Middle East studies in the News
Islamic Saudi Hate Academy
by Joe Kaufman and Beila Rabinowitz
In Saudi Arabia, teaching hatred for others is a normal everyday scholastic activity. But what happens when that teaching gets transferred to the United States? One children's school with branches in Virginia, the Islamic Saudi Academy, has managed to accomplish this with hate-filled texts, a terror-linked website, and students and school personnel that have been involved in radical activity.
The Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA), an institution run by the government of Saudi Arabia, has been occupying northern Virginia, since 1984. Within the state, it has two facilities, one in Fairfax (pre-K – first grade) and one in Alexandria (grades 2 – 12). The school offers all of the standard curriculum: Math, English, Social Studies, Science, etc. However, what has been of concern to many is the group's religious studies.
In October of 2007, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an organization established by the United States Congress, issued a press release calling for the closure of ISA, until the school's textbooks would be made available to it for inspection, which they were not. The release stated that "significant past documented concerns remain about whether what is being taught at the ISA explicitly promotes hate, intolerance and human rights violations, in some cases violence."
The concerns of the commission were based on previous findings regarding Saudi curricula, which showed that Saudi authorized school textbooks encouraged violence and theft, even religiously sanctioned murder, against a variety of non-Muslim groups.
In July of 2006, the Saudi government released a statement, saying that it would, within one or two years, "revise and update textbooks to remove remaining references that disparage Muslims or non-Muslims or that promote hatred toward other religions or religious groups." But without having the material in front of it, the commission was not able to determine if the Saudis were indeed abiding by their own commitments.
Between USCIRF's first action and now, the commission has been able to acquire and review 17 current ISA textbooks for examination, and the findings have been disturbing to say the least. According to USCIRF, some of the passages in the texts "clearly exhort the readers to commit acts of violence." These acts include the killing of apostates (converts from Islam) and the taking of the lives and property of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and those adhering to the Shiite faction of Islam.
In addition, according to the commission, the reviewed texts "show evidence of truncation, omission, cutting and pasting, and the use of correction tape or fluid to cover over text – but not sufficient revision to remove all objectionable material." As well, some of the material was altered but contained "identical wording."
Besides the textbooks, the ISA's website has set off alarms. From March of 2000 through August of 2001, the site had a link to IslamiCity, a website that repeatedly calls for the murder of Jews and repeatedly "curses" Jews and Christians. Some statements from IslamiCity include:
From March of 2000 through February of 2002, ISA's website contained a link to Islam Question and Answer, a site authored by Saudi radical Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid, which stresses violence against non-Muslims and others. Some quotes from it include:
Today, the above ISA web links have been replaced by new extremist links. Beginning in August of 2002, ISA's website linked to Al-Islam, a site run by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Da‘wah and Guidance. The site, similar to the previous mentioned sites, propagates hatred against Jews and Christians. Al-Islam includes such brutal pleas as: "Let there be curse upon the Jews and the Christians..." and "May Allah the Exalted and Majestic destroy the Jews."
As well, entire web pages on Al-Islam are devoted to fighting jihad – jihad, which the site defines as "holy war." The index for the site's ‘Al-Jihad' section is as follows:
Another website that ISA currently links to is Arab News, a site that labels the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), the former American propaganda wing of Hamas, as "Palestinian[s] who believe in the liberty of [sic] there holyland" and describes Radio Islam, a site that publishes Mein Kampf and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as "[sic] Informations about Zionism and Palestine."
Furthermore, according to the school's website, from 2000 to 2001, the 9th and 10th grade ISA curriculum included learning about "the reform of Mohammed Bin Abdulwahab and his alliance with the Saudi family, who united the Arabian Peninsula during the first half of the 20th century." Bin Abdul Wahhab was the individual from which Wahhabism was created, arguably the movement that ignited the terrorist threat faced by the world today.
Between the textbooks and the websites, ISA students could get quite an education in hatred and violence, two subjects that young children should not be exposed to, especially kindergarteners. Unfortunately, though, it seems that at least some of the ISA students took these vicious lessons to heart.
Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was 1999 class valedictorian at ISA. In an act of foreboding, his class named him "Most Likely to Be a Martyr." Foreboding, because, in November of 2005, he would be convicted of joining Al-Qaeda and plotting to assassinate President Bush. He received a 30 year prison sentence for his crime.
As stated in an FBI criminal complaint, ISA graduates Mohammed Osman Idris and Mohammed Hassan El-Yacoubi, in December of 2001, were on their way to Israel, for what seemed to be a suicide mission. El-Yacoubi, during a search that was conducted by El Al security personnel, was found to have had on his person a farewell letter from his younger brother, Abdalmuhssin, who himself had attended ISA. The letter was in Arabic, and according to writing experts, it contained language discussing an attack that was to be carried out against Israelis, possibly in relation to Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
In August of 2002, Idris was sentenced to four months in jail for lying on a passport application.
And it's not just the students. Ismael Selim Elbarasse is a former comptroller (accountant) for ISA. Elbarasse, named as a co-conspirator for the 2007 Holy Land Foundation (HLF) terror trial, has been described by the U.S. government as a "high-ranking" Hamas operative for his financial dealings with Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook. In August of 2004, Elbarasse was arrested, after police viewed his wife videotaping sensitive parts of Maryland's Chesapeake Bay Bridge from his vehicle.
Earlier this month, on June 9th, the Director General of ISA, Abdullah Al-Shabnan, was taken into custody for failing to report the alleged sexual abuse of a five-year-old ISA student. This, while protests have erupted over the school's use of violent texts.
ISA is most certainly not the only Islamic facility to be teaching hatred and violence in America, but it is one that has been caught and exposed. Under pressure, the U.S. State Department has called on the school to reform its educational materials by August, but if history is any indicator, the school's future will be no different than its past.
On September 11, 2001, terrorists coming from Saudi Arabia flew planes into our buildings causing death and destruction. This school, the Islamic Saudi Academy, in contrast, is evidence that Saudi Arabia is now attempting to destroy us from within.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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