[UPDATE #2: 4:00 pm on Fri., Feb. 21] According to Peter Lee, a spokesman in the FBI's San Francisco office, the FBI did at one point question Mohammad Hammad, but determined that he did not pose any criminal or national security threat.
[UPDATE: 4:10 pm on Thu., Feb. 20] According to Sgt. Peter Shields of the SFPD's hate crimes special investigations unit, The FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force began investigating Mohammad Hammad last year, when his Tumblr postings first came to light. Shields was not able to confirm whether the investigation is ongoing. The FBI did not immediately return a request for comment.
[Feb. 19] Mohammad Hammad, a Palestinian student who recently raised concern after allegedly posting violent anti-Israel messages on the Internet, is no longer a student at San Francisco State University. The news was first reported in The Jewish Press and was confirmed Wednesday afternoon by Ellen Griffin, SFSU’s associate vice president of communications, in an email to the Jewish Journal. Griffin did not state whether Hammad left voluntarily or was expelled.
“It is accurate that Mohammad Hammad is not enrolled at SF State for spring semester 2014. I cannot share the reason,” Griffin wrote.
Hammad’s departure comes amidst pressure from Jewish and pro-Israel groups concerned that the 22-year-old posed a threat to Jewish students on campus.
On Aug. 10, Hammad posted a picture of himself holding a knife on the social media Web site Tumblr. The caption read, “I seriously can not get over how much I love this blade. It is the sharpest thing I own and cuts through everything like butter and just holding it makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier.”
Nearly three months later, on Oct. 31, Hammad posted another message that targeted a specific female Israeli soldier: “The only 'peace' I'm interested in is the head of this [expletive] scum on a plate, as well as the heads of all others like her, and all others who support the IDF,” he wrote.
The AMCHA Initiative, a Santa Cruz group that documents and investigates anti-Semitic incidents on American campuses, issued a press release on Feb. 18 documenting other Tumblr postings, allegedly coming from Hammad under the account, “darksatiristblogger."
[For photos of Mohammad Hammad's
alleged Tumblr postings, click here]
The most recent of those posts, dated Nov. 22, referred to a Nov. 7 SFSU event honoring Edward Said wherein the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), a pro-Palestinian campus group, set up a table in the school’s Malcolm X Plaza that displayed two inflammatory stencils. Hammad was president of GUPS at the time.
When the Journal called a phone number allegedly affiliated with GUPS on the afternoon of Feb. 19, it went unanswered.
One of the stencils at the Nov. 7 event read, “MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS KILLED COLONIZERS.” The other showed an outline of Leila Khaled, a Palestinian woman who helped hijack a 1969 commercial flight from Rome to Athens. She was later released as part of a prisoner exchange and is still a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a group designated by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization.
The post attributed to Hammad read, in part, “Israelis ARE colonizers, there is no literally no way around it. And you know what else? My heroes HAVE always killed colonizers. I literally see nothing wrong with this and my only regret is that not all colonizers were killed.”
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, AMCHA’s co-founder, told the Journal that she is pleased that Hammad is no longer enrolled at SFSU, but she suggested that his actions point to a larger problem.
“There’s more that needs to be done in terms of setting up specific standards of behavior,” Rossman-Benjamin said. “Groups like the one that Hammad was president of [should not be] allowed to engage in behavior which is threatening to Jewish students.”