Nearly two years have passed since Miramar’s Zuhrah A. Jumah got news that her eldest son, Adnan, had been killed during a military raid on an al Qaeda hideout in a mountainous corner of northwest Pakistan.
Lately, she wonders how long Adnan El Shukrijumah’s ugly reputation as a dangerous senior al Qaeda commander will continue to trail her and her family.
“I go to the airport. My name comes up on the computer and they stop me. They say, ‘You’ve been selected’,” says Jumah, a mild-mannered widow with 13 grandchildren who has lived in the same modest home off West Hallandale Beach Boulevard for 20 years. “I’m searched. Sometimes they question me.”
Those traveling with are also met with extra suspicion by airport security – even her 2-year-old granddaughter.
Never miss a local story.
“You want to take me. Take me,” she says, tears welling in her eyes. “Just leave my grandkids alone. You’re disturbing their lives.”
The family’s names can be confusing to Westerners. Jumah explains that El Shukri is the family name, and Jumah is her last name. Broward property records dating to 1996, including the deed to her home, identify her by that name. For reasons that are unclear, however, she has often been identified in news stories by the name Zuhrah Abdu Ahmed.
We believe, as Muslims, things happen to test your faith.
Miramar’s Zuhrah A. Jumah
Jumah says the last time she spoke with Adnan was “12 to 15 years ago.” She said that a week after 9/11 he phoned her, “Did you see what happened?” he asked. She said he was “shocked and scared” because Muslims were being blamed and even then he was on the FBI’s radar as a suspect in plotting an attack in Florida. She said she believed her phone was tapped.
By then authorities had identified the 19 suicide hijackers who crashed passenger jets into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field as citizens of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon.
“Did you see how they put out the claim that we did it?” Adnan Shukrijumah told his mother, who said: “I told him if you’re not involved you have nothing to fear. I gave him comfort.”
Jumah, 55, says talk about her son’s ties to al Qaeda ‘makes no sense to me. I avoid it.’
Jumah said she and her late husband, Gulshair M. El Shukri Jumah, a local imam with ties to imprisoned New York radical Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, were home when the FBI arrived the day after the terrorist attacks looking for Adnan. He’d apparently left the country months before, however.
“The FBI was here the next day looking for Adnan,” she said. “They searched everything and took a computer that Adnan used.” It was not returned, she said.
The FBI has said Adnan Shukrijumah was a hardened terrorist with a $5 million bounty on his head and an outstanding warrant for his arrest on a variety of charges stemming from his 2010 federal indictment in New York playing an alleged leadership role in a plot to attack New York City’s subway system, as well as other targets in the United States and the United Kingdom.
FBI agents have visited Jumah’s home many times since 9/11. “They come every time something happens,” she says. The last time was in December 2014, “to see if he was really killed.” She refused to talk to them.
“We believe, as Muslims, things happen to test your faith,” she said.
Jumah, 55, says talk about her son’s ties to al Qaeda “makes no sense to me. I avoid it.” Instead, she recalls Adnan as “a nice, kind person” who wanted to have a family and a life – perhaps in South Florida. “He told me, ‘Mother, you must think what I’ve accomplished” she said, referring to his studies in computer engineering at Broward College and a side business as a computer technician.
Asked why, if her son was not involved in terrorism, he’d turn up in a remote region of Pakistan at an alleged al Qaeda compound, she says, “He liked to travel. He liked to move around. He’d gone there after all of the news and media and the blame and the claims.”
Adnan, born in Saudi Arabia in 1975, went to Pakistan to do business.
“He was going to look, to buy stuff and then sell it wholesale… kids’ clothes, sunglasses, jewelry – things like that. It was a business trip,” she said. Still, she doesn’t know the names of anyone Adnan worked with who could verify that account.
Adnan Shukrijumah, 39 at the time of his reported death, was killed during a firefight with Pakistani soldiers and a helicopter gunship on Dec. 6, 2014. Though it is widely accepted that he died that day, the FBI has yet to confirm it and he remains on its Most Wanted Terrorists List. An FBI spokesman has described the confirmation process as “international in scope and quite involved.”
Jumah believes that the Pakistani army killed her son. Now, she’s hoping the FBI will confirm his death and allow her to move on with her life.
“I want it to end,” she says, wearily. “I want it to be closed and finished.”
Florida Bulldog is a not-for-profit news organization created to provide investigative reporting in the public interest. Contributions are tax-deductible. www.floridabulldog.org