The World Islam Study Enterprise (WISE) was established as an "Islamic think tank" in 1991 by four professors at the University of South Florida (USF): Sami Al-Arian, his brother-in-law Mazen al Najjar, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, and Khalil Shikaki. Abdullah left WISE (before it was shut down by federal authorities in 1995) to become head of the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Khalil Shikaki is the brother of Fathi Shikaki, the founder of PIJ. When Fahti Shikaki was assassinated, his replacement as PIJ’s military head was Ramadan Abdullah Shallah.
Another WISE board member, Tarik Hamdi, was known by U.S. authorities to have personally met with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in May 1998, giving him a satellite telephone and battery pack to facilitate the latter’s orchestration of terrorist activities.
During its four-year existence, WISE sponsored numerous public events such as lectures given by: Islamic Group leader Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who was later convicted in connection with the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center; Rashid-el-Ghanoushi, a Tunisian who was considered a terrorist by the U.S. State Department; and Hassan Turabi, who is generally considered the real leader of the terrorist Sudanese government. According to Oliver Revell, the FBI's former top counterterrorism official, "anybody who brings in Hassan Turabi is supporting terrorists."
An FBI raid of WISE offices yielded no fewer than 500 videotapes of Al-Arian’s conferences in mosques across the United States, where he raised funds for PIJ. At these events, Al-Arian proudly accepted introductions as “the President of the Islamic Committee for Palestine … the active arm of the Islamic Jihad Movement.” The videos further showed a number of individuals at these rallies praising the killing of Jews and Christians. The WISE raid also turned up a letter written by Al-Arian in Arabic praising a Palestinian Islamic Jihad suicide bombing that caused the deaths of 19 Israeli soldiers in 1995.
Both Al-Arian and Al Najjar were eventually arrested on charges of supporting terrorism. When discussing the indictment of these WISE leaders, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft stated that they each played "a substantial role in international terrorism" and were involved in all aspects of "finance, extolling, and assisting acts of terror."
Among WISE's officials over the years have been such notables as Ramadan Abdullah, Taha Jabir Al Alwani, Sami al-Arian, Mazin an-Najjar, and Khalil Shikaki.