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February 23, 2005
Virginia Jihadi Plotted To Kill President

In what should be considered an act of treason, an American citizen has been charged with several counts of conspiring to assist al-Qaeda in terrorism. If that wasn't bad enough, the indictment also alleges that Ahmed Omar Abu Ali planned to assassinate the US president by using a car bomb or sniping him on the street:

Federal prosecutors unveiled broad terrorism charges yesterday against a Northern Virginia man who had been detained in Saudi Arabia for nearly two years, accusing him of plotting to assassinate President Bush and trying to establish an al Qaeda cell in the United States.

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, 23, conspired with confederates in Saudi Arabia to shoot Bush on the street or kill him with a car bomb, according to a six-count indictment unsealed yesterday. The indictment said Abu Ali sought to become "a planner of terrorist operations" and compared him to leading al Qaeda figures associated with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Ali and his family allege that the evidence of Ali's involvement in AQ all stem from Saudi torturers, and yesterday Ali offered to show the judge his scars to prove their torture. The judge declined, although it will certainly be an issue in his trial, as his attorneys promised. The family had tried for almost two years to get Ali out of Saudi hands, claiming that the US wanted the Saudis to interrogate him there instead of American interrogators here so that physical coercion could be freely used. However, as the Post points out, Ali's arrest in Saudi Arabia came as a result of terrorist attacks there:

Abu Ali was studying at the University of Medina when Saudi authorities arrested him and 18 or 19 other men suspected of having connections to people involved in the May 12, 2003, bombing of three Western residential compounds in Riyadh. The bombing killed 23 people. The men were believed to be a jihadist cell in training, U.S. officials have said.

The US probably had no problem with the Saudis pressing their own case against Ali in Riyadh. The Riyadh bombing killed Westerners, including Americans, but the attack took place in Saudi Arabia, after all. The May 12th attacks forced the Wahhabist kingdom to re-evaluate its relationship with radical Islamism after, as the saying goes, the chickens came home to roost. Unfortunately, the case stalled, and American officials decided to press its own case against Ali instead.

A few of the news reports on the case have mentioned that Ali was a stellar student in America, and had even been valedictorian of his class. The Post also mentions this, although they get a bit more specific:

Abu Ali was born in Houston and moved to Northern Virginia at age 4. He attended the private Islamic Saudi Academy in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County, a school for grades K-12. He graduated as valedictorian and briefly attended the University of Maryland before going to Saudi Arabia to pursue religious studies.

CQ reader and frequent contributor Blank:NoOne sent along his perspective about the Islamic Saudi Academy:

I have read innumerable articles about the 'valedictorian' who is accused of planning to kill the President. I mentioned the story to some in-laws in the DC area....and they exclaimed (much to my surprise) that, "Yeah, valedictorian of Terrorist High" He wasn't valedictorian of Pleasantville High School, he was valedictorian of 'The Islamic Saudi Academy" of which there is lots of dirt including their former comptroller being tied to terrorists while taking footage of area bridges and outrage at the hate spewed in their textbooks.

That prompted me to do a quick Google search on the school, and I didn't come up empty. The Washington Times wrote in August 2004 about problems with the academy's curriculum, noting that both CAIR and the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism (not exactly normal allies) called for the removal of textbooks designed to foster Islamic hatred against outsiders:

Two Islamic groups say a private Saudi school in Alexandria is teaching first-graders an extreme version of Islam that fosters contempt for other religions, a charge denied by the Saudi government, which creates curriculum for such schools.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a District-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group, has joined with the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism in calling for an Arabic textbook to be removed from classes at the Islamic Saudi Academy.

One page in the manual for the first-grade textbook instructs teachers to tell students that any religion other than Islam is false.

At JihadWatch, the school is well-known for its radical politics. It points to a Washington Post article from 2002 (scroll down) that outlines how the academy lost accreditation with an association of private schools:

The Saudi Islamic Academy has withdrawn its membership from a respected association of private schools in Virginia and has lost its accreditation with the group after the organization asked questions about how the academy is funded and governed, sources close to the decision said. ...

Sources familiar with the decision said the Virginia accrediting agency became concerned that the school was not adhering to its standards on funding and governance and asked questions earlier this year. The association's standards require that the governing board be independent, that the administration be stable and that funding not come primarily from a single source.

The Saudi academy has in recent years had significant turnover in administration and teaching staff. It has a governing board that is headed by the Saudi ambassador to the United States and says much of its funding comes from the Saudi government. The ambassador, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, used to send his children to the school but withdrew them a few years ago. ...

The sources also said that some board members were concerned about aspects of the school's curriculum. The Washington Post in January reported that some Islamic studies classes at the school use Saudi Arabian textbooks that promote hatred of other religions. However, the curricular concerns were not part of the questioning that led to the withdrawal, sources said.

The Weekly Standard notes the specifics of one issue with curricula at ISA:

The Saudi embassy in Washington was instrumental in creating an American model program for schoolchildren in the Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA,, located in Fairfax County and Alexandria, Virginia. ISA withdrew from the Virginia Association of Independent Schools in 2002 after an inquiry into its funding and administration, as well as publicity in the Washington Post about the harshness of its Wahhabi curriculum. A February 25, 2002, story in the Post quoted an 11th-grade textbook, for example, to the effect that on the Day of Judgment, the trees will say, "Oh Muslim, Oh servant of God, here is a Jew hiding behind me. Come here and kill him."

The same article reported that "several students of different ages . . . said that in Islamic studies, they are taught that it is better to shun and even to dislike Christians, Jews, and Shiite Muslims." One teenager told the Post, some teachers "'teach students that whoever is kuffar [non-Muslim], it is okay for you' to hurt or steal from that person." But the embarrassment apparently was fleeting: Early in 2003, ISA received clearance from Loudoun County, Va., to construct an $80 million complex on 100 acres. ISA spent $27 million in the decade 1984-94, and reported a student body of 1,300 in 1999.

Small wonder, then, that the valedictorian of such a school wound up associating himself with Islamist terror and taking part in conspiracies to murder outsiders. Do you think that after May 2003, the Saudis may have regretted the funding and curriculum choices it made with ISA? It also points to the credibility of Ali's family -- the ones who sent their son to Hatred High in the first place.

Remember these small details when the press regurgitates the valedictorian factoid stripped of its context. Being valedictorian of ISA puts one on the same moral and intellectual level as the junior commandant of the Hitler Youth.

UPDATE: Rusty has much, much more at My Pet Jawa.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 23, 2005 7:34 AM

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» Breathtaking from Transterrestrial Musings
That's the only way to describe the coverage of the story of the kid who was indicted yesterday for conspiring... [Read More]

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» Islamic Saudi Academy = Hatred High from FullosseousFlap's Dental Blog
Captain Ed over at Captains Quarters has an excellent piece on Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, an American citizen charged with plotting to assassinate President Bush and trying to establish an al Qaeda cell in the United States. Read the Captain's story and ... [Read More]

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» Saudi/Qaedan infiltration from The Key Monk
Ali was the valedictorian of "the private Islamic Saudi Academy in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County, a school for grades K-12." Why is that interesting? The Islamic Saudi Academy is a Wahhabist school financed by Saudi Arabia that teaches Saudi... [Read More]

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» Terrorist Schools in Your Own Back Yard? from Jemorys.Net
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» My astonishment at the MSM just continues to grow from Tusk & Talon
The ABC radio top-of-the-hour newsbreak included this item. An American citizen has been arrested on charges he was planning the assassination of President George W. Bush.." The newsblurb left out this information: His name is Ahmed Omar Abu Ali a... [Read More]

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