It’s a new semester at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in Boca Raton, and Bassem
Alhalabi is still a member of the faculty. His connection to a radical mosque,
a convicted terrorist, and the illegal shipment of military equipment to a
terror sponsoring nation has not deterred the school from keeping him on board.
But while FAU’s officials throw caution to the wind and retain the Associate
Professor, Alhalabi cautiously works to hide his extremist past.
Bassem Abdo Alhalabi came to Boca, in August of 1996, as an
Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at FAU. With his
academic roots established, Alhalabi sought to bring his Muslim faith to his
new town. In October of 1998 – with the assistance of the FAU Muslim Student
Organization (MSO) he helped to establish
– he co-founded the Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR).
Today, Alhalabi is still a Director at ICBR. Between its
founding and now, the mosque has had a considerable relationship with
terror-related groups and individuals.
Along with Alhalabi, another founding Director of ICBR was
then-FAU student Syed Khawer Ahmad. Later, while still with the mosque, Ahmad
would become the creator of and webmaster for the official website of Hamas’s Islamic
Association in Gaza.
The Islamic Association, a.k.a. Islamic Society, runs Hamas’s kindergartens and
children’s camps, where Palestinian boys and girls receive weapons and
One of the other co-founders of ICBR was an imam by the name
Dremali. While with the mosque, Dremali was also a contact for the Southeast
division of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA-SE). At the time of his
involvement with ICNA, the group was asking its followers, via its website, to
give “material support” towards Al-Qaeda-related groups. Found on the site, on
the same page with Dremali’s name, were links to the official websites of
Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas and Hezbollah. Dremali’s name is presently listed
on the federal no-fly list.
The imam that replaced Dremali, Muneer
Kazem Arafat, had his own terror ties. In November of 2002, Arafat was
arrested and jailed for overstaying his immigration visa. In January of 2003,
while in custody, he was made to testify about his involvement with Ziyad Helmi
Khaleel, a.k.a. Ziyad Sadaqa, a.k.a. Ziyad Abdulrahman. Khaleel,
then-administrative contact for Hamas’s official website, was the individual
who purchased the satellite phone used by Al-Qaeda in the 1998 U.S. Embassy
bombings in Kenya
In June of 2005, under oath, Muneer Arafat admitted that he was a member of
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
In May of 2005, ICBR member Rafiq
Sabir was arrested at his home in Boca
Raton on charges of plotting to go overseas to assist
Al-Qaeda. Sabir was convicted for these charges two years later, in May of 2007,
and was soon sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Today, the terror-ties of ICBR continue, as the mosque’s
website currently contains material – three pages worth – taken from a document
published by the Al-Haramain Foundation (AHF) titled, ‘This is The
Truth.’ AHF, which has been connected to the financing of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban,
has been named by both the United
States and the United Nations as a terrorist
charity. From October of 1999 through February of 2003, ICBR’s site contained
large graphic links to AHF (taken directly from AHF).
Alhalabi, himself, has been
involved in terror-related activity. In March of 2003, Alhalabi was charged
with illegally exporting a $13,000 thermal imaging camera – a device primarily used by the United
States military – to Syria, a terrorist
supporting and terrorist harboring nation. For his crime, he received a one-year denial of
export privileges. In its decision, the U.S. Department of Commerce stated
the following: “Thermal imaging cameras are controlled for export to Syria for
national security, regional stability, and anti-terrorism reasons.”
Alhalabi is featured on video at a 1998 interfaith panel
discussion with radical imam Raed Awad. Awad, a prominent fundraiser for
the Hamas charity, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF),
is said to be the person responsible for convicted terrorist Jose “Dirty
Bomber” Padilla’s conversion to Islam. Awad’s name is listed as a
co-conspirator for the 2007 HLF federal terrorism trial.
Prior to arriving at FAU, Alhalabi
provided the school with a reference from PIJ leader and future convicted
terrorist Sami Amin Al-Arian. Alhalabi had been a Research Assistant for
Al-Arian at the University of South Florida (USF) from 1989 to 1990. This was
during the time when Al-Arian’s PIJ front, the Islamic Concern Project (ICT),
a.k.a. Islamic Committee for Palestine,
was beginning to flourish.
As well, Alhalabi co-wrote texts
with Al-Arian. At least one of these, a technical document titled Defect and
Fault Tolerance, was published in 1992, two years after Alhalabi left USF. Each
of the texts was also co-authored by then-ICP Director and co-founder Hussam
Yousef Abujbara. Abujbara, whom Alhalabi describes as a “close friend,”
pled guilty to felony immigration fraud in September of 2003 and was deported
from the U.S.
the following year.
Within Alhalabi’s Curriculum Vitae
(CV) found on his website (hosted by FAU), however, neither Sami Al-Arian nor
Hussam Abujbara is mentioned – not for any of the publications Alhalabi had
co-authored with them. Their names have been stricken; in place are the words
By manipulating his CV, Alhalabi
has attempted to hide his extremist past – to delete it, as if it never existed
in the first place. But it did exist, and it continues to do so.
The building of a brand new 30,000
square foot ICBR mosque is currently underway in Boca Raton. Photos of the construction are
found on ICBR’s website, one of which contains a smiling Alhalabi giving a
If the former ICBR is a symbol of
violence, then the new structure can only be seen as a sign of more to come.
While Bassem Alhalabi hides his past, what more will he be hiding behind the
walls of his soon-to-be-built religious home? His students, his fellow faculty,
his school’s administration, Boca
Raton’s residents, and the rest of the world have a
right to know – and the right to be protected from whatever emanates from it.