The Saudis' New Man in Congress
By: Paul Sperry
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, December 05, 2008
When the Saudi Embassy earlier this year asked officials to renew the lease of a radical school it runs in Alexandria, Va., local residents strenuously objected. They argued the school teaches hatred toward Jews and Christians, and has become a breeding ground for terrorists.
Gerry Connolly, at the time the Democrat chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, gave a full-throated defense of the Islamic Saudi Academy, even smearing protesters as anti-Islamic "bigots."
All the while, Connolly was running for U.S. Congress and according to the latest FEC records, accepting thousands of dollars in donations from Saudi bagmen -- including some whose homes and offices were raided after 9/11 on suspicion of terror financing (and whose donations to other Democrats have been quietly returned in shame).
Their investment appears to have paid off. The Saudi madrassa got its lease and is still in operation; and Connolly is in a more powerful position on the Hill. Last month, he easily beat GOP challenger Keith Fimian to take retiring Republican Rep. Tom Davis' old seat representing Virginia's 11th Congressional District.
Critics would be forgiven for questioning Connolly's motives for defending the Saudi madrassa in light of what appears to be an orchestrated outpouring of donations from Islamists with Saudi connections.
FEC records show that on Jan. 12, 2008, Yaqub Mirza gave Connolly $1,000, followed 12 days later by Nihad Awad, who chipped in $500. That same day -- Jan. 24 -- Hisham al-Talib donated $1,000 to Connolly's campaign, along with Omar Ashraf, who gave $500.
Then in May, Esam Omeish donated $250 to the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, which held receptions for Connolly and helped him raise money. And in June, Mirza gave another $1,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which also helped get Connolly elected.
Investigators say Mirza is a Saudi bagman, acting on behalf of Saudi millionaire and al-Qaida financier Yassin al-Qadi. He along with al-Talib and Ashraf run a Virginia-based network of Saudi-funded fronts called the Safa group, which is still the subject of an active federal investigation into terror-financing. All three Connolly donors' homes and-or offices were raided by federal agents after the 9/11 attacks.
Omeish is a violent jihad advocate who helps run a Saudi-backed mosque in Falls Church, Va., that ministered to some of the Saudi hijackers before 9/11. As I first reported in my book, "Infiltration," Omeish in 2004 used his home to bond out a terrorist suspect jailed for allegedly casing the Chesapeake Bay bridge. The suspect, Ismail Elbarasse, is also an accused Hamas money man who was employed by the Islamic Saudi Academy as comptroller. His college roommate, Hamas leader and fugitive Mousa Abu Marzook, sent his kids to ISA.
Awad, meanwhile, is a Hamas supporter who has personally accepted large checks from Saudis on behalf of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington. (He filed his donation to Connolly under the alias, "Nehad Hammad.")
These Islamist donors and their families support the Islamic Saudi Academy, an arm of the Saudi embassy. This spring, ISA's lease came up for renewal, and the Saudis knew they'd face resistance in the local community. The school had made national headlines since their last request for renewal.
Former school valedictorian Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was convicted of joining al-Qaida after leaving the school and plotting to assassinate President Bush. His ISA classmates voted him "Most Likely to Be a Martyr." His father works for the Saudi embassy.
Also, reports had detailed numerous hateful passages from academy textbooks, including a 12th-grade text teaching students that it's permissible for Muslims to kill adulterers and apostates who leave Islam. Other passages in the school's texts state that Muslims are permitted to take the lives and property of Jews and those deemed "polytheists," or Christians.
Connolly shrugged off the complaints and accused critics of "slander" before rubberstamping the school's lease and accepting a rent check from the Saudi Embassy for $2.2 million.
"I find no evidence, no grounds, to do anything but renew the lease of an institution that has been a good neighbor," Connolly declared at the board's May 19 meeting.
The very next month, the head of the Saudi-controlled Islamic school was arrested and charged with failing to report a sex-abuse allegation brought to him by a young student. ISA director Abdalla Al-Shabnan, who also was charged with obstruction of justice, "stated he did not believe the girl's complaint," according to court documents.
Of course not. As in Saudi Arabia, a woman's testimony is not valid. Thanks to Connolly, the Saudis have been allowed to maintain a beachhead in the nation's capital from which to spread their misogynistic Wahhabism and indoctrinate youth into jihad.
Meanwhile, a federal grand jury in northern Virginia has been hearing evidence regarding alleged terror-financing by the Safa group, aka the SAAR Foundation, which was founded by Saudi patriarch Sulaiman Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi. Connolly donor Mirza is one of the original ringleaders of the group, and has been at the center of the federal investigation.
Though he's not been charged with a crime, Mirza is bad news -- bad enough that several other politicians, including even Muslim Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., have returned his terror-tainted cash. Why hasn't Connolly?
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