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Professor in Deadlocked Terrorism Case Could Face a New Indictment (4/18)

New York Times
Published: April 18, 2008
Link: Click here

Sami al-Arian, a computer science professor imprisoned for more than five years after pleading guilty to a single terrorism-related charge when his trial deadlocked, is back in legal limbo this week. He faces either deportation or a new indictment that could extend his incarceration for years.

The Justice Department and some independent terrorism investigators have long accused Mr. Al-Arian of being the main North America organizer for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which has claimed responsibility for some of the more deadly suicide bombings against Israeli targets and which the United States has designated a terrorist organization.

Mr. Al-Arian’s supporters, though, say that he is nothing more sinister than an outspoken Palestinian activist, and that the Justice Department has tried to exploit the post-Sept. 11 mood in the United States to punish him for that, using legal maneuvering to keep him behind bars.

“The government has shown a willingness to go to the most extreme lengths to prolong Mr. Al-Arian’s incarceration,” his defense lawyer, Jonathan Turley, said.

The treatment of Mr. Al-Arian, who taught at the University of South Florida, has drawn international condemnation, including a complaint in 2007 by Amnesty International that he has suffered a pattern of abuse in United States prisons.

Mr. Al-Arian maintains that a plea agreement he reached with the federal government in 2006, in which he accepted deportation in exchange for pleading guilty to one terrorism-related charge, included a verbal understanding that he would not have to testify in any other case. The government maintains that the plea agreement does not explicitly bar such testimony. The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, upheld the government’s stance in January. The government has thrice sought to compel him to testify before a long-running grand jury in Federal District Court in Alexandria, Va.

If the government chooses to charge Mr. Al-Arian with criminal contempt for refusing to testify, his time in jail could be open-ended, Mr. Turley said. “It is an abuse of the grand jury system,” he said. “It is an effort to secure by abusive means what the government could not secure from a jury.”

A Justice Department spokesman, Dean Boyd, pointed to the 11th Circuit’s decision as affirming that the government’s stance is correct. Jim Rybicki, spokesman for the United States attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia, would not comment.

Mr. Al-Arian, 50, has been in jail since February 2003, somewhat longer than his 57-month sentence because of the wrestling over his grand jury testimony. The sentence expired last weekend, though, so he is now in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which would be in charge of his deportation should it occur.

He has been moved repeatedly from jail to jail, Mr. Turley said. A slight man, Mr. Al-Arian has been on a hunger strike since March 3 and has lost more than 30 pounds, he added. A Palestinian born in Kuwait, Mr. Al-Arian was a legal resident of the United States, but not a citizen. His trial is the subject of a documentary, “USA vs. Al-Arian,” that can be watched at linktv.org/programs/usavs.

In February 2003, a 121-page indictment trumpeted by the United States attorney general, John Ashcroft, painted Mr. Al-Arian as a linchpin of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or P.I.J., funneling money, support and logistical advice to suicide bombers. But after a six-month trial in Federal District Court in Tampa, Fla., Mr. Al-Arian was acquitted on eight counts and the jury deadlocked on the remaining nine. The hung jury was considered a major embarrassment for the Bush administration by critics who saw it as another example of the administration’s overreaching on terrorism cases.

Rather than face another trial, defense lawyers said, Mr. Al-Arian pleaded guilty to one conspiracy count of helping individuals associated with P.I.J. on immigration and other court matters. The United States designated P.I.J. a terrorist organization in January 1995, and the activities to which he pleaded guilty occurred shortly after that.

In negotiating the plea agreement, his defense lawyers said, they explicitly removed standard language stating that Mr. Al-Arian agreed to testify against others.

“They made a deal, and that deal was that if he would enter this negotiation, it would end all business with the federal government, but they didn’t mean it,” said Linda Moreno, one of his lawyers in the Florida case.

Documents & Releases

Statement of Chairs of American Muslim Task-Force on Civil Rights and Elections  (AMT) and  Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Howard Zinn Statement on Professor Al-Arian

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SPOTLIGHT

March 2000

December 2005alarian.jpg

January 2009

To be patriotic is to be able to question government policy in times of crisis.
To be patriotic is to stand up for the Bill of Rights and the Constitution in times of uncertainty and insecurity.
To be patriotic is to  speak up against the powerful in defense of the weak and the voiceless.
To be patriotic is to be willing to pay the price to preserve our freedoms, dignity, and rights.
To be patriotic is to
challenge the abuses of the PATRIOT Act.
From a speech by Dr. Al-Arian
9/1/2002

Biography---

UFF Summary: Al-Arian and USF

Poetry

Announcement of Book: The Al-Arian Reader

A new compilation of all relevant articles to be released soon by the National Liberty Fund

Selected Poems
by Sami Al-Arian

We Shall Rise

To Maya Angelou
Like the dream of the slave
You rise
And with the scream of the brave
I shall rise
In honoring the memory of your ancestors
You rise
With my stateless brothers and sisters
I shall rise
Like dust in the sunlight
You rise
And as ashes in a fiery night
I shall rise
You offend
Because of your existence
And I
For my resistance
You upset them
Recalling their past
And I
By holding steadfast
They may trod you in dirt
May cause me all the hurt
Inflict upon you excruciating pain
While they shut me up and detain
By they won't see you broken
Neither would my faith be forsaken
As you've never bowed your head
And never lowered your eyes
I'll continue to raise my fist
And hide my mother's cries
They may shoot you with their words
Cut me up with their swords
They may insult you with their eyes
Denigrate me with their lies
Trying to kill you with their hate
Bury me alive to seal my fate
But they'd certainly
Be shamed and fail
As the free chant and sing
On their march to prevail
So keep your head held high
As I follow you and try
And keep your beautiful smile
As I walk my first mile
They'll pressure and blame
Throw us in prison to control and tame
They'll exile and defame
Lynch us all or shoot and maim
Burn crosses with no shame
Target our children in a dirty game
By why is that a surprise?
Despite their evil and terror
Their falsehood and lies
You shall rise
And I shall rise
You're the black ocean
Leaping and wide
I'm the Mediterranean
With a stormy tide
Staying together
Side by side
It's no surprise
We shall rise
Surely shall rise
We together shall rise
No Longer Afraid
For us to feel "secure"
What price is being paid?
If living in freedom
Why are we afraid?
Fear is everywhere
All around
Perhaps irrational
But without any bound
You can see it on our faces
Sense it in our eyes
You can hear it in our whispers
Feel it in our cries
More>>No Longer Afraid
The Bird and The Vulture
The bird was chirping
In a house on a tree
But the vulture was angry
Because it was free
When the bird is singing
The vulture ain't safe
More>>The Bird and The Vulture
The Smile of Freedom
He looked like
A body-builder
Tall, tough, and full
All muscles and no fat
His mind was simple
Suited to follow orders
No questions asked
Acting mean and mechanical
Like any bureaucrat
More>>The Smile ...
In the Name of Freedom
In the name of freedom
We shall rule the world
To spread democracy
And set you free
In the name of freedom
We’ll descend on you
To make you civilized
Modern and orderly
More>>In the Name ...
The Accused: Franz Kafka Meets George Orwell in 21st Century America
Act I: The Mother of all Evidence
Act II- Weapons of Mass Deception
Act III: Silencing of the Lambs
Act IV: Attacks of the Wolves
Act V: Occupied Territory
Act VI: Police State
Act VII: Official Obituary
Act VIII: A Close Encounter of the Scariest Kind
Act IX: The Inquisition
Act X- Conspiracy Theory
Act XI- Secret Trials
Act XII- Silent Pain and Teary Eyes
Act XIII- True Patriot Acts
Do Not Sign
Rights are not for sale
History is not kind
On those who sell their people out,
Betray their cause,
Surrender their land
To tow the line
Do not sign
More>>Do Not Sign
Rachel Corrie: Daughter of Palestine
The most gentle
Amongst all honorable
Women
Had a spirit
As dazzling as
The garden of
Eden
More>>Daughter of Palestine
Ole Jerusalem
O Ole Jerusalem
I feel your pain
I hear your cries
The light thunder
In the darkness
And the heavy rain
I see the steady bleeding
Of your wound
With its mark and stain
More>>Ole Jerusalem
Patrick Henry
A revolutionary
At heart
A patriot
From the start
Loved by his country
To the core
Defended freedom
Even more
Hated arrogance
In shape and tone
Fought tyranny
With every bone
He was the conscience
Of his people
Striking fear in the enemy
And made it feeble
More>> Patrick Henry
Injustice
An overwhelming feeling
Of bitterness
Emptiness
Hopelessness
Helplessness
Sadness
Madness
Of hatred and rage
Trapped in a cage
Disappointment and anger
Continuing to linger
Wounding of dignity
Violating your virginity
More>> Injustice
Political Riddles
He sees the world as black and white
His solution to every quandary is fight with might
The economy will not stimulate
Because he can’t articulate
While jobs are gone
He says, “bring ‘em on.”
Who is he?
He likes to be called the General
The head of an agency that’s federal
If you spit on the sidewalk
He’ll send the Incredible Hulk
He hates to cite truth or fact
Because he’s busy promoting his unpatriotic act
He frequents TV cameras with a smash
The first part of his last name sounds like trash
Who is he?
He is the ideal dutiful poodle they say
From an empire where the sun did not set one day
He adores his cowboy friend and considers him a fan
And insists: I’m nobody’s yes-man
When the cowboy says no, I say no
Who is he?
More>>Political Riddles