Andrew Cochran

I've covered the use of extremist textbooks at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Fairfax County in northern Virginia since May, when the county supervisors voted to continue to allow ISA to lease county property even though it uses textbooks which included virulently anti-Semitic and anti-Christian language and teachings. The county punted the issue back to the State Department, which has refused to act on recommendations in 2007 by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to close ISA unless the school materially changed the textbooks to remove the hateful language. Neither did the State Department act when USCIRF issued a new report reiterating that ISA's textbooks "extremely troubling passages that do not conform to international human rights norms." In late June, the county supervisors refused to revoke the ISA's lease of county property and punted the issue again back to the State Department, even though it could have done so without penalty. Congressman Frank Wolf, who represents the ares in the House, became involved and wrote letters to Secretary Rice in June and in July, urging her to determine what is being taught at the school and what to do about it.

Having not received a satisfactory response to either letter, Rep. Wolf wrote again last week, this time with more ammo to try to force the State Department into decisive action. He commissioned a special independent study of the legal status of the ISA by the Congressional Research Service (an issue which Patrick Poole examined on his website and I did here). That study concluded that the ISA qualifies as a "foreign mission" under U.S. law, since it is "substantially owned or effectively controlled by...a foreign government," namely the Saudis. Accordingly, the State Department can order ISA off the county property if the Secretary determines "that such divestiture is 'necessary to protectthe interests of the United States.'" Rep. Wolf again called for Secretary Rice "to convene a meeting of relevant State Department and USCIRF representatives... to conclusively determine what precisely is being taught at ISA."

As I wrote on June 12, the ISA and its 1999 valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, represent a case study in the process by which American-raised Muslims morph into Islamic jihadists ("homegrown radicalization."). EDIT: Patrick Poole pointed out this post, "Behind the Veil at the Islamic Saudi Academy," with accounts from former ISA faculty that "An atmosphere of deception was at the heart of everything that they did (at ISA)" and thst students "had been taught to hate Jews and that Christians were awful." Yet the State Department and Fairfax County supervisors duck, hide, and punt the issue back and forth, failing to act in the best interests of county citizens and the U.S. This is my seventh post on this issue since May, and I am no more optimistic that they will act than I was in May.

http://counterterrorismblog.org/2008/08/will_state_department_punt_aga.php


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