Shafaq News/ A major scandal that may shake Iraq affects the academic field.A press reports revealed the existence of a private academy in Denmark -which does not have sufficient scientific conditions- "sells" its certificates to Iraqis, including a large number of officials. These numbers have not yet been specified.. An issue whose explosion threatens the reputation of the political class in Iraq, and shows the extension of the system of corruption far beyond the borders of Iraq.
In a survey published by Medium, and written by Brian Whitaker, a former editor of the British newspaper, The Guardian for Middle East Affairs, and translated by Shafaq News agency, revealed the existence of the so-called "Aalborg Academy of Sciences", which claims to be a prestigious university in Denmark and grants false certificates as being issued by this European country to all those who pay for it -including various political figures from Iraq.
Last month, journalists in the Khrono website in Norway revealed the existence of two similar fake academies in Norway and others similar in the Netherlands.
According to the report, these "universities" -based in Europe- are intended to reach Arab customers, and are mostly run by Arab personalities; some of which include nothing but a website run from a house somewhere, or from a small office, but they carry the names of institutions that inspire respect and credibility.
These universities circumvent the idea of the lack of educational buildings for them, by saying that they adopt the idea of "distance learning" where they submit their study materials online -after the student pays the fees charged, he can download the curriculum from the website of the supposed university.
It is unclear what academic qualifications some of these universities have, and the level of educational programs they offer to award university degrees to supposed students in exchange for the fees they pay. Some of these supposed universities award honorary doctorates in fraudulent ways that make their degrees look authentic.
On its website, the Aalborg Academy describes itself as an "independent university institution", while Denmark's system does not allow educational institutions to use the term "university" unless they obtain the necessary license from accredited government agencies. Earlier this year, the term was amended on the website, from a "University Institution" to an "Academic Institution" that offers "different university materials" and also describes itself as a "world-leader university".
The Aalborg Academy operates from a small office inside a large modern building with offices of 175 other companies and institutions, in the Frederikshavn harbor area. The Academy seems to share its offices with two organizations, the Cultural Association of International Historians and the International Federation of Arab Academics, as the approved telephone number is uniform for the three entities! To complete the falsification of facts, the pictures on the website of the supposed academy show the name "university" at the entrance to the large building in the port, but on the ground, there is no such sign at all. The website also publishes pictures of a large library supposedly for the supposed university, but searching through Google reveals that these images are commonly used in many sites, and do not belong to the university library!
Another sign that the Academy sells fabricated certificates is that it does not publish much about its teaching staff, but it indicates that it offers 12 educational disciplines -including medicine- and publishes academic names and publications of its professors, the majority of whom are found to have certain ties to universities in Iraq. The Academy also indicates that it is involved in the research and publication of several academic publications, including the Medical Sciences Bulletin, which is edited by Dr. Alaa Hussein Bashir -of Iraqi origin who lives in Britain, a well-known figure because he was the personal physician of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
But the strange thing is that when Dr. Bashir was contacted via e-mail on the academy's website, Bashir denied his connection to the academy or its medical publication, "I am not a member of the Aalborg Academy in Denmark, and I am not in the editorial board of the Journal of Medical Sciences. It can be a similarity of names. I live in London".
There are suspicions that the fake academy gave certificates to former Deputy Interior Minister and current deputy Adnan Al-Assadi, former Interior Minister Qassem Al-Araji, and former Sports Minister Ahmed Al-Obaidi.
The academy says on its website that in 2018 it held talks with the Ministry of Higher Education in Iraq, to try to gain "full recognition" by the ministry of its certificates. A second meeting was held last year where the Minister pledged to provide the possibilities for granting recognition to the Academy. At the same time, the Academy claims to have many partnerships and cooperation agreements with many educational institutions around the world such as universities, hospitals, and institutes. More specifically, Aalborg says it is cooperating with recognized universities in Iraq; the universities of Baghdad, Babylon, and Al-Mustansiriyah.
Mohammed Al-Qaisi posted on Facebook that there are institutions similar to the Aalborg Academy; two universities in the Netherlands that have awarded doctoral degrees to many.. Among them are Khalaf Abdul Samad, the former governor of Basra and the head of the state of law coalition in the parliament, and Salah Abdul Razzaq, the former governor of Baghdad – both of them are leaders of the Islamic Dawa Party, other similar universities are found in Sweden and one in Lebanon, the latter of which awarded master's and doctoral degrees to officials of the regime; the most recent is the president of the judiciary council, Faiq Zidan.
Al-Qaisi said that these fictitious universities are renting a hall in a hotel to film fake graduation parties, wear robes and take out the fake graduation play according to the customer's ability to pay, noting, "the letters and graduation thesis are all stolen from graduate students who completed them in the 1970s and 1980s, and were taken over by Islamic parties who started selling them to those who wanted to do so”.
He also posted additional information about the "Aalborg Academy" on Facebook, "a copy of the registration certificate of the office of this small business as an individual business issued by the Danish authorities; it turns out on the second page that it was originally registered as a pizzeria owned by the university president's son, who is currently an associate of his father”.
According to the Medium website, The supposed president of the university, is Talal Akram Al-Nadawi.
On the website of the Embassy of the Iraqi Republic in Copenhagen, there is news that Iraqi Ambassador Habib Al-Sadr received Dr. Talal Al-Nadawi -president of Aalborg Academy of Science, accompanied by Mr. Raad Al-Yousef, media advisor of the Academy, in his office in Denmark on August 26, 2019
At the beginning of the meeting, Dr. Al-Nadawi presented a summary of his career as president of the Aalborg Academy of Sciences in Denmark -which was founded in 2003 and adopts the traditional education system and the open education system.
According to the embassy’s website.. Ambassador Habib Al-Sadr expressed his pride in the scientific and cultural history of Dr. Talal Al-Nadawi, as an academic and founder of a scientific institution in Denmark.
It is worth mentioning that many countries have revealed in the past scandals related to the falsification of university degrees, by fictitious educational institutions; perhaps one of the most famous is the one revealed in Kuwait two years ago -but rarely investigations into these cases reach the end of exposing all their details and the figures involved in obtaining false certificates, especially if these figures take over important political positions.