Former Florida professor Sami Al-Arian pleaded guilty to helping the Palestinian terrorist organization Islamic Jihad.
TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) – Former Florida university professor Sami al-Arian has pleaded guilty to aiding the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad and agreed to be deported, U.S. officials said on Monday
Al-Arian and three co-defendants were charged in 2003 with helping the group carry out attacks in Israel. In December, a federal jury in Tampa found al-Arian not guilty on eight charges and failed to reach a verdict on nine others after a six-month trial.
Prosecutors, whose failure to convict al-Arian after the jury trial was seen as a stiff blow to the U.S. government’s attempts to prosecute terrorism suspects, hailed the plea bargain agreement as a victory.
“Al-Arian has now admitted providing assistance to help the Palestinian Islamic Jihad … as the government has alleged from the start,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Alice Fisher said in a written statement.
The United States has designated Islamic Jihad a terrorist organization. When the charges against al-Arian and the others were made public three years ago, then-U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said the group was responsible for over 100 deaths in Israel, including two Americans.
Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed nine people and wounded 60 outside a restaurant in Tel Aviv on Monday.
Al-Arian pleaded guilty in a closed hearing before a U.S. magistrate in Tampa on Friday, U.S. officials said. The agreement averts another trial on the deadlocked charges.
Take a look at the death and destruction that Islamic Jihad, the group al-Arian supported, did today.
Here’s the caption to this photo: Tel Aviv, ISRAEL: An Israeli Ultra-Orthodox Zaka volunteer picks out pieces of flesh from the scene where a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up, in the southern Neveh Sha’anan district, close to the site of Tel Aviv’s old bus station, 17 April 2006. Some eight people were killed and dozens wounded in Israel’s commercial capital Tel Aviv today when a Palestinian militant blew himself up in the deadliest suicide bombing of the last 20 months. AFP PHOTO/GALI TIBBON
The caption for this photo says this: TEL AVIV, ISRAEL – APRIL 17: (ISRAEL OUT) An elderly Jewish man lies where he fell, amidst shattered market stalls, waiting for treatment moments after a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded fast food restaurant April 17, 2006 in Tel Aviv. At least 6 people were killed and dozens wounded in the attack which came as Israeli lawmakers were gathering for the start of the 17th Knesset (parliament) in Jerusalem. (Photo by Raanan Cohen/Getty Images)
More on today’s attack at Michelle Malkin.
Update: Steven Emerson from Counterterrorism Blog was on Bill O’Reilly last night to discuss the al-Arian plea deal. Emerson says on his site that his blog colleague, Bill West, actually initiated the investigation of al-Arian in 1994 and says this about the plea deal:
It is not, as noted in the family’s press release today, a ‘voluntary departure’ from the U.S.; it is a formal removal/deportation. The plea is actually OUTSTANDING! A good portion of the factual base in the plea relates to immigration violation issues linked to PIJ support…a bit of personal vindication in that for me, given the genesis of the criminal investigation against Al-Arian so very long ago: pursuing criminal immigration fraud on the heels of your documentary, ‘Jihad in America,’ airing on PBS.
The plea really is also a work of art. It encompasses the terrorism-support elements, wraps in the immigration fraud, directly links al-Arian to the PIJ, and identifies al-Arian associates Nafi, Shallah and Al-Najjar officially as PIJ operatives…brilliant!
Al-Arian agreeing to be deported is spin in order to save face. And the MSM went right along with it. What a shock.
Read the rest of Bill West’s take on the al-Arian plea deal as well as the legal documents associated with this case at the Counterterrorism Blog.