Joe Kaufman///For the past five years, since September 2010, Deputy Sheriff of the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) Nezar Hamze has been a local leader for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group that was recently named to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government list of international terrorist organizations. However, Hamze’s involvement with a second group that was named to the UAE terror list, Islamic Relief, seems to have gone unnoticed. This piece exposes Hamze’s further participation in the world of radical Islam.
In November 2014, the government of United Arab Emirates published a list of terrorist organizations. A few of the groups mentioned on the list operate within the United States. One of the groups is CAIR.
CAIR was established, in June 1994, as one of four US-based organizations under the leadership of then-global head of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook, who was residing in the US at the time. Since CAIR’s founding, a number of representatives for the group have been imprisoned in and/or deported from the US for reasons related to terrorist activity. CAIR itself was named a co-conspirator by the US government for two federal trials dealing with the financing of Hamas.
Nezar Hamze is the Regional Operations Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the Florida chapter of CAIR. Previously, he served as CAIR-Florida’s Executive Director. Currently, the Executive Director of CAIR-Florida is Hassan Shibly, an individual who has referred to Hezbollah as “basically a resistance movement” and “absolutely not a terrorist organization” and who, in August 2014, tweeted, “Israel and its supporters are enemies of God.”
Besides CAIR, Hamze has been active in another group which is located on the UAE terror list and operating within America, Islamic Relief (IR).
Islamic Relief was founded in Birmingham, UK, in 1984, as an international charitable relief organization. In March 2006, IR was formally renamed Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) to account for the many offices it had opened up overseas.
In November 1999, it was reported that Islamic Relief had collected and sent over $6 million to Chechen rebels with ties to Al-Qaeda. The same year, IR received $50,000 from Human Concern International (HCI), a “charity” that the U.S. Department of Treasury described as a “Bin Laden front.” Shortly after the September 11th attacks, IR, itself, would be investigated by the Treasury Department, as a “possible source of funding for Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.” In October 2005, Russia accused IR of supporting terrorism in Chechnya.
In May 2006, Israel labeled Islamic Relief a Hamas front, after Israeli security services arrested the group’s Program Manager for Gaza, Ayaz Ali, for providing assistance to Hamas. According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (IMFA), Ali “worked to transfer funds and assistance to various Hamas institutions and organizations… He also admitted that he worked in Jordan and cooperated with local Hamas operatives.” IR was banned from operating within Israel, in June 2014.
Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) is the American division of IRW. It is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia.
The Chairman of IRUSA is outspoken advocate for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Khaled Lamada. Lamada, who came to the US via Cairo, Egypt, is also the co-chairman of the Islamic Circle of North America and Muslim American Society (ICNA-MAS) national convention. ICNA has been linked to terrorist financing and has used the web to promote a number of terrorist groups, including Hamas, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Taliban. MAS, like CAIR and Islamic Relief, has been named to the UAE government’s list of terror groups.
Lamada’s Facebook site is a depository for photos of imprisoned Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, including a pic of Morsi next to the Hamas logo and a crossed-out Israeli flag. Of Morsi, Lamada has written, “How great you are, O Morsi” and “The return of Morsi is the symbol of the triumph of the revolution.” Lamada is seen in numerous photos wearing and giving the four-finger ‘Rabia’ salute. Both the Brotherhood and the Rabia logo have been banned by Egypt for respectively being an institution and a symbol of terrorism. Lamada has called for jailed Islamist Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, who has lobbied to kill Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, to be freed.
Like many Islamist groups, Islamic Relief attempts to ingratiate itself into society by working on the sensibilities of those living within the surrounding communities. With this in mind, IRUSA holds an annual event in various locals around the US billed as one that helps the homeless. The event is called ‘Day of Dignity.’
In October 2013, CAIR-Florida signed on to help coordinate IRUSA’s Day of Dignity in South Florida. The contact for the event was Nezar Hamze. Wearing an official Day of Dignity t-shirt with a big Islamic Relief logo emblazoned on the shoulder, Hamze – accompanied by his CAIR-Florida colleagues Ghazala Salam and Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, also clad with the IR t-shirt – answered questions from the media.
In 2014 and 2015, CAIR-Florida continued to help coordinate the IRUSA event. The August 2015 ‘Day of Dignity’ took place at the First United Methodist Church in Boca Raton. Once again, Hamze, Salam and Ruiz represented Islamic Relief, while sporting the event shirts with the IR logo. Hamze, in his leadership role, took the stage to speak to the crowd.
Nezar Hamze is involved with two organizations that have been labeled terrorist groups by a government that has formal diplomatic relations with the United States. At the same time, Hamze is serving as a Deputy Sheriff at one of the most prominent Sheriff’s departments in the US.
This dangerous and troubling ‘Keystone Cops’ situation makes any counter-terrorism efforts by the BSO appear farcical. It is a surreal scenario, which raises the question, “Who is guarding the guardians?”
The Broward County Sheriff’s Office made a colossal blunder in giving a radical Islamist like Hamze the position of Deputy Sheriff. No one affiliated with a terrorist organization – let alone two – should have anything to do with law enforcement, except as a defendant. He should be relieved of his duties immediately.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.