Islamic Saudi Academy

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Islamic Saudi Academy / الاكاديمية الاسلامية السعودية
8333 Richmond Highway
Alexandria, Virginia, 22309
Funding type Private
Founded 1984
Principal Abdulrahman Alghofaili
Grades 1st to 12th
Language English & Arabic
Campus Suburban

Coordinates: 38°43′53″N 77°06′07″W / 38.73146°N 77.101954°W / 38.73146; -77.101954

The Islamic Saudi Academy of Washington (Arabic: الاكاديمية الاسلامية السعودية‎) is an International Baccalaureate (IB) World university preparatory school in Virginia, accredited with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and authorized by IB in December 2008.[1] It has classes from pre-kindergarten to twelfth grade, and has a current enrollment of more than 1200 students.[2] It is funded by the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C..[3] In 2011, ISA graduated its first international baccalaureate class. 4 students received their full IB diploma and one of them was able to earn bilingual diploma.


The school was founded in 1984 by the Government of Saudi Arabia. It is located in Alexandria, Virginia and it's from pre-kindergarten through twelve. The school is bilingual, with classes in English and Arabic.

Programs and activities[edit]

The school's curriculum includes Islamic studies, Islam for beginners, Arabic language, Arabic ASL, Mathematics, Science, Language Arts, Computers, Art, English, Social Studies, and Physical Education. The school also has an Advanced Placement Program and an English as a second language program.[2] and the school also has the IB program and offers IB English A1 + B, IB Arabic A1+B, IB Biology HL, IB Math HL + SL, IB Art, IB History HL+SL, and IB Psychology, so its students can graduate with an IB diploma.

The ISA is a member of the Northern Virginia Independent Athletic Conference (NVIAC), and participates in the basketball and soccer leagues, fielding both boys' and girls' varsity teams. The school has 3 football fields.[4] The school is a supporter of the Mount Vernon Youth Athletic Association, an all-volunteer community program that uses athletics to teach discipline and good citizenship to area youths. They also now have a Teen center for kids to get better at sports. The school participates in various educational and leadership-oriented extracurricular activities. There is an annual science fair and a Shakespearian drama program. Students are active participants in the Model United Nations program, the Presidential Classroom program,and various other programs.[2]


ISA has been accused of promoting religious intolerance.

On February 23, 2005, the day after Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was indicted on terrorism charges, New York Senator Charles Schumer issued a press release questioning whether the ISA was "another madrassa". Madrassa is the Arabic word for school, but in America the term is often incorrectly associated with the teaching of radical Islamic theology. Senator Schumer sent letters to Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan and U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.[5]

In October 2007, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom urged the US State Department to shut down ISA on the grounds it teaches religious intolerance. The Commission accused the ISA of promoting religious intolerance that could prove a danger to the United States. The Commission was not able to review ISA's teaching materials because they refused to accept them from the ISA directly, but rather requested they be sent by the Saudi embassy.[6] In response ISA officials stated that they had removed offensive passages from the books the previous summer, but did not explain why the Saudi embassy officials had refused to personally make the books available to the Commission.[7] Officials of ISA criticized the USCIRF, saying that the panel unfairly damaged the school's reputation, and invited the commission members to review the books; an offer which was refused.[6]

Textbook passages[edit]

In June 2008, another USCIRF report stated that textbooks at ISA teach students that it is okay for Muslims to kill adulterers and converts from Islam, and also teach that, "The Jews conspired against Islam and its people."[8][9][10] ISA officials stated the aforementioned textbooks are sorely outdated, and once again invited the USCIRF to visit its campus to review more recent materials, the rejection of such an offer leads the ISA to doubt the intentions of the investigation.[11]

Land lease[edit]

ISA's campus is leased from the Fairfax County government on a year-to-year lease, and the issue has occasionally been raised that perhaps Fairfax should not continue leasing the land if the ISA's textbooks do promote terrorism or intolerance. On June 23, 2008, Fairfax County's Board of Supervisors made a formal request to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to determine if Fairfax County should continue to lease the land.[12]

Notable individuals connected to ISA[edit]

  • Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, valedictorian of the academy in 1999, was convicted in 2005 on charges of providing material support to the al Qaeda terrorist network. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. His defense team argued that his first confession in Saudi Arabia had been extracted under torture, but the judge ruled his confession admissible. Courts have upheld his conviction but pushed for a longer sentence.[13]
  • Mohammed Osman Idris and Mohammed el-Yacoubi, both former students of ISA [14] were denied entry to Israel in Dec 2001, under suspicion of planning to carry out a suicide martyr attack. The two were departing JFK International Airport when a letter was found in el-Yacoubi's luggage which was characterized as "a farewell letter...for a suicide mission in the name of Jihad."[15] The two hastily boarded a flight to Jerusalem, leaving behind their belongings. However, when the flight arrived in Israel, the two were detained and sent back to the U.S. Idris was later charged with lying to a federal grand jury investigating terrorism.[16]
  • Ayman Shawky, a former footballer and a participant in the 1990 World Cup representing Egypt, is now a teacher in the physical education department and is also the coach of the varsity soccer team.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Islamic Saudi Academy". Retrieved August 28, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^ McEvers, Kelly. "Americans Complain About a Saudi School in Suburban Virginia." Slate. Tuesday September 8, 2009. Retrieved on November 5, 2009.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Washington Post Article about ISA's response to USCIRF report from October 2007
  7. ^ Washington Post Article: State Dept. Urged to Shut Saudi School in Fairfax
  8. ^ USCIRF Report
  9. ^ Fox News
  10. ^ Bloomberg
  11. ^ ISA press release June 13, 2008
  12. ^ Washington Post: Article discussing Fairfax County's request to the State Dept. regarding the land lease to the ISA.
  13. ^ Reuters Article: Court upholds conviction in Bush al Qaeda plot
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ New York Daily News
  16. ^ Criminal complaint in U.S. v. Mohammed Osman Idris

External links[edit]