Monday, September 17, 2007

Dublin, Ohio-based Saudi “charity” funding HAMAS terror university

[This is a teaser for my full report published this morning at Family Security Matters, “Ohio-based Saudi “charity” funding HAMAS terror university”]

First there was the Holy Land Foundation. Then came Benevolence International, followed by Al-Haramain and KindHearts. Is Arab Student Aid International soon to join the list of Islamic “charities” closed down by the US government for financing terrorism?

The Dublin, Ohio-based not-for-profit organization, Arab Student Aid International (ASAI), has funneled millions of dollars over the last decade to the HAMAS-founded and -operated Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) — an institution well known to be a financial and operational front for the terrorist organization — in addition to two other universities, Al-Quds and Al-Najah, both with extensive ties to HAMAS and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. IUG was not only founded in 1978 by HAMAS founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, but its past and present staff includes many HAMAS leaders and legislators. HAMAS has also repeatedly used IUG as an operating base in factional clashes with their Fatah rivals and to store weapons and missiles for use in terror attacks against Israel. HAMAS was listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization by President Bill Clinton in January 1995.

Additionally, according to an April 2006 article published in the Washington Post, “Distance Learning: Hamas’ US Education”, several members of the HAMAS leadership conducted post-graduate study at US universities through scholarships provided by ASAI.

This discovery comes at the same time as there is a present struggle in Congress to keep US public funds, particularly through the USAID program, from the IUG because of its critical role in the HAMAS terror infrastructure. Washington Times reporter Joel Mowbray disclosed earlier this year in a March 5th article, “School linked to HAMAS gets U.S. cash”, that USAID had provided $140,000 to IUG in violation of a US law that prohibits such support, which prompted congressional hearings where legislators grilled USAID Director Ambassador Randall Tobias about these payments.

According to subsequent report by Mowbray, “How We Fund HAMAS University”, House Foreign Affairs chairman Rep. Tom Lantos told USAID Director Tobias, “Providing U.S. assistance to a terrorist-controlled university in Gaza was out of the question and, in fact, violates U.S. law.” He added, “This outrageous support for terrorism must and will end.”

The disclosure about ASAI’s financial role in supporting the HAMAS terror university also comes amidst the ongoing Holy Land Foundation terror financing trial, where it has been revealed that payments made by US-based Islamic “charities” to IUG have been funneled to HAMAS operatives.

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ASAI has been in operation for more than 30 years. Originally incorporated in New Jersey, it transferred operations to Dublin, Ohio in 2005 and appointed a new president, Dr. Ishaq Y. Al-Qutub. Its primary mission is to provide financial support to Arab students from all over the Middle East to study at universities in the US and Europe, in the hopes that students will return to their native countries to transfer their knowledge and implement their expertise. . .

ASAI’s chairman of the board and primary benefactor is Saudi Prince Turki bin Abdel Aziz, the son of the founder of the Saudi Kingdom, full brother to the late King Fahd, and half-brother to the current King Abdullah. Prince Turki is one of the “Sudairi Seven”, seven full-brothers, including the late King Fahd and the current Crown Prince Sultan, that have held some of the top governmental positions in the Saudi government since Fahd’s ascension in 1982.

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In addition to its scholarship program focused on supporting individual students, ASAI has poured millions of dollars over the past decade into Palestinian universities in the West Bank and Gaza; in particular, the Islamic University of Gaza, Al-Quds and Al-Najah.

On the ASAI website, it lists its various achievements, financial support and infrastructure development for these institutions, including:
  • Providing grants to needy and outstanding 4,000 BA&MA students with 80% and above grade average in Palestinian Universities for the past ten years in the average amount of $350. ($1.4 million)
  • Contributing to the infra-structure development of three Palestinian Universities (Al-Quds, Al-Najah and Islamic University in Gaza). Total allocations were about $1.8 million towards the erection of Science & Technology buildings and Conference auditorium.
  • Scholarship Grants to students in the West Bank and Gaza Universities, were allocated annually since 1986. The West Bank Committee oversees the program and distributed the funds each year at a special program. Thousands of scholarships were given in the past 20 years. Top Students in Vocational Schools received financial support as well. Total number of students who benefited from this program was 80,000, with a total cost of $3.2 million.
  • Supporting Infra-structure development enabled three universities in West Bank and Gaza to expand teaching and laboratory facilities and absorb more students and enhancing research. This program assisted Universities with new buildings to modernize and develop new technology for the 21st Century and was completed 1999. This two-story building has two large lecture halls, science and engineering classrooms and staff offices. It also includes technical laboratories for: chemistry, biology, computer engineering electronics, energy research, food production technology and marine biology. Two other Universities were assisted with new buildings.
  • Gaza Islamic University completed the construction of Science and Technology Building enabling 700 new students to have their classes and 20 faculty members to have their offices. It was completed in 2002.
  • Al Najah National University has completed a huge auditorium building for conferences, lectures, and assembly meetings. They are nearing completion of an additional building to their campus. All three buildings were funded by ASAI. This will serve the university and the communities in Northern region.
  • All the above buildings were named after HRH Prince Turki Ben Abdul Aziz , Chairman of the Board of Trustees of ASAI. The total cost was $2.23 million.
What should especially concern investigators is the nearly $5 million that ASAI has provided these universities in direct cash payments through grants and scholarships. Once payment is remitted to the institutions, there is very little control or oversight that US government and ASAI officials could give to ensure that the money is being used for solely educational purposes.

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And yet, while Congress has banned any public funds from finding their way to these institutions, there is apparently nothing that specifically prohibits private organizations like ASAI, or even US public companies, from providing assistance and money to these terrorist-affiliated universities. In fact, just weeks after Congress proscribed public assistance to these institutions in 2005, the US-based computer giant Intel announced that it was building a technology center at the HAMAS-controlled Islamic University of Gaza. And in September 2006 The Economist reported that the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business designed and trained IUG faculty to create a “mini-MBA” program for the school.

As Congress considers tightening the controls of USAID and other governmental institutions to prevent US government funds from finding their way to HAMAS, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organizations through the Palestinian universities, it may also want to investigate ways to prohibit US companies, universities and “charities” from doing the same.

Full report at Family Security Matters. . .