By Patrick Poole
FrontPageMagazine.com | 8/23/2007
As children all over the country prepare for the annual American rite of the beginning of school, hundreds of school children and their parents from the Columbus, Ohio Somali refugee community may be getting far less than they bargained for, as well as Ohio taxpayers.
These children will be attending two publicly-funded K-8 charter schools, International Academy of Columbus and Westside Academy, schools are sponsored under an Ohio Department of Education contract with the Buckeye Community Hope Foundation and operated by a politically-connected group of Islamic extremists associated with both the national and Ohio chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). At least one of the taxpayer-financed schools has been used during the last school year to play host to an anti-Israel CAIR-OH “teach-in”.Even though many of the new students are learning English as a new language, an essential tool for helping them integrate into their new community, the schools instead focuses on Arabic as part of their core curriculum. As a result, standardized test scores for the schools are well below state standards; and yet Ohio educrats continue to give the project new life, pumping millions of taxpayer dollars into each school every year to keep the schools open and renewing their contracts. One board member for both schools has even co-authored an article advocating an educational policy of “selected acculturation” and “accommodation without assimilation” to “encourage Somali youth to develop an adversarial identity that will put them at odds with mainstream society” – thus trapping the students in a cycle of perpetual cultural alienation and isolation.
The student population of both schools is overwhelmingly drawn from the Central Ohio Somali community, which itself is comprised of refugees who fled their war-torn country to escape from the warlords and clan warfare that have torn the country apart since 1991. Sadly, these refugees have arrived only to find the warlords and clan leaders in charge of the very public and private institutions here in the US intended to help them resettle and adjust to life in their new home.
One of the new educational warlords these unsuspecting Somali families are encountering is Ahmad Al-Akhras, CAIR national vice chairman, who is listed as one of the incorporators of both charter schools, and who is listed as the treasurer of International Academy. Joining him on the board of both schools is Abukar Arman, the Somali terror apologist who was recently forced to resign from the Central Ohio Homeland Security oversight board following my FrontPage exposé regarding his published statements of support for terrorist organizations and individuals (see, “Hometown Jihad: The Somali Terror Apologist Next Door” and “Terror Sympathizer Tossed from Homeland Security Oversight Panel“). Arman identifies himself as the board president of Westside Academy and March 2005 press release announcing his appointment to a government board lists him as “building director” of International Academy.
Because the number of Somali refugees attending these two schools, both qualify for tens of thousands of dollars in federal grants under Title III. According to the US Department of Education, the Ohio Title III Director just happens to be none other than Al-Akhras and Abukar Arman business partner, Abdinur Mohamud, who also is listed as director of the Ohio Department of Education’s Lau Resource Center. (More on Mr. Mohamud’s financial ties to this operation and his partnership with Al-Akhras and Arman below.)
The other board members of both institutions are a collection of CAIR-OH officials and board members, and business partners and associates of Al-Akhras, many of whom have served or presently serve on the board of Sunrise Academy, the only full-time Islamic school in the area. In fact, the website for Westside Academy features a link to the Islamic school, even though the charter school claims to be non-sectarian. Sunrise Academy has also been the subject of a recent FrontPage exposé, “Hometown Jihad: The School Gym that Terror Built“, following their multiple fundraising events featuring Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and an advocate of replacing the US Constitution with shari’a law.