As we confront the threat of Islamic terrorism, it helps to know where terrorists come from. And a quick peek at the record shows that, in most cases, they are not just born, but made. There's a clear connection between the suicide bomber and the Islamic madrassa, or religious school.
Troublesome madrassas are all over the world. Osama bin Laden learned and taught in them in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Afghanistan. The Taliban established madrassas in partnership with him, teaching an extremist Islam so as to create more Taliban. President Musharraf of Pakistan had to send the army in to take over one particular madrassa, the Red Mosque, after it started sending out hit-squads to kidnap people it felt were violating the Koran such as liquor-store and beauty-parlor owners.
One place you would not expect to find a madrassa, however, is in New York City, within sight of Ground Zero. And yet, the Khalil Ghibran International Academy opened this week for students. What is more, it is a public school, funded by the taxpayers of the City of New York, and of course your federal tax dollars too. The intention is to provide a contemporary Arabic education to interested students.
This school, years in the making, has a rather checkered history. Its first principal and major backer, Dhabah (or "Debbie") Almontaser, has been honored by such bastions of terrorist apologism as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC).
Living in New York City, site of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, does not appear to have moderated her views - she has told schoolchildren, "I don't recognize the people who committed the attacks as either Arabs or Muslims."
Shortly before this school year started, she was forced to resign, following involvement in sales of T-shirts with the slogan "Intifada NYC" on them. As a quick reminder, the Intifada is the term for the Palestinian terror attacks on Israeli civilians, such as blowing up buses, restaurants, and nigh clubs, which has killed hundreds of innocents in the last ten years. It's the last thing we need in New York City or anywhere else, and nothing any law-abiding citizen, much less a public school principal, should be involved in. The fact that its founding principal would be involved in such an abhorrence, speaks volumes about the nature and perspective of the school.
The idea of a public school teaching Arabic should be no more of a problem than a school teaching French, German, Chinese, or anything else. And goodness knows we could use more qualified Arabic speakers. But the concept of having a public school offered entirely in a foreign language is controversial, to say the least. What does a "contemporary Arabic education" consist of? Looking at the teaching materials used in contemporary Arabic countries, with their vitriolic anti-Semitism, extremist interpretation of the Koran, and reactionary position on Western freedom, does not give cause for comfort.
While it should be possible for a school to teach Arabic without also teaching Islam, anti-Semitism, or anti-Americanism, the key to this would be strong oversight and a faculty fully aware of the likely conflicts. Instead, we see the exact opposite.
Consider for a moment, the possibility of a public school having as its principal David Koresh, of Waco, Texas fame. Would this even be contemplated for one single moment? Of course not. Religion was inherent in his teaching; and, a religion espousing doctrines contrary to both the laws and the policies of the United States. Yet, David Koresh's Branch Davidians killed fewer innocent Americans (other than themselves) than your average single suicide bomber.
If we are at war with radical Islam - and certainly, radical Islam is at war with us - then the least we can do is limit their ability to recruit inside our very shores. It's enough to make you wonder whether Osama bin Laden's beliefs about the decadence and decline of the West, might be right after all.