Skip to comments.Behind Al-Arian's facade (founded the World and Islam Studies Enterprise at USF a decade ago)
Posted on 11/01/2001 1:56:02 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
In 1995, after a suicide bombing operation carried out by Palestinian Islamic Jihad killed 21 Israeli soldiers, University of South Florida computer science professor Sami Al-Arian wrote a fund-raising letter in which he "call(s) upon you to try to extend true support to the jihad effort in Palestine so that operations such as these can continue." Many of Al-Arian's past statements and associations have raised suspicions that he was involved with terrorist organizations based in the Middle East. However, the fund-raising letter signed by al-Arian, shown during the Oct. 28 telecast of NBC's Dateline, is direct evidence of his active support for terrorism.
As usual, Al-Arian dismissed the story as old news and impugned the integrity of his critics. The videotapes and letters speak for themselves. When Al-Arian is seen and heard saying "let us damn America" and calling Jews "monkeys and pigs," no one needs to rely on his critics to interpret his remarks. And when he puts his signature on a letter soliciting funds for terrorist operations, his involvement isn't subject to misunderstanding.
Al-Arian claims he only "raised funds for the orphans" of suicide bombers. Please. It's no wonder he thinks he can get away with insulting people's intelligence. He has been playing his American hosts for fools for years, presenting a benign face to the general public while spewing the most hateful sort of venom in the company of fellow Islamic extremists.
The facade should have been stripped away years ago. Al-Arian founded the World and Islam Studies Enterprise at USF a decade ago. WISE sponsored events at USF and at other sites around the country, some of which featured radical Islamic speakers such as Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman, later convicted in connection with the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. WISE was shut down in 1995 after one of Al-Arian's WISE associates, Ramadan Shallah, left USF and popped up in Syria as the new leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad -- the same terrorist organization for which Al-Arian was soliciting funds that year. Al-Arian claimed at the time to be shocked to learn of Shallah's association with PIJ.
Al-Arian is entitled to his political views, and supervisors say he has competently performed his duties as a computer science professor. However, USF administrators never should have allowed the university to be affiliated with WISE under the leadership of Al-Arian, who has no academic credentials in Islamic studies.
A 1996 report for USF prepared by Tampa lawyer Wm. Reece Smith somehow managed to find "no evidence" that Al-Arian or WISE had supported terrorism. For better or worse, USF officials allowed Al-Arian to keep his job then, despite the embarrassment he brought to the university by misrepresenting WISE's activities. There is no evidence that Al-Arian has engaged in fund-raising for PIJ or any other terrorist group since WISE was shut down in 1995. Still, the embarrassment to the university hasn't ended. USF President Judy Genshaft put Al-Arian on paid administrative leave again last month because of campus safety concerns after Al-Arian made a controversial appearance on Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor. The recent national attention, some of which he actively courted, has backfired on Al-Arian. He is still a legal resident of the country he damned, and he may yet return to lecture (though presumably not on Middle Eastern politics) at the university he embarrassed. But he'll never again get away with the pretense that his ugly support for terrorism has been misunderstood.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - A Palestinian man who was held for 31/2 years on secret evidence was arrested Saturday for violating his visa and will be deported as a threat to national security, the Department of Justice (news - web sites) said Saturday.
The Justice Department said in a statement Saturday that Mazen Al-Najjar has ties to alleged terrorist front organizations, including a University of South Florida Islamic studies group.
``This case underscores the Justice Department's commitment to address terrorism by using all legal authorities available,'' the agency's statement said. Justice Department officials did not immediately return calls for comment.
Martin Schwartz, an attorney for Al-Najjar, said he would fight the decision.
``The government is using him as a guinea pig to test their powers to detain foreigners,'' Schwartz said. ``The government is aware Dr. Al-Najjar has no travel documents allowing him re-entry to the United Arab Emirates or any other country.''
The arrest came after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta upheld Al-Najjar's final deportation order, which would send him to the United Arab Emirates. Al-Najjar lived there before coming to the United States in the 1980s.
Al-Najjar was being held Saturday at the Federal Correctional Institution at Coleman, about 65 miles north of Tampa.
Al-Najjar, whose visa expired several years ago, was arrested in 1997 on secret evidence as a threat to national security. He spent 31/2 years in prison based on a one-sentence summary of classified evidence against him before he was freed in December 2000. At the time of his release, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno (news - web sites) said Al-Najjar could be deported for visa violations.
He helped run the Islamic studies group, called World and Islam Studies Enterprises, and a Palestinian charity in the early 1990s. He has been in the United States for 20 years.
The U.S. government maintained that the Florida organizations fronted for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which has claimed responsibility for terrorist bombings in the Middle East, including two this month.
The World and Islam Studies Enterprises, which was founded by Al-Najjar's brother-in-law, Sami Al-Arian, was raided by the FBI in 1995 and its assets were frozen. Al-Arian has been on paid leave from USF since late September pending an internal review of campus safety and an investigation of a telephone death threat he received.
A former head of the think tank, Ramadan Abdulah Shallah, left it in 1995 and resurfaced as the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Al-Najjar has never seen the secret evidence against him. He and his wife have three U.S.-born daughters. [End]
In 1998, Egypt issued Al-Najjar a new travel document in anticipation that Guyana, in South America, would take him. Although Guyana backed out of the deal for reasons that Hohenstein says were never clear, Al-Najjar was left with a valid travel document. It is this second document that the government says Al-Najjar refused to hand over: the equivalent of the "valid passport" sought by the UAE as a condition of his entry.
In a June 20, 2000, letter submitted to the court, Agieb Bilal, the former principal of the Islamic Academy of Florida, said the ruler of the emirate of Sharjah told him in a December 1999 meeting that Al-Najjar would not be welcome unless the United States disclosed the classified information concerning his alleged terrorist ties. The Islamic Academy, a private school in Tampa, is now run by Al-Najjar's brother-in-law, Sami Al-Arian. Al-Arian and Al-Najjar worked together in the 1990s at a University of South Florida think tank that was investigated for alleged ties to Palestinian Islamic Jihad. No charges were filed.
I find it interesting that, although not a Marxist himself, this provocateur uses Marxist-Leninist tactics. It was Lenin who said that the "capitalists will sell us the rope on which we shall hang them." In light of this, ask: how could this shady fellow "found" the center at the USF?
The article does not say that he funded it. Then, who did? Who were the donors? Who on the University side was running the operation? Typically this requires schmoozing from the Dean, alumni-contact departments, etc. For some reason, no reporter goes "there."
Where is Cincinnatus when you need him? Has he gone back to his farm?
Ha! He's around, sewing the seeds of conservatism.
That judge was backed up by then, Attorney General, Janet Reno.
Ha! He's around, sewing the seeds of conservatism.
Like some of the hijackers that toppled the World Trade Center, Alqahtani had attended flight schools in Florida, trying to attain a commercial pilot's license. He said FBI agents questioned him about a Saudi Arabian Airlines seating chart containing a photograph of an airliner.
In his address book seized by authorities, he listed a friend named Ahmed Alghamdi, a Saudi Arabian pilot who shares the same name as one of the alleged hijackers. Alqahtani said he has no connection to the attacks.
``I told him there's over a 1,000 men with the name Alghamdi in Saudi Arabia,'' he said.
Alqahtani said the FBI also questioned him about Mazen Al-Najjar, a Palestinian and former instructor at the University of South Florida who has been the target of a government investigation since the mid-1990s when two groups he helped lead were linked to terrorists. Al-Najjar has denied supporting terrorists.
Al-Najjar spent nearly four years in INS custody on secret evidence and without being charged with a crime before he was released in December. He was arrested Nov. 24 on a deportation order and his attorneys are considering asking the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of the deportation.
Alqahtani said he needed someone to translate his high school graduation certificate from Arabic when he arrived in Tampa in 1994. A friend recommended Al-Najjar and Alqahtani said he paid him $200 and picked up the translation three days later. ``That's it,'' Alqahtani said.
Al-Najjar was a certified translator for the Hillsborough County court system and frequently provided the service, said Sami Al-Arian, his brother-in-law in Tampa.
Alqahtani said about 10 to 15 men inside Krome share similar tales. Some men of the men are from Jordan. An Indonesian pilot told him he has been questioned by the FBI over the past month.
He said he's told his wife they should not be surprised by their detainment following the attacks -- but he hopes they'll release her soon.
``I want her to get out. This is the first time for her that she's been arrested and she can't believe it,'' Alqahtani said. ``I am not a criminal. Why are they putting me through this?'' [End]
Hardly a big surprise.
Al-Arian pledges to fight for job-- The USF professor said he would file a lawsuit if a union grievance fails. He would seek back pay and reinstatement.
His case is entwined with that of his brother-in-law, Sami Al-Arian, a tenured USF professor and Palestinian whom USF president Judy Genshaft suspended for misconduct after he appeared on a cable news network discussing alleged past ties to terrorism.
Al-Arian was a founder of the World and Islam Studies Enterprises, an Islamic think tank at USF that was raided by the FBI in 1995 after a former head of the group turned up as the leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Al-Najjar was also involved with the think tank.
U.S. Attorney Mac Cauley in Tampa announced last month that his office is investigating al-Arian.
Al-Najjar's case, meanwhile, is being watched closely by government lawyers and civil liberties advocates because of the precedent it may set for other terrorism-related immigration cases.[End Excerpt]
The transcript is an English translation of Al-Arian and several other Palestinian leaders speaking in Arabic at pro-Palestinian rallies in various U.S. cities from 1988 to 1992. The video footage depicts snippets from each conference and runs about 13 minutes, culled from about 1,500 hours of videotape evidence seized during FBI raids in 1995. [End Excerpt]
Al-Najjar is the brother-in-law of USF computer-science Professor Sami Al-Arian. USF President Judy Genshaft announced Wednesday that she intends to fire Al-Arian because of his alleged ties to terrorism. The school filed a lawsuit Wednesday that includes the termination letter university officials will send to Al-Arian if the courts rule that firing him would not violate his constitutional rights.***
Mandatory Conservative Babe pic.
Jamal Rowaie, second secretary at the embassy, told the Times that the two-week visa Al-Najjar obtained was intended for "ordinary people" who want to visit the tiny Middle Eastern country. He did not know why the visa was granted in the first place. "His case is not an ordinary case," Rowaie said. "Because of that, Bahrain will not allow him to come." Al-Najjar, accused of having ties to terrorism, was jailed last year for overstaying a student visa. He was expected to arrive in Bahrain via jet early this morning. Rowaie said he did not know what would happen if Al-Najjar is rejected. Rowaie's statement was news to U.S. government officials. Al-Najjar was traveling in the custody of American immigration officials. ***