MY VIEW/Andrea Lafferty – Saudi school debate is about more than cutting the grass


The Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria is operated by the Saudi government and it has a long history of teaching young Muslims violence against non-Muslims and its faculty and students history of breaking the law.

Several members of our coalition told this to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors in May when they were voting to renew the lease on the county-owned property to the Saudi embassy. 

We told them about the reports of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bi-partisan, multi-religious commission created by President Clinton, which had asked the State Department to close the school. When one of our members quoted an anti-Semitic remark from the commissions report, Board chairman Gerry Connolly shouted Slander! and erupted into a rant in defense of the academy.

One-by-one, supervisors congratulated the Saudis for keeping the grass cut and not racing cars in the neighborhood.  They ignored the substance of the debate and went right to patting each other on the back. Supervisor Penny Gross compared the Saudi school which, until it was discovered in 2006, included diagrams of how to cut off a persons hands and feet, to Catholic schools.

The finale of the supervisors presentation was a special guest Mr. Abdullah Al-Shabnan, the schools Director General. After a glowing introduction by Chairman Connolly, Mr. Abdullah Al-Shabnan nervously praised the school.

That was May 19, 2008.   Less than a month later on June 9, Al-Shabnan was arrested by Fairfax County police and charged with failing to act on a report of sexual abuse involving an Academy student and obstruction of justice.  According to police, Al-Shabnan ordered the report of the sexual abuse deleted from the schools computer.

We believe the Board of Supervisors acted in its own interests and ignored the interests of Fairfax County citizens and, in a very real sense, their fellow Americans.  All of the Democrats on the Board of Supervisors are endorsed by the Virginia Muslim Political Action Committee so they probably didnt want to jeopardize their position with one of the fastest growing voting blocs in Virginia.

But the Republicans were equally spineless. Supervisor Michael R. Frey talked about separation of church and state and joined the unanimous vote to renew the lease.

Residents of Fairfax County should not be hosting and enabling what amounts to Terrorism 101 in a county-owned building.  The Saudi government can believe what it believes.  It can continue to finance global terrorism and encourage the most violent radical elements of Islam to attack the civilized world.  

But no American should be forced to subsidize or house a school which is training the next generation of homicide-bombers and violent terrorists.  And no group of elected officials, no matter how dull or gullible, should further their political careers by pandering to the terrorists and their apologists in our midst. 

How many generations of Virginians who attended that school, before it was turned over to the Saudis, are now soldiers patrolling dark streets in the Middle East right now?  How many of them have left their careers and their families to protect us from terrorists?

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors needs to be held accountable for their self-serving, contemptible indifference.

Lafferty is executive director of the Traditional Values Coalition.