Thursday, 16 July 2009
"The world is watching:" a conversation with Jim Lafferty of VAST
Jim Lafferty of the Virginians Against Sharia Task Force (VAST) discussed Monday’s Fairfax County Board of Supervisors hearing on ‘rubber stamping’ the County Planning Commission recommended expansion of the controversial Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA).
Lafferty was a colleague when we worked last year on the original protests against the hateful Islamic Studies texts prepared by the Saudi Education Ministry and used by students at the ISA . Those protests were chronicled in several NER articles and Iconoclast posts.
The media reports on Monday’s hearing included those of FoxNews, Christian Broadcasting Network and local TV news affiliates of commercial channels.
Not much appeared in the Washington, DC metro area dailies, although Lafferty indicated that he had been interviewed by the Washington Times. He made a point of noting the presence at the Fairfax County hearing of a stringer for the New York Times, who might possibly write a piece to be published this weekend.
Lafferty described Monday’s session as being a virtual turnabout from the previous County Planning Board session. At the prior hearing probably two-thirds were parents and supporters of the ISA from the radical Muslim community in Northern Virginia.
The anti-ISA protesters including Lafferty, Denise Lee and Catherine Martin from the ACT! For America Northern Virginia chapter, Christine Brim of the Center for Security Policy and John Cosgrove of the Virginia chapter of United American Committee. They were in the distinct minority.
Lafferty remarked that how many of these ISA supporters gave the protesters, the proverbial “Bela Lugosi stare.”
However, as Lafferty pointed out, this time VAST widely distributed flyers opposing the ISA expansion at the Owl’s Head site and held seeding conversations with Fairfax Republican women’s groups.
The resulting turnout at the County Board of Supervisors’ session was a complete reversal. Two thirds of the attendees were on the anti-ISA/Sharia side.
The balance was from national and local CAIR chapters and the radical Dar al Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church.
What resulted from VAST’s efforts was the crystallization of a national and global anti-Sharia movement. Several stalwarts of the Jacksonville ACT! For America chapter drove up from Florida expressly to attend this hearing and demonstrate solidarity.
Key members of that group attended the protest against Muslim Day, at the Florida State Capitol in March. Lafferty noted that a number of Germans called Fairfax County to protest the hearings that, according to him, the Board of Supervisors found jarring. While the hearing record will be open until August 3rd, Lafferty believes that the roiling controversy may extend the closing date for comments.
The message conveyed by these international protests may have triggered a growing movement against the threat of ‘creeping Sharia’ here in the US and certainly abroad in Europe.
Lafferty told of developments from both sides of the aisle in Congress. Rep. Frank Wolf of Northern Virginia, because of his ranking membership on the State Operations Appropriations Subcommittee in the House, has been critical of the State Department’s less than forthcoming efforts to condemn the hate texts supplied by Saudi Arabia.
This was based on several reports by Nina Shea and others at the US Commission on International Religious Freedom. Lafferty noted that Rep. Anthony Wiener (D-NY) had picked up the issue and commented on it in a press release.
On Tuesday, Lafferty’s wife, Andrea, had the opportunity to brief New York Senator Charles Schumer on the matter. Lafferty saw this as evidence that the anti-Sharia message has moved beyond partisan political concerns.
One curious disclosure came from the Fairfax hearings. Lafferty noted that they couldn’t verify who the applicant for the ISA's Owl’s Head campus site expansion is.
“There is no ISA, Inc. of record on the application, ” he told us. That begs the question as to whether, as we had uncovered last year, the Royal Saudi Embassy in Washington is the actual sponsor.
The Saudi embassy currently pays the lease on a former County Board of Education middle school in Alexandria. Thus, the inquiries of Rep. Wolf to our State Department on whether the Saudi Embassy is the sponsor. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the sponsor of 20 such private schools in countries across the globe.
During a “Glen Beck Show “segment on Tuesday, Lafferty was a guest. He referred to the Saudi national, Raed Abdul-Rahman Al Saif, a former ISA student, caught at Tampa airport last month with a seven inch butcher knife about to board a flight.
We commiserated with Lafferty about the remarkable coincidence between the four murdered American Somali young men and the quartet of ISA graduates. Both groups were Jihadis. The dead Somalis were the equivalent of Shahids or Martyrs in Islam.
The four former ISA graduates included Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, an American Muslim and Class of 1999 Valedictorian. He joined al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, was captured and convicted in a US federal court of a plot to assassinate former President Bush and was sentenced to 30 years in a federal penitentiary.
Mohammed Osam Idris and Mohammed el Yacoubi, graduates of the ISA were intercepted upon entering Israel in 2001 intent on becoming Shahid suicide bombers.
They were sent back to the US for prosecution. The Saudi national, Al Saif, arrested at Tampa Airport last month has been arraigned without bail on terrorism related charges.
The common thread between both groups of Jihadis, the home grown Somali terrorist recruits and the ISA graduates, is the Wahhabist hate-filled doctrine conveyed in radical Mosques in Minneapolis and via school texts at the ISA.
The conclusion that Lafferty reached about this turn of events in the war against “creeping Sharia” can be summed in a 1960’s expression, “the world is watching.”
Let us hope that the Fairfax Board of Supervisors takes note of that when they review the record of the ISA expansion hearing. Otherwise, Sharia will continue to rise in America threatening to contravene our Constitution and deprive us of our liberty and freedoms in the name of Jihad.