Bassem Abdo Alhalabi earned a PhD in computer science at the University of Southwestern Louisiana in the 1980s. From 1987-89 he worked for his family business, Alhalabi Industries, an industrial and consumer research-and-development company based in Damascus, Syria.
From 1989-90 Alhalabi served as a research assistant for University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian, who at that time was the North American leader of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Alhalabi and Al-Arian co-wrote several publications, one of which was featured at a conference in Damascus, the home base of PIJ. In 1996 Alhalabi sought employment at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), and he named Al-Arian as a reference.
Soon thereafter, Alhalabi began teaching computer science and engineering at FAU, where he and fellow professor Mohammad Khalid Hamza co-founded the campus Muslim Student Organization. Also during their tenure together at FAU, Alhalabi and Hamza received nearly $1 million worth of research grants which included travel expenses to conferences in various locations. In 1998, Alhalabi and Hamza collaborated with Ibrahim Dremali to establish the Florida-based Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR). They also started a computer business venture called Cadet.
Another noteworthy ally of Alhalabi was his “close friend,” Hussam Jubara, who co-founded, along with Sami Al-Arian, the Islamic Committee for Palestine. In 2003 Jubara was charged and convicted of felony immigration fraud, and in 2004 he was deported from the United States.
In 2003 Alhalabi was indicted for having shipped to Syria — in violation of Commerce Department restrictions — a $13,000 military-grade thermal imaging device capable of producing heat-sensitive images of buildings and landscapes. In his court defense, Alhalabi claimed that he had sent the device as a gift to his brother, who allegedly had wanted to use it to search for gold. In its final verdict, the court sentenced Alhalabi to a one-year suspension of his export privileges.
In March 2010 Alhalabi attended a Muslim advocacy conference in Tallahassee, Florida, where Americans Against Hate founder Joe Kaufman gave a government briefing on the terrorism ties of Ahmed Bedier, former executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations‘ Tampa chapter, who was seeking to lobby the Florida State Legislature. Angered by Kaufman’s testimony, Alhalabi initiated physical altercations with both Kaufman and the latter’s cameraman; he was subsequently charged with one count of battery on Kaufman and one count of assault on the cameraman. A warrant was issued for Alhalabi’s arrest on March 19; he was taken into custody on March 22; and he was released from prison, after posting bond, on March 23. The trial was slated to begin on January 31, 2011, but Alhalabi, in exchange for a light sentence, pled guilty to both charges a few days before the scheduled court date. As part of the plea deal, he was ordered to perform community service and to complete an anger management course.
In May 2016, Alhalabi participated in a panel discussion held by FAU’s Muslim Students Association — an event titled “Islamophobia: Voices from the Muslim Community.” In addition to Alhalabi, at least two other panelists — Imam Maulana Shafayat Mohamed of the Darul Uloom Mosque in Pembroke Pines, and CAIR-Florida legal counsel Wilfredo Amr Ruiz — had known ties to terrorism.
Alhalabi continues to teach at Florida Atlantic University, where he serves as an associate professor.
Further Reading: “Islamic Center of Boca Raton Member Arrested in Al Qaeda Plot” (Militant Islam Monitor, 5-30-2005); “Boca Raton, City of Terror” (by Joe Kaufman, 5-22-2003); “Islamist Professor [Alhalabi] Teaches Lesson in Violence” (by Joe Kaufman, 2-10-2011); “The Facts [about Alhalabi]” (Independent Conservative, 7-13-2006); “Florida Atlantic Terror University” (by Joe Kaufman, 2-19-2004); “Congressman Ted Deutch Speaks at Radical Boca Mosque” (FrontPageMag.com, 10-5-2017); “Florida Atlantic Univ ‘Islamophobia Forum’ Features Terror-linked Muslim Panel, Bigotry” (Creeping Sharia, 5-22-2016).