This past November, the Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR) held its 20th Anniversary celebration, and with it came a number of Muslim extremist faces from the past. Honored was ICBR co-founder and former web designer for Hamas, Syed Ahmad. Attending, along with Ahmad, who should have been barred from entering the US, were his fellow co-founders, who were and are no less dangerous. It was a reunion of terror.
The notice found on ICBR’s website read: “Please join us for a special event to honor Br. Syed Khawer Ahmad a founding member of ICBR who relocated to UK in 2001. We will also take this opportunity to celebrate ICBR 20th Anniversary with the presence of all 5 founding members including Imam Ibrahim Dremali.”
ICBR was established by those involved in the Muslim Student Organization at Florida Atlantic University (MSO at FAU), including then-MSO advisor Khalid Hamza. The three founding directors of the ICBR corporation were FAU graduate Syed Ahmad, travel agency owner Khalid Qureshi, and FAU professor Bassem Alhalabi. The founding imam was Ibrahim Dremali.
Of the founders, only Alhalabi is still active in ICBR. He is the President of the mosque.
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.
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.
As the ICBR notice mentioned, Syed Ahmad relocated to the UK. Today, he is a Senior Product Manager for Spectralink Corporation, and he is the owner and director of Experticom. Previous to that, he worked for the UK division of Panasonic from June 2002 to March 2013.
Around the time that he co-founded ICBR, Ahmad designed the first website for the Islamic Association, al-Jamia al-Islamiya, the Gaza-based parent organization of Hamas. The site contains a letter asking for funds for children’s schools and camps, signed by then-Director of the Islamic Association, Hamas leader Ahmad Bahar.
Bahar has since called for the annihilation of Jews and Americans, stating “Kill them all, without leaving a single one.” Ahmad also did the site for the Islamic Association’s Gaza Quranic education affiliate, Dar al-Quran al-Karim.
Ahmad was the webmaster for the official website of the Islamic Circle of North America’s South East Region (ICNA-SE), while the site’s homepage featured prominent links to the main websites for Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban and called on its web viewers to provide “material support” to groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda. And he was the webmaster for free-jerusalem.com, a site that mourned the killing of and featured numerous photographs of the former spiritual leader and founder of Hamas, Ahmed Yassin.
Ibrahim Dremali is currently located in Fort Worth, Texas, where he and his latest wife, convert Annie Lin, run the Dremali Foundation.
From March 2000 to September 2001, Dremali was listed as one of eight local contacts for ICNA-SE, on the same web page as the aforementioned links to terrorist groups. In October 2000, Dremali spoke at a rally where Israeli flags were burned and the crowd shouted, “With jihad we'll claim our land, Zionist blood will wet the sand.” Dremali told the audience “not to be sad for those who were martyred and to not be afraid to die for what they believe in.”
In August 2002, Dremali was a character witness at a hearing for Adham Hassoun, an al-Qaeda operative who would later be convicted of providing material support to terrorist groups. Hassoun had been a fundraiser for the Global Relief Foundation (GRF), a terrorist charity that was shut down by the US government in December 2001. ICBR gave close to $17,000 to GRF, and in January 2000, ICBR received $600,000 from GRF as seed money towards the construction of a new 27,000-square-foot ICBR mosque.
In an April 2006 article in the Des Moines Register, Dremali claimed that his name had been added to a federal ‘no-fly’ list. In October 2010, Dremali and his then-wife, Safaa Eissa, were arrested by federal immigration agents on charges of engaging in fraudulent marriages to others to gain US citizenship. The woman who Dremali was accused of marrying, Lamyaa Hashim (aka Um Ahmad), was the President of a now-defunct Hamas-related charity, the Health Resource Center for Palestine (HRCP), of which Sayed Ahmad was Secretary/Treasurer.
From October 1999 through September 2001, ICBR published a violently anti-Semitic essay on its website, titled ‘Why can’t the Jews and Muslims live together in peace?’ It described Jews as “people of treachery and betrayal” and “enemies.” It quoted the ‘Prophet’ Muhammad, saying a “Day of Judgement” will come when Muslims will “fight the Jews and kill them.” Dremali claimed that the website article was the result of hackers. It was a lie, as the ICBR website contained much material from the same place the offending article originated from, the site Islam Q&A.
The imam who replaced Dremali at ICBR, Muneer Arafat, was arrested, in November 2002, 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.”
The terrorist links of those who established ICBR are widely documented, as are their criminal activities. Yet, despite this, ICBR recently was allowed to purchase another 91 acres of land for $4.91 million. Concerning the purchase, ICBR President Bassem Alhalabi belligerently stated, “The Muslim community is part of this community, part of the fabric of this society. We’re not going anywhere.”
The Islamic Center of Boca Raton started as a terror hotbed and remains one to this day. It should have been shut down years ago.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.