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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Al Arian terror trial begins - lawyers of USF prof accused of abetting 100 murders use access to politicians as defense stategy

Al Arian terror trial begins - lawyers of USF prof accused of abetting 100 murders use access to politicians as defense stategy

Norquist and Rove arranged radical Islamist confab with Bush at White House to give terrorists prosecution 'insurance'
May 15, 2005

picture
American student Alisa Flatow was killed in 1995 when a suicide-bomber in a car rammed an Israeli bus in Gaza

http://www.cnn.com/US/9910/27/terrorism.family.comp.02/

Ex-Professor's Terror Trial Set to Begin

Terror Trial of Former Professor, 3 Others Set to Begin in Fla.; Jury Selection Begins Monday

http://abcnews.go.com/US/print?id=759365

By VICKIE CHACHERE

The Associated Press

May. 15, 2005 - The parents of an American student who was killed in a bus bombing in Israel are looking for justice half a world away in Tampa, where a former computer science professor and three others are going on trial on charges they helped fund the terrorist group that carried out the bombing. Jury selection begins Monday.

Ten years ago, American student Alisa Flatow boarded a bus headed to a Gaza Strip beach resort for a much needed break from her studies.

At the Israeli settlement of Kfar Darom, a young man sat in a van loaded with explosives. As the bus approached, he steered his rolling bomb at it with ferocious speed and slammed into the bus' side.

Eight people seven Israelis and Flatow died in the April 9, 1995 terrorist attack.

Sami Al-Arian, a University of South Florida professor and nationally known Palestinian rights activist, was already secretly under investigation by FBI foreign intelligence agents at the time of the bombing.

Al-Arian had established an Islamic academic think tank, a school, a mosque and a charity for Palestinian children but authorities were questioning whether the true mission of Al-Arian's work was to finance terrorist attacks in Israel.

In a 53-count indictment, Al-Arian, Sameeh Hammoudeh, Hatim Naji Fariz and Ghassan Zayed Ballut are accused of racketeering, conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists. Five other men have been indicted but are still at large.

The men face life in prison if convicted of charges they used Al-Arian's think tank and charity as fundraising fronts for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

"These people, they have no respect for life," said Alisa Flatow's father, Stephen Flatow of West Orange, N.J. "They will continue to pick on innocent people just to accomplish their means. That's why this trial is so important. You have to send a message."

Al-Arian is alternately viewed as a crusader for Palestinian rights who is being persecuted for his unpopular views and as a terrorist who hid behind a veil of legitimacy while secretly financing deadly attacks thousands of miles away.

"Much of what people are saying about Sami Al-Arian could have been said likewise about Nelson Mandela," attorney William Moffitt said.

"Now Nelson Mandela is a hero for having supported his people. Sami Al-Arian is a villain for being the voice of the Palestinian people. There aren't really a lot of voices in this country who have spoken favorably for the Palestinian people."

Prosecutors contend there is direct evidence of Al-Arian's involvement with actual attacks. The indictment alleges that in 1993, Al-Arian sent four wire transfers of nearly $2,000 each to the relatives of four convicted Islamic Jihad terrorists who had been convicted of the murder of three Israelis.

They point to video from the early 1990s in which a fiery Al-Arian shouts "Death to Israel" or when he shared the stage with Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman, the blind Egyptian cleric convicted for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Al-Arian's attorneys question how a supposed dangerous terrorist financier could he have gained access to White House and met with Presidents Clinton and Bush.

Nearly two dozen other prominent political and government leaders from both parties Hilary Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott and Dennis Hastert among them are reported by Al-Arian's attorneys to have had contact with him.

"If Dr. Al-Arian is supposedly this awful terrorist, how did he get so close to these people is a really interesting question," Moffitt said. He declined to elaborate on Al-Arian's prominent connections, calling them a key component of the defense.

The prosecution said more important than his well-placed contacts are the shadowy figures with whom Al-Arian did business.

Chief among them is Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, one the five indicted co-conspirators who has not yet been arrested. Al-Arian brought Shallah to University of South Florida to run the think tank, the World and Islam Studies Enterprise. Shallah abruptly left Tampa in mid-1995 and resurfaced in Damascus as the Islamic Jihad's new leader.

Stephen Flatow, who has been subpoenaed to testify, said he wasn't told until 2003 that agents believed there was a connection between Al-Arian and the bombing that killed his daughter.

"I felt very, very good our government was finally standing up for Americans who are killed by other Americans on the other side of the world," he said. "If someone is going to provide the means to commit a crime, you are just as guilty as the person who pulled the plunger. If anything these guys are cowards."

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'Terror prof' will seek to embarrass U.S.
Testimony at trial to focus on White House, State access

Posted: May 14, 2005
1:00 a.m. Eastern

http://worldnetdaily.com/news/printer-friendly.asp?ARTICLE_ID=44272

Sami al-Arian, the Florida professor accused of leading a Palestinian terrorist group, will try to embarrass the U.S. government at his trial by revealing his numerous White House meetings with high-level figures in both the Clinton and Bush administrations, according to court records reported by Newsweek.

Al-Arian, a former computer science professor at the University of South Florida, goes on trial next month on charges that he served as a secret leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a group in the State Department's list of terrorist organizations.

U.S. officials say PIJ is responsible for numerous deadly suicide attacks against Israelis and Americans.

But al-Arian's lawyer, William Moffit, plans to focus on his client's high-level government contacts, maintained even as he became the principal target of a highly sensitive FBI counterterrorism probe, Newsweek said.

Moffit stated in a letter to federal prosecutors that al-Arian attended meetings at the White House with both Clinton and Bush every year between 1998 and 2001.

In addition, Newsweek reported, the letter states al-Arian also attended a briefing at the Justice Department in July 2001, met with Al Gore in November 1998 and Hillary Clinton in October 1999.

The letter also states President Bush sent a written apology to al-Arian's wife in 2001 when the couple son's was denied access to the White House -- reportedly because of his connection to his father.

"Each of these events occurred at a time that the government is alleging that Dr. al-Arian was somehow a dangerous terrorist involved in a conspiracy to kill Americans," Moffit wrote in his letter.

Al-Arian is charged with conspiring to commit murder, conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist group, extortion, visa fraud, perjury and other crimes.

The indictment says al-Arian worked with top PIJ officials in the Mideast and praised suicide bombings, kidnappings and drive-by shootings by PIJ, Newsweek reported.

"I call upon you to try to extend true support to the jihad effort in Palestine so that operations such as these can continue," he wrote in one fund-raising appeal after a suicide bombing that killed 22 Israelis in 1995.

Al-Arian and seven alleged co-conspirators are described as having set up a terror cell at the University of South Florida.

His close ties to both PIJ and Hamas go back to at least 1995. al-Arian used a group he founded, the Islamic Committee for Palestine, to plead for funds for PIJ and Hamas.

Conferences organized by ICP featured Islamic Jihad founder Abdel Aziz-Odeh, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (spiritual leader of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers), leading Hamas official Mohammed Sakr and high-ranking Sudanese terrorist Hassan Turabi, a close ally of Osama bin Laden.

The 50-count indictment also charges al-Arian, two other former and current instructors at USF and five other individuals of operating a criminal racketeering enterprise that provided funding and organization for the global terror ring responsible for the deaths of 100 people in and around Israel, including two Americans.

If convicted, the men could face life in prison.

Previous stories:

University fires 'terror professor'

University fires 'terror professor'

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http://news.tbo.com/news/MGBFTF6QN8E.html

Ban On Al-Arian Jury Descriptions Challenged

By MICHAEL FECHTER
mfechter@tampatrib.com


TAMPA - Six Tampa news outlets united Thursday to challenge a federal judge's order prohibiting anyone from describing jurors in the pending terrorism support trial of Sami Al-Arian.

U.S. District Judge James Moody issued an order Wednesday blocking reporters from publishing "photographs, sketched drawings, verbal descriptions or other identifying information about any of the jurors in this case."

Violators would face contempt of court sanctions. Moody did not specify what those penalties could be.

That's prior restraint, a pre-emptive gagging of media reporting that violates the First Amendment, argued attorneys Gregg Thomas and James Lake, who represent Media General Operations, parent company of The Tampa Tribune and WFLA, Channel 8. They were joined in the motion by attorneys for the St. Petersburg Times, the Weekly Planet and television stations WTVT, Channel 13, and WFTS, Channel 28.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday for Al-Arian, a former University of South Florida professor, and co-defendants Sameeh Hammoudeh, Ghassan Ballut and Hatim Naji Fariz. They are accused of helping organize and finance the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group responsible for more than 100 deaths in attacks in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Defense attorneys want Moody to move the trial out of town, claiming that ongoing media attention, particularly the Tribune's coverage, has prejudiced the jury pool against their clients. The Tribune petitioned the court last month for access to questionnaires prospective jurors completed; Moody has not ruled on that.

Television crews normally don't shoot images of jurors during a trial, especially if it is an anonymous panel, WFTS news director Chris Jadick said. Describing the jury's composition, however, is part of showing whether the defendants are receiving a fair trial.

"It's supposed to be a jury of his peers. But how can we check that if we're not allowed to report on the makeup of that jury?" Jadick said.

Moody's order did not cite evidence that outside parties were trying to influence the jury or that trial coverage could lead to juror harassment or intimidation, the media motion said. In previous hearings, however, the judge did express concern that jurors could face peer pressure if their co- workers or neighbors knew they were part of the trial.

Newspapers generally don't identify jurors until after a trial ends, and only if the juror agrees to be interviewed, Tribune Executive Editor Janet Weaver said.

"It's not like you want to be able to give a physical description down to every mole," Weaver said. "We're more interested in the demographic makeup" of the panel.

Reporter Michael Fechter can be reached at (813) 259-7621.

This story can be found at: http://news.tbo.com/news/MGBFTF6QN8E.html

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A44894-2003Feb21&notFound=true Alleged Terrorist Met With Bush Adviser
Al-Arian Part of Muslim Outreach

By Mike Allen and Richard Leiby
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, February 22, 2003;

A former university professor indicted this week as a terrorist leader attended a 2001 group meeting in the White House complex with President Bush's senior adviser, Karl Rove, administration officials said yesterday.

Sami Al-Arian, a former computer engineering professor at the University of South Florida, had been under investigation by the FBI for at least six years at the time of the June 2001 briefing for a Muslim organization. Numerous news accounts also had said federal agents suspected Al-Arian of links to terrorism.

Al-Arian was indicted Thursday on charges that he conspired to aid suicide bombings in Israel and the Palestinian territories and has served for years as a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization. Seven others in the United States and abroad were also indicted on a variety of charges.

Al-Arian, 45, a Kuwaiti native, was suspended by the University of South Florida after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks when his appearance on a television show drew attention to previous speeches in which he condemned Israel and the United States.

Al-Arian and his family also were photographed with Bush during a March 2000 campaign stop near Al-Arian's suburban Tampa home.

And Bush sent a letter of apology to the suspect's wife after the Secret Service ejected their son -- who was then a congressional intern -- from the White House complex during a separate June 2001 meeting of Muslims interested in the president's faith-based initiative.

Al-Arian's appearance at the White House came six days earlier, also as part of the administration's outreach to Muslims, officials said.

Al-Arian was one of 160 members of the American Muslim Council who were briefed on Bush's faith-based agenda and other issues by Rove and others in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is adjacent to the White House, on June 22, 2001. The visitors were in Washington for the group's annual convention, and the group organized a delegation that accepted an invitation to visit the White House.

The Secret Service requires any potential visitor to the White House complex to submit a Social Security number and birth date to enable a security check.

Al-Arian told The Washington Post in an interview last year that being cleared into the White House gave him confidence that he was no longer suspected of being a terrorist supporter or sympathizer.

The meeting was controversial within the White House even before it took place. The group that included Al-Arian was scheduled to be briefed by Vice President Cheney, but Cheney canceled. That morning, the Jerusalem Post had run a front-page article headlined, "Cheney to host pro-terrorist Muslim group."

Several pro-Israel and conservative activists had warned administration officials not to meet with the American Muslim Council contingent because the group had courted controversy for years, knowledgeable sources said.

Abduraham Alamoudi, a member of the organization also at the meeting with Rove, said at a White House demonstration in October 2000, "We are all supporters of Hamas," the popular name of the Islamic Resistance Movement, a main sponsor of suicide bombings in Israel.

Rove, according to Al-Arian and other attendees, used the meeting to talk of White House efforts to embrace the Muslim community. Al-Arian said he sat in the front row.

A White House official was unable to say who else spoke to the group. Records showed that Al-Arian was admitted to the White House at least once during the Clinton administration, the official said.

A Republican official said Bush "is committed to outreach to all religions and ethnic minorities, and will continue to be. . . . You can't move thousands of people through the White House without having some guilt-by-association problems," the official said.

Al-Arian has told The Post that he and wife Nahla campaigned for Bush in Florida mosques and elsewhere because they thought him the candidate most likely to fight discrimination against Arab Americans.

But before that, Al-Arian posed with Bush and his wife, Laura, at the Florida Strawberry Festival on March 12, 2000, a moment captured in an Al-Arian family photo.

Nahla Al-Arian said Bush noticed her traditional headscarf and asked to meet her family. "The Muslim people support you," she recalled telling him. The family said that Bush gave their lanky son, Abdullah, the nickname "Big Dude."

The White House official said officials did not know the circumstances of the photo but said a list of Florida volunteers for Bush's campaign shows that that Al-Arian "wasn't a volunteer."

Six days after Al-Arian's meeting with Rove, a delegation of Muslim community activists stormed out of the White House complex after the Secret Service ejected Al-Arian's son, an intern for then-Rep. David E. Bonior (D-Mich.).

The Secret Service sent the son an apology on Aug. 13, 2001, calling the incident "a Secret Service error in processing visitors." Bush signed an Aug. 2, 2001, letter to Al-Arian's wife, thanking her for a book she sent him and expressing "regret" about how her son was treated. "I have been assured that everything possible is being done to ensure that nothing like this happens again," Bush wrote.

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1414900.stm Bush apologises to Muslims after gaffe US President George Bush has apologised over an incident at the White House, when a visiting Muslim community leader was mistakenly ordered out of the building.

A uniformed Secret Service officer approached 20-year-old Abdallah al-Arian, a member of a Muslim delegation, and asked him to leave immediately. No reason was given.


The president is very concerned that an action was taken that was wrong and inappropriate, and the president apologises for it
White house spokeman
The whole group of visiting Muslim leaders then left in protest. When the Secret Service realised that it had made a mistake, the Muslims were invited back, but they declined.

"The president is very concerned that an action was taken that was wrong and inappropriate, and the president apologises for it on behalf of the White House," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.

Funding meeting

The Muslim leaders were at the Old Executive Office Building for a meeting to discuss President Bush's faith-based initiative, that calls for providing federal funds to religious organisations involved in charity and community work. Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American Islamic Relations welcomed Mr Bush's apology.

But he called for the White House to appoint a full-time liaison officer to the Muslim community, to "dispel impressions within the Muslim community that there's some kind of exclusion from his policy-making circles".

The BBC's Stephen Sackur in Washington says that there has still been no explanation as to why Mr al-Arian, a student doing volunteer work in Washington, should have been ejected.

But his uncle, a Palestinian academic, was imprisoned for three years without trial by the US authorities after being accused of links with Islamic militants. Mazen al-Najjar was released six months ago.

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MIM: Al Arian's friends in Washington, Grover Norquist sidekick of Presidential advisor Karl Rove. In April 2005 Norquist married a Muslim woman who is a known Islamist and it was reported that he had converted to Islam. The contacts with politicians arranged by Norquist and Rove afforded terrorist organistaion leaders like Al Alrian and Alamoudi invaluable cover. http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/451

http://www.madcowprod.com/10292004issue.html

The busy Mr. al-Arian had contacts not only with Mohamed Atta and al-Qaeda, but also with Karl Rove and the Bush Administration.

From The St. Petersburg Times (Florida) March 11, 2003:


"The rumpled, balding figure was spotted darting into the offices of Republican power broker Grover Norquist last July... Sami Al-Arian emerged more than two hours later... Al-Arian was visiting the Islamic Institute, a Muslim outreach group cofounded by Norquist and housed within his office suite."

"In June 2001, Al-Arian was among members of the American Muslim Council invited to the White House complex for abriefing by Bush political adviser Karl Rove. The next month, the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom - a civil liberties group headed by Al-Arian - gave Norquist an award for his work to abolish the use of secret intelligence evidence in terrorism cases, a position Bush had adopted in the 2000 campaign."

Link

Al-Amoudi aided and funded al-Qaida; he also had several meetings with key figures of the 9/11 plot… and took pictures. So how did he gain access to Bush's inner circle?'

From MSNBC October 23, 2003:

"John Loftus, ex-DOJ official: About a year-and-a-half ago, people in the intelligence community came and said-guys like Alamoudi and Sami al-Arian and other terrorists weren't being touched because they'd been ordered not to investigate the cases, not to prosecute them."

"But, who was it that fixed the cases?... the answer is coming out in a very strange place. What Alamoudi and al-Arian have in common is a guy named Grover Norquist… He is the guy that was hired by Alamoudi to head up the Islamic institute and he's the registered agent for Alamoudi, personally, and for the Islamic Institute. Grover Norquist's best friend is Karl Rove, the White House chief of staff, and apparently Norquist was able to fix things."...

"Think of the Muslim chaplain's program that he set up as a spy service for al-Qaeda."

Link



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