Washington — Members of Congress expressed outrage this week after a report by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) and subsequent press coverage in the Washington Times, revealed that in the past several years Al-Quds University and the Hamas-controlled Islamic University, both Palestinian education institutions receiving US financial aid, have participated in the advocacy, support and glorification of terrorism. According to the Washington Times article by Joel Mowbray, the US funds are now being targeted by members of Congress, who say it may violate U.S. law.
“It is outrageous that U.S. taxpayer dollars are going toward institutions that support terrorists,” said Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. “These loopholes must be closed so that taxpayer funds are used for their intended purpose and not to subsidize terrorism and the promotion of hatred toward Israel and the United States.”
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee responsible for USAID funding, said, “It goes without saying that U.S. taxpayer dollars should absolutely never be used for advocating or honoring terrorist activity. Support for terrorists and terrorism in any shape or form is unacceptable.”
Hamas is listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Dept. and the European Union (EU). U.S. law requires that any recipient of U.S. aid have no association with terrorists.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided more than $140,000 in assistance to the Hamas-controlled Islamic University in Gaza, including scholarships to 49 of its students, since Congress changed the law in 2004 to restrict aid to entities or individuals “involved in or advocating terrorist activity.”
USAID also distributes multi-million dollar grants through American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA), such as funding a high-tech Islamic University facility in Gaza City. The California-based Intel Corp . is underwriting the project.
USAID also gave $2.3 million in aid last year to Al-Quds University, a university with designated terrorist organizations on campus and last month held a weeklong celebration of the man credited with designing and building the first suicide belts more than a decade ago.
Al-Quds University boasts a website page dedicated to ‘Jerusalem History’ that denies the Jewish historical connection with Jerusalem. University President Sari Nusseibeh was singled out by USAID as a “moderate” and a “prominent and respected figure.” Nusseibeh was in fact exposed in October 2002 by the ZOA for having demonized Israelis, praised jihad fighters and justified the killing of so-called Palestinian “collaborators.” Nusseibeh was arrested by Israel in January 1991 for collecting security information for Iraqi intelligence and also appeared in a panel discussion on Qatari Television (June 29, 2002) alongside Hamas official Khaled Mashal and Mrs. Umm Nidal, the mother of a suicide bomber, who had encouraged her son to carry out his attack. He praised Nidal, saying, “All respect is due to this mother, it is due to every Palestinian mother and every female Palestinian who is a Jihad fighter on this land.”
The Al-Quds Open University hosts branches of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, and its student council denies Israel’s right to exist, praising “resistance” and promoting “jihad” against Israel. The student groups are composed of members loyal to terrorists and terrorist groups, e.g. Hamas, PFLP, DFLP and Yasir Arafat. Maps of Israel are draped in the colors of the PLO flag.
The initial report included translations of several Palestinian newspaper articles that discuss the activities of student chapters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad at Al-Quds University and other Palestinian schools assisted by USAID since 2005. Islamic Jihad is also on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations.
Islamic University in Gaza City is openly controlled by Hamas leaders, whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews. The organization held a two-day conference in 2005 on the “martyrdom” of former Hamas spiritual leader and founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin, who was killed in an Israeli air strike in 2004. Sheik Yassin founded the school in 1978.
Sheik Yassin and former Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi used Islamic University as a base, as has Ismail Haniyeh , prime minister in the Hamas-led Palestinian government and a member of the school’s board of trustees. Sixteen Islamic University lecturers and teachers are elected Hamas members of the Palestinian legislature. According to Palestinian press, in 2005, 78 percent of the student council vote went to Hamas.
Also causing congressional concern is a PMW report that Al-Quds University last month held a weeklong celebration honoring Yahya Ayyash , the Hamas leader known as “the shahid [martyr] engineer.” He is credited with creating the first suicide belts in the mid-1990s and training the next generation of suicide bomb makers.
The opening event was reported by a Palestinian newspaper and found in the PMW report, included a speech by university administrator Yusuf Dhiyab,”who discussed shahids and the mark that the shahids left on the history of the Palestinian nation and how they succeeded in uniting the nation.”
Morton A. Klein,
National President of the Zionist Organization of America, condemned the program but offered praise to the members of Congress who quickly spoke out on the issue.
“The ZOA condemns this program that ignores and thereby encourages the glorification of terrorism,” said Klein. “We strongly praise Representatives Ackerman and Lowey for speaking out forcefully on this issue. The ZOA strongly calls for immediate action on cancelling this ill-conceived and dangerous use of US aid from continuing. At a time when the US is in an international war against radical Islamic terror, we should be sure US funds are used to fight this terrorist scourge and not promote it. ZOA also urges Intel Corporation to discontinue its work with this terrorist-linked university.”