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Hiding Sami By: Joe Kaufman
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, September 16, 2008


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 explosives training.

 

One of the other co-founders of ICBR was an imam by the name of Ibrahim 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 and Tanzania. 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.”

 

Additionally, 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 “et al.”

 

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 ‘thumbs up.’

 

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.


Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate and the founder of CAIR Watch.


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