Distance Learning: Hamas's U.S. Education

Sunday, April 30, 2006

In an effort to pressure the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, to renounce terrorism and recognize Israel, the United States has suspended hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority. But fortunately for the new Hamas-led government, its cabinet boasts well-trained economists, engineers and planners ready to tackle the fiscal straits. Where did they get that training? Start with Iowa.

Of the 24 cabinet members, four attended college or graduate school -- or both -- at U.S. institutions, and a fifth had a postgraduate fellowship here. Two other senior Hamas political leaders also earned advanced degrees in the United States.

They were among the hundreds of Arab students drawn to U.S. campuses in the late 1970s and 1980s, a time when the United States was trying to prevent the spread of the Iranian revolution in the Middle East. Some received subsidies through the U.S. Agency for International Development, and others won scholarships through the largely Saudi-funded Arab Student Aid International.

Finance Minister Omar Abdel Razek spent eight years in Iowa, first at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, where he graduated magna cum laude, and then at Iowa State University. Despite his continued opposition to the Bush administration's policies, Razek has fond memories of Iowa and of his Jewish first-year roommate. "They were the best four years in my life, actually," he said.

-- Mark Matthews

Former Middle East correspondent,

Baltimore Sun

Abdul Rahman Zeidan

Minister of Transportation

BA, civil engineering

University of Alabama at

Birmingham (1985)

Sameer Abu


Minister of Planning

MS (1984) and PhD (1987)

Civil engineering

Pennsylvania State University

Aziz Duwaik

Speaker, Palestinian Legislative Council (parliament)

MA, geography

State University of New York at Binghamton (1983)

PhD, regional science

University of Pennsylvania (1988)

Wasfi Kabaha

Minister of Prisoners

and Released Prisoners'


BS, civil engineering

University of Detroit

(now University of Detroit

at Mercy) (1984)

Omar Abdel Razek

Minister of Finance

BA, with majors in mathematics, economics and computer science

Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (1982)

PhD, economics

Iowa State University (1986)

Naser al-Shaer

Deputy Prime Minister

and Minister of Education

Institute Fellow, Multinational

Institute of American Studies

New York University

Studied religion in American

history (1998)

Mousa Abu


Deputy chief of Hamas

political bureau

(Damascus, Syria)

MA, industrial science

Colorado State University (1984)

Studied engineering

Louisiana Tech University

NOTE: Omar Abdel Razek and Sameer Abu Eisheh do not identify themselves as members of Hamas.

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