After designating the Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR) as a polling site for 2016, Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher reversed course and transferred the voting site to a library instead. Bucher claimed that her office received dozens of complaints about the mosque being used as a voting site, and the complaints are warranted, as ICBR has a plethora of ties to terror.
The Islamic Center of Boca Raton was incorporated in October 1998. Among its three founding directors is Syed Khawer Ahmad, a website designer for Hamas. Ahmad designed and was the webmaster for the official website of the Islamic Association, al-Jamia al-Islamiya, the charitable arm of Hamas that runs Hamas’ kindergartens and youth camps.
Another of ICBR’s founders and current ICBR President is Florida Atlantic University (FAU) associate professor Bassem Alhalabi. Prior to arriving at FAU, Alhalabi was located in Tampa at the University of South Florida (USF), working as an assistant to USF professor Sami al-Arian. This, while al-Arian was actively creating an American infrastructure for Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). In May 2006, al-Arian would plead guilty to providing services to PIJ. Alhalabi co-authored publications with al-Arian and, when applying to FAU, he used al-Arian as a reference.
Under Alhalabi’s leadership, for three years, the ICBR website had a violently anti-Semitic essay posted on it, titled ‘Why can’t the Jews and Muslims live together in peace?’ It stated, “Jews are people of treachery and betrayal… As the Muslims and Jews are enemies residing in opposing religious and doctrinal camps, it is not possible for them to be brought together unless one is made to submit to the other by force… [Muhammad] said, ‘You will fight the Jews and will prevail over them, so that a rock will say, O Muslim! There is Jew behind me, kill him!’”
In June 2003, the US Department of Commerce charged Alhalabi with illegally shipping a $13,000 military-grade thermal imaging device to Syria, a state sponsor of terrorism. Alhalabi has, as well, been arrested for assault.
A number of other ICBR associates have been arrested.
In October 2010, former ICBR imam Ibrahim Abdelrahman Dremali, who had been previously placed on the federal “no-fly” list, was arrested by federal immigration agents on charges of conspiracy to defraud the US and unlawful procurement of citizenship or naturalization. In May 2007, then-ICBR member Rafiq Sabir was sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda. In July 2005, then-ICBR spokesman Daniel “Abderahman” McBride was arrested for his role in a wide-ranging insurance fraud scheme.
In November 2002, Dremali’s replacement as ICBR imam, Muneer Arafat, was arrested by INS and FBI agents in Sarasota, Florida for overstaying his visa. Prior to Sarasota, Arafat lived in Saint Louis, where he became acquainted with Sami al-Arian and where he roomed with al-Qaeda operative Ziyad Khaleel, the man who delivered the satellite phone that was used by Osama bin Laden to plan the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. In June 2005, while giving courtroom testimony about al-Arian, Arafat stated under oath that he himself was a member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and that he was in favor of “destroying Israel.”
In January 2000, the Global Relief Foundation (GRF), a now defunct al-Qaeda-related charity, gave $600 thousand to ICBR as seed money towards the construction of a new 27-thousand-square-foot ICBR mosque, which has since been built. According to Ibrahim Dremali, who was a court witness for convicted GRF fundraiser Adham Amin Hassoun, ICBR gave close to $17 thousand to GRF in the year 2000. In December 2001, the US Treasury Department froze GRF’s funds, stating, “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.”
Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher, who had originally appointed ICBR as a polling place for the 2016 elections, has now reversed her decision. As stated by her, “We have moved our polling location from the Islamic Center to Spanish River Library due to complaints from the public. I do not have any other comment.”
Certainly all of the above information would warrant such complaints. Indeed, it would warrant shutting down the mosque completely – for voting or anything else.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), though, has labeled Supervisor Bucher’s action “religious bias” and a decision based on “discrimination.” The group has threatened to use “every legal avenue to prevent” the Supervisor’s decision.
About the issue, CAIR-Florida attorney Omar Saleh stated, “People of religion need to understand that we all have a common enemy – those who do violent acts in the name of religion.”
But why should anyone listen to Mr. Saleh, when CAIR and its local Florida office have been involved in and/or promoted terror themselves?
CAIR was established in June 1994 as part of a terrorist umbrella group headed by then-global head of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook. In 2007 and 2008, CAIR was named by the US Justice Department a co-conspirator for two federal trials dealing with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. A number of CAIR representatives have served jail time and/or have been deported from the United States for terrorist-related crimes. And in July 2014, CAIR-Florida co-sponsored a pro-Hamas rally in Downtown Miami, where rally goers shouted, “We are Hamas,” “Let’s go Hamas,” and “Hamas kicked your ass.”
The Supervisor of Elections has very legitimate reasons to rescind ICBR’s ability to act as a polling place for the upcoming election, whether CAIR likes it or not. The mosque’s laundry list of terror-related activities and individuals poses a significant security threat to the public.
The Islamic Center of Boca Raton should never have been considered an appropriate place for voters to enter and its Islamist and terrorist-related history disqualifies it from having any share in the democratic process.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.