Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Khalil Gibran "Jihad" School Principal Dhabah Almontaser Attempts to Hide - refuses to talk to media or respond to concerns
Khalil Gibran "Jihad" School Principal Dhabah Almontaser Attempts to Hide - refuses to talk to media or respond to concerns
May 14, 2007
Khalil Gibran "Jihad" School Principal Dhabah Almontaser Attempts To Hide
By Beila Rabinowitz and William Mayer
May 14, 2007 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - Stung by critics of her Islamist agenda, Dhabah Almontaser, the principle designate of New York's Khalil Gibran "jihad" school at the center of what has become an international controversy, appears to be hiding from the media. Local papers are complaining that Almontaser is refusing to be interviewed and not even returning their telephone calls.
"Almontaser does not speak publicly, further alienating the school from the Park Slope community.The Brooklyn Paper "Anatomy of a Debacle." [source http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/30/19/30_19anatomy.html]
"Certainly the principal of the Arabic school, Debbie Almontaser, has not done her program any favors by not returning calls…Almontaser needs to learn, right now, that being open and accessible is the best way to earn the trust and support." [source http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/30/12/30_12editorial.html]
Almontaser's intentional inaccessibility to the media appears to be a sign that she can't fend off critics because her long record of radical activism speaks for itself.
If Almontaser, who has told public school students that the 9/11 attackers were not Muslims and believes that U.S. foreign policy is to blame for those attacks thinks that hiding will prevent further scrutiny, she is mistaken.
In her absence Lena Alhusseini has become the chief public defender of KGIA
"Debbie Almontaser, the future principal of the Academy, did not respond to repeated requests for comment, but Lena Alhusseini, the executive director of the Arab-American Family Support Center, the lead partner of the school, told The Brooklyn Paper that the Academy is not about politics." [source http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/30/19/30_19arabicschool.html]
Lena Alhusseini, whose organization, the Arab American Family Support Center [AAFSC] KGIA's lead partner, is hardly the ideal "go to" spokesperson.
As the AAFSC website describes her, "Born in Jerusalem and raised in Saudi Arabia and the UK, Alhusseini is of Palestinian origin."
Identifying her as hailing from Jerusalem, not Israel is a clear indication of a political agenda. Her bio's emphasis on her "Palestinian origin" denotes a belief that Jerusalem is part of Palestine, not Israel.
Beyond that, Alhusseini's political involvement parallels that of Almontaser's.
In the above image Ms. Alhusseini is shown at a Muslim mental health conference, appearing with imam Johari Abdul-Malik and Sayyid Sayeed.
Abdul-Malik is the Outreach Director of the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center in Virginia. According to Paul Sperry, noted terror authority and author of "Infiltration," Abdul-Malik's Islamic Center is the most dangerous mosque in America and hosted at least two of the 9/11 hijackers.
Abdul-Malik has raised funds for the legal aid and called for the release of Ali Al Tamimi a Muslim lecturer who was jailed for life in 2005 as a terrorist recruiter who incited his followers to train for violent jihad in the United States. Abdul-Malik's website claims that he was "Trained and Mentored by Imam Siraj Wahhaj since 1988." [source http://www.imamjohari.com/biography.htm] Wahhaj was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Sayyid Sayeed is the former head of the Islamic Society of North America a Wahhabist funded da'wa enterprise which aims to Islamize America, jihad through conversion.
According to counter terrorism expert Steven Emerson ISNA "is a radical group hiding under a false veneer of moderation" which "convenes annual conferences where Islamist militants have been given a platform to incite violence and promote hatred."
Almontaser, Alhusseini and their associates are intensely political players and veteran Islamists. Providing them with a public school in which to promote their agendas poses a threat to students and the public at large.
Rabbi Micah Kelber a KGIA advisory board inadvertantly contradicted Alhusseini's disingenuous claim that the school will not be political. He states that the intent of the school will be to provide future political leaders to solve the Middle East stalemate.
"Teaching a new generation of kids different ways of talking to each other is the only way we can solve these kinds of diplomatic conflicts in the Middle East," Kelber told The Brooklyn Paper. [source http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/30/19/30_19arabicschool.html]
Given the role that both Almontaser and now Alhusseini have assumed in the push for the school it is difficult to conclude that KGIA will be anything other than an agendized, radicalizing force - a publicly funded madrassah.
In an effort to shed her heretofore frumpy and fundamentalist public image, Almontaser's last interview featured her minus cowl and robe, instead stylishly clad in a chic headscarf, floral patterned clothing, jewelry and makeup.
In the course of that interview Almontaser contradicted the claims made by the Department of Eduation spokesman David Cantor that "the school would not be a vehicle for political ideology" by stating:
"She said the school won't shy away from sensitive topics such as colonialism and the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. "Teachers are going to be expected to provide students with multiple perspectives on whatever the issue is," Almontaser said. "Students will, through the critical-thinking skills that they will develop, make informed decisions on the perspective that they want to believe." [source http://apnews.myway.com/article/20070416/D8OHJIK80.html]
The claims of Almontaser and now Alhusseini that KGIA will not promote a political or religious point of view and that students will "be allowed to decide for themselves" are obfuscations, refuted by their own public statements including Almontaser's 9/11 denial:
"I don't recognize the people who committed the attacks as either Arabs or Muslims" [source http://www.jrn.columbia.edu/studentwork/cns/2002-06-10/584.asp]
The political agenda of KGIA's principal designate, demonstrated over many years will be inseparable from the educational ethos of the school in practice, it can't be otherwise.
As PipeLineNews noted in previous pieces, there are serious political and religious concerns associated with plans to instruct KGIA's students in Arabic.
As Dr. Daniel Pipes explains:
"Evidence from Algeria also points to the impact of Arabic instruction, as documented in James Coffman's breakthrough 1995 article "Does the Arabic Language Encourage Radical Islam?" He compared Algerian students taught in French versus those taught in Arabic and found that Arabized students show decidedly greater support for the Islamist movement and greater mistrust of the West. Arabized students tend to repeat the same simplistic stories and rumors that abound in the Arabic-language press, particularly Al-Munqidh, the newspaper of the Islamic Salvation Front. They tell about sightings of the word "Allah" written in the afternoon sky, the infiltration into Algeria of Israeli women spies infected with AIDS, the "disproving" of Christianity on a local religious program, and the mass conversion to Islam by millions of Americans."
He further notes:
"Franck Salameh taught Arabic at the most prestigious American language school, Middlebury College in Vermont. In an article for the Middle East Quarterly, "even as students leave Middlebury with better Arabic, they also leave indoctrinated with a tendentious Arab nationalist reading of Middle Eastern history. [source http://www.danielpipes.org/article/4441]
If even the most prestigious U.S. language school's Arabic language programs are reflective of an "Arab nationalist" viewpoint, indicative of an ‘Arabist" agenda, it's simply folly to assume that KGIA be immune.
"Arab nationalists and Arabists hold the countries of the modern Middle East as illegitimate entities contrived by Western colonizers against the wishes and aspirations of indigenous Arabs," [http://www.meforum.org/article/986]
Please note Ms. Almontaser's above referenced intent to broach highly politically charged subjects such as "colonialism" in this context an anti-Western notion.
Since her last interview more evidence has been publicized detailing Almontaser's deep ties to Islamist organizations such as the Islamic Circle of North America [ICNA], the Muslim American Society [MAS, the American branch of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood] and sits on the board of directors of the Muslim Consultative Network [MCN].
The MCN is chaired by ICNA President Adem Carroll. ICNA counts among its members CAIR [the Saudi funded Hamas front group] former [and most recent]director Wissam Nasr and Shamsi Ali, the Imam of the 96th Street mosque who also sits on the Khalil Gibran School advisory board. In 2001 Ali was profiled in a BBC article and his school was described as a "madrassah."
Tonight the PTA of the Boerum Hill school where Khalil Gibran is supposed to be housed [after having been moved from PS 282 when parents and teachers objected to its presence] has called for an emergency meeting to focus their opposition to the school.
While the concerns of Boerum Hill's PTA center on space and usage, more fundamental issues, going to the heart of how KGIA will operate have greater implications.
Unfortunately the toxic environment of excessive multiculturalism fostered by segments of New York's educational and cultural establishment - whereby concerns by critics of this institution have been met by ad hominem attacks - has obscured the main issue; the threat of a taxpayer funded institution which promotes radical Islamist indoctrination in the guise of education.
MIM: The Khalil Gibran School will be connected to a network of Arab Islamist and leftist organisations throughout the city. Dhabah Almontaser and Lena Alhusseini are board members of numerous organisations which will by extension be connected to the school. The organisation CURE is but one example. The biographies of Almontaser, Alhusseini, and Abi Habib provide information on their other affiliations and show how all of the groups intertwine.
Both Lena Alhusseini and Dhabah Almontaser are on the board of CURE as is John Abi Habib the CEO of MCINet Inc. a software company which has several contracts with the NYC DOE. Abi -Habib MSI Net Inc company is listed as one of the partners of the KGIA. He is also a member of the committee which is scouting for locations for the KGIA school and heads the Community Council of District 11.
Debbie Almontaser Debbie Almontaser is currently a Youth Development Specialist for Brooklyn West and Staten Island public schools. Ms. Almontaser sits on the boards of The Dialogue Project, Brooklyn Borough President's New Diversity Task Force, Muslim Consultative Network, Women In Islam Inc., We Are All Brooklyn Coalition, and Youth Bridge NY. As a multicultural specialist and diversity consultant, Ms. Almontaser frequently lectures and serves on panels as well as facilitates workshops on Arab culture, Islam, conflict resolution, cultural diversity, and Augusto Bola's Theater of the Oppressed around the city, at local, national and international conferences. Ms. Almontaser co-designed a curriculum for the Muslim Communities Project at Columbia University and for Educators for Social Responsibility/Metro. In addition, she has contributed a chapter in The Day Our World Changed: Children's Art of 9/11 for New York University's Child Study Center and the Museum of the City of New York and in Forever After: New York City Teachers on 9/11 for Teachers College Press as well as articles and essays in several magazines. Ms. Almontaser also serves as a consultant to Nickelodeon's Nick Jr. Muslim American Series Project, Independent Production Fund on the Islam Project (producers of Muslims and Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet PBS Productions), Islam Access Project (Channel 13 WNET), the Muslim Communities Project, Columbia University, Educators for Social Responsibility, the Interfaith Center of NYC, and the Church Avenue Merchants Block Association's (CAMBA, Inc.) Diversity Project. Ms Almontaser has been featured in several documentaries locally on New York Voices, Teaching Tolerance and internationally on Voice of America, From Yemen to Coney Island; From Teacher to Community Activist. Ms. Almontaser has been quoted on Muslim Community issues and Cultural Diveristy issues in the NY Times, NY 1, Time Magazine, Newsweek, and profiled in the Daily News. Ms. Almontaser was born in Yemen and raised in the United States. She acquired a B.A. from St. Francis College in English and World Religions and an M.S. in Multicultural Education and Reading from Adelphi. She holds an M.S. from Baruch College's School of Public Affairs through their Aspiring Leaders Program. In the past few years, Ms. Almontaser has recieved a few awards from faith based groups and proclamations for building bridges of understanding from the Borough President of Brooklyn and the Mayor of the City of New York. In 2004 Ms. Almontaser recieved the Revson Fellowship award for her contributions to City life.
Lena Alhusseini Ms. Alhusseini joined the Arab American Family Support Center as Executive Director in April 06 after a number of years at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), where she served as international outreach project manager on issues of child protection, abduction and child trafficking. Prior to joining NCMEC, Alhusseini worked for the Gateway Battered Women's Shelter in Denver, Colorado where she developed the Shelter's children's program and worked with diverse populations including Latino and Arab-American women and children on issues of Domestic Violence. Before coming to the U.S., Alhusseini served with a number of international organizations around the world on issues pertaining to child protection and human trafficking, including USAID and UNICEF. Most notably, she established the Jordan River Foundation's child protection unit under the direction of HM Queen Rania Al Abdullah. That organization was the first in Jordan to address the issue of child abuse and protection. Born in Jerusalem and raised in Saudi Arabia and the UK, Alhusseini is of Palestinian origin.
MIM: Update 7/5/07 John Abi- Habib is on the board of directors of the KGIA.
John Abi-Habib John Abi-Habib is the Chief Executive Officer of MSI Net Inc, a New York based Networking, Communication, Data Centers, Disaster Recovery sites and Wireless technology Corporation. Founded in 1987 as a banking services firm, designed and oversaw the development of trading floors, private banking solutions, developed applications for the South American, Asian, European, American and Middle Eastern markets. Now MSI stretches its services to the education, government, banking and professional vertical markets.
Mr. Abi-Habib holds a Masters Degree in Management Information Systems/Computer Science from Brooklyn College, a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science and has minored in Accounting and Finance. In the 1980's early 1990's, Mr. Abi-Habib served as an Adjunct Professor in Computer Science department at St. John's University, Brooklyn College, the College of Staten Island and Manhattan Borough Community College. Mr. Abi-Habib serves as a Supervisory board member of the Bay Ridge Federal Credit union, an advisory board member of the State University Of New York (SUNY BEOC) and served as a member of The Board of Trustees of Adelphi Academy, and had been a member of ABANA banking association for over 9 years.
He was invited to and testified before the Council of the City of New York on the topic of Emerging Technology in New York City. Additionally, Mr. Abi-Habib has participated as a panelist and guest lecturer on topics of technology, emerging markets, banking, technology in finance and education for a variety of New York based organizations and corporations both in the public and private sectors. Mr. Abi-Habib served on the Executive board and as Chairman of the Communication and Public Relations Committee at NYC Community Board 10.
In addition, a cofounder and key player in creating the 86th Street Business Improvement District of Bay Ridge, serves on the Executive Board of Directors and chairman of the advertising committee, of The Fifth Avenue Board Of Trade and board member of The Salaam Club Of New York. He also served as a member of the Borough President Task Force on 5th Avenue Business Improvement. He is a former Co-Chairman of the Essay Contest Committee of the Bay Ridge Community Council. Most importantly, he has helped create a great awareness in the need for an effective response mechanism in our community. This has resulted in the creation of The Unity Task Force in 2000 and after 9/11 the creation of CERT (Community Emergency Response Team).
Mr. Abi-Habib created the annual Festival of the Middle Eastern Churches, with over 5000 attendees from the various different ethnic and religious communities of Brooklyn. Mr. Abi-Habib has served as Chairman of the Festival of Middle Eastern Churches since it's inception in 1999. Mr. Abi-Habib has dedicated the last fifteen years to encouraging groups in the community to become more involved in civic, community and political affairs and events by providing services, civic education workshops, candidate forums, arranging meetings and festivals, and planning positive and constructive prayer services and prayer walks within the community.
Abi Habib's company MSI NET Inc is a KGIA partner and does business with the BOE.
In one article Abi Habib was referred to as head of the KGIA space committer. There appears to bea conflict of interests for someone who does business with the DOE privately and then sits on the board of a school which he is actively promoting.
MIM: Excerpt from an article about the school location controversy:
A Better Arrangement Whatever the inconveniences, the arrangement is not likely to raise the ire of the present parents as much as the previously proposed move to P.S. 282, since all of the children involved are older and mixing of age groups is not a concern.
"I think it's a perfect place," said John Abi-Habib, head of the space committee for KGIA. Abi-Habib praised the culture of the two existing schools and envisioned a sharing of the arts and sciences between the three schools. "I am delighted and happy," he commented.
----------------------------------------------------------------- MIM: In addition to his position as KGIA board member Abi Habib runs the merchant association.That means he is not just selling software to the DOE he runs an influential merchant group as well.
As a member of The Fifth Avenue Board Of Trade you are providing you with the following services to increase explore of your business
If You are not a member, please call Our Membership committee and enroll so you can benefit from all the services that the board is offering.
5th Avenue Board Of Trade Year around activities: - The members of the Board of directors and the Executive board participate in many activities, carrying with them the name of the board and representing the Board Of Trade in many events. The Board supports Non-profit organizations, youth activities, clean up of Bay Ridge and the Avenue, parades, economic development organizations for Bay Ridge. -The Fifth Avenue Re-construction. The Board took a major step to insure the minimum interruption of businesses and the re-construction stage of the avenue. With the help of the local, state and government officials, The Board Of Trade was able to bring over $1.6 million for the revitalization and reconstruction of Fifth Avenue.
Sincerely, John Abi-Habib Chairman, Advertising Committee. Member, Board Of Directors
MIM:The Salam Club was also listed as a KGIA partnering organisation:
Salaam Club Of NY The history of The Salaam Club reflects the heritage of our great forefathers from the Middle East who brought their dreams and families with them to America. In June 1945, the Salaam Club was formed as a dedicated cultural fraternity of men of Middle Eastern descent.
The Salaam Club Community Fund was established to raise funds to charitable causes and educate our youth. Monthly membership meetings are held at historic Fort Hamilton Officers Club in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn with notable speakers at most meetings. All proceeds from all these events go for different charitable organizations in our community and abroad.
Greg Lutfey, President. John Abi-Habib, 1st Vice Presiden
Another of the school's partners is the software company MSI Net Inc whose client webpage includes a listing which reads " NYC Department of Education large number of schools and districts".http://www.msiny.com/clientprofile.htm
By Sarah Wolff Brooklyn Daily Eagle BAY RIDGE — "It's about the joining of the East and West, and to keep your heritage but also share it with your new home in the United States. This is his vision," says John Abi-Habib, the avid Brooklyn community activist.
Abi-Habib could easily be speaking about himself, but he is actually referring to Khalil Gibran, the Lebanese-American writer, who is the namesake for a new international high school in Brooklyn that is opening this fall. Abi-Habib is on the board of the school, which will specialize in Middle Eastern studies and languages.
Khalil Gibran International Academy will function similarly to other small, professionally-aligned high schools, such as those geared towards engineering, architecture and art, but will accept both Arabic-speaking and non-Arabic speaking youths.
This is just the latest project Abi-Habib has poured his heart into. In addition, he helped plan an upcoming breast cancer awareness luncheon for 200 people at Brooklyn Heights' Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral. He's planning a similar event for men's heart health awareness in June. He's also organizing the annual Lebanese Heritage Day in Brooklyn, with Borough President Marty Markowitz, on March 27.
Abi-Habib, who is 43 and shares his birthday with St. Patrick, moved to the U.S. in 1982 and settled in Bay Ridge shortly thereafter. The civil war among the many religious factions in Lebanon during the years before and after his arrival led to an influx of Lebanese immigrants, including members of the Maronite Christian Abi-Habib family.
Middle Eastern Christians have been in New York since the beginning of the 1900s, something Abi-Habib wants people to know.
"We've been part of the chemistry of Brooklyn for 100 years," he says proudly.
After Sept. 11, "We had to remind people of who we are and that we are integrated, to make sure that Brooklyn in general is a good place to live," Abi-Habib says, without a trace of bitterness at the memory of those days.
Community involvement, says Abi-Habib, comes naturally to him because it was always practiced at home — whether in Roumih, Lebanon, or New York. "My dad's house in Lebanon was always filled with local politicians. Then we came here and got involved in the church," says Abi-Habib. His family practices Maronite Catholic Christianity, which pledges loyalty to the pope, though the liturgy is said in Aramaic.
Besides the church, Abi-Habib divides his time between his many pet projects and his family, which includes his wife and two young children. He has served on several community boards and task forces, and he's also the vice chair of the Brooklyn Republican Party.
But that's nothing compared to the work he's done with the president. Of the United States, that is. On his plain eggshell-colored office wall, Abi-Habib has arranged his invitation to George W. Bush's 2005 inauguration ceremony at the White House in a place of honor, in the center of all the other awards from almost every imaginable community institution.
When America invaded Iraq, he says, the main problem with the intervention was not how to topple Saddam Hussein, but rather how to deal with Iraqis.
"One of the biggest problems was communication," says Abi-Habib. "At that time, the Department of Defense contacted me to help with a program that would bring linguists and translators into the new Middle East." Begun with only 40 or so people, the Arab Linguist Program has now grown to 350 people.Though the staff does lofty work like facilitating communication between senior Iraqi officials and U.S. workers, for Abi-Habib, it all comes down to enriching society at a grassroots level. "They are just doing community work," he modestly claims.