Professor Accused of Aiding Terrorists is Acquitted
The case against a former Florida professor, accused of aiding the terrorist group Palistinian Islamic Jihad, came to an end on Tuesday with no conviction.
From the beginning, the case against Sami Al-Arian was an important one in the war against terror because it relied heavily on evidence that was made available by the Patriot Act. According to the New York Times, “The case was the first criminal terrorism prosecution to rely mainly on vast amounts of materials gathered under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), whose standards for searches and surveillance are less restrictive than those set by criminal courts.”
And as reported by the Jerusalem Post, Israel had a major role in the prosecution, sending over 50 witnesses to testify “on the horror of the suicide attacks carried out by the Islamic Jihad.”
Despite their huge effort, the Justice Department was unable to win a conviction. Al-Arian was found not guilty on eight of 17 counts, including “conspiracy to murder and maim people abroad.”
Some had seen foreseen this verdict as far back as a year ago. Wrote Jihad Watch director Robert Spencer, “U.S. District Judge James Moody ruled that prosecutors not only have to show that Al-Arian raised money for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but that he knew that what he was doing was illegal and would aid terrorist activities.” In other words, the prosecution had to prove that Al-Arian was directly connected to the violence Islamic Jihad carried out over the years.
FrontPage writer Joe Kaufman expressed disbelief at the results of the trial. While attending the trial, he watched along with the jurors videos of Al-Arian’s fundraising events. In one of the videos, Kaufman writes, “Al-Arian begged his audience to create a Palestine ‘from the river to the sea,’ concluding: ‘Thus is the way of jihad. Thus is the way of martyrdom. Thus is the way of blood, because this is the path to heaven.’” In another video, money was raised strictly for “martyrdom” operations.
After the decision was reached, one of the jurors said the result was a failure of the prosecution to present a convincing case.