US Sentences Al-Arian After Plea Bargaining

Arab-American former professor Sami Al-Arian was sentenced Monday, May 1, to 57 months in jail and deportation for aiding the Palestinian resistance group Islamic Jihad, deemed "terrorist" by the US administration, in a plea bargaining he accepted to end

US Sentences Al-Arian After Plea Bargaining

Even though a jury failed to convict the former professor at the University of South Florida after a six-month trial last year on eight terror-related counts, Al-Arian pleaded guilty last month in an agreement in which he admitted providing support to members of the Islamic Jihad in the 1980s and 1990s, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, May 2.

"(Federal prosecutors) essentially pulled the trigger and shot every bullet _ and they missed Dr. Al-Arian," his attorney Linda Moreno told reporters after the sentencing.

In his guilty plea in April, Al-Arian admitted that he performed favors for the PIJ, including filing for immigration benefits for members of the organization and hiding the identities of those associated with the PIJ, the US Department of Justice said in a statement.

US District Court Judge James Moody imposed the sentence saying Al-Arian was a "master manipulator" and a "leader" of the PIJ, according to the statement.

A jury had earlier acquitted Al-Arian, 48, on eight counts of supporting terror groups, but the judge in those hearings declared a mistrial after the panel failed to render a complete verdict on all the charges, allowing the government to press for a new trial.

Arian will be credited for the three years and three months he has already served since his arrest in Tampa, Florida. The court also ordered that he will be deported after he completes his sentence.

Al-Arian, born in Kuwait of Palestinian refugees, was raised in Egypt and has lived in the United States for more than 30 years.

 Family Sufferings

Al-Arian's attorneys argued during his trial that although he and his co-defendants were vocal advocates for the Palestinian cause, the government had no proof they planned or knew about specific acts of violence.

They said the money the defendants raised was for legitimate charities.

Al-Arian has denied advocating violence and alleged he has been persecuted because of his outspoken views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"I'm a prisoner because of the hysteria engulfing this country in the aftermath of the 9-11 tragedy," he said on December 6 after his acquittal, referring to the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

He had also made clear that his involvement with World and Islam Studies Enterprise and the Islamic Committee for Palestine was only "to support the just cause of the Palestinian people."

"I don't support suicide bombings," he has said. "I don't support the targeting of civilians of any nationality, background or religion. I am deeply against it."

A May 2004 report released by the US Senate Office Of Research concluded that the Arab Americans and the Muslim community have taken the brunt of the Patriot Act and other federal powers applied in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

Amnesty International also repeatedly said that racial profiling by US law enforcement agencies had grown dramatically in the wake of the terrorist attacks in 2001.

Since the 9-11 attacks, the United States has also cracked down hard on Islamic charities under the pretext that they were channeling funds to "terrorists" in the Palestinian territories.

In August, 2003, thousands of Palestinian orphans and destitute families took to the streets to protest freezing the bank accounts of 18 charities suspected of having links with the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas.

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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