[UPDATE, June 25: An Al-Jazeera reporter commented on the issue on June 17, supporting the ISA and condemning certain unnamed Congressmen and the USCIRF. She also completely distorted the initial decision of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to extend the lease. You can see the report on MEMRI TV, and here are some of the most egregious excerpts from MEMRI's transcript: "This pressure is exerted by several Congressmen, known for their great hostility towards Arabs and Muslims... The local authority of Fairfax County, where the academy is located, has challenged the threats of closure. It determined that the allegations are invalid, and it approved the religious curricula after examining them... What should be said about a commission that some say is unconstitutional and contradicts the very meaning of its name? This commission calls upon all countries of the world to respect freedom of religion there, while the commission itself violates this freedom on its own land."]
[SECOND UPDATE: The issue is the subject of a story in CQ Homeland Security today, with Rep. Frank Wolf quoted as demanding a Congressional hearing. And here is what one Fairfax County Supervisor says about the still-secret report they commissioned: "I would be less than frank if I didn't tell you that the curriculum does contain references to the Quran, which, if taken out of context and read literally, would cause some concern." But see this from today's Washington Times: "A Fairfax County employee familiar with Arabic voluntarily reviewed textbooks provided by the school, but no written report was produced..." (tip to Patrick Poole) - so is there a written report or not?]
Last night, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors decided to ask the State Department to "investigate" the textbooks in use at the Islamic Saudi Academy of Virginia before a final decision whether to continue leasing public land to the school. Some are celebrating that decision as a "reversal" and a "victory," but it is not. Actually, the Board cynically wimped out, refusing to accept the obvious evidence already presented by an independent commission of the federal government, and punted the whole issue away from that agency to the State Department. Surely the Board knew, as any of us who have followed this issue, that State will continue to do what it has done for years on this issue - nothing.
I last posted on this issue on June 12, in which I laid out how the ISA is a case study in homegrown radicalization, applying criteria developed by the New York Police Department, citing the new report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and recalling the ISA's most famous valedictorian, convicted terrorist Ahmed Omar Abu Ali. The examples cited in the report of the anti-Israeli and pro-Wahabbist textbooks in use at the school are painfully obvious: "The cause of the discord: The Jews conspired against Islam and its people. A sly, wicked person who sinfully and deceitfully professed Islam infiltrated (the Muslims)... Only through force and victory over the enemies is there security and repose. Within martyrdom in the path of God (exalted and glorified is He) is a type of noble life-force that is not diminished by fear or poverty." And recall what the USCIRF report says about the Saudis' continued deceit in hiding the textbooks from official U.S. government review:
"In every official meeting during the visit to Saudi Arabia, the Commission delegation asked Saudi interlocutors for copies of textbooks. The Saudi government's refusal to make them available during that visit or after the Commission's return, despite repeated requests, left the Commission with continued concerns about their content and serious questions about whether they were in fact being reformed. The Commission also sought to obtain the textbooks used at the ISA...I would remind the county supervisors that USCIRF was created in 1998 by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. So the investigation they want has already been conducted by an official agency of the U.S. government. There is nothing left to prove.
While neither the ISA nor the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia complied with the Commission's requests to release the school's books publicly, the Commission did obtain some Arabic-language books currently used in the twelfth grade and a random selection of texts currently used in middle and high school classes. The Commission's review of these textbooks found that they did contain passages justifying violence toward, and even the killing of, apostates and so-called polytheists. The texts also include highly intolerant passages about non-Sunni Muslims, such as Shi'a, Ismailis, and Ahmadis, and non-Muslims, such as Jews and Baha'is...
However, the books reviewed by the Commission in the winter of 2007-2008 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 evidenced by the passages cited above. They appear to be Saudi Ministry of Education textbooks, with some alterations but with identical wording in many sections of the texts."
What we have here is a failure of leadership. The State Department has done nothing about these books over the past five years, and the Fairfax County supervisors know it. The county supervisors contracted for a secret, special report, have not released it to this day, and won't take obvious action. I repeat what I posted on June 12: The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors should revoke the lease and force the school to leave public property.
The ISA incubator of homegrown radicalization operates unabated. May God protect the good people of Fairfax County, because their elected supervisors apparently will not.