A newspaper column accused visiting Fulbright scholar Mustafa Abu Sway of being tied to Hamas, citing the Israeli government. Abu Sway vehemently denied the accusation.
Florida Atlantic University is taking a second look at a Jupiter campus Islamic scholar accused this week in a New York Post op-ed column of having ties to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
Mustafa Abu Sway is a Fulbright scholar who began teaching Islamic studies at the Honors College in August. According to a university spokesperson his term ends in May.
In a New York Post column published Monday, Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, and Asaf Romirowsky, a Pipes colleague, claimed the Israeli government told them Abu Sway has ties to Hamas. No specifics were mentioned in the column, nor were any Israeli government officials identified or quoted.
The university issued the following statement on Tuesday: "Earlier this month, FAU was made aware of allegations that one of its visiting professors, engaged in the Fulbright Scholars program, was involved with the Hamas organization. The university immediately notified the State Department and the coordinators of the Fulbright Program.
"They assured the university that all individuals who participate in the Fulbright Program, including the individual in question, engage in rigorous background and security checks. In response to the university's communication with the State Department, this individual's file is being reviewed a second time. Florida Atlantic University is awaiting word from the State Department in the matter.
"Please be advised that Florida Atlantic University has acted with due diligence and an abundance of caution in this matter."
Public Information Director Aileen Izquierdo stated that when university officials asked Abu Sway about the column's claims, "he vehemently denied them."
The Post column also stated, "But when informed of Abu Sway's ties to terrorism in early October, they (FAU) went mum, seemingly in hopes of avoiding the whole issue."
"I don't know where that came from," said Izquierdo Friday, "but perhaps the people who wrote the column may not have been informed that as soon as the university got word about the allegation, there was an immediate turnaround to the State Department."
Abu Sway returned a phone call from The Jupiter Courier, but declined to respond to the column or the renewed scrutiny of his background. He did submit copies of four lengthy published works on Islamic religious and philosophical positions.
Kristen Murtaugh, the FAU vice president in charge of the Jupiter campus, called the allegations "unfortunate for the university and the community. Our faculty feels what Dr. Abu Sway is contributing to the Honors College is in keeping with the intent of the Fulbright program to provide cross-cultural understanding.
"The Honors College," Murtaugh continued, "specifically had asked for someone with a Middle East background."
Abu Sway, a visiting Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at the Honors College, holds a Ph.D. and master's degree from Boston College. He is an associate professor of Islamic Studies at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem.