Global media are reporting that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has addressed students at the Dar El-Hekma women’s college in Saudi Arabia, known to have been co-founded and patronized by an individual designated as a terrorist by the U.S as well as by important Saudi bankers and members of the Bin Laden family. The college website describes itself currently as follows:
Dar Al-Hekma College as a learning community is committed to the furtherance and enhancement of creativity, excellence, intellect and independent thinking among its students. The graduates of Dar Al-Hekma will be capable of bringing about positive change for the betterment of self, family, society and humanity with the aim of serving and pleasing the Creator. The College awards bachelor’s degrees to students who successfully complete a four-year, college-level curriculum. The degrees are awarded to those who successfully complete two years of a bachelor’s degree program. The College is managed and operated by highly qualified Saudi and expatriate faculty and staff to provide the highest standards of academic services.
However, in 2001 the school described itself in somewhat more Islamic terms:
Dar Al-Hekma is undoubtedly a very unique college of its kind, simply because it is built upon a very strong and stable foundation; a foundation consisting of pure Islamic faith, infinite Islamic wisdom, and positive intellectual curiosity among the Saudi women. It is an institution that was initiated when prominent members of the Saudi community discovered that there was an immediate need for increased, sophisticated higher education for Saudi college young women, but that in the same time did not go out of Islamic boundaries. On the contrary, the pure Islamic values and morals enrich their education. The founders then engaged the Texas International Education Consortium to work with local and international experts to design all of the elements for Dar Al-Hekma.
According to the school website, the Vice Dean of institutional advancement at Dar El-Hekma is Saleha M. Abedin who was also one of the founders of the College, as well being the mother of Huma Abedin, a Deputy Chief of Staff to Hillary Clinton. Saleha Abedin, along with her late husband Syed Z. Abedin, were also founders of the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs, a London organization that is known to have been close to the Saudi Muslim World League at one time. Before September 11, 2001, Dar El-Hekma published a list of its “Establisher’s and Trustees” which included the following individuals of interest:
- Mohammed Salem Bin Mahfooz (aka Mahfouz, member of a well-known Saudi banking family)
- Abdullah Saleh Kamel (founder of the Saudi Dallah al Baraka banking group)
- Saudi Bin Laden Group
- Mr. Yahya Bin Laden
- Yaseen Abdullah Kadi (aka Yassin Abdullah Kadi)
(After September 11, the list has included only school administrators with the Establishers/Trustees omitted; the current Trustees could not be identified)
Mr. Kadi, listed as both school Establisher and Trustee, appears to have played an extensive role in Dar El-Hekma affairs. According to statementshe made in December 2001 to the U.S. Treasury Department:
- “…in 1996 I founded and led a planning committee to establish higher educational institutions for women in Saudi Arabia. This ultimately led to the founding of a pioneering women’s college in Jeddah named Dar AI Hekma College in 1999.”
- “As well as leading the planning committee of the college, I am chairman of its academic committee.”
- “I have supported the college, not only ideologically by supporting the aims of the college, but also financially, by providing finance myself and raising funds for the college from others. Since 1996 I have personally contributed substantial sums to the college and have raised very substantial donations and scholarship funds from others. I am also a very active member of the Board of Trustees of the college and attend the college meetings and other functions one or more times per week throughout the year.”
On October 12, 2001, Mr. Kadi was added to the list of designated terrorists by the U.S.Treasury. As of that date, the FBI had reported that Mr. Kadi had been the owner of a large block of the shares of Ptech, a Texas software company whose employees had further ties to terror organizations. Ptech was also linked to the SAAR Foundation, a network of Islamic organizations located in Northern Virginia that was raided by the Federal government in March 2002 in connection with the financing of terrorism. The leadership of the SAAR foundation, in turn, was largely the same as that of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), an important part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. One of the faculty at Dar El-Hekma has been Huda Totonji, likely the daughter of Ahmed Totonji, a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood leader and one of the founders of IIIT and the SAAR Foundation.
According to an AFP report, Ms. Clinton spoke to the Dar El-Hekma students about Iran:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday the “evidence doesn’t support” Iran’s claim it has peaceful nuclear aims as she defended a US push for sanctions against Tehran. Clinton gave the remarks when a student at a Saudi women’s college asked why Washington was taking a tough line on Iran when Israel allegedly has nuclear arms and the United States is the only country to have used them in war. “Iran is the largest supporter of terrorism in the world today,” she told students at Dar el-Hekma women’s college in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea port of Jeddah, a more liberal part of the conservative Muslim kingdom. “And the questions keep building. They say they are only doing this for nuclear peaceful purposes, but the evidence doesn’t support that,” Clinton told hundreds of students. Clinton did not mention Israel, which is widely considered the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear power, but said agreements have been reached over decades to avert the threat of nuclear war, like the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.Under such an agreement, which Iran has signed, declared nuclear powers try to limit, reduce and safeguard such weapons while those that do not have them, like Iran, agree not to pursue them, Clinton said. But Iran, she said, has raised doubts whether it is pursuing nuclear weapons when it announces it seeks to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity, admits it built a secret uranium plant near Qom and balks at international offers to hand over low-grade uranium to be upgraded abroad……
Middle Eastern media, however, focused on her comments about the Mideast conflict reported by one sourceas follows:
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged on Tuesday to use “whatever methods and influence” it has with both Israelis and Palestinians to achieve peace, saying the time has come for a settlement. “We are absolutely committed to do everything we can to get both sides into negotiations and get those negotiations to a successful conclusion,” the chief US diplomat told students at a women’s college in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In response to a question about what pressure Washington can put on ally Israel for a settlement, Clinton recalled how her husband and former president Bill Clinton experienced “disappointments” as he worked hard for peace. “But it is my strong conviction that the time has come for us to reconcile” the legitimate Palestinian aspirations for an independent, viable state along the 1967 borders and Israel’s right to security inside its borders, she said.
In 2005, Bush administration’s special envoy for outreach to the Muslim world, Karen Hughes, also held a “town hall” meeting at the campus. Dar El-Hekma has a relationship with the Teacher’s College at Columbia University.