With the Islamic connection seemingly undeniable in the Asan Akbar grenade case—the black Mulim engineer was heard by other soldiers immediately after the attack ranting, “You guys are coming into our countries and you're going to rape our women and kill our children.” (notice “you guys” and “our”)—the question that must be asked is “where is the Saudi money?” In the case of Akbar, the answer is “everywhere.”
Akbar grew up attending a Saudi-funded mosque in South Central Los Angeles, and then he went to a mosque dominated by a Saudi-created and funded organization. In the military, his Muslim chaplain at Fort Campbell was trained and certified by Saudi-funded organizations. It’s possible that all this Saudi money produced no Islamic extremism at any of these points in Akbar’s life—but empirical evidence suggests that’s unlikely.
Attending the mosque across the street from his place, Akbar spent a lot of time during his formative years at the Bilal Islamic Center, according to the center’s Imam, Abdul Karim Hasan. When asked about any possible Saudi connection to his mosque, Hasan—perhaps understandably defensive in the anti-Saudi climate—is quick to say that he does not take money from the “Saudi government,” though he conceded that he receives funds from Saudi “individuals.” That’s not entirely true, however.
According to the web site of the Islamic Development Bank—a multibillion dollar investment outfit run by many Arab governments, but based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia—Bilal Islamic Center recently received a $295,000 grant from ISD to build a new school. Considering the stated purpose of ISD—to advance Muslim communities in accordance with “Shari’ah” (Islamic law of the kind found in Saudi Arabia)—one wonders what the Center’s new school will be teaching. But it’s not just the money that raises questions. Bilal Islamic Center “works closely” with King Fahd Mosque in Culver City (roughly 30 minutes from South Central LA), according to a source at the latter mosque—which is not just named after King Fahd, but also funded by him. And based on the annual statement released by the House of Saud on its efforts to spread Islam throughout the world, Bilal Islamic Center is also funded by the kingdom (under the name “Bilal Mosque of Los Angeles”), although the exact amount is not specified.
When he left for college in 1989, Akbar did not leave the Saudi-funded experience behind. At the University of California at Davis, Akbar was seen as a devout Muslim by friends, and multiple reports state that he spent large amounts of time at the nearby Islamic Center of Davis. The Islamic Center of Davis, as it happens, is home to the UC-Davis chapter of the Muslim Students Association, a Saudi-created and funded national organization with branches on campuses across the country. It is also past and possibly present home to someone with surprisingly similar anti-American sentiment.
In a puff piece in December 2000 on the Muslim students of the Islamic Center of Davis, then third-year law student Masood Khan spouted a vitriolic contempt for America that in many ways mirrors what Akbar said while cowering in the bunker after his killing spree. “There have been over one million innocent Iraqis killed by the United States,” Khan said. “It’s a war crime.” Not a far cry from the equally obscene comment from Akbar that “you guys” are going to “rape our women and kill our children.”
While stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, Akbar was one of roughly 20 soldiers who attended weekly services—and his Muslim chaplain there was trained and certified by institutions with significant Saudi funding. According to a military source, Captain Mohammed Khan trained at the Graduate School of Islamic Social Sciences (GSISS), which has a history of Saudi funding and was one of 24 Mulim organizations raided in the Justice Department’s Operation Greenquest last year, and he was certified by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), which was not raided but is affiliated with the SAAR network (named for its wealthy Saudi benefactor Suleiman Abdel Aziz al-Raghi).
To be fair, at the time he received his training and certification, those institutions were the only option available to him. But he appears to have some Wahhabist ties. At an interfaith memorial service marking the anniversary of the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, Captain Khan read a statement from the Imam at King Fahd Mosque in Culver City—the same one that enjoys a close relationship with the Bilal Islamic Center.
The web of Saudi money present at almost every stage of Akbar’s Islamic development does not necessarily mean that the Saudi cash fostered extremism at either Islamic Center Akbar attended or the chaplain training provided to Captain Khan—but the confluence of Saudi money must at least be scrutinized. The memories of Captain Christopher Scott Seifert and Major Gregory Stone–the soldiers killed by Akbar—demand no less.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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