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Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL) Asks Terrorist Screening of Gazan Fulbrights

comment by Jerry Gordon

4235617715.jpgRep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) is one smart Congressman, among the best we have, a boon companion of Senators McCain and Lieberman. Running for re-election in the suburban Chicago Illinois 10th District, he has to struggle for every vote given an opponent, who likes to claim he’s a clone of Senator Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee for President from Illinois. Kirk has a significant Jewish and presumably pro-Israel constituency in his election district. Kirk has done so many things during his four terms in the House to make your head spin. He is a mainstay the Iran-Working group, the Suburban Working Group and the US-China one, as well. He’s a ranking minority member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He’s been an effective bi-partisan leader. Kirk has come up with tough sanctions such as moratoriums on shipping refined gasoline and diesel fuel to Iran from offshore refineries in the Gulf and Europe. He’s suggested audits of US ‘donations’ to those 60 year eyesores, the UNWRA Palestinian refugee camps. He’s been active in human rights matters including one involving a friend, Dr. Richard Benkin, who has championed the cause of heroic Bengladeshi Journalist, Shoaib Choudhury, jailed, tortured, charged with sedition by the Islamists in his country for the simple act of trying to board an airplane for a meeting with journalists in Israel.

Eli Lake of the New York Sun, in this article, shows the mettle of Kirk in combating the striped pants brigade in our State Department, the Washington Post, New York Times and many myopic members of Congress over the admittance of those Fulbright scholars from the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG). Secretary Rice was so concerned about Israel’s refusal to let these young Gazans come to the US to claim their scholarships, that she arm twisted the Israelis and smoothed the way without vetting them. That’s because IUG and Hamas are inextricably intertwined. IUG was used to ‘house’ kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and it was a repository for arms and rockets used in attacks against Israeli towns in the South and Western Negev.

Note these excerpts from the Lake piece on Kirk and the common sense request to vett these IUG Gazan Fulbright scholars:

    “On its face, the State Department’s decision to award Fulbright Scholarships to employees or affiliates of Islamic University of Gaza is a direct violation of new U.S. Law,” Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, wrote in a letter to the acting inspector general of the State Department, Harold Geisel, on June 10.

    In his letter to Mr. Geisel, the Republican lawmaker urged the acting inspector general to “investigate the Department’s compliance mechanism so that U.S. taxpayer money never again ends up in the hands of those affiliated with institutions controlled by certified foreign terrorist organizations in violation of U.S. law.” Specifically Mr. Kirk wants the Fulbright winners to be vetted through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Terrorist Screening Center, a new vetting process created to keep development aid out of the hands of terrorists.

    “Since the appropriations committee on behalf of the U.S. taxpayer paid for the TSC system, can’t we run these names? The answer from State is, we don’t do that,” Mr. Kirk said in an interview.

    The Islamic University of Gaza is intertwined with Hamas. In his letter, Mr. Kirk quotes Jameela El Shanty, a professor at the school who told the Baltimore Sun in 2006: “Hamas built this institution. The university presents the philosophy of Hamas. If you want to know what Hamas is, you can know it from the university.”

    While America has supported a recent cease-fire announced this week between Hamas and Israel, the State Department since 1997 has considered Hamas a foreign terrorist organization.

    In a response to questions from Mr. Kirk, the State Department responded that it does not have formal ties with the Islamic University of Gaza, or IUG. “The U.S. Consulate does not deal with the IUG as an institution because of its links to Hamas. However, we continue to accept applications from individual students and professors. These applications go through the same vetting process as all other USG funded grantees,” the State Department wrote in response.

    Mr. Kirk however said he was dumbfounded as to why the Fulbright applicants from the Islamic University of Gaza were not fully screened.

    “I am an internationalist, I am for exchange programs,” he said. “But look at it like this. The upside is three guys get a U.S. education. The downside is the taxpayers funded terrorists entering the United States for God knows what.”

Kol Hakavod (all honors) to Congressman Mark Kirk for his gumption in confronting the bafflegab that passes for ‘explanations’ from our State Department and protecting us against the idiocy of allowing possible Hamas terrorists into this country. We hope his constituents in the 10th Illinois District are as proud of him as we are and return him to the House this fall. All Americans need Rep. Mark Kirk returned to office. Like Lieberman and McCain in the Senate, Kirk speaks truth to power.

by Eli Lake, The New York Sun, June 20, 2008

WASHINGTON — A Republican congressman is pressing the State Department to screen three Palestinian Arab recipients of Fulbright grants to determine their links to terrorism after learning of their affiliation with a Hamas-sponsored university.

The three winners of American taxpayer-funded Fulbright grants to study in America — Fidaa Abed, Osama Dawoud, and Zohair Abu Shaban — have studied or taught at the Islamic University of Gaza. An Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, reported in 2007 that Islamic U. was one location where a kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, was kept after his abduction in 2006. The newspaper also said forces loyal to President Abbas had raided the university in 2007 and found stocks of rifles and rocket launchers.

“On its face, the State Department’s decision to award Fulbright Scholarships to employees or affiliates of Islamic University of Gaza is a direct violation of new U.S. Law,” Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, wrote in a letter to the acting inspector general of the State Department, Harold Geisel, on June 10.

The letter also cites an Israeli press report that an officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard taught a course at the university in explosives-making, though one source cautioned that that claim may be propaganda from a rival Palestinian Arab faction.

During the weekend, Secretary of State Rice pressed Israel to allow the three Fulbright winners to leave Gaza, as Israel had allowed four other Gazan Fulbright winners to leave earlier this month. This week, Israeli officials had announced that two of Islamic University’s Fulbright recipients would not be granted exit visas because their names were on an Israeli terror watch list.

The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times have taken up the cause of the Palestinian Arab Fulbright winners. But for Mr. Kirk the episode discloses a potential weakness in the Fulbright screening process.

In his letter to Mr. Geisel, the Republican lawmaker urged the acting inspector general to “investigate the Department’s compliance mechanism so that U.S. taxpayer money never again ends up in the hands of those affiliated with institutions controlled by certified foreign terrorist organizations in violation of U.S. law.” Specifically Mr. Kirk wants the Fulbright winners to be vetted through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Terrorist Screening Center, a new vetting process created to keep development aid out of the hands of terrorists.

“Since the appropriations committee on behalf of the U.S. taxpayer paid for the TSC system, can’t we run these names? The answer from State is, we don’t do that,” Mr. Kirk said in an interview.

The Islamic University of Gaza is intertwined with Hamas. In his letter, Mr. Kirk quotes Jameela El Shanty, a professor at the school who told the Baltimore Sun in 2006: “Hamas built this institution. The university presents the philosophy of Hamas. If you want to know what Hamas is, you can know it from the university.”

While America has supported a recent cease-fire announced this week between Hamas and Israel, the State Department since 1997 has considered Hamas a foreign terrorist organization.

In a response to questions from Mr. Kirk, the State Department responded that it does not have formal ties with the Islamic University of Gaza, or IUG. “The U.S. Consulate does not deal with the IUG as an institution because of its links to Hamas. However, we continue to accept applications from individual students and professors. These applications go through the same vetting process as all other USG funded grantees,” the State Department wrote in response.

Mr. Kirk however said he was dumbfounded as to why the Fulbright applicants from the Islamic University of Gaza were not fully screened.

“I am an internationalist, I am for exchange programs,” he said. “But look at it like this. The upside is three guys get a U.S. education. The downside is the taxpayers funded terrorists entering the United States for God knows what.”

The State Department’s work on Fulbright scholarships in Gaza in the past has been cause for tragedy. On October 15, 2003, a roadside bomb blew up a convoy of American contractors who were in Gaza to interview applicants for the Fulbright program.

The scholarship awarded to both Americans to study abroad and foreigners to study here was named for Senator William Fulbright, a Democrat from Arkansas. In 2007, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee released the minutes from the executive meetings of that panel in 1967 that Fulbright chaired. In one meeting before the Six-Day War, Fulbright proposed eliminating the tax-exempt status of the United Jewish Appeal because it had lobbied to support Israel in that war. “The trouble is they think they have control of the Senate and they can do as they please,” Fulbright was quoted as telling the secretary of state, Dean Rusk.

June 20th, 2008 at 6:14 • opinionnewsNew York SunRichard BenkinRep. Mark Kirk (R-IL)screening of Fulbright Scholars from GazaState Department lapseEli LakeShoaib Choudhury 0 Comments

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