Last month, Bassem Alhalabi, an associate professor at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and leader of a radical Boca Raton mosque, pled guilty to two separate attacks taking place in Tallahassee, Florida in March 2010. This was not the first time Alhalabi had been on the other side of the law. Yet, according to the FAU website, he is still in good standing at the school. Will the taxpayers of Florida stand by, while this publicly funded institution continues to harbor and provide legitimacy to a violent, terror-related criminal?
On March 11, 2010, after exiting the office of then-Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, while in the lobby of the State Capitol Building, this author was physically attacked by Bassem Abdo Alhalabi, an individual I had written about a number of times in the past.
I was in Tallahassee to give a government briefing on the terrorism ties of Ahmed Bedier, the former Executive Director of the Tampa chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Tampa), who was bringing his new group, United Voices for America (UVA), to town to lobby the State Legislature. Despite its patriotic sounding name, UVA is nothing more than a political advocacy division of CAIR-Florida.
It was this author’s job, as well as others’, to convince the legislators not to meet with Bedier and/or any members of his group. For the most part, we were successful. Indeed, I was told by the Attorney General’s Chief of Staff Bill Stewart that information I had personally provided their office, previous to arriving in Tallahassee, had stopped AG McCollum from meeting with Bedier.
Alhalabi came to Tallahassee as a UVA Delegate. That is an important detail. So when he had attacked me – and one hour later, the cameraman I was with – he did so as a representative of the UVA. While one of his hands was grasped firmly around my arm, his other hand was clutching the blue UVA packet he received for his group’s event.
Following the filing of two separate police reports, Alhalabi was charged with one count of battery on me and one count of assault on the cameraman. A warrant was issued for Alhalabi’s arrest on March 19th; he was taken into custody on March 22nd; and he was released from prison, after posting bond, on March 23rd.
The trial was set to begin on January 31, 2011. However, days prior to trial, Alhalabi admitted guilt in a plea agreement to avoid a potentially tougher sentence. He pled guilty to both charges of battery and assault. By doing so, he was ordered to perform community service and to complete an anger management course.
This was not the first time Alhalabi had gotten himself in trouble with the law. In June 2003, the U.S. Department of Commerce found Alhalabi guilty of illegally shipping a $13,000 military-grade thermal imaging device to Syria, a state sponsor of terrorism.
As stated in the government’s ruling, “The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) charged that, on March 12, 1998, Alhalabi caused the export of a thermal imaging camera to Syria in violation of the [Export Administration Regulations] EAR. Thermal imaging cameras are controlled for export to Syria for national security, regional stability, and anti-terrorism reasons.”
Besides his own unlawful activities, Alhalabi has had a number of friends, colleagues and associates who have committed crimes as well.
From 1989 to 1990, Alhalabi was a Research Assistant for then-professor at the University of South Florida (USF) Sami al-Arian. This, while al-Arian was laying the groundwork for a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) infrastructure based within the Temple Terrace section of Tampa Bay, Florida.
In 1996, Alhalabi used al-Arian as a reference, when he applied for his job at FAU. He also co-authored publications with al-Arian. In April 2006, al-Arian pled guilty to raising money and providing support to PIJ and was sentenced to 57 months in prison. Al-Arian is currently under house arrest in Virginia.
Another individual Alhalabi co-authored publications with – along with al-Arian – was Hussam Abujbara. Alhalabi called Abujbara a “close friend.” In September 2003, Abujbara pled guilty to felony immigration fraud and was deported from the U.S. in 2004.
In October 1998, Alhalabi, along with two others, including a Hamas-related individual named Syed Khawer Ahmad, incorporated the Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR), where Alhalabi still acts as a Director. Since then, a number of individuals from ICBR have been taken into custody:
- In October 2010, co-founder and former imam of ICBR, Ibrahim Dremali, and his wife were arrested by federal immigration agents on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States 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. Earlier this month, a federal appeals court upheld Sabir’s conviction.
- In July 2005, former Director and then-Spokesman for ICBR, Daniel “Abderahman” McBride, was arrested for his connection to a wide-ranging insurance fraud scheme.
Between his own infractions and those of whom he is closest to, one has to wonder how Bassem Alhalabi can continue to maintain such good standing with FAU.
One would think that the citizens of Florida, especially those personally involved with FAU, would be outraged and spurred to take action, considering that part of their taxes are going towards paying the salary of a terror-associated professor and considering that FAU’s students are in danger of coming into contact with a member of faculty who is prone to violence.
But then again, maybe they don’t know that this has occurred, as the media has, for whatever reason, sought to ignore the story. So it is now up to the public to spread this story and make sure it is heard.
While Alhalabi teaches us all a lesson in terrorism and violence, we must counter it by demanding that those types of evils will not be tolerated, particularly at an educational institution such as FAU. If we wish for our society to remain civil, we must make that demand.
For the outraged, click here to voice your concern to FAU’s administration and trustees. People like Alhalabi should never be able to use our universities as cover for their fanatical behavior.
Let us teach our own lesson that terrorism and violence doesn’t pay.
Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate and the founder of CAIR Watch. He has been responsible for the closure of at least one terror-related charity and has convinced a number of government officials to shun the Hamas front group, CAIR. In June 2009, he won a lawsuit brought against him by seven Dallas-area radical Muslim organizations.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.