Mohamad al-Halabi, a.k.a. Mohamad al-Fouani, the imam of the American Islamic Center of Florida, may operate out of Pompano Beach, Florida, however a good part of his life still resides in the Middle East, including his associations with the terrorist organization Hezbollah. In November, al-Halabi left the shores of the United States to travel to his native home of Syria. While there, he visited family, but were they his Hezbollah family?
Recently the American Islamic Center of Florida or AICF moved from Boca Raton, where it had been a part of the community since 2003, to its new location in Pompano Beach. It seems the move has also prompted Mohamad al-Halabi, the Shiite mosque’s imam, to go by another name, that being Mohamad al-Fouani.
For the mosque and the imam it is a new beginning, though it is not enough to shake al-Halabi’s – or al-Fouani’s – radical past, no matter how much he attempts to conceal his identity from law enforcement or others.
According to a June 2010 posting al-Halabi made on social media, following Israel’s invasion of Beirut, Lebanon in 1982, al-Halabi had found himself at a recruitment office to be trained in how “to defend Lebanon” from what he calls “the Israeli enemy.” He said, when asked why they were there, he and the others had one answer: “We want to fight, and we want to liberate Lebanon and Palestine. We want to die with dignity.”
Al-Halabi mentioned that, at the back of the volunteer line, there was a “helpless” and “crippled” man, who told him that he had been “a survivor of the October war.”
Following the Israeli siege against the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Beirut, the government of Iran put up money to pay for recruitment centers for a new militant organization made up of religious Shiites named Hezbollah or Party of God, and its focus was in carrying out guerilla warfare against Israelis, who were conducting military activities in Lebanon.
At the time, a large percentage of the Beirut population was Palestinian. The “October War” that the crippled man was speaking of was the Yom Kippur War, which took place in October 1973.
Shortly after the recruitments, in October 1983, a little over one year after Israel’s siege, Hezbollah staged an attack against US Marine barracks stationed in Beirut, killing 241 American servicemen.
This past November, al-Halabi traveled back to his hometown in Syria. While there, he visited the Sayyidah Zaynab mosque – near the Syrian capital of Damascus – where his cousin was killed during an attack on the mosque in 2013. Al-Halabi posted a photo that he took of it, affectionately referring to it as “Lady Zaynab.”
Al-Halabi also posted a photo, taken during the trip, of himself and his mom in Syria. His mother is not the only family he has in Syria. His brother, Ahmad, is there, as well as his nephew, Ahmed. Both live in Damascus. An earlier photo of the three men together is found on the Facebook pages of both al-Halabi and the nephew.
Ahmed, a.k.a. Ahmed HD, is currently a member of Hezbollah. Al-Halabi is close with his nephew. Indeed, they communicate with one another via social media. On different messages, al-Halabi offers prayers to Ahmed and asks if he’s alright. Under a photo, where Ahmed proclaimed his membership in Hezbollah, al-Halabi wrote, “May God protect you and grant you victory...”
And like one another, al-Halabi and Ahmed are both fans of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah.
Question: When Mohamad al-Halabi took his November trip to Syria, did he have any contact with his terrorist nephew, Ahmed?
One individual al-Halabi definitely had contact with, during his trip, was Damascus lawyer Hassan Alsaed Hussen. Al-Halabi posted a photo of their meeting on his Facebook site. Hussen, in June 2013, prior to changing the profile picture on his personal Facebook page to the ‘scales of justice,’ which it is today, had as his profile pic a photo of the face of Nasrallah.
Shortly before embarking on his trip, on October 25th, al-Halabi posted on his Facebook site a series of photos taken at an Ashura ceremony held in the towns of Kafariya and al-Foua in Syria’s Idlib province. Ashura is commemorated by Shia Muslims as a day of mourning for the death of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad, at the Battle of Karbala in October 680 CE. Included in al-Halabi’s Ashura photos are ones containing Hezbollah flags.
Al-Halabi obtained the photos from a Facebook site devoted to Shiite terrorists. The site features Hezbollah videos and numerous pictures of masked fighters from Hezbollah and pictures of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Commander of Iran’s Quds Force Qasem Soleimani.
On December 1st, al-Halabi left the Middle East to head back to the United States, where he is today, resuming imam duties at his mosque.
Given al-Halabi’s apparent recruitment into Hezbollah and his praise of Hezbollah’s leader; given his propagandizing of materials from Hezbollah-affiliated websites and his steady contact with his Hezbollah nephew; and given his interaction with overt Hezbollah supporters; al-Halabi’s trip to Syria should be deemed as being something much more than just a friendly visit to friends and family and, in the very least, should have raised red flags with law enforcement.
In fact, al-Halabi’s (al-Fouani’s) entire presence inside the US must be viewed as a potential threat to national security. As such, his communications and activities – at home and abroad – must be monitored constantly.
If you are concerned about Mohamad al-Halabi’s presence inside the United States and wish to voice your opinion, you can contact the Miami FBI office by email at [email protected] or by phone at 754-703-2000. Please be respectful in any and all communications with this office.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.