Mohamad al-Halabi supports Hezbollah, but was he also a member?
By Joe Kaufman for FRONT PAGE MAGAZINE
Mohamad al-Halabi, the imam of the American Islamic Center of Florida and father of a United States Marine, has been using his Facebook page to propagate the same type of hatred and fanaticism that his center had forced on the community one decade ago. But the big question is, was he also involved in an international terrorist group?
The American Islamic Center of Florida or AICF was founded in the city of Boca Raton, Florida, in 2003, as the Assidiq Islamic Educational Foundation. Unlike the Sunni mosques which had already been established in Boca, Assidiq was of the Shiite variety.
In April 2005, Assidiq attempted to broaden its following by inviting the community to a free dinner banquet that the mosque was sponsoring at the Boca Center Marriott. But instead of gaining support for Assidiq, the mosque succeeded in alienating a good number of residents by featuring a neo-Nazi as a speaker at the event and a representative of a Hamas-related group as a ‘Guest of Honor.’
The neo-Nazi that the mosque brought to speak was William W. Baker.
In 1984, William Baker was National Chairman of the Populist Party, a white supremacist organization founded the same year by notorious Holocaust denier Willis Carto. Officials from the party included neo-Nazis and former leaders of the Ku Klux Klan. The previous year, in 1983, Baker had given a speech at a function run by the Christian Patriot Defense League, also a white supremacist outfit. Baker’s speech targeted Jews, referring to Reverend Jerry Falwell, a staunch supporter of Israel, as “Jerry Jewry” and discussing a trip he had taken to New York where the first people he came in contact with were “pushy, belligerent American Jews.”
The Hamas-related group was the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
CAIR was established in June 1994 as being part of the American Palestine Committee, an umbrella organization acting as a terrorist enterprise run by then-global Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook, who was based in the U.S. at the time. In September 2001, right after the 9/11 attacks, under a graphic of a burning World Trade Center, CAIR asked its followers to donate money to Hamas charity Holy Land Foundation (HLF) via a link on the CAIR national website. CAIR later was named a co-conspirator for two federal trials dealing with HLF and the raising of millions of dollars for Hamas.
Following the mosque’s neo-Nazi banquet, a little over a year later, Assidiq Islamic Educational Foundation incorporated under a new name, Florida Islamic Education Center. Two years after that, in June 2008, the mosque reincorporated using the name, Al-Huda Islamic Center. And in December 2012, the mosque reincorporated under its most recent name, American Islamic Center of Florida.
From the time the American Islamic Center of Florida (AICF) was founded, there have been three imams leading it. The latest has been Mohamad al-Ali al-Halabi, a radical cleric who was born and raised in Syria and received his Islamic education in Iran beginning in 1987.
Since immigrating to the United States in 1999, Al-Halabi has become a very important figure in the American Shiite community. He is the head of the Education and Research Department of the Imam Mahdi Association of Marjaeya (IMAM), and he sits on the Executive Committee for the Council of Shia Muslim Scholars in North America (CSMSNA).
On al-Halabi’s Facebook page, there are a number of disturbing posts.
This past March, al-Halabi posted a video of virulent anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, praising Farrakhan, stating “This man is a brave one.” In the video, Farrakhan denounces America as a corrupt nation with blood on its hands. In another video al-Halabi posted, in September 2014, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, refers to America as the “mother of terrorism” and the source of all terrorism in the world. Of this video, al-Halabi wrote, “Nice words.” Al-Halabi further posted different videos from Hezbollah’s television station, al-Manar.
Being that al-Halabi grew up in Syria, one would think that he would recognize the terror and devastation that Syria’s leader, Bashar al-Assad, has unleashed against his own people. Over 100,000 Syrian civilians have been killed at the hands of those loyal to the Assad regime. Yet, al-Halabi seems to be a big fan of Assad, posting a number of Assad propaganda pieces to his Facebook page. When Assad stated that the US only claims to fight terror and instead funds and arms ISIS, al-Halabi wrote of it, “Good points.”
In October 2012, al-Halabi posted a graphic on his Facebook page linking to a heavily anti-Semitic video, titled ‘Iran Bashing, Terrorism and Who Chose the Chosen People, Anyway?’
The video suggests that Jews will deliberately commit crimes against the US knowing they will be protected by “the Zionist-controlled Main Street Media;” that the US itself is controlled by Zionists; and that Jews are conspiring to hide certain details about the Holocaust which they do not want “the un-chosen people” to know about.
The video doesn’t just attack Jews. It also explicitly targets America. The video claims that, regarding sanctions placed on Iraq in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm, “long before the events of 9/11, the United States led an act of international terrorism which is almost beyond belief.”
Al-Halabi’s extremism seems to be exhibited, as well, in much of his family.
Apart from the foul language and marijuana advocacy (‘The Stoner’s Cookbook’) found on her Facebook page, Al-Halabi’s daughter, Nour Ali, is not that different from her dad. She even posted the same Louis Farrakhan video to her Facebook page as he did. One of her ‘Likes’ is of a group devoted to “Condemning Aggression Against Syria.” The group devotedly posts various pictures of Nassrallah, Assad and Iran’s former terrorist leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on its Facebook page. The group also posted a Hezbollah communique on its page and a photo of U.S. and Israeli flags burning with the caption, “Death to America, Death to Israel” on it.
Al-Halabi’s cousin, Hossin Hallak, posted onto his Facebook page pictures of Hassan Nasrallah, Bashar Assad, and Assad’s father, Hafez al-Assad, who like his son was directly responsible for the murders of tens of thousands of his fellow Syrians. Another al-Halabi cousin, Retha Albaiaty, posted pics of Nasrallah and Adolf Hitler.
Yet another al-Halabi cousin, Radwaan Alrahe, posted onto his Facebook site pics of Nasrallah (one he had as his Facebook profile photo), Assad and various dead terrorist “martyrs.” He also posted photos of himself dressed in full camouflage gear; wearing large magazine/ammunition holders; whilst brandishing an AKMS Kalashnikov rifle, a weapon-of-choice for Hezbollah fighters and those fighting for the Hezbollah-backed Popular Committees in Syria, where Alrahe is located. He further made statements as if he is preparing to join his martyr friends.
Al-Halabi’s nephew, Ahmed (a.k.a. Ahmed HD), is also a strong supporter of Hezbollah. In fact, he is a member of Hezbollah. Al-Halabi is close with his nephew, as they frequently message each other on Facebook. On different messages, al-Halabi offers prayers to Ahmed and asks if he’s alright. Under a photo, where Ahmed proclaims his membership in Hezbollah, al-Halabi wrote, “May God protect you and grant you victory…” Al-Halabi has posted a number of photos on Ahmed’s Facebook page, at least one of which has both of them together.
Question: Is al-Halabi’s nephew Ahmed attempting to emulate his uncle, when it comes to joining up with Hezbollah?
In June 2010, al-Halabi posted on his Facebook page a short piece about an experience he had following Israel’s Siege of Beirut, Lebanon, 28 years earlier, in June 1982. In Arabic, he wrote, “We stood in line in front of the people from recruitment for training, in order to defend Lebanon after the invasion of Beirut by the Israeli enemy. The youngest among us was 15 years old and the oldest was 60 years old. When we were asked, we 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” person with “crippled feet pushing his wheelchair with his left hand and his right hand hidden in his sleeve.” According to al-Halabi, the crippled man told him that he had been “a survivor of the October War” and that he wished to use his injured body as a “sandbag” in order to “shield hero fighters” in battle.
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 to compete with the largely secular Amal Shiite group. The organization would be called 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.
If al-Halabi did indeed join Hezbollah, as his writing suggests, this would certainly have ramifications for his immigration status in the United States.
The U.S. Application for Naturalization (form N-400) asks, “Have you ever been a member of, or in any way associated with a terrorist organization?” And the U.S. Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (form I-485) asks, “Have you EVER engaged in, conspired to engage in, or do you intend to engage in, or have you ever solicited membership or funds for, or have you through any means ever assisted or provided any type of material support to any person or organization that has ever engaged or conspired to engage in sabotage, kidnapping, political assassination, hijacking, or any other form of terrorist activity?”
In October 1983, a little over one year following Israel’s siege, Hezbollah suicide bombers carried out an attack against U.S. Marine barracks stationed in Beirut, which left 241 American servicemen dead – a terrorist assault against the U.S. only second in scope to 9/11.
After all the activities documented above, it is both ironic and disturbing to discover that Mohamad al-Halabi’s son, Mahmoud Ali, is presently serving in the United States Marines. A photo of him donning Marine gear is found on his sister’s Facebook page.
In May 2014, al-Halabi posted a photo on Facebook containing himself, Mahmoud and his Hezbollah nephew, Ahmed. In December 2014, al-Halabi posted a Facebook photo of himself and Mahmoud, with a caption that read, “Like father like son.” There is a strong possibility that these words could have more than a ring of truth to them, as the son would have to live in a bubble not to know of his family’s support and involvement with a terrorist organization.
Therefore, it is imperative that every individual in this article gets thoroughly investigated. If any one of them living in the U.S. is or has been involved with Hezbollah, they need to either serve jail time or be deported.
When it comes to openly glorifying terror, America, its armed forces, and its law enforcement agencies cannot afford to look the other way.
Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.