(CNSNews.com) – Ahmad Saleem, a former regional community organizer for the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) whose license plate says “Invest in Children” was one of 22 persons arrested in a seven-day child-sex sting operation near Orlando.
Saleem is the founder of Saleem Academy, an organization for empowering Muslim youth, whose website was taken down shortly after his arrest.
“He’s well known as a community outreach leader interacting with teens in and around the Orlando area,” Polk County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Grady Judd said at a press conference announcing the arrests. “These are very dangerous people and they are after our children.”
Saleem “worked here for two months” as a community organizer, CAIR Florida executive director Nezar Hamze confirmed to CNSNews.com. “Then he abandoned his job. Around the end of April, he decided not to show up.” Hamze added that Saleem was “still on probation” at the time.
“Of course, what he did is completely illegal. I have a 12-year-old and we completely support law enforcement in whatever they are going to do,” Hamze told CNSNews.com.
“CAIR Florida is shocked and deeply concerned by the serious crimes Ahmad Saleem is alleged to have committed. We trust in the legal system to hold to full account any and all persons found guilty,” the group said in a statement.
According to a press release by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the first week of the undercover sting, which ran between May 18 and May 28, “targeted adults who were looking for sex with a child.”
Undercover detectives went online in various chat rooms and gave out the address of a vacant home in Clermont as the location where suspects could go to have sex with underage minors who they were led to believe were between the ages of 10 and 14.
“During this phase, the detectives posed as either a child or a parent of a child as they were solicited by those interested in sexual activity with the child,” the sheriff’s office said. The “22 individuals were arrested after traveling to the location to have sex with who they believed to be a child.”
Besides Saleem, other suspects arrested for agreeing to have sex with a minor included former employees of Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World and a current employee at SeaWorld. Another 79 people were also arrested on prostitution charges during the second week of “Operation L and P” - named for the Lake and Polk County Sheriff’s Offices.