|Many of the details of the evidence gathered in the case has been made public since the document was presented to U.S. District Judge Thomas McCoun in subsequent court hearings. The FBI was seeking to convince the judge that Al-Arian and the others constituted a "terrorist cell" of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the United States and said years of money transfers, wire taps and intercepted faxes backup their case.
Myers said in the sworn affidavit that FBI wiretaps dated back to December 1993, years before it became publicly known that Al-Arian and Palestinian Islamic Jihad head Ramadan Shallah were under investigation, the affidavit said. Shallah headed up Al-Arian's think tank until 1995, when he left to assume the leadership of the PIJ.
Not too many years. Here are a few links about what was publicly known about the terror investigation of Sami Al Arian, beginning in 1996. In particular, I've highlighted events between 1996 and Sami Al Arian's visit to the White House in July of 2001.
Timeline of events in the investigation into Sami Al-ArianBy The Associated Press
- 1975: Sami Al-Arian, a Kuwait-born Palestinian, arrives in the United States from Egypt at age 17 to study engineering at Southern Illinois University. He later earns a doctorate in engineering from North Carolina State University.
- Jan. 27, 1986: Sami Al-Arian is hired by the University of South Florida College of Engineering.
- Oct. 20, 1988: Al-Arian incorporates the Islamic Concern Project, an umbrella organization that includes the Islamic Committee for Palestine, a charity devoted to Palestinian causes.
- Feb. 21, 1991: Al-Arian incorporates the World and Islam Studies Enterprise, a think tank in Tampa devoted to Islamic thought and political theory.
- April 7, 1991: A speaker introducing Al-Arian at a Cleveland conference calls the Islamic Committee for Palestine "the active arm of the Jihad movement in Palestine."
- Jan. 22, 1995: Two suicide bombers kill 19 people and injure 69 at an Israeli bus stop. The Islamic Jihad claims responsibility.
- Jan. 24, 1995: President Clinton freezes the assets of foreign terrorist groups, including the Islamic Jihad, and bans financial transactions with them.
- Feb. 1, 1995: Al-Arian writes a letter seeking a donation so operations like the one by "the two mujahidin (warriors) who were martyred for the sake of God" can continue.
- April 9, 1995: A suicide bomber driving a van blows up an Israeli bus in the Gaza Strip, killing eight people, including American seminary student Alisa Flatow.
- Oct. 31, 1995: Former World and Islam Studies Enterprise Director Ramadan Abdullah Shallah emerges as the Islamic Jihad's new leader. The World and Islam Studies Enterprise expresses shock.
- Nov. 20, 1995: Federal agents search World and Islam Studies Enterprise's office and Al- Arian's home and office at USF.
- Feb. 26, 1996: The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service denies Al-Arian's petition for naturalization on grounds he registered to vote, and then voted, in 1994 without being a citizen.
- May 2, 1996: USF places Al-Arian on paid leave, effective Aug. 7, pending the outcome of a federal investigation into whether he was running fronts for terrorist organizations. The university lets him return two years later, citing a staffing need and no law enforcement action.
- May 19, 1997: Federal agents arrest Al-Arian's brother-in-law, Mazen Al-Najjar and use secret evidence to jail him as a security threat. Al-Najjar, who had been fighting a deportation order, worked with Al-Arian at the Islamic Committee for Palestine and the World and Islam Studies Enterprise.
- Dec. 15, 2000: Al-Najjar is released after 3 1/2 years in jail without ever being charged. A federal judge says the use of secret evidence violated his rights.
- Sept. 26, 2001: Al-Arian appears on Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor," where he is quizzed about links to known terrorists, and asked about tapes from the late 1980s and early 1990s in which he said "Death to Israel" in Arabic.
- Sept. 28, 2001: USF trustees endorse President Judy Genshaft's decision to suspend Al-Arian with pay on grounds of campus safety.
- Nov. 24, 2001: Federal agents again jail Al-Najjar in preparation for deportation. His attorneys sue for his release, arguing he cannot find a country willing to accept him.
- Dec. 19, 2001: USF trustees recommend firing Al-Arian for not specifying he doesn't represent the university when he speaks and on grounds his outside activities disrupt the university. Genshaft notifies Al-Arian she intends to fire him.
- Feb. 21, 2002: Interim U.S. Attorney Mac Cauley confirms Al-Arian is under federal investigation.
- Aug. 21, 2002: Al-Najjar is deported, ending a long court fight. On the same day, USF asks a state judge to rule on whether firing Al-Arian would violate his First Amendment rights. In November, at Al-Arian's request, the case moves to federal court.
- Dec. 16, 2002: U.S. District Judge Susan Bucklew dismisses USF's request, saying the court has no role in a labor dispute.
- Feb. 20, 2003: A federal indictment accuses Al-Arian of being a leader of the Islamic Jihad's operations in the United States. He and seven others are charged in a 50-count indictment that accuses them of running a criminal enterprise and conspiring in the United States to kill and maim others abroad.
- Feb. 26, 2003: USF fires Al-Arian; Genshaft says Al-Arian will longer "be able to hide under the shield of academic freedom."
Timeline of events in the investigation into Sami Al-Arian
AP | March 16th, 2003
The Tampa Tribune reported in an April 18, 1996, story that federal officials said in the affidavits they were investigating possible perjury and immigration law violations and portrayed Al-Arian as who helped Palestinian militants enter the United States.
Among those Al-Arian is accused of aiding is current Palestinian Islamic Jihad head Ramadan Shallah, who worked as a USF instructor in 1995. Shallah, who is now in Syria, was named the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad immediately after he left the university. The government says Palestinian Islamic Jihad is responsible for more than 100 murders in Israel and its territories.
Judge: Al-Arian search warrant documents accidentally destroyed
AP | December 9th, 2003
For George W. Bush, it was just another campaign stop. But for Sami Al-Arian, a University of South Florida engineering professor, it was a golden opportunity. When Bush appeared at Tampas Strawberry Festival in March 2000, Al-Arian sidled up to the candidate and had his picture taken.
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Al-Arians politics took on a decidedly darker cast last week when federal agents arrested him at his home in south Florida and charged him with being a top leader of one of the worlds most violent terrorist organizations: Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
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Al-Arian certainly didnt act like a sponsor of suicide bombings. Far from keeping to the shadows, he repeatedly lobbied Congress on civil-liberties issues, made thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to influential members of Congress and renounced violence during appearances on TV talk shows. In June 2001 Al-Arian was invited to a White House briefing for 150 Muslim American activists, at which political director Karl Rove talked about the Bush administrations "outreach" efforts. A law-enforcement official told NEWSWEEK the Secret Service had flagged Al-Arian as a potential terrorist prior to the event. But White House aides, apparently reluctant to create an incident, let him through anyway. Such access had its advantages."He always told me the charges were garbage," said Khaled Saffuri, chairman of the Islamic Institute. "When you hear hes going to the White House, you figure what hes saying must be true." In fact, federal prosecutors charged last week, Al-Arian carried out his secret terrorist agenda "under the guise of promoting and protecting Arab rights"making his public profile a critical part of his MO. "It was the perfect cover," said Steven Emerson, a terrorism analyst who has followed Al-Arian for years.
Hiding in Plain Sight (Al Arian at the White House)
Newsweek ^ | March 3rd, 2003 | Michael Isikoff