madrassa update III

The Saudi madrassa I've written about in a number of posts seems to be receiving national attention. The following comes from an email I just received, from which I've removed the headers:

For Immediate Release Residents Protest Expansion Of Islamic Center in PA “ Venue For Young Muslim "Jihad Camps" July 10, 2006 Philadelphia, PA Militant Islam Monitor - Residents of Lower Merion County protesting the expansion of the Foundation for Islamic Education because of zoning violations, recently became aware that the center is planning to hold a Muslim Youth camp with many of the controversial speakers who appeared at a self-described "Jihad Camp" in 2001. The FIE is funded and owned by the ex Saudi Minister of Energy and Electricity -Mahmoud Abdullah Taiba, and is a satellite campus of the American Open University the American division of al-Azhar University in Cairo, a hotbed of Muslim Brotherhood activity.- LINK HERE

A hearing on the expansion permit was scheduled to take place on July 13th. Even prior to the news about the camp, Lower Merion councilman Philip Rosenzweig conceded that "it would take time for the FIE to reestablish trust with the neighbors," according to a July 5th article Philadelphia Inquirer. When the Foundation for Islamic Education took over the 23-acre college campus in Villanova in 1994, Muslim leaders overcame neighborhood opposition by agreeing to a host of restrictions which included limits on traffic, number of permanent residents to be housed there, the frequency and scope of religious retreats and limitations on noise. As the Foundation seeks zoning permission to expand operations it has had to admit it violated not only the covenants, but also the original 1994 zoning order as well. Foundation leaders are pledging to be "better neighbors" from now on, but it is proving to be a tougher sell this time. The Lower Merion Zoning Hearing Board took up the expansion proposal in November. After a second hearing in May, James Greenfield – representing 26 neighborhood families - asked the board to reject the zoning application, saying "The Foundation will not police itself and has no qualms about expanding its use without regard for the governmental regulations. The board must therefore regard this institution as a threat to the community." The Foundation is headed by Mustafa Ahmed and represented by attorney Fred Fromhold who – according to news reports - declined last week to comment on the neighbor's complaints.LINK HERE

Among the complaints are that the school foundation began an elementary school in 1999 and was the site of a summer camp in 2004, neither of which are permitted under the zoning order. Neighbors allege that a registered child abuser resided on the premises and that FIE is being used as a homeless shelter in violation of local codes. Neighbors testified that they were especially concerned that the foundation would not provide information on the nature of the groups using the grounds for retreats or provide proof that the activities were being supervised. The residents of Villanova have a right to be concerned for their security. LINK HERE

Unbeknownst to the residents at the time of the last hearing and in keeping with FIE's pattern of deception is the fact that a gender segregated Jihad Camp of the Young Muslims organization had been scheduled to be held on August 2nd to 7th. The list of speakers at this event include radical Islamists; it includes

* New Jersey Imam Mazen Mokhtar, who was under investigation for running a mirror website for al-Qaeda.

* Siraj Wahhaj an unindicted co conspirator in the 1993 WTC bombings and board member of Saudi funded pressure group CAIR.

* Jamal Badawi who recently justified suicide bombings on the Islamonline forum.

* Faisal Hamouda, a ‘volunteer' for the Islamic Relief ‘charity' whose Gaza coordinator was just arrested in Israel on charges of funding Hamas.

The FIE premises have been used for CAIR [The Council of American Islamic Relations] an above noted Wahhabist front group for Hamas, and ICNA [The Islamic Circle of North America] which has been linked to al-Qaeda. - LINK HERE

Beila Rabinowitz - Director of Militant Islam Monitor - is urging the Lower Merion council to refuse an expansion permit to the Foundation for Islamic Education and launch a complete investigation into all their previous and upcoming activities especially the August scheduled Young Muslims' Jihad Summer Camp.

Given their extensive record of zoning violations, misreprentations and troubling associations we believe that the onus is on FIE to prove its suitability as a local resident and we join with FIE's neighbors in demanding a thorough review and accounting of the organizations operations and activities.

For further information contact Beila Rabinowitz XXX XXX XXXX

[Email and phone numbers removed.]

Concerned residents should contact The Lower Merion Township 610 649 4000

While I haven't had time to check out all the above links (and I can't vouch for the quality of anyone else's research) it seems that the suspicions I voiced previously were not unwarranted.

UPDATE: Thanks to Vik Rubenfeld for linking this post!

MORE: The people in my neighborhood are not alone in facing the problem of Saudi madrassas. Here's Joe Kaufman (of Americans Against Hate):

Radical mosques are being built across the United States at an alarming rate, all tethered to a fanatical strain of Islam emanating from Saudi Arabia. And while so many have gone up, not one has come down. Not even Brooklyn, New York’s Al-Farooq Mosque, which housed al-Qaeda’s American hub in the early 90’s, the Alkifah Refugee Center, has met its demise. Recently, a new mosque of this kind was given the green light, a 29,000 square foot goliath, smack in the middle of South Florida. Tonight, a group of community leaders will be voicing their concern in protest.
New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg issued a report warning about the Saudi madrassas, but it appears nothing has been done.

For some reason, the Lautenberg Report no longer opens at Senator Lautenberg's web site, so I've made it available here. (PDF format.)

posted by Eric on 07.10.06 at 10:45 AM

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