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More than 10,000 students from Osama bin Laden’s homeland are attending U.S. colleges and universities this year, thanks to an agreement between President Bush and King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz.
While U.S. universities welcome the Saudis – especially because Riyadh is paying 100 percent of their tuition and enrollment costs – some critics see potential security problems associated with the tremendous influx of Muslim students from a closed society that virtually invented Wahhabism, the radical brand of Islamism that spawned al-Qaida.
Because of the agreement, as many as 25,000 Saudi students are expected to arrive over the next five years, with all their bills paid by the Saudi government.
Following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the U.S. clamped down on foreign student visas.
Currently there are 15,000 Saudi applicants for U.S. university undergraduate degrees.
The scholarship program is unrolling quietly, without announcement from the Saudi Embassy or the White House. The White House Press Office has declined to comment on the program and Saudi embassy officials did not return calls inquiring about the program.
But it’s a cause of major celebration in Saudi Arabia.