Miami Primary Opponents Courted by Radical Muslim Group
Joe Garcia and Annette Taddeo get big bucks from Emerge USA.
Emerge USA is a radical Muslim group which works to further its Islamist agenda via political advocacy. Like most political advocates, the group attempts to infiltrate political circles by sponsoring candidate forums and by raising funds for politicians, from whom it thinks it can buy influence. Unlike most advocates, the forums Emerge puts on are many times held at extremist mosques associated with terrorism. Two of the politicians Emerge has targeted with support, Democrats Joe Garcia and Annette Taddeo, are now running in a primary against each other for US Congress. Regardless of the victor, Emerge will have its candidate for the general election.
The main individual behind Emerge is Khurrum Wahid, a South Florida attorney who has built his name on representing high profile terrorists. His past clients include: Rafiq Sabir, who received a 25-year prison sentence for conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda; al-Qaeda operative Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, who received a life sentence for plotting to assassinate President George W. Bush; Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) co-founder Sami al-Arian; and Miami imam Hafiz Khan, who sent $50,000 to the Taliban to kill American troops overseas. According to the Miami New Times, Wahid himself was placed on a federal terrorist watch list in 2011.
Prior to creating Emerge, Wahid served as a legal advisor for the national office of the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and a director of CAIR’s Florida chapter. Emerge USA’s Florida Executive Director, Ghazala Salam, was also a representative of CAIR, previously holding the position of CAIR-Florida Community & Government Relations Director. CAIR was founded, in June 1994, as part of a terrorist umbrella group run by then-global leader of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook. The US Justice Department has named CAIR a co-conspirator in the financing of Hamas. Leaders of CAIR have been imprisoned for terrorist-related activities.
Emerge USA holds events at radical mosques. They include Tampa’s al-Qassam, which was founded by PIJ leader Sami al-Arian; Pembroke Pines’ Darul Uloom, which has served a number of al-Qaeda operatives and which is headed by anti-gay imam Maulana Shafayat Mohamed; and the Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR), which was co-founded by Hamas web designer Syed Khawer Ahmad and al-Arian associate Bassem Alhalabi, whose founding imam Ibrahim Dremali was placed on the federal ‘no fly’ list, and which built its current mosque using $600 thousand in seed money from the al-Qaeda charity Global Relief Foundation (GRF).
In 2014, Emerge and its representatives were heavily invested in then-US Congressman Joe Garcia. Operatives from Emerge gave thousands of dollars to Garcia. This includes $1000 from the Emerge USA Federal Political Action Committee (PAC) and close to $1000 from Emerge Co-Chairman Khurrum Wahid.
Garcia, as well, spoke at Emerge’s May 2014 annual banquet. The keynote speaker for the event was Islamic lecturer Sayed Ammar Nakshawani. Nakshawani is a devotee of Iran’s deceased terrorist leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In a speech previously found on the lecture section of his official website, titled ‘Sayed Khomeini’s Quds Day,’ Nakshawani called for the destruction of Israel. He stated, “The shame in this world is that, if we put ourselves down to a two-state solution, we would allow a country which has broken 60 UN resolutions to have their own freedom of peace. It is barbaric that this Zionist state is allowed to continue.”
After this author had exposed this information in FrontPage Magazine (‘Florida Congressman Accepts Money from Radical Muslim Group’), Garcia became concerned. Garcia, Khurrum Wahid, and then-Emerge board member Imran Siddiqui conversed via phone and email about how to counter this author’s report, which was picked up and repeated by a popular Cuban radio outlet. Wahid wrote in an email, “Imran and I were on a call with the Congressman… He stated he was concerned the work we are doing at Emerge can be sidelined if we don’t respond in some way so that it is not on mailers all over Dade and Broward this summer.”
Garcia’s relationship with Emerge came up during his first debate – a Spanish language debate – with then-Republican Candidate and now US Representative Carlos Curbelo. Garcia was asked a question from the panel about the relationship.
But while the relationship was good in 2014 and while Garcia has gotten some Emerge money for 2016 – he received over $2000 from a former Emerge host committee member in June – Emerge’s favor may now have shifted towards Garcia’s primary opponent, Annette Taddeo, possibly due to the fact that Garcia entered the primary race late.
Taddeo, the recent candidate for Florida Lieutenant Governor and running mate of Democrat Charlie Crist, in December 2015, attended Emerge’s first ‘Professional Mixer.’ Photos from the mixer of a smiling and laughing Taddeo are displayed on Emerge USA’s Facebook page along with Florida Executive Director Ghazala Salam and then-Emerge National Executive Director Tamim Chowdhury.
Taddeo has, as well, received a significant sum of money from Emerge leadership. In June 2015, Emerge USA board member Farooq Mitha gave her $500. In November 2015, Emerge board member Jaret Davis gave her $1000. And in December 2015, Khurrum Wahid gave her $500.
Whoever wins the August 30th primary between Garcia and Taddeo, Emerge will have its candidate to go up against the incumbent, Representative Curbelo, in the general election. They will have a candidate who will have no problem accepting money from or showing up at campaign events run by radical Muslims. They will have someone who will actively promote their interests and agendas.
Emerge USA has effectively bought their candidate, and he/she has already shown a willingness to pander to his/her Islamist backers. This is extremely troubling given the extremist ties of Emerge and the threat its associations and activities pose to national security and to the candidates’ local constituency.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.