Middle East studies in the News
Khalil Shikaki and his Role in the Formation of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Network in the United States
Khalil Shikaki was born on September 8, 1953 in Rafiah in the Gaza Strip. He began his university studies at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank in 1971. He received his bachelor's degree in International Relations and Middle Eastern studies from the American University in Beirut in 1975, and his master's degree in the same subjects from the same university in 1977. From 1977 until 1980, he worked for General Motors in Kuwait. From 1980 until 1985, Khalil studied for his Ph.D. at Columbia University in New York City, where he also received a Middle East Institute Certificate in 1983. From 1985 to 1986, he taught at Columbia. The following year, he returned to the West Bank and became a professor at An-Najjah University in Nablus. When An-Najjah University was closed during the Intifadah, Khalil returned to the United States and taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee before moving to Tampa, Florida in 1990 to assume the position of Director and Research Associate of the newly created World & Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), a think tank set up by then-University of South Florida computer science professor, Sami al-Arian.
In 1991, he became a professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa. In 1992, after An-Najjah University was reopened, Khalil applied to return to the West Bank. But Israeli authorities denied him permission on the basis of intelligence information that he had maintained a covert relationship with his brother Fathi, the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Khalil denied that he had maintained such a relationship--and got the State Department to pressure Israel into giving Khalil permission to return to the West Bank. In the face of such U.S. pressure--coupled with strong editorial support by New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis -- Israel relented and granted him entry into Israel. In 1993, Khalil formed the Center for Palestine Research and Studies in Nablus. To this day, Khalil has steadfastly denied any connection to the Islamic Jihad, that he maintained a covert relationship to his brother, or had any knowledge of the subsequent disclosure that the academic center in Tampa where he worked served as the clandestine Islamic Jihad terrorist apparatus. In fact, evidence released by the FBI and INS in addition to other documentary evidence introduced at the trial of Sami al-Arian shows that Khalil was a key intermediary in the organization of the American arm of the PIJ. The evidence further contradicts the claims made by Shikaki that he did not know of the real backgrounds of Al Arian or Ramadan Abdullah Shallah or of the front groups for PIJ.
Khalil Shikaki And The Trial Of Sami Al-Arian
In February 2003, after a decade-long investigation, University of South Florida Professor Sami al-Arian was indicted for his alleged work on behalf of PIJ, stemming from fundraising efforts related to various organizations he founded to promote PIJ and its ideology in the United States. Khalil Shikaki served as the director of one of those organizations, WISE, the World Islamic Studies Enterprise.
On December 6, 2005, after a six-month trial, Sami al-Arian was acquitted of 8 of the 17 charges against him; the jury deadlocked on the remaining 9 charges including conspiracy to aid a terrorist organization. The Department of Justice announced that it stood by its evidence against al-Arian and is in the process of deciding whether to retry him on the unresolved charges or to hand him over to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to commence deportation proceedings.
Despite the mixed outcome, the editorial board of the St. Petersburg Times, usually a favorable publication for al-Arian, has called for al-Arian's deportation from the U.S., writing:
Additionally, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesperson Pam McCullough told the St. Petersburg Times on January 2, 2006, that "[w]e believe there is clear and convincing evidence that he had ties to terrorist organizations."
The indictment and wiretaps entered into evidence during the trial outline some of Khalil Shikaki's connections with Al-Arian even after he left WISE. Overt act (number 23) involved a money transfer from an account of the Muslim Women's Society (MWS) -- a subsidiary of another organization created by Al-Arian, the Islamic Committee for Palestine -- which ended up as a payment to Khalil Shikaki.
While Shikaki recently has asserted that he deposited money only into an Islamic charity in the West Bank, these assertions are belied by documentation of the money trail.
A relevant section in the Al-Arian indictment reads:
The records show that three checks totaling to $12,040 were then written on the Shikaki account. Two, drawn in the amounts of $6,300 and 4,655 respectively, were cashed at Bank Hapoalim in Tel Aviv on March 23; another, for $1,085, was cashed by FIBI Bank in Switzerland on March 29.
Moreover, it is patently clear that Shikaki has not been candid in asserting that no money ever changed hands between him and Sameeh Hammoudeh. The facts show that the account from which Hammoudeh paid Shikaki is the very same one to which Fathi Shiqaqi--his brother and the head of the Islamic Jihad-- sent $19,985 on April 22, 1994. Again, on December 16, 1994, Hammoudeh sent Shikaki another $3,250 out of this account. All these were entered into evidence during the trial as part of Government Exhibit 112.
Further, on October 4, 1990, Sami Al Arian paid Shikaki $2,745 out of an account in Tampa that was used for PIJ business.
In another overt act (230) discussed in the indictment, and introduced into evidence as Government Exhibit 325, Taher Jaber Al-Awani of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (aka Unindicted Co-Conspirator Five in the trial), wrote a letter to Sami al-Arian, described as:
Wiretaps of conversations between Shikaki, Sameeh Hammoudeh, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, Mazen al- Najjar and Bashir Nafi, introduced into evidence at trial, indicate that Shikaki distributed money in the West Bank for Al-Arian associates and that his accounts were used to hold their funds, but that Shikaki cut his ties to the group in late January 1995, shortly after PIJ was declared a blocked terrorist organization by President Clinton.
In a wiretap dated January 15, 1995 (entered into evidence as Government Exhibit 1198), Mr. Hammoudeh asks of Mr. Shikaki: "If you please, do us a favor. There is an amount of money for orphans in Nablus." The U.S. government argued and introduced evidence, in the case against Al-Arian that "orphans" was one of the code words for Palestinian Islamic Jihad "charitable" work. Mr. Shikaki replies: "Um ... Eah. [Pause.] [Sighs.] Okay, when you want to give it to them."
In a January 28, 1995 wiretap (entered into evidence as Government Exhibit 1207), Hammoudeh called Shikaki again from Florida to push him on the funds transfer. Shikaki refused to help. This conversation took place just five days after President Clinton signed an executive order prohibiting financial transactions with PIJ. Hammoudeh asks, "What have you done for us regarding the subject." Shikaki responds, "Ehh ... I did not do anything for you yet, by God, Sameeh. If you have another way to give them money, a way other than my way..." Hammoudeh then says: "By God... I mean I can send them a check through the mail. But I thought this way is better, more secure."
A February 15, 1995 wiretap (entered into evidence as Government Exhibit 1206) further demonstrates Shikaki's involvement with Al-Arian and his associates, and suggests that Mr. Shikaki played an integral role in the distribution of money for ICP- and PIJ-connected figures. In the wiretap, Mazen Al-Najjar, Al-Arian's brother-in-law and a leading member of WISE and ICP who was arrested and deported from America in 2001 for his connections to terrorism, converses with another WISE-linked figure, Bashir Nafi.
Al-Najjar asks, "Do you know what our problem with the Orphan Sponsorship Project is now?...We cannot find someone to receive the money and distribute it….Khalil refused to receive .…In the past we were depositing it in Khalil's account here." Al-Najjar is referring to Mr. Shikaki's personal account in Florida. The prosecution in the Al-Arian trial introduced bank records that showed Shikaki's account to have received multiple deposits from Al-Arian associates.
Khalil Shikaki and the Islamic Committee For Palestine
William Reece Smith, Jr., a former provost of the University of South Florida (USF), was hired by USF to investigate the university's role and responsibility in the creation of the World & Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE) where Ramadan Shallah, the current head of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine, was director prior to his appointment within the Islamic Jihad. Although Smith largely found the university blameless in knowingly casting aside evidence that a terrorist cell had been set up on campus, the report contained various interviews with key figures in the controversy. These interviews are significant since they provide on-the-record statements by key officials and thus can be checked for their veracity by examining independent evidence.
In his report, Smith wrote that Khalil "received a written invitation from Dr. [Sami] al Arian to speak at the 1989 (Islamic Committee for Palestine) Conference." This invitation was received while Khalil was teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Who is Dr. Sami al-Arian and what is the Islamic Committee for Palestine (ICP)? Perhaps the best one-sentence description of this organization and its director, Dr. Sami al-Arian, was given in an affidavit by William West, a special agent for the Immigration and Naturalization Service of the United States Department of Justice, on November 17, 1995, requesting a search warrant of al-Arian's house and offices. West points out that the ICP was used as a "front" group for the Islamic Jihad:
In an immigration hearing in July 1996 for one of the suspects in the Islamic Jihad investigation, INS agent West testified that the ICP and WISE served as "front groups" for the Islamic Jihad in the United States. The evidence clearly shows that both WISE and ICP served as the command post for the Islamic Jihad within the United States.
Sami al-Arian was a professor of computer science and engineering at USF in Tampa. On February 19, 2003, al-Arian was indicted, along with seven codefendants, on 53 counts involving a conspiracy related to his involvement with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. On the Articles of Incorporation of the Islamic Concern Project, Inc., the parent organization of the ICP, the name Sami al-Arian is listed as the Registered Agent and Chairman. The function of the ICP was to facilitate the dissemination of radical ideology through the venue of its annual conferences held in St. Louis and Chicago from 1988 until 1992. In addition to holding these conferences, the ICP, according to the I.C.P. Informational Guide, disseminated publications of the Islamic Jihad Movement within the United States (including the publications Al-Islam wa Filastin and Al-Mujahid).
1988 First Annual Conference of the ICP
The First Annual Conference of the ICP was held in St. Louis, Missouri at the Henry VIII Hotel on December 23-26, 1988. The title of this conference was "Islam, Intifadah and the Future." Speakers at this conference included leading Islamic militants from around the world. One panel, for example, included Basheer Nafi and Sheik Abdel Azziz Odeh. Nafi has been identified by reliable Arab officials and reports and by the FBI "as a significant leading member of the Islamic Jihad" (revealed in the affidavit of William West). Sheikh Abdel Aziz Odeh, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Jihad, who was deported from Israel in 1988 for his role in orchestrating terrorist activities within the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to a ruling of the Israeli High Court of Justice (845/87).
Recorded on audiocassette at the conference, Odeh, sitting alongside Nafi, boasted of terrorist operations carried out by Islamic Jihad. Odeh spoke of terror activities in Gaza mentioning the events of October 6, 1987, where "four Mujahideen found their martyrs' death after they killed the big Israeli intelligence boss in Gaza." Odeh also made the following statement: "From October '86 to 1987, Palestine witnessed a clear increase in Jihad activities. There were stabbing incidents…there was the Bab al-Maghariba operation, and there was the operation that was not completed by the sister, but had an enormous effect." A review of the ICP conference materials clearly shows that it was not an academic conference -- as Khalil Shikaki would later claim -- but rather a venue for leading international militants to coordinate terrorist strategies and collaboration.
1989 Second Annual Conference of the ICP
• Khalil Shikaki made his first appearance, as panelist and speaker, at the second annual ICP convention that took place in Chicago, Illinois on December 22-25, 1989 at the McCormick Center Hotel. The title of this conference was "Palestine, Intifada and the Horizons of the Islamic Renaissance." Militants appearing at this conference included the following:
• In an internal ICP document released at this conference called the "I.C.P. Conference Bulletin, December 22, 1989," a recap of the first day's events was given. It included descriptions of the panels that took place. The flyer describes Sheikh Abdul Aziz Odeh, as "a former professor of Shariah at the Islamic University of Gaza and the spiritual leader of the Islamic Jihad Movement. He was expelled from Gaza for his role in inspiring the Mujahideen of Palestine to begin the unprecedented uprising (Intifada)." The ICP Conference Bulletin summarized Odeh's speech from December 22, 1989, by saying that, "It is only by the Islamic Struggle of Jihad that the Muslims must fight the enemies of Allah (SWT). The Shaikh went on to warn the Muslims that if they forget the true purpose of the struggle and lose sight of the Reality, they will be losers in this world and the next. He then concluded his talk by reminding the Muslims that although the struggle is painful, Allah (SWT) says that this struggle brings even more pain to the enemy."
This same internal ICP document chronicling the activities of the first day of the 1989 conference also referred to the speech of Tunisian Islamic militant Rashid Ghanoushi, who spoke on the evening panel on December 22, 1989. The bulletin recounts Ghanoushi's speech in the following words: "Islamic activists must take the necessary steps to eradicate the various social, economic and political challenges we are facing… In doing this, we will become strong enough to confront and destroy this embodiement [sic] of evil -- Zionism."
• At the conference, Khalil Shikaki appeared on a panel alongside al-Hashemi al-Hamdi, a member of the militant Islamic An-Nahdah party in Tunisia, and Rashid Ghanoushi, the exiled leader of the militant Islamic An-Nahdah party in Tunisia. According to audio cassettes (which have not been released publicly), al-Hamdi exhorted those attending to engage in a violent jihad against the Jewish state and secular movements: "I request all our Muslim brothers to take an example from Abdullah Azzam [original spiritual leader of Osama Bin Laden and founder of the Jihad movement in Afghanistan], and die as the martyrs died in Afghanistan."
These statements by a broad range of speakers clearly reflect the agenda of the ICP conferences -- ones in which Shikaki repeatedly and actively participated -- to further the cause of violent Jihad and militant Islamic fundamentalist violence against Jews and the West.
1990 Third Annual Conference of the ICP
Khalil Shikaki made a return appearance at the Third Annual Conference of the Islamic Committee for Palestine held in Chicago, Illinois at the McCormick Center Hotel on December 28-31, 1990. The title of this conference was "Islam is the Road to Victory."
This conference, like those preceding it in 1988 and 1989, provided a forum for the dissemination and proclamation of radical Islamic ideology:
• At this conference, Khalil Shikaki appeared together on a panel with Muhammad al-Asi. According to an audiocassette recording of this English-language panel, Al-Asi urged military attacks on American forces in the Persian Gulf:
• On December 30, 1990, Khalil appeared on another panel with Dr. Ramadan Abdullah Shallah (who is the current head of the Islamic Jihad operating out of Damascus). In Shallah's speech, he glorified the use of "martyrdom" operations against Israel and encouraged other to follow in the path to martyrdom in the path of Allah and stated that the armed struggle must never be relinquished. He referred to a martyrdom operation carried out by the "shahid" Iyad Abid, and he continues by saying that everyone must "sell their soul in the way of Allah." Shallah's speech continued with the following statement:
In an important aside in his opening comments, Shallah notes that "Brother Khalil" -- Khalil Shikaki -- had preempted him in making many of the points that Shallah had planned to make. This comment proves that Shikaki knew Shallah prior to mid-1991-- the date he told Reece Smith that the two had first met. It also suggests that Shikaki was aware of and likely shared the same ideological militancy as Ramadan Shallah.
• Other participants at this conference repeatedly made radical Islamic statements. Sheikh Muharram of Masjid Sidon in Lebanon, for example, made the following statement:
• A significant piece of evidence demonstrating the true radical agenda of these conferences --and thus contradicting Shikaki's claim that he was unaware of any political thrust -- exists in a videotape of a conference session showing the decoration of the stage. Behind the podium at the 1990 conference is a poster that depicts Sheikh Izz a-Din al-Qassam, one of the symbols of the Islamic resistance movement, with the words "Harakat Al-Jihad Al-Islami Fi Filastin (The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine)" and bears the logo of the Islamic Jihad Movement. The fact that this poster was displayed onstage at this conference shows that there was no pretense as to the nature of this conference. Its aim was to provide support for the Islamic organizations, Islamic Jihad and Hamas, within Israel.
Khalil Shikaki's appearance, for the second year in a row, including his appearance on a panel with the future head of the Islamic Jihad, proves his connection to the activities of these radicals and the groups they represent.
1990 ICP Closed Session
In July 1990, the ICP held a small closed session and videotaped Sami al-Arian's comments. The prosecution in the Al-Arian trial entered the tape and translation of al-Arian's comments as Exhibit 451. That video showed al-Arian speaking from a lectern at the front of the small room. Khalil Shikaki was in attendance. And what did Al-Arian talk about on the tape? That Islamic activity had to take a hard position toward the West, and that the position against America up to that point had been weak. Al-Arian said that the only way to redress this failing was to set an example, by engaging in "true armed jihad" against Israel.
This closed session shows that any professed ignorance of Al-Arian's perspective, or that of his organizations, on the part of Khalil Shikaki, is demonstrably false.
1991 ICP Rally in Chicago, Illinois
On September 29, 1991, a rally was held at Curie High School in Chicago, Illinois that was sponsored by the ICP but was, in fact, a rally for the Islamic Jihad. Though Khalil Shikaki was not present at this rally, the rally itself provides further proof of the radical nature of the ICP and its leaders with whom Shikaki affiliated himself. The rally also cements the relationship between the ICP and the Islamic Jihad. The following is a summary of the events that took place at this rally:
In September 1991, al-Arian and his ICP organization sponsored a rally in Chicago. The primary speaker at this rally was Sheikh Abdul Aziz Odeh, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Jihad. Behind the speaker's podium, the stage was decorated with Palestinian flags with the emblem of the Islamic Jihad on them and also posters of Sheikh Izz al-Din al-Qassam, the symbol of the movement. On these posters, the Islamic Jihad emblem was displayed, as were the words "Jihad, victory or martyrdom." Also speaking at this rally was Sulayman Odeh, a man who, according to Ziad Abu Amr, in his book Al-Harakah Al-Islamiah Fil Diffah al-Gharbiyeh wa Kittah Ghaza, published in 1989, was one of the founders of the Islamic Jihad in Egypt in the early 1980s. On display at the event were pictures of "martyrs" and other Islamic Jihad items, one of which bore the words, "The fire of the Intifadah is going to burn everybody who compromises a speck of Palestine." On the video, al-Arian enters with Abdul Aziz Odeh while the crowd chants "Allahu akbar. Israel will be destroyed. Victory will be with us" and "Jihad, Jihad until victory. Victory to Islam."
Another speaker at the rally, Ghassan Ballout, introduced as an ICP representative, said, "The road is straight ahead of us and may our guns be [aimed] one way -- to the chest of the enemy." Later in his speech, he made the following statement, "America -- the enemy of the peoples."
Al-Arian, in his speech to this assembly, made the following statements:
This rally demonstrates the unity between the ICP and PIJ in their statements and in their decorations. The videotape of the event shows clear pictures of children wearing T-shirts bearing the logo of the ICP and waving Palestinian flags with the logo of the Islamic Jihad emblazoned upon them. The evidence makes clear that there is no real distinction between these two groups, and that they worked together to rally support for the activities of the Islamic Jihad.
1991 Fourth Annual Conference of the ICP
• Khalil Shikaki also appeared at the Fourth Annual Conference of the Islamic Committee for Palestine held in Chicago, Illinois at the McCormick Center Hotel on December 27-29, 1991. The title of this conference was "Islam, Palestine and the West." The list of radical speakers at this conference, once again, is a lengthy "Who's Who" of Islamic and Arab radicalism, including:
As he had the previous year, Shikaki appeared on a panel with Dr. Ramadan Abdullah Shallah. Although a cassette tape of this panel is not available, an advertisement in the March/April 1992 version of the English-language publication Inquiry (a publication distributed by the ICP from Tampa and edited by Dr. Sami al-Arian) in Arabic listed both the speakers and the names of each of the panels from the 1991 conference. Evidence of the fact that ICP's Inquiry was an organ of the Islamic Jihad was later shown in a story filed by Reuters from Lebanon. The reporter cited the fact that he had obtained a copy of Inquiry from Islamic Jihad representatives in Lebanon. (Reuters, March 5, 1993)
Dr. Sami al-Arian set the tone of the conference in his speech during the opening session on December 27, 1991, recorded on audiocassette:
A panel discussion at the conference featured Ibrahim al-Wazir, a radical from Yemen; Sheikh Abdel Aziz Odeh, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Jihad; al-Hashemi al-Hamdi, a member of the militant Islamic party An-Nahdah in Tunisia; and propagandist Issa Nakhleh. Al-Wazir made the following statement: "We should not leave this meeting without thinking about what we can do in support of the Intifadah." Issa Nakhleh, on this same panel, stated, "I suggested to an Arabic country that we send every month ten million dollars to the Intifadah, clandestinely, and I know how to send it…. The Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, they are the real holy warriors, to whom we are obliged to support with all our means…."
The proceedings of this conference show beyond any question that the ICP and the Islamic Jihad worked as a unified front. The ICP conferences provided a venue where radical Muslims from around the world could gather and share their ideas for the destruction of Israel and the continuation of the Jihad. The fact that Khalil Shikaki spoke at three of these conferences shows that he was active in the radical Islamic arena, and that his ideology was that of the Islamic Jihad that was headed by his brother, Fathi Shikaki. His subsequent refusal to acknowledge the radical nature of those conferences is not credible. He knowingly spoke alongside the militants and participated in their conferences on multiple occasions. The connection is clear: Khalil Shikaki was a proponent of radical Islamic ideology and, specifically of the PIJ.
Khalil Shikaki and The World & Islam Studies Enterprise
The World & Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE) was incorporated in 1991, with Sami al-Arian, the head of the ICP, as its registered agent and one of its founding directors. ICP and WISE were closely linked. WISE's banner publication, Qira'at Siyasiyyah, often published articles that were derived from speeches delivered at the ICP annual conferences in addition to speeches at other similar conferences. An article by Shikaki, derived from his speech at a pro-Hamas conference in Herndon, Virginia, in 1991, was published in the Spring/Summer 1991 issue of Qira'at Siyasiyyah. In addition, Mazen al-Najjar, Sami al-Arian's brother-in-law (deported in 2002 for immigration violations related to his connections with PIJ), and Ramadan Abdullah (Shallah) were listed as members of the board of directors of the ICP according to the yearly filings of the Islamic Concern Project, Inc., the parent organization of the ICP. Both Shallah and al-Najjar also were directors of WISE.
According to Smith's report to USF, it was at the 1989 conference of the ICP that Shikaki met Bashir Nafi. Smith, referring to an interview he conducted with Khalil, stated that "Shikaki learned of the plans for a new research center from Nafi during the 1989 conference. According to Shikaki, the location of the center was not resolved at that time, but he received from Nafi overtures about joining the center as a research associate when it was established."
The research center to which Nafi was referring was WISE. Smith, in his report, cites an interview he had with Nafi where Nafi "stated that he and Dr. al Arian met from time to time when Dr. al Arian visited England, where Nafi was employed as research fellow at a medical school after pursuing a doctoral degree at London University. On occasion during these visits, according to Dr. Nafi, there was further discussion of the proposed research center." At the time that Shikaki was enticed to come to Tampa (in late 1990 according to Smith's report), there were public Arab newspaper reports and independent but publicly circulated interviews and publications that detailed Nafi's involvement with Khalil's brother, Fathi Shikaki. This strongly suggests that Khalil knew exactly with whom he was dealing.
Bashir Nafi's connections to the Islamic Jihad were publicly documented through the years dating back to his friendship with Khalil Shikaki's brother, Fathi, in Egypt in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Nafi's resume lists that he was on the editorial board of the Cairo journal, Al-Mukhtar Al-Islami from 1979-1981. Fathi Shikaki, the founder and leader of PIJ, wrote articles for this journal under the pseudonym of Fathi Ibrahim. In a master's thesis written at USF, Abdulaziz I. Zamel states that Fathi Shikaki also wrote under the pseudonym of Izz al-Din al-Faris. Fathi Shikaki stated in an interview that Al-Mukhtar Al-Islami was of great importance since it served as a mouthpiece for Islamic Jihad ideology. Zamel's thesis also states that, since "Fathi Shikaki and other founders had professional ties and friendship with its editors, [Al-Mukhtar Al-Islami] was adopted and used as a theoretical journal for the group, elaborating on their doctrine and fanning discontent with the Muslim Brotherhood…."
Fathi Shikaki, writing under the name Izz al-Din al-Faris co-wrote an article with Nafi, who himself was writing under the pseudonym of Ahmed Sadiq, in Al-Mukhtar Al-Islami entitled "The Palestinian Issue is the Central Cause of the Islamist Movement" published in July of 1980. Zamel writes that, in this article, "The point of making Palestine's liberation from Zionism 'Islam's number one issue' came to be the hallmark of their movement." Fathi Shikaki also wrote a book that was published by Al-Mukhtar Al-Islami that was titled Khomeini: The Islamic Solution and the Alternative. The connections between the leadership of the Islamic Jihad and Al-Mukhtar Al-Islami were evident, and Nafi's participation on the editorial board of this magazine links him directly to the Islamic Jihad.
After Nafi left Egypt and traveled to England in 1982, his resume states that he became a member of the editorial board of the magazine Al-Taliah Al-Islamiah (a monthly published in London) and served on this board until 1986. Zamel states that Bashir Nafi published and edited Al-Taliah Al-Islamiah (The Islamic Vanguard) "specifically for the group [Islamic Jihad Movement], which was sent to the occupied territories for reproduction, in the same shape and form, and distribution." In his discussion of this periodical, Thomas Mayer writes in "Religious Radicalism and Politics in the Middle East" (SUNY Albany Press, 1990) that "nearly every issue of the periodical recounted the massacre of Muslim believers, Sunnis and Shi'ites alike, in different parts of the world -- the Philippines, India, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Israel and the West Bank -- emphasizing the need to launch a united Sunni-Shi'ite jihad to repel imperialism from Muslim lands and restore Muslim sovereignty over them."
It was unambiguously clear that these magazines with which Nafi had affiliated himself were proponents of the Islamic Jihad ideology that Nafi was instrumental in creating. The best proof of this came in an interview with Fathi Shikaki in the November 8, 1990 issue of Al-Islam wa Filastin (Al-Islam wa Filastin, according to the Informational Guide of the ICP acquired at one of the aforementioned conferences, was disseminated by the ICP in the United States. Fathi Shikaki's quote states that this magazine was one of several Islamic Jihad publications.) In this interview, Fathi Shikaki said that the Islamic Jihad Movement's mission was not only armed struggle, but it also was important to explain to the Muslim people "the history of Islam and since 1979 in Cairo, the magazine Al-Mukhtar Al-Islami was published and then Al-Taliah Al-Islamiah and then Al-Islam wa Filastin…" Once again, Nafi put himself in a position of authority with a publication that was notoriously tied to the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine.
Nafi worked with WISE as the editor of its journal, Qira'at Siyasiyyah, from its first publication in 1991. Khalil Shikaki told Smith that Nafi, as one of the founders of WISE, brought him to Tampa to be the initial director of this research institute. The fact that the credentials of those who hired, worked with and paid Shikaki were so blatantly allied with a jihadist mindset reflects on his own attitudes.
Nafi was deported from the United States in the summer of 1996 for violating his temporary work visa immigration status. He had been admitted into the U.S. on a visa petition filed by Sami Al-Arian, ostensibly to be employed as a researcher at WISE when, in fact, he went to work at the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in Northern Virginia, the aforementioned Islamist organization wherein un-indicted coconspirator Taher Jaber Al-Awani in Al-Arian indictment overt act # 230 is noted. Interestingly, this is but one of a number of examples of immigration fraud committed by these senior PIJ operatives and their front organizations supporting their operations in the U.S.
If Khalil Shikaki misrepresented his prior relationships with other PIJ operatives on U.S. visa applications, that would have constituted visa and immigration fraud on his part as well.
Ramadan Abdullah Shallah
The other figure who plays prominently in the discussion of WISE and its Islamic Jihad connections is Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, who went from WISE to become the General Secretary of PIJ. As stated earlier, Ramadan Shallah was identified as one of the founders of the Islamic Jihad by Ziad Abu Amr, a professor of Political Science at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank, in his book Al-Harakah Al-Islamiah fi Al-Diffah Al-Gharbiyeh wa Kittah Ghaza (The Islamic Movement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip) that was published in 1989 in Arabic. Ramadan Abdullah Shallah lists on his resume that he is a "co-founder" of WISE. According to the Smith report, Shallah joined the staff of WISE as administrative director in 1991. The repeated claims by Khalil Shikaki that he only knew the man by the name Ramadan Abdullah (the name he used at WISE) and that he knew of no connection between Shallah and the Islamic Jihad is contradicted by the evidence.
Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, according to news stories published after he was named the new leader of the Islamic Jihad, studied at al-Zaqaziq University in Egypt at the same time as Fathi Shikaki; both joined the Egyptian Islamic Jihad that was responsible for the assassination of President Anwar al-Sadat in Egypt in 1980. According to an October 30, 1995 article in the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv, Shallah helped rebuild the infrastructure of the Islamic Jihad with Fathi Shikaki and Abdel Aziz Odeh when the two were deported from Israel in 1988. Shallah's brother, Omar, was used as a liaison between Shallah in London and operatives in the Gaza Strip. The article also reported that Ramadan Abdullah Shallah headed the London office of PIJ and, with the help of Bashir Nafi, was in charge "of transferring funds to finance Islamic Jihad's activities in the territories, and he worded the leaflets distributed by the organization in the West Bank and Gaza Strip."
Shallah's resume, as does Nafi's, lists membership on the editorial board of Al-Mukhtar Al-Islami from 1979-1981. Al-Mukhtar Al-Islami, as previously cited, was described as a "mouthpiece" of the Islamic Jihad Movement. Furthermore, Shallah's resume states that he was on the editorial board of al Nour between 1982 and 1985. Zamel lists the publication and distribution of al Nour, an Arabic monthly published in Jerusalem, as an instrument of the Islamic Jihad Movement. On top of the fact that he became the leader of PIJ after the assassination of Fathi Shikaki, his participation on the editorial boards of these magazines provides even more substantial proof that Shallah was outwardly a supporter of PIJ and that this support was well known in the Palestinian community.
Khalil Shikaki and Ramadan Abdullah Shallah
• When asked about his prior knowledge of Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, Khalil Shikaki has repeatedly claimed that he knew Shallah only as "Ramadan Abdullah" and that he knew of no connection between Shallah and the Islamic Jihad while the two worked together at WISE. However, communications between the two men released by the FBI show that Khalil Shikaki used Shallah as an intermediary to secretly contact his brother Fathi (at the time, the head of PIJ), that Khalil knew that Shallah was a high level member of PIJ, and that Khalil collaborated with Shallah and his brother Fathi in several joint projects, including one revolving around Mousa Marzouk, the head of the Hamas political bureau.
• The following is a translation of a letter sent from Ramadan Abdullah to Khalil Shikaki on August 24, 1992:
This letter clearly shows that Khalil was doing work for his brother in Israel and that the middleman between Khalil and Fathi was Ramadan Shallah. Fathi was asking Khalil through Shallah to be a courier for him between two individuals within Israel. How can Khalil claim that he knew nothing about these connections when he was exchanging letters with Ramadan Abdullah Shallah about operational issues that Fathi wanted to be fulfilled? Also, how can Khalil Shikaki justify references to a joint operation with the leader of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzouk, if, as he claims, he had no connection to any radical Islamic terrorist groups?
• The following is a translation from Arabic of a fax sent from Khalil Shikaki to Ramadan Abdullah on December 6, 1992:
This letter shows that Shikaki was remaining abreast of the activities of WISE even after his departure (he had resigned from WISE in October of 1991, writing that "due to my feeling that there is some reservation on my way of work by some honorable brothers, and to my disagreement with other honorable brothers on the best work methods in the building and the advancement of the center.") Moreover, it shows that he knew that Shallah would be the person to ask in order to contact his brother, Fathi. This fax proves that Khalil knew of the connection between Ramadan Shallah and Fathi Shikaki, and that this connection was good enough that Fathi's own brother, Khalil, would defer to Ramadan for his brother's whereabouts.
These facts cast serious doubt on Shikaki's claims that he did not know Ramadan's last name was Shallah.
Khalil also is cited in the Smith report as claiming that he had not met Shallah prior to Shallah's arrival at WISE in mid-1991. This claim would be hard to reconcile with evidence that the two appeared on the same panel at the 1990 ICP Conference in Chicago on December 30, 1990 (described above) and that, indeed, Shallah even referred to "the brother Doctor Khalil" in the beginning of his speech.
Similar to his claims about meeting Shallah, Khalil Shikaki told Smith that he met Dr. Sami al-Arian for the first time in October 1990 when he moved to Tampa to begin his work at WISE. As noted above in reference to the ICP Conference of 1989, Khalil Shikaki received an invitation to speak at the ICP Conference from Sami al-Arian. If this was the case, then Shikaki met Al-Arian at the latest in December 1989 -- nearly a year earlier
Khalil Shikaki and the 1991 UASR/IIIT Conference
A July 1991 conference held in Herndon, Virginia by the United Association for Studies and Research (UASR) and IIIT served as perhaps the largest gathering of radical Islamic militants ever held in the United States. The title of this conference was "The Islamic Movement in the Shadow of International Change and Crisis in the Gulf." Shikaki, who portrays himself as a moderate, attended the conference, addressed by these major speakers: Ishaq al-Farhan (Jordanian Islamic Action Front), Kamal al-Hilbawi (Muslim Brotherhood), Sami al-Arian (ICP/WISE), Taha Jaber al-Alwani (IIIT), Mousa Abu Marzouk (Hamas), Khalil Shikaki (WISE), Ramadan Abdullah (Islamic Jihad), Ahmed Bin Yousef (UASR/Hamas), and Mohammad al-Asi (Hizbollah). Shikaki's own speech at the conference was entitled, "The Arab and Palestinian Future after the Gulf War."
UASR, formerly located in Springfield, Virginia, and now defunct, was known for its publication of pro-Hamas literature and served as Hamas' strategic arm in the United States. The group's first president, according to its articles of incorporation, was Mousa Abu Marzouk, the former head of the Political Bureau of Hamas and currently a high-ranking Political Bureau official based in Amman, Jordan. The current president and one of the founders of the UASR is Ahmed bin Yousef. Among the books published by the UASR which promote Hamas are: The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas): Background of its Inception and Horizons of its March (1989); Ahmed Yasin: The Phenomenon, the Miracle, and the Legend of the Challenge (1990); Hamas: Palestinian Politics with an Islamic Hue; and The Islamic Movement in Israel: Pangs of Resurgence and Challenge of Future (1990).
Once again, Khalil Shikaki is shown to be involved with radical Muslims from around the world.
Khalil Shikaki and the Middle East Studies Committee at the University Of South Florida
The Smith report (USF) states that, "Dr. [Khalil] Shikaki, Dr. [Sami] al-Arian and Dr. [Bashir] Nafi met with representatives of the USF Middle East Studies Committee in June 1991 to discuss the possibility of future cooperative efforts." Smith continues, "Some nine months before the USF/WISE agreement was finally entered into, Shikaki became an adjunct professor in the Department. Department members learned more about his academic credentials and his reputation as a leading Middle East scholar. They also came to know that he held moderate political views. He made no secret of his brother's leadership of the Islamic Jihad, while also claiming to abhor violence and fanaticism, in disagreement with his brother's views and activity." As the possibility of a formal agreement between USF and WISE was developing in October 1991, Smith adds, "The Committee sought to learn more about WISE's legal structure and sources of financing. Information was requested of Dr. Shikaki who agreed to provide it in whatever format was desired. The Committee asked for a letter. On November 12, 1991, Dr. Orr [chairman of the Committee on Middle East Studies at USF] received a letter over the signature of Ramadan Abdullah…advising that WISE was incorporated in early 1991 as a 'non-profit research organization incorporated in the state of Florida' whose research activities were funded by 'several non-profit organizations as well as private individuals residing within the United States and abroad."
According to Smith's report, Al-Najah University was reopened late in 1991. Shikaki made arrangements to return. "He obtained an Israeli permit to [return home] but, upon attempting to enter Israel from Jordan in January 1992, he was denied entry and his papers were confiscated without explanation by Israeli authorities." Shikaki remained in Jordan for a few weeks trying to gain entry, but returned to Tampa to continue his protest from there. After returning from Jordan, Shikaki worked in conjunction with Orr and others in drafting the USF/WISE agreement that was "executed on March 11, 1992 by the Dean of the College of Arts and Science and others on behalf of the University and by Ramadan Abdullah on behalf of WISE." Smith further stated that, "in early 1992, some members of the Committee [USF], together with scholars of other American universities, protested Shikaki's exclusion from the West Bank in a joint letter addressed to the Israeli government…. The protests had effect. The Israeli government reversed its position and Shikaki was allowed to return to the West Bank and his university in June 1992."
Here, a question is raised as to what Khalil Shikaki's impetus was for developing an agreement between WISE and USF if not to create a legitimizing front for the terrorist activities of ICP and WISE. Among the consequences of the agreement, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah was employed to teach political science at USF -- the same Ramadan Abdullah Shallah who shortly thereafter was to become General Secretary of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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