Last month, ICNA Relief, the social services division of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), visited Islamic children's schools throughout South Florida. While visiting the schools, ICNA officials handed out back packs and other school supplies as part of its "Back2School" program which promotes an "Education is Power" message to its beneficiaries.
The events have been advertised on Islamist social media pages. This is concerning because ICNA has numerous links to radical groups and individuals, many of which originate in South Asia. Given ICNA's extreme background, what kind of institutions would wish to subject their kids to such an organization as this?
Sadly, it's entirely possible the schools that allow ICNA Relief onto their premises subscribe to the same brand of extremism the organization supports in South Asia. The imam of one of the centers visited by ICNA activists, Fadi Kablawi, declared in a July 2020 Facebook post that "Real jihad is not climbing walls. Real jihad is climbing over people's necks and heads and skulls."
The concerns about ICNA are well documented. In 2017, ICNA partnered with the Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF), a banned front for designated terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which orchestrated the 2008 Mumbai massacre. ICNA has donated money to and partnered with the Al-Khidmat Foundation (AKF), the Pakistani charitable arm of violent South Asian Islamist movement Jamaat-e-Islami. AKF has openly financed Hamas. In October 2000, ICNA told its followers to provide "material support" to "fellow Chechnyan Muslims," while providing a link to an al-Qaeda financing and recruitment site.
ICNA is also accused of indoctrinating youth. Young Muslims (YM) is the youth division of ICNA. The "YM Personal and Collective Development Plan" describes "Jihad" as "the highest act; sacrificing everything." Texts previously found on YM's website reek of violence and bigotry. One, The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam, suggests that putting homosexuals to death "maintains the purity of Islamic society and... keeps it clean of perverted elements." Another, The Amazing Quran, states, "[A]s a whole, the Jewish community is to be viewed as an avid enemy of Islam."
On July 20th, the South Florida Muslim Foundation (SFMF), an umbrella group for many of South Florida's Islamist organizations and outfits, posted on Facebook information and photographs from ICNA Relief's BACK2SCHOOL project. The post contains a list of schools/mosques where ICNA has held its initiative. The photos were taken at the schools.
One of the schools is Reviver Academy, which is run by the North Miami Islamic Center (NMIC). The above-mentioned imam of the center, Fadi Kablawi, has called Jews "the lowest of the lowest" and said 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 has lamented that Allah has not destroyed all the gays in America. In March 2018, Kablawi told his congregation that the FBI believes him to be a member of ISIS.
Another school on the list is the Darul Uloom Institute (DUI). High-profile al-Qaeda militants, including "Dirty Bomber" Jose Padilla, attended prayers at the DUI, and al-Qaeda Commander, Adnan el-Shukrijumah, led prayers at the facility. The leader/founder of DUI is Shafayat Mohamed, an imam who has been thrown off numerous Broward community boards for his hate-filled talks against homosexuals, complaining about the existence of gay Muslims and claiming natural disasters are caused by gay sex.
Another is the school at Masjid Jamaat Al-Mumineen (MJAM). MJAM promotes texts labeling Jews and Christians "enemies," mandating death for gays, glorifying female genital mutilation, and sanctioning domestic violence against women. The imam of MJAM, Izhar Khan, can be seen holding an ICNA banner in one of the group's BACK2SCHOOL photos. In May 2011, Khan was arrested and charged by the FBI with participating with members of his family in a scheme to ship $50,000 to the Taliban. The presiding judge released Khan from detention citing lack of evidence, while Khan's father, Hafiz, was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Yet another school on the list is Nur Ul Islam Academy (NUIA) of the Nur Ul Islam (NUI) mosque. Less than six months into NUIA's 1996 founding, the school named Raed Awad as its vice president. Awad, who also served as a member of NUI's Islamic Affairs Council, was the Florida representative for the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), a Hamas charity that was shut down by the US government in December 2001. The homepage of NUIA's website has previously contained a link to islamway.com, which, according to the Justice Department, "included pages devoted to violent jihad" and "included a section urging Muslims to contribute money to Hamas."
In view of the histories and present Islamist orientation of the schools — which haven't responded to email inquiries from FWI — it is easy to understand how they would have no problem with a radical group like ICNA visiting their facilities. Yet the children from these schools are a captive audience and impressionable, and having ICNA expose them to extremist ideologies and/or activities could easily be construed as harmful and akin to child abuse.
ICNA's unfettered access to Muslim children's schools – many, if not all of which, receive taxpayer funding through state authorized vouchers – may warrant scrutiny by Florida education officials and a reassessment of the schools' eligibility for any financial assistance they are currently receiving.
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.