Commonwealth Information Security Center (CISC)

Commonwealth Information Security Center (CISC)


* Established by Virginia governor in 2001 to “fight cyber-terror”
* Its key officials had ties to radical Islam

Based at James Madison University (JMU), the Commonwealth Information Security Center (CISC) was established in May 2001 by the Governor of Virginia through a state grant of $9 million to “help fight cyber-terror” and to “sponsor research and train business and government leaders in how to protect the nation’s computer networks against attack.” The Center became inactive in 2004.

CISC’s co-founder and principle investigator was Mohammed Eltoweissy, co-author of an online pamphlet titled Islam — Beliefs and Values, which was listed on the JMU website as a course document (published through the Department of Integrated Science and Technology/ISAT). The website’s “For More Information” section pertaining to this publication contained a list of seven Web addresses linked to Islamic extremism. Six of the seven were hidden by “Wingdings,” a rarely used text font that replaces letters with pictures and symbols. The six hidden addresses included:

The lone “non-Wingdinged” website in Eltoweissy’s pamphlet,, was run by the Islamic Assembly of North America.

Atham Bouguettaya was a Research Fellow at CISC and the Director of Virginia Tech’s E-Commerce and E-Government Research Lab. He previously worked in the Computer Science Department at the University of Colorado, where he made the following statements:

  • “…we Algerians want to see our mind liberated from the French cultural pollution … I personally will work towards achieving this goal.”
  • “Afghanistan is … the property of all Muslims and especially of those that made Jihad. … I for once (sic) have a lot of respect for my Afghani brothers that stood steadfast and made Jihad.”
  • “As for the junta in place in Algeria, whatever they do will not save them from the wrath of Allah and of the people. Their days are counted. There should be no secret to every Muslims (sic) that all Arab governments starting from the one in Saudi Arabia are all working against Islam.”

Abdulrahman Hijazi, who has openly praised jihad as a sacred undertaking for Muslims, was the Technology Officer and Lab Manager for CISC.

This profile was adapted from the article Government Security Conference Run by Islamic Radicals, written by Joe Kaufman and Beila Rabinowitz, and published by on July 10, 2003.

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