Maulana Shafayat Mohamed depicts himself as a moderate religious leader of the Darul Uloom Islamic Institute, a madrasa (Islamic religious school) located in Pembroke Pines, Florida. This Institute is notorious for the number of terrorists who have worshiped and taken classes there, including the so-called “Dirty Bomber” Jose Padilla and Adnan Shukrijumah, who is on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list.
Mohamed was born in Trinidad and graduated from Darul Uloom Deoband, the largest Islamic university in India. This fundamentalist madrasa served as a prototype for another madrasa located in Pakistan, the Darul Uloom Haqqania. Scores of Taliban leaders, including Mullah Muhammad Omar, were taught at Darul Uloom Haqqania, which essentially functioned as an al Qaeda recruitment center. There is a disquieting resemblance between this Taliban terror factory and Shafayat Mohamed’s current institution, Darul Uloom Islamic Institute (henceforth, Darul Uloom).
Shafayat Mohamed opened Darul Uloom on February 24, 1995, with himself as the Registered Agent. One of the founding directors—and still a director—for the madrassa is Nashid Sabir, a lawyer for a former Darul Uloom student, Imran Mandhai. Authorities suspect that Mandhai intended to take part in a jihadist campaign of terror bombings in South Florida. Set to join him in the terror spree was Mandhai’s friend Hakki Aksoy, another Darul Uloom alumnus.
Despite his ties to terrorism, Maulana Shafayat Mohamed postures as a moderate. Interfaith activities particularly are a big part of his life. Beyond serving as president of the Hollywood Interfaith Council and co-founder of JAM (Jews & Muslims & All), Mohamed presides over a monthly publication called Al-Hikmat Insight, which devotes an entire page of each issue to interfaith activities. But in reality, this publication, founded by Shafayat Mohamed in 1983, provides a revealing showcase of Mohamed’s extremist views.
Consider the cover story of the March-April 2004 edition of Al-Hikmat Insight. Headline: Muslim Leaders Split Over Jihad on America. The accompanying article delved into Russian Muslim thinking on whether or not “to proclaim a holy war against the United States.” The January-February 2004 edition, meanwhile, featured a “Humor” section that carried the following joke, under the title “Iraqi Terrorist”: “Iraqi terrorist Khay Rahnajet didn’t pay enough postage on a letter bomb. It came back with ‘return to sender’ stamped on it. Forgetting it was the bomb, he opened it and was blown to bits.” The publication also regularly features promotions for radical Islamic institutions. For instance, the January-February 2004 edition of Al-Hikmat Insight publicized an event by the Universal Heritage Foundation (UHF), a Kissimmee, Florida-based outpost of Islamism and anti-Semitism. (The UHF Chairman and C.E.O. Zulfiqar Ali Shah has been quoted as saying, “If we are unable to stop the Jews now, their next stop is Yathrib [Medina], where the Jews used to live until their expulsion by Prophet Muhammad. That’s the pinnacle of their motives.”)
Shafayat Mohamed, for his part, boasts more than a few ties to radical Islamic groups. Among them is the UHF, which he has in the past defended from criticism. In 2003, for instance, the UHF came under fire for its plan to bring Shaikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Sudais, the chief cleric of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, to be a featured speaker at its December conference (“Islam for Humanity”). This unleashed a wave of critical coverage in the media, much of it centering on Al-Sudais’ past—not least his appeals for the murder of Americans, Jews and Christians. (He has also described Jews as “the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the killers of prophets, and the grandsons of monkeys and pigs.”) Due to this negative press, Al-Sudais did not show up to speak. But Shafayat Mohamed did. According to one news report (Masquerading as ‘mainstream’), he even shared the stage with Imam Abdul Malik, an individual who has defended suicide bombings in Israel. After Malik spoke, according to the report, “the two exchanged a warm embrace.”
Shafayat Mohamed also spoke at another UHF event, titled “Next Generation Muslims—Education & Survival.” Other speakers at this event included: Zulfiqer Ali Shah; ex-Congressman and notorious anti-Semite, Paul Findley; the past President of the Islamic Society of North America, Muzammil Siddiqi, who has said that the United States is “directly and indirectly responsible for the plight of the Palestinian people,” and that if the U.S. “remains on the side of injustice, the wrath of God will come.”; and a suspected co-conspirator to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, Siraj Wahhaj. In addition, Shafayat Mohamed has acted as a contact for the UHF.
Shafayat Mohamed’s connections to Islamist groups do not end there. He has also collaborated with the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), a front for Pakistan’s al Qaeda-affiliated Jama’at-i-Islami movement. On September 27, 1997, Shafayat Mohamed allowed the ICNA to hold an event at his madrasa, titled “Refocusing on our Target.” This information can be found on the now-defunct website for the Southeast division of the ICNA. The site also features a link to www.qoqaz.net (Jihad in Chechnya), an al Qaeda-related website that the U.S. Department of Justice says contained postings “describing the need for Muslims to engage in violent attacks against infidels, appealing for financial support, and providing instructions on how to enter Islamic war zones.”
There is still more evidence linking Shafayat Mohamed to terror. For example, one can purchase a video that includes lectures by both Shafayat Mohamed and Raed Mousa Awad, the former religious leader of the radical Al-Imam mosque located in Sunrise, Florida. Awad also served as a fundraiser for a Hamas charity shuttered after 9/11, and is said to have overseen “Dirty Bomber” Jose Padilla’s conversion to Islam. Some reports suggest that Awad even paid for part of Padilla’s trip to Egypt, where Padilla met with al Qaeda operatives. This was after Padilla had taken classes from Shafayat Mohamed at Darul Uloom. One can also find photographs of Shafayat Mohamed posing with Gulshair Shukrijumah, father of terrorist Adnan Shukrijumah. Shukrijumah, who taught classes at Darul Uloom, also tutored Imran Mandhai, who repeatedly vowed to create a jihad cell consisting of 25 or 30 men who would target electric substations, Jewish institutions, a National Guard armory, and national landmarks like Mount Rushmore.
This profile is adapted from the article “Unmasking Radical Islam,” written by Joe Kaufman and published by FrontPageMagazine.com on May 13, 2005.