Additional Information on Sami Al-Arian

● When the University of South Florida suspended Al-Arian in December 2001, the American Left sprang to his defense. Their efforts included articles in The Nation and Salon.com, whose reporter Eric Boehlert lamented “The Prime Time Smearing of Sami Al-Arian.” The head of Georgetown’s Middle East Studies program, Professor John Esposito, expressed concern that Al-Arian not be made a “victim of … anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry.” And Professor Ellen Schrecker characterized Al-Arian’s suspension as an example of “political repression.”

Others who joined the Al-Arian defense chorus included the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the USF faculty union, and the American Association of University Professors, the latter of which threatened to challenge USF’s accreditation on grounds that the school had “violated” Al-Arian’s “academic freedom.” Meanwhile, faculty at Duke University invited Al-Arian to be the featured speaker at an academic symposium on “National Security and Civil Liberties.”

● In April 2012, Al-Arian issued a statement “on behalf of all victims of injustice,” in which he named a number of “innocent” Muslims who had been “targeted … because of their beliefs, opinions, associations, and advocacy.” Said Al-Arian: “Today Ali Al-Tamimi is serving life for giving a religious fatwa. Tarek Mehanna is serving 17 years for translating a document. Mufid Abdel Kader is serving 20 years because he had a beautiful voice and sang for Palestine. Ghassan El-Ashi and Shukri Abu Baker are serving 65 years each for feeding and clothing hungry Palestinian children … Aafi (sic) Siddqui was sentenced to 86 years after she was shot and nearly died.”

In response to Al-Arian’s statement, the Investigative Project on Terrorism set the record straight:

“Al-Tamimi’s fatwa urged followers to wage war against American troops and help the Taliban. Mehanna was convicted of conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaida, providing material support to terrorists and conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country. Abdel Kader, Elashi and Baker each were convicted for their work with the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, which illegally routed more than $12 million to Hamas before being shut down in 2001. Aafia Siddiqui was apprehended in Afghanistan in possession of plans for a ‘mass casualty attack’ in the United States, including a list of New York City landmarks. Prosecutors say she grabbed an Army officer’s M-4 rifle and fired it at another officer and other members of a U.S. interview team at an Afghan police compound in July 2008.”

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