Joe Kaufman is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the Chairman of the Joe Kaufman Security Initiative. He was the 2014, 2016 and 2018 Republican Nominee for U.S. House of Representatives (Florida-CD23).
The Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR) has a long history of terror relations. From Hamas to Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) to al-Qaeda, ICBR’s widely chronicled links to terrorism are prolific. And the mosque’s attacks on Jews and Israel are well documented. So when a politician, like Boca Mayor Scott Singer, who is Jewish himself, grants ICBR a proclamation, residents should be outraged. Yet incidents such as this – the prizing and legitimizing of radical Muslim institutions with officially signed proclamations – are often underreported. That is why Mayor Singer’s contemptable action needs to be exposed, and the proclamation, rescinded.
On June 30, 2022, Mayor Singer issued a City of Boca Raton Proclamation “to proclaim July 2022 as Muslim Heritage Month.” The document was enacted in the name of ICBR, making note of ICBR’s involvement in “community-service initiatives” and invitations to “neighbors and community and government leaders to participate and share in events.” The document further mentions ICBR’s founding in 1998. It is a significant mention, as those who founded the mosque in that year included persons with major links to Islamic terror.
One of ICBR’s founders was current ICBR Secretary Bassem Alhalabi. Alhalabi was an assistant to Sami al-Arian, at a time when al-Arian was actively developing a US infrastructure in Southwest Florida for Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a group that al-Arian would be convicted of providing material support to. Alhalabi wrote materials with al-Arian and even used al-Arian as a job reference, when he applied for a teaching position at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). In June 2003, Alhalabi was charged by the US Commerce Department with illegally shipping a $13,000 thermal imaging device to Syria. Alhalabi has also been arrested for assault.
According to the South Florida Muslim Federation (SFMF), an umbrella group for local radical Muslim outfits, including ICBR, Alhalabi was instrumental in getting Mayor Singer to issue the proclamation. Indeed, Singer has participated with and, on different occasions, posed for photos with Alhalabi. As well, David Steinhardt, the rabbi of the synagogue Singer is affiliated with, B’nai Torah, has a close relationship with Alhalabi, as the two have been involved in interfaith events together. Steinhardt has also been photographed with ICBR President Abdulrauf Khan, who has used his social media to promote Louis Farrakhan videos and to vilify Jews and gays.
Others involved in the founding of ICBR include former website developer for Hamas, Syed Khawer Ahmad, who taught classes at ICBR, and founding imam of ICBR, Ibrahim Dremali, who would later be arrested for marriage/immigration fraud and put on the federal no-fly list. Dremali’s replacement as ICBR imam, Muneer Arafat, once roomed with Ziyad Khaleel, the al-Qaeda operative who delivered the satellite phone used by Osama bin Laden to plan the ‘98 bombings of two US embassies in East Africa, and admitted in court that he (Arafat), himself, was a member of PIJ and had the goal of destroying Israel.
The seed money for the building of ICBR’s current mosque – $600,000 – came from the Global Relief Foundation (GRF), an al-Qaeda-related charity that was shut down by the US government in December 2001 and an entity that ICBR, itself, had donated nearly $17,000 to. According to the US Treasury Department, “The Global Relief Foundation (GRF), has connections to, has provided support for, and has provided assistance to Usama Bin Ladin, the al Qaida Network, and other known terrorist groups.”
ICBR has published violently antisemitic essays on its website. One, titled ‘Why can’t the Jews and Muslims live together in peace?’ described Jews as “people of treachery and betrayal” and “enemies” and spoke of a “Day of Judgement” when Muslims will “fight the Jews and kill them.” Writing in Salon.com, in 2001, Jake Tapper reported that then-ICBR spokesman Daniel McBride defended the essay “word for word” and also believed “Jews have ‘carried out chemical and radiational [sic] experiments on their prisoners, and taken organs from them for transplant into Jewish patients.’” The ADL declared the essay was “filled with poisonous anti-Semitic bigotry.”
Another anti-Jewish ICBR published essay, titled ‘The importance of al-Quds for the Muslims – and do the Jews have any right to it?’ stated, “[I]t is clear that the Jews have no right to the land, whether according to religious law or in terms of who lived there first and possessed the land… We ask Allaah to rid Bayt al-Maqdis (Jerusalem) of them sooner rather than later…”
Following then-ICBR congregant and physician Rafiq Sabir’s May 2005 arrest for allegedly conspiring to provide medical treatment to injured al-Qaeda fighters overseas, McBride, speaking on behalf of ICBR, called Sabir a “friend” and said that his organization would raise funds for him. Sabir would soon be convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
All of the above information about the Islamic Center of Boca Raton and its bigoted and terror-tied history should alert Mayor Scott Singer to the fact that he has made a grave error and compel him to rescind his proclamation immediately. ICBR presents both a danger to the community and to national security. By honoring this entity, Mayor Singer has bestowed ICBR with a mantel of legitimacy, which the mosque will undoubtedly exploit to continue in the promotion of its Islamist agenda. By not rescinding this decree, Mayor Singer will be officially endorsing the hatred and violence of others, including that of his own people.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.