Friday, April 03, 2015

Catholic university officials caught on secret video approving student club devoted to raising money for ISIS, saying: 'We're here to get that done.'

Administrators at a Catholic university in Florida agreed to help an honors student start a campus club that would send money and supplies to the ISIS terror army.

Hidden camera footage released Monday morning shows officials and faculty at Barry University advising a senior – identified only as 'Laura' – about the best way to secure funding for a club she called 'Sympathetic Students in Support of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.'

'I want to start fundraising efforts on campus, and what I want to do is raise funds to send overseas,' she told Derek Bley, the school's Coordinator for Leadership Development and Student Organizations.

Bley offered to help her create the organization and agreed with her request to 'pass out Islamic State flags and educate people' at an annual student 'Festival of Nations' fair.

The video is from Project Veritas, a conservative 'guerilla film-making group' that last week captured a Cornell University dean agreeing that ISIS and Hamas would be welcome at the Ivy League school.

Barry University, based in Miami Shores, has received more than $112 million in federal grants and contracts, and another $109 million from Florida taxpayers since 2000, Project Veritas said Monday, citing figures from

It also once received tuition money from retired NBA great Shaquille O'Neal, who graduated in 2012 with a doctorate in Education. His final 'capstone project' – a load-lightened version of a doctoral dissertation – focused on 'humor and seriousness in leadership styles,' according to the Miami New Times.

The school's mission statement says 'all members of our community' must 'accept social responsibility to foster peace and nonviolence.'

Yet Bley was enthusiastic about Laura's terror-funding venture. 'We're not here to limit people and their clubs, he said. 'If there a demand or a need, or an interest that students have to do this, we're here to support that.'

'If you've got ... people who are interested, and this is something you want take and run with,' he added. 'we're here to help you get that done.'

Laura put the murderous ISIS army's credentials front-and-center.

'They are terrorists,' she told Bley, 'but, like, we're trying to help them. We're trying to, like, educate them and give them funding so that they don't have to be impoverished and get involved in acts of violence.'

'You should create jobs and help promote education in the Islamic State,' she added later, 'because that's what helps reduce terrorism.'

That was a subtle jab at U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf, who said last month on MSNBC that 'we cannot kill our way out of this war' with ISIS.'

The Obama administration, Harf said, should instead 'go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups' – including 'lack of opportunity for jobs.'

At one point Laura expanded her fictional club's mandate to include providing paper and pencils to the 'widows and orphans' of dead ISIS jihadis.

Barry University is a Catholic institution founded in 1940; its enrollment includes more than 9,000 students, about half of whom are undergrads like Laura

Another part of her pitch to college officials was a mission that included providing flashlights to ISIS fighters and their families.

'A lot of the facilities have been destroyed' in Iraq and Syria, she said, 'so there is not a lot of electricity and power.'

'A lot of the fighters, they can't see at night, you know?' she continued. 'So, like, people are attacking them and they can't see at night. And because they are so poor, like, they don't have night vision and stuff.'

Bley explored the idea, speculating about the 'thousands of dollars' it might cost to send 'bulk shipments' of flashlights to the Middle East, 'like the ones at Costco and stuff.' 

The only objection Laura encountered was related to the group's proposed name.  'The only thing, as far as the name [goes],' she heard from Frederique Frage, the university's associate director of international and multicultural programs, is that 'technically our country is at war with ISIS'.

Frage was quick to add: 'I am not saying that – at all – ISIS represents Islam.'

But students might have 'some reservation' supporting a group engaged in a 'humanitarian effort' aimed at the terror group, she said. 'It's just unfortunate.'

Another multicultural program administrator, Daisy Santiago, chimed in that Laura should rename her group 'Students in Support of the Middle East' – 'as opposed to having the 'ISIS' [name].'

A professor who runs the university's honors program later agreed to serve as the pro-ISIS club's faculty advisor.

Laura explained that despite a less focused name that didn't include any mention of terror groups, her organization's mission would remain 'raising money and sending it to the Islamic State.'

Professor Pawena Sirimangkala responded: 'I'll sign. I'm glad to do it.'

Laura, an email from a Barry University administrator confirms, is set to receive an award on Monday from the school, as the 'outstanding senior in the Communication Department.'

In December the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal government agency, named Barry University to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

The distinction acknowledges universities that place a premium on community service efforts.

Daily Mail Online has contacted the university staff named in the video and has not received a comment from them.

In a statement provided to Daily Mail Online by the university, Scott Smith, vice president for student affairs, said, 'There has been no formation of an ISIS-related humanitarian aid group at Barry University' and that ' no paperwork' has 'ever' been filed to create such an organization.

'If a student or students are interested in forming a recognized student organization, they are advised on the established processes to follow for approval,' Smith stated. 'However, submitting a request does not guarantee approval since the purpose of all student groups must be in accordance with Barry University’s Mission Statement and Core Commitments.

'Barry University would not approve any group supporting a terrorist organization.'


UK: Let teachers mark their own work, say Labour: Ofsted should just 'oversee' school inspections system

A Labour government would overhaul school inspections in favour of a ‘light-touch’ system allowing teachers to assess each other, the party’s education spokesman has said.

Tristram Hunt said a new peer review system would free up teachers from an ‘avalanche of bureaucracy’ and increase confidence in the regulation process.

The proposals, which would result in Ofsted taking a less hands-on approach, could be a reality by 2020 if Labour was elected, he said.

Mr Hunt acknowledged that the regulator had been a vehicle for progress, but said it was beginning to ‘choke something far more precious’, and threaten the ‘joy’ of schooling.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers in Liverpool, he said: ‘We can begin the process of “mass devolution” where important powers over professional standards, quality assurance, curriculum development and peer review are handed over to profession-led bodies – and we will.

‘Ofsted needs to move towards a supportive, light-touch, profession-led, centrally moderated, peer review system of inspection.  ‘I want this conference to hold me to account for moving towards it over the course of the next Parliament.’

The proposals would see teachers and head teachers helping to assess the performance of other schools.

Ofsted would regulate this process, although the details of how the system would work have not been finalised. 

Mr Hunt said: ‘Let nobody tell you this is a soft touch. Let nobody tell you this is a threat to standards. Rather this is the embodiment of trust, collaboration and a 21st-century approach to rigour and under-performance.’

He added: ‘I want to see an inspectorate that moves beyond box-ticking and data-dependence.  ‘I want to see an inspectorate that allows heads with a strong track record the space to innovate and develop a richer criterion of school achievement.’

Priya Dutta, spokesman for the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘The system needs an overhaul, and in general we would welcome proposals for this.  ‘But the problem with peer review is that it’s so open to abuse.

‘We would be sceptical about how impartial this peer review would be, so these things would need to be planned very carefully.

‘I’m slightly wary of Ofsted taking a step back because I think there needs to be an independent teaching review body. I wonder how effective peer review would be in practice.’


Australian Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, asks al-Taqwa principal to explain himself after Islamic State comments

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne has asked the principal of al-Taqwa College to explain why he told students that Islamic State was a Western plot.

The move comes as a former teacher at the school said principal Omar Hallak also told students that Israel did not exist and Jews were horrible people.

Mr Pyne condemned the principal's controversial statements on Wednesday and said he would write to al-Taqwa, which is the largest Islamic School in Victoria, seeking an explanation.

Mr Pyne will also write to Victorian Education Minister James Merlino to ask what action the Education Department is taking.

"The comments of the al-Taqwa College principal are wrong and damaging," he said. 

Ajit Somers taught at the school in 2001 and said Mr Hallak had "shockingly" anti-Semitic views.

He said the principal came into his class and set an assignment in which students had to research a country of their choice. When the principal discovered one student had chosen Israel, he became furious, Mr Somers said.

"He said there is no such thing as Israel and how dare you say Israel. He said Jews are horrible people."

After Mr Hallak left the room, Mr Somers said he told students Israel existed and was a member of the United Nations.

A number of former al-Taqwa teachers have raised concerns about the principal's views following revelations by Fairfax Media last week that he told students not to join Islamic State because it was a plot by Western countries.

He then went on to say that he believed IS was a scheme by Israel and the US.

Another former teacher at the Truganina school in Melbourne's outer west, who did not want to be named, said teachers who were not Muslim were treated as "second-class citizens".

The teacher said she was told off by the principal after she drew a star on a whiteboard to reward good work.

"He said 'that is a Jew symbol. If you do it again I will kick you out'."

Mr Hallak has been called to a meeting with state government officials to explain why he told students that IS was a plot by the West.

State government officials  will meet the college after the school holidays to "develop a program of cross-cultural understanding".

Mr  Merlino said earlier this week that the principal's comments were "a real concern".

"The comments made have no place in our schools and we look forward to working with the school community to address the issue."

Mr Hallak did not respond to questions.

The Truganina school received $11.2 million in federal government funding in 2013, and $4.7 million from the state government, according to the My School website.

In 2005 The Sunday Age reported that a visiting imam told al-Taqwa students that Jews were putting poison in bananas and they should not eat them.


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