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The School that Terrorism Built By: Joe Kaufman
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, December 05, 2005

In July of 2003, the Islamic Academy of Florida (IAF), an elementary/secondary private school for Muslims based in the Temple Terrace suburb of Tampa Bay, was suspended from receiving taxpayer funded tuition vouchers.  The voucher program is a statewide government initiative that was devised to help underprivileged students in underachieving schools get a better education.  Up until that point, the school had received more than $350,000 in vouchers, the majority of which came from Florida PRIDE, an organization that funds scholarships. After further investigation, the school was cut off completely from the voucher program.

The reason the school was cut off from the money was simple. IAF was named, in a 50-count indictment, as having been a part of the “PIJ Enterprise.”  PIJ is short for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a 26-year-old terrorist organization connected to the Muslim Brotherhood that targets Israeli civilians and others with murder, using young Arabs as human bombs (martyrs).  According to the indictment, IAF and other organizations were actively used as “the North American base of support for the PIJ and to raise funds and provide support for the PIJ and their operatives in the Middle East, in order to assist its engagement in, and promotion of, violent attacks designed to thwart the Middle East Peace Process.”

IAF’s former Chairman, Sami Al-Arian, was the ringleader of the enterprise; the school’s former Treasurer, Sameeh Hammoudeh, was conducting fundraising activities for PIJ from IAF; one of the school’s former teachers, Ramadan Shallah, was soon to leave town (on his own) for Damascus, Syria to become the new leader (Secretary General) of PIJ; and one of the school’s former Directors, Mazen Al-Najjar, was deported from the United States and, himself, had major ties to PIJ.  The former three are presently the focus of a soon-to-be-ended trial dealing with their involvement in the murders of over 100 innocent human beings, including two Americans.


The school is owned by the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), a Saudi financed organization with roots in the Muslim Brotherhood that controls the assets of many, if not all, of the most dangerous mosques and Islamic centers inside the U.S.  IAF’s mailing address, as published by the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser, is a NAIT office located just a few doors down from the school.


Most U.S. citizens would shudder at the possibility that the taxes they pay, out of the money they worked hard for, were being used to fund a school that was founded as a link between the country they call home and an overseas terrorist organization.  But that is precisely what had happened (with the case of IAF), and unbeknownst to many, it is continuing still today (with IAF).


In March of 2003, a domestic non-profit was incorporated within the state of Florida, using the name American Youth Academy.  The organization was set up as an Islamic elementary/secondary private school (just like IAF), and its corporate address put it directly adjacent to IAF.  Or is it inside IAF?  Taking a drive down the back street that is E 130th Ave, one is easily confused as to where one property ends and the other begins.


If you listen to American Youth Academy (AYA) officials, you’ll be hard pressed to believe that AYA is a brand new school.  But in reality, only the name has changed.  As reported in the Tampa Tribune, the school “uses the same buildings, desks, books and equipment as the Islamic Academy.  Nearly half the teachers and many students are the same.”  The phone number to the school is also the same.  Even one of the AYA Directors, Ayman Barakat, was a long-time Director of IAF.


So why is the state of Florida treating this “new” school differently than it treated IAF?


As stated previously, IAF lost its funding due to its ties to terrorist activity.  However, the same school that goes by the new name is currently receiving more taxpayer funded vouchers than any other school in the Tampa Bay area.  For this year alone, Florida’s citizens have shelled out $332,500 to AYA for its elementary/secondary program and $2500 per child for AYA’s Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) program, which it is actively soliciting children for on its website.  Given this school’s history, how is this possible?


But it’s not just about the school’s past.  There is equal concern with its present. According to courtroom documents, in December of 1999, Ibrahim Khader, one of the school’s new Directors, gave $1900 to PIJ defendant Sameeh Hammoudeh, who told Khader the money was going towards “orphans” (i.e. families of suicide bombers).


Two years ago, the St. Petersburg Times posed the question, “…do lawmakers know… that the Islamic Academy of Florida, a school described in a federal indictment as a base of operations for a local terrorist cell, served 101 students on vouchers last year?”  Evidently someone was listening.  Well, hopefully someone is listening now, when I ask the follow-up question, “Do lawmakers know that the Islamic Academy of Florida is still getting taxpayer funded student vouhers?


It’s time for the American public to get angry, because those that are charged with protecting us are paying no attention to the radicalism festering in our midst.

Bill Warner, the President of W.B.I. Private Detective Agency, contributed to this report.

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Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate and the founder of CAIR Watch.

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