- Founded in 1998, the Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR) is a nonprofit organization registered in the state of Florida. Its mission is “to provide the Muslim community with a fostering environment that promotes spiritual and devotional growth and inspiring true and meaningful worship with correct application of religious knowledge, so as to help every-day believers grow in […]
Founded in 1998, the Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR) is a nonprofit organization registered in the state of Florida. Its mission is “to provide the Muslim community with a fostering environment that promotes spiritual and devotional growth and inspiring true and meaningful worship with correct application of religious knowledge, so as to help every-day believers grow in faith and virtue.”
One of ICBR’s founders was Bassem Alhalabi, an uncompromising advocate of Sharia Law and a former research assistant to University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian — at a time when Al-Arian was actively building an infrastructure in the United States for the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Another ICBR co-founder was Khalid Hamza, who was a defender of Sami Al-Arian and served as an adviser to Florida Atlantic University’s Muslim Student Organization (MSO). Hamza was listed as the contact for an April 21, 2003 MSO event that featured a speech by Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Yet another founding member of ICBR was the Hamas web designer Syed Khawer Ahmad, who created the first official website for al-Jamia al-Islamiya, the charitable arm of Hamas.
A fourth co-founder was Ibrahim Dremali, who served as ICBR’s Imam from 1998-2005 and has spoken in favor of violent Islamic jihad.
Also affiliated with ICBR in its early years was Sheikh Hasan Sabri, who later became the Imam of the Islamic Center of South Florida. In one sermon which he delivered in 2000, Sabri characterized America as a “kuffar” (infidel, unbeliever) nation that could be expected to “continue to fight Muslims … until Islam will cease to be and until Muslims are either liquidated or they have joined the Christian or the Jewish faith.” In 2003, Sabri said that Jews have no moral or historical claim to Jerusalem, and that “Allah” should “rid” that city “of all of its Jewish inhabitants.”
Also during ICBR’s formative years, its commitment to Islamic supremacism and anti-Semitism was evident on the organization’s website. For example:
- From October 1999 through September 2001, the ICBR website displayed an essay stating that: (a) because “Jews are people of treachery and betrayal,” it is “not possible to trust them at all”; (b) because “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”; and (c) “The Hour [of Judgment] will not begin until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them” – a famous quote attributed to the Prophet Mohammed.
- From October 1999 through July 2001, the ICBR homepage featured a link to Qoqaz.net – or “Jihad in Chechnya” – a fundraising and recruiting website for al-Qaeda which was produced by Azzam Publications, named for Osama bin Laden’s mentor, Abdullah Azzam.
- From October 1999 through February 2003, ICBR promoted on its website the al-Haramain Foundation, a now-defunct entity that was designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government because of its financial and ideological ties to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.
In January 2000, the Global Relief Foundation (GRF) – a now defunct al-Qaeda-affiliated charity – gave $600,000 to ICBR as seed money towards the construction of its new 27,000-square-foot mosque. Conversely, ICBR gave many thousands of dollars to GRF on other occasions.
At a November 16, 2002 fundraiser to help finance the construction of its new mosque, ICBR hosted Rafil Dhafir, an Iraqi-born physician who was subsequently imprisoned for raising millions of dollars for terrorist organizations in the guise of a children’s charity called Help the Needy.
The Imam who took Ibrahim Dremali’s place at ICBR in 2005 was Muneer Arafat, a Palestinian Islamic Jihad supporter who formerly had been a roommate of the al-Qaeda and Hamas operative Ziyad Khaleel. In May 1998, Khaleel delivered to Osama bin Laden a satellite phone and battery pack that would later be used to plan the deadly bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that occurred in August 1998.
In May 2007, then-ICBR member Rafiq Sabir was sentenced to 25 years in prison having conspired in 2005 to provide material support to al-Qaeda, to which he had sworn loyalty. A physician by training, Sabir also sought to provide medical treatment to Islamic terrorists who were fighting U.S. forces in Iraq.
Notwithstanding its numerous ties to individuals and organizations that have been implicated in Islamic terrorism, ICBR professes its “condemnation of all forms and acts of terrorism.” It also emphasizes that “the ill acts of a few misguided individuals shall not be viewed as the mainstream of Islam and Muslims,” and implores Muslims to “be vigilant” in “build[ing] a proper understanding of Islam and subvert[ing] any terrorist activities anywhere.”
In 2018, ICBR was the venue for a speech by Sheikh Mohammed Rateb Nabulsi, a Syrian Imam who endorses Palestinian suicide bombings and was banned from Denmark in 2017 as a “hate preacher.” In a “ruling on martyrdom operations in Palestine,” Nabulsi has written that because Israel has “a reserve army” in which “all the people can fight” — rather than a regular army composed of only a small percentage of Israeli citizens — “all the Jewish people are combatants” and, as such, are legitimate targets for terrorist attacks against Israel. Nabulsi also endorses the death penalty for homosexuals, and in a 2010 online post he suggested that the acceptance of same-sex marriage in Western nations was a reason for Muslims to wage violent jihad against the West.
Further Reading: “Islamic Center of Boca Raton” (InvestigativeProject.org, Clarion Project); “About Us/Mission” (ICBR.org); “Congressman Ted Deutch Speaks at Radical Boca Mosque” (by Joe Kaufman, 10-5-2017); “Boca Raton, City of Terror” (by Joe Kaufman, 5-22-Florida Islamic Center Features Material from Terrorist Charity” (Jihad Watch, 1-28-2004); “Sarasota Mosque Raises Money for Families of Suicide Bombers [and Al-Qaeda]” (Jihad Watch, 6-9-2005); “Syrian Imam [Rateb Nabulsi] Who Endorsed Suicide Bombing Tours U.S. Mosques” (InvestigativeProject.org, 4-25-2018).