The Islamic Saudi Academy in Fairfax County, Virginia, is funded by the Saudi government and operates as an arm of the Saudi Embassy. It has been in the news this week following a report issued by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which found that textbooks used by the academy are filled with incitements to violence and racial and religious bigotry.
Missing in most of the national establishment media coverage of the story, however, is the raid on the school last month by state authorities after academy officials failed to report a five-year-old student’s claims of sex abuse by a parent and later attempted to eliminate any traces of the report.
According to a local news report [video] on June 3, the female student reported her claims to her teachers, and a report on the matter was drawn up by the teachers and the school’s principal and submitted to administrators. But when the allegations reached the desk of school director Abdullah Al-Shabnan, he didn’t believe the girl and failed to report the sex abuse claims to law enforcement within the 72 hours required by state law.
Apparently tipped off on a cover-up, law enforcement authorities raided the school on May 23 to seize computers and look for evidence after Al-Shabnan ordered the original report deleted from school computers.
Just three days before the raid, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to renew the academy’s lease of county property, ignoring multiple reports of the school’s promotion of violence and hatred.
This is far from the first time that the Islamic Saudi Academy has received unwelcome public scrutiny. Just a few days ago, the academy’s 1999 class valedictorian, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, had his 2005 conviction upheld by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on charges that he joined Al-Qaeda and had plotted to assassinate President George W. Bush. Abu Ali was sentenced to 30 years in prison. As noted by Evan Kohlmann at Counterterrorism Blog, Abu Ali had joined an Al-Qaeda cell in Saudi Arabia while studying at the University of Medina, and one of his Al-Qaeda co-conspirators was killed in a shoot-out with Saudi authorities.
Last October the USCIRF sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking her to close the school if academy officials continued to refuse to turn over copies of their textbooks to ensure that passages advocating violence against Jews, Christians, and other non-Muslims were scrubbed. At the time, USCIRF Commissioner Nina Shea observed that since 9/11 the school had alternately denied that such passages existed, claimed it had already removed such (non-existent) passages, and stated that it was working on removing such (non-existent) passages.
And in April 2005, just a few weeks after Abu Ali’s terrorism conviction on all charges, Islamic Saudi Academy bus driver Abdelrazeg Abdalla lost control of his bus with 34 students on board. It careened down a hill and slammed into two cars. According to the Washington Post, police discovered that Abdalla’s license had been suspended for not maintaining proper insurance coverage and that the bus had bald tires and very little brakes. In addition to that, Abdalla had seven previous moving violations and a conviction for kidnapping his estranged wife and three-month-old daughter at knifepoint. He had also been picked up on undisclosed charges by the Department of Homeland Security and held for six months. The academy claimed in response that the bus had been approved after an inspection and that the driver had passed all required background checks. That notwithstanding, Abdalla was fired after the Washington Post began looking into the matter.
The Bush administration considers the Saudi government to be one of our allies in the War on Terror, and that support extends to the Islamic Saudi Academy as well. Cinnamon Stillwell recently noted an article in the Mount Vernon Gazette that reported 22 soldiers from Ft. Belvoir had recently graduated from the Islamic Saudi Academy’s “Arabic as a Second Language” program. This means that the school is not only being funded by the Saudi government, but also our own government. Deputy Assistant Secretary of The Army Dr. Lynn Heirakuji and the U.S. Army’s Deputy Assistant for Foreign Languages Erol Smith attended the graduation ceremonies.
No doubt we’re all grateful that our government is so adept at identifying who our enemies really are.