Fort Pierce Islamic Center’s Terror-Related Past and Present
A suicide bomber, a mass murderer, a Taliban supporter, and a Hamas-related spokesman.
Syed Shafeeq Ur Rahman, imam of the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce (ICFP), claims that his mosque – the same mosque where Orlando terrorist shooter Omar Mateen regularly prayed at – condemns radical Islam. But if that is so, then why, following the shooting, would the mosque retain a spokesman who is a leader from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group that has numerous associations with the terrorist organization Hamas?
The Islamic Center of Fort Pierce or Masjid Subul-as-Salam was incorporated in September 2003. Its founder was Shafeeq Rahman. Today, Rahman is the mosque’s imam and president. The mosque is a converted church, located at 1104 West Midway Road and owned by Azaan, Inc., a Florida business run by the mosque’s Secretary and Treasurer, Imtiaz Jehan Khan.
Weeks ago, the mosque made the news, following the murders of 49 innocent people at Orlando’s Pulse LGBT nightclub by one of the mosque’s congregants. This had been the second large scale terrorist attack linked to the mosque in as many years.
The first was a suicide attack carried out in Syria by then 22-year-old Palestinian-American Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha, aka Abu Hurayra al-Amriki. Abu-Salha was a follower of deceased Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaeda leader who died via a US drone strike in September 2011. Abu-Salha had flown from the US to Turkey and made his way over the border into Syria, soon to join up with al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front.
In May 2014, Abu-Salha, as a member of al-Nusra, drove a massive truck bomb into a restaurant in Jabal al-Arbaeen filled with Syrian government soldiers. This was said to be the first suicide bombing performed by an American within Syria.
The second attack associated with ICFP took place on June 12th, when Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, also an admirer of al-Awlaki, entered the Pulse in Orlando and shot and killed 49 people and injured 53 more. During the attack, Mateen placed a call to 911 to claim responsibility for the attack and pledge his allegiance to the leader of ISIS. He stated, “I pledge… allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of the Islamic State.” He, as well, expressed his solidarity with those who carried out the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and Abu-Salha, who perpetrated the Syria suicide attack.
Both Abu-Salha and Mateen were acquaintances and members of the Fort Pierce mosque. Reports state that the two were in regular communication with one another. Although the imam Shafeeq Rahman has claimed that Mateen hardly ever came to the mosque’s Friday services, Mateen was a regular attendee on Fridays. Indeed, Mateen was at the mosque with his father only two nights prior to the shooting attack.
And he was with his father just hours before the shooting.
Mateen’s father, Seddique Mir Mateen, who is originally from Afghanistan, has been affiliated with ICFP since early in the mosque’s history. He had been taking his son Omar there since Omar was a child. In fact, Seddiqui held the position of Vice President of ICFP from July 2006 through May 2008.
Seddique, like his late son, is a supporter of terrorists, specifically the Taliban. In a video that he uploaded to YouTube, he describes the Taliban as “warriors.” He states, “Our brothers in Waziristan, our warrior brothers in [the] Taliban movement and national Afghan Taliban are rising up.”
The Fort Pierce radical mosque has produced a suicide bomber, an individual who has committed the deadliest mass shooting in US history, and a Taliban supporter who was the Vice President of the mosque. It makes sense then that, following the shooting attack, ICFP would take as a spokesman for the mosque a leader of a group associated with terrorism. That’s exactly what the mosque did, when it named Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, a local leader of the Hamas-related CAIR, as the mosque’s new spokesman.
CAIR was established in June 1994 as part of a terrorist umbrella group headed by then-global head of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook. In 2007 and 2008, CAIR was named by the US Justice Department a co-conspirator for two federal trials dealing with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. Since its founding, a number of CAIR representatives have served jail time and/or have been deported from the United States for terrorist-related crimes. In November 2014, CAIR, itself, was designated a terrorist group by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government.
Wilfredo Ruiz is the Communications Director and the Civil Rights Attorney for the Florida chapter of CAIR.
CAIR-Florida reflects the extremism of its parent organization. In August 2010, CAIR-Florida Executive Director Hassan Shibly, who has denied that Hezbollah is a terrorist group, wrote, “Israel and its supporters are enemies of God…” In July 2014, CAIR-Florida co-sponsored a pro-Hamas rally in Downtown Miami, where rally goers shouted, “We are Hamas” and “Let’s go Hamas.” Following the rally, the event organizer, Sofian Zakkout, wrote, “Thank God, every day we conquer the American Jews like our conquests over the Jews of Israel!”
Ruiz was brought in to speak out against any potential backlash that the mosque would suffer (and trot out the ‘Muslims as victims’ canard), following the Orlando attack. One report quotes Ruiz as “mosque spokesman” saying the following: “This might be the main spot for a hate crime to occur in all the United States.” However, retaining someone who has a terror-related background, as Ruiz does coming from CAIR, serves only to invite a backlash and criticism and reveal the mosque’s affinity with radicalism.
The imam’s claim that his mosque condemns radical Islam is obviously a lie designed for gullible public and media consumption. If it were true, they would have had nothing to do with CAIR or the father of Omar Mateen. How much more do we need to know about this mosque and how many further violent acts have to come from its members, before those in power do the right thing and shut it down together with CAIR?
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.