“The State Department recently revoked the diplomatic visas of 16 people affiliated with an Islamic institute in Virginia, the latest step in a joint U.S.-Saudi crackdown that has led to an exodus of Riyadh’s diplomats from the United States in recent months, a senior Saudi official said yesterday.” This from the Washington Post, :
The 16 staffers at the Fairfax-based Institute for Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America are among two dozen Saudi personnel whose diplomatic credentials were revoked in recent weeks, a senior U.S. law enforcement official said. The revocations, the official said, were part of “an ongoing effort to protect the homeland.” He said the Saudis have been told that they must leave within two weeks.
In all, about 70 people with Saudi diplomatic credentials about have left the United States in the past four months, the Saudi official said.
The most recent revocations are part of the attempt by both countries to curb the spread of extremist Islamic rhetoric in this country and ensure that all Saudi Embassy employees are engaged in legitimate diplomatic activity, U.S. and Saudi officials said.
The joint effort is part of Riyadh’s increased cooperation with Washington in the war on terrorism, which began when Saudi Arabia was hit last May by the first of two deadly suicide bombings. The attacks are believed to be the work of terrorists linked to al Qaeda.
The State Department’s move to revoke the diplomatic status of institute staffers came after Riyadh decided that the institute and its staff would no longer be attached to the embassy. That decision followed accusations that the institute, a satellite campus of al-Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, was promoting a brand of Islam that critics say is intolerant of other strains of the religion as well as Christianity and Judaism.