Omar Al-Hussayen, a former employee of the Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA). On March 4, 2004, Al-Hussayen was charged with conspiracy to provide material support or resources to Hamas and “other violent jihadists.” He was later deported from the United States. According to the indictment, Al-Hussayen used Islam Way to encourage the site’s viewers to donate money to Hamas.
Today, right from the homepage of Islam Way, one can listen to a lecture given by convicted terrorist Ali Al-Tamimi, entitled ‘Issues of Belief.’ In July of 2005, Al-Tamimi was given a life sentence for acting as the religious leader of what would come to be known as the “Virginia Jihad Network,” a group of violent radicals that were preparing for holy war against Indians and Americans.
On his Islam Way lecture, Al-Tamimi says such things as:
- “Those Jews and Christians who have heard about the Prophet Muhammed and remain upon these perverted religions, they have perverted by their own hands, because when Allah sent it down from the heavens, it was pure; it will not be accepted from them, and they will be inhabitants of the hellfire.”
- “Those people who say that the Jews and Christians are believers… they have said a statement that takes them outside the fold of Islam… In an Islamic state, if they did not recant within three days, they would be executed as an apostate… When a person dies as an apostate, he has reverted out of Islam, so therefore he dies as if he were a Jew or a Christian, and he will not win Allah’s paradise.”
- “Part of our faith is that the Jews and Christians are disbelievers, and that is why Allah says in the ninth surah -- and this verse is directed basically against the Christians -- fight those that are the people of the scripture who do not believe in Allah and the last day… until they give jezziya (money), until they are willing to submit to the Islamic state, and they’re in a state of humiliation.”
- “Do the Christians observe the law of the Torah? No. Do they abstain from what Allah has forbidden? No. They eat pork, they have made marriage with more than one woman forbidden for them… They do not [partake in] stoning for the one that commits adultery or killing the homosexual.”
- “There is no way we can win their approval. Unless you get rid of your Islam and become a Jew or a Christian, then, they’ll be happy with you… And that’s why Allah says, ‘Oh, you who believe, take not the Jews and Christians for friends, protectors or allies. They are only friends of one another… And who so of you makes them as his friends is one of them.’”
None of this animosity is lost within ISPC’s own website. On the ISPC site, in the ‘Downloads’ section, there is a file titled, ‘Reyadh Assaleheen’ or ‘The Book of Miscellany.’ In this ISPC e-book, it is stated:
- “The Arab pagans have only the choice to either embrace Islam or face war. In the latter case, it is incumbent on the Muslims to wage Jihad (holy war) against them to wipe out Kufr (disbelief) and Shirk (polytheism) and raise the banner of Tauhid (Oneness of Allah) everywhere.”
- “Similarly, Jihad is a highly meritorious act for a Muslim. A Mujahid (holy warrior), who fights for the sake of Allah, is perfectly safe from Hell because the dust that falls on this way on him, cannot mix with the smoke of Hell.”
- “…so long as Kufr is present in this world, it is necessary to wage Jihad against it to finish it off, and so long as all the disbelievers do not openly accept Islam and adopt the Islamic way of life, Muslims are duty-bound to make Jihad against them.”
- “Dajjal (the Antichrist) would be a descendant of the Jews… Dajjal will claim to be the lord of the world. A large portion of the Jews will be with him.”
- “However, those tricks which are used to avoid the law are a great sin for which the Jews are well-known.”
- “I heard the Messenger of Allah as saying: ‘Jews and Christians do not dye their hair, so act differently from them’… Since any resemblance with the Jews and Christians is unlawful, not dying the hair will create a resemblance with them.”
Also on the ‘Downloads’ section of ISPC is an e-book written by Saudi Sheikh, Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid, entitled ‘Problems and Solutions.’ On his website, Islam Q & A, Al-Munajjid refers to Jews as “people of treachery and betrayal” and quotes sources about murdering Jews.
At his mosque in Al-Damam, Saudi Arabia, Al-Munajjid stated: “It is impossible ever to make peace with the Jews; we must not [enter into] a pact with them, we must not [sign] a treaty with them… There is no hiding from the evil of the Jews; there is no concealment from their deception. The Jews are defiled creatures and satanic scum. The Jews are the helpers of Satan. The Jews are the cause of the misery of the human race… Satan leads them to Hell and to a miserable fate. The Jews are our enemies and hatred of them is in our hearts. Jihad against them is our worship… Muslims must… educate their children to Jihad. This is the greatest benefit of the situation: educating the children to Jihad and to hatred of the Jews, the Christians, and the infidels…”
In the section of the ISPC site entitled, ‘Hadith AlBukhari,’ one reads about an ominous future for the Jewish people. It states, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.’” Similar versions of this saying are mentioned throughout ISPC’s ‘Hadith AlBukhari.’
The ISPC section entitled, ‘Maududi Notes,’ much like ‘Hadith AlBukhari,’ is obsessed with Jews and Christians. Among some of its bigoted statements are:
- “In these verses the people of the Book, the Jews, have been invited to give up their sinister ways and accept the divine Guidance. At the same time the Muslims have been warned to be on their guard against their malicious intentions, erroneous ways and absurd objections.”
- “On the one hand, the superiority of the Islamic morality and culture has been established over that of the Jews, Christians and mushriks; on the other hand, their wrong religious conceptions, their wrong morality and their evil acts have been criticized to prepare the ground for inviting them to the way of the Truth.”
- “The Holy Prophet (and through him the Muslims) has been reassured that he should not mind the enmity, the evil designs and the machinations of the Jews, but continue exerting his utmost to establish the Right Way in accordance with the Guidance of the Quran… He should deal with the Christians likewise … In view of the degenerate moral condition of the Jews and the Christians, the Believers have been warned not to make them their friends and confidants.”
- “…the Jews have been warned of the causes of their evil end.”
The quotations and links found on the website of the Islamic Society of Pinellas County cannot be explained away. The content on the site is amongst the worst this world has to offer, rivaled only by that of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. But it is not alone in that respect, as it is amongst scores of other mosques that do the same, without a second thought.
In the Wahhabist way of life, there is no leeway with regards to how Islam is taught or practiced. It is one way and one way only. Therefore, it is quite understandable that a young man like Ahmed Bedier, when he is vulnerably searching for his faith at such a place as ISPC, would fall prey to an education of hatred and violence. This is not an excuse for Bedier, by any means, but it is a way of diagnosing the problem in hopes that one day the level-headed world will find a cure.
On July 28, 2005, a Fatwa (Islamic religious ruling) was released to the public, which had the Islamic Society of Pinellas County’s name appended to it. It began by stating, “The Fiqh Council of North America wishes to reaffirm Islam's absolute condemnation of terrorism and religious extremism,” and it ended with the statement, “We pray that interfaith harmony and cooperation prevail both in the United States and all around the globe.” Obviously, the little known mosque has a long way to go to make good on its word.
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