When former college professor—and alleged terrorist—Sami al-Arian was unexpectedly acquitted Tuesday on eight counts and received a hung jury on the other nine, many leading Muslims could barely contain their glee. “People are just jubilant,” Ahmed Bedier, the Tampa chapter director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told the New York Times. The not guilty verdicts were a “wonderful and a tremendous victory,” according to a statement released by Muslim-American Society (MAS) President Mahdi Bray.
While in many cases it might be reasonable to forgive a defendant acquitted by a jury of his peers, it is not with al-Arian. Regardless of whether or not the jury believed his actions constituted a specific legal violation by acting “in furtherance of” terrorist attacks, there is no mistaking what is in al-Arian’s heart.
As a result of the trial, al-Arian has been forced to admit that he did, in fact, have an intimate working relationship with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Why? Because he was caught on tape coordinating with them, again and again and again.
Al-Arian also admitted that he wrote a letter—which he allegedly attempted to send, but could not do so successfully—to a Kuwaiti legislator urging him to support the families of suicide bombers in order to provide “support of the jihad effort in Palestine so that [suicide] operations such as these can continue.” He wrote the letter just weeks after President Clinton had signed an executive order banning financial and material support of PIJ. Again, this is only known because the government introduced it as evidence during trial.
Support for al-Arian, though, has long pre-dated the six-month trial. Then again, so has the evidence against him.
Dating back to September 1995, the Tampa Tribune wrote dozens of articles investigating al-Arian’s affiliations with terrorist organizations and leading terrorists themselves. While the university severed its relationships with the think tanks founded by al-Arian, it did not attempt to fire him. That only happened after 9/11—in a much different political environment.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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