Broward County Mayor Lamar Fisher has responded defensively to a challenge regarding his recent speech at the Islamic Center of South Florida (ICOSF), a mosque known for promoting radical views and supporting violence. In an email sent to this author, Fisher stated that he was merely speaking to "county residents" and that he "treats everyone with the same courtesy and respect."
In his response to a query from Focus on Western Islam (FWI) about his April 17 appearance at the mosque, Fisher did not address one crucial fact: ICOSF is owned by the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), an Islamist endowment (waqf) organization that was named by the US government – for two federal trials in 2007 and 2008 – a party to the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas, a designated terrorist organization. Another Florida mosque owned by NAIT, the Islamic Community of Tampa (ICT), was founded by operatives from Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and is currently headed by a member of PIJ, Hatem Fariz, who pled guilty to providing material support to the terrorist group in 2006.
In October 2022, ICOSF held a service in honor of Qais Imad Shejaiya, a member of Hamas' militant wing Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, who had just been killed by the IDF in the midst of a shooting attack by Shejaiya on the Israeli town of Beit El. ICOSF stated on its Facebook page, "We pray Allah to accept brother Qais Shejaeya and to grant him highest place in Paradise (Jannat Al firdacus)... 'Condolences' will be offered in shaa Allah tomorrow Sunday at the Islamic Center of South Florida... 7pm to 8:15pm."
Despite these alarming connections, Mayor Fisher spoke at the 2023 ICOSF Ramadan celebration in mid-April. Pictures of the mayor addressing the congregation, engaging with attendees, and participating in the Ramadan break the fast (iftar) meal were shared on ICOSF's Facebook page. The mosque even posted an image of the mayor's official Broward County business card.
During the iftar, Mayor Fisher was seated next to Rasheed Mahamad, ICOSF's Dawah Director and Assistant Secretary of the American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA). AMANA has been condemned by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for posting "venomous" anti-Semitic material on its website, and AMANA's President, Sofian Zakkout, was removed from two prominent anti-crime boards for his support of Hamas and Holocaust denial.
Also speaking at the ICOSF Ramadan event was ICOSF imam Fadi Kablawi. Kablawi, who said the FBI has accused him of being an ISIS member, has called Jews "the lowest of the lowest." He said that people "crack jokes about Jews being cheap" as "a punishment from Allah." He has blamed female victims of rape for the violence committed against them, and he has lamented why Allah has not destroyed all of the gays in America. He, too, has preached violence, stating "Real jihad is not climbing walls. Real jihad is climbing over people's necks and heads and skulls." One of Kablawi's congregants, Salman Rasheed, solicited ISIS to murder the President of Broward College.
Other imams who have made appearances at ICOSF include Monzer Taleb, a self-proclaimed member of Hamas, who in June 2019, posted on Facebook that Jews in Israel "should be relocated to Germany"; Ibrahim Dremali, who, in May 2021, during a live video interview, told viewers to donate to Hamas and stated, "If the Arab leaders open the borders for Palestine... the Jews they'll be inside that ocean"; and Izhar Khan. The online library of Khan's Margate mosque includes texts that refer to Jews and Christians as "enemies," glorify female genital mutilation, and sanctions domestic violence against women and death punishments for homosexuals.
After the publication of "The Fisher Mayor and the 'ISIS Imam,'" in Frontpage Magazine, this author received the following emailed response from the Mayor: "I was invited to speak to a group of County residents, as I do for many organizations across Broward County as the County Mayor this year. My presence does not legitimize anything, it is simply my intent to treat everyone with the same courtesy and respect."
This is not the first time Mayor Fisher has had dealings with this mosque. Indeed, the Mayor was heavily criticized in the past, when he, as then-Mayor of Pompano Beach, invited ICOSF's senior imam Hasan Sabri to give the invocation at a City Commission meeting. The Mayor told the crowd and his colleagues, "I ask you now to stand for the invocation... given by Imam Hassan Sabri from our Islamic center," and then proceeded to clasp his hands and bow his head in prayer, while the imam misled the audience, saying one thing in Arabic and yet another in his English translation.
Following the invocation, when the commissioners and audience immediately began reciting "The Pledge of Allegiance," the imam, who had, in a previous sermon, referred to America as an "enemy," bolted for the door.
Joe Kaufman is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Chairman of the Joe Kaufman Security Initiative. Beila Rabinowitz, director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to the information provided in this report.