Al-Arian is the former University of South Florida professor and media darling arrested on February 20 of this year for serving as North American leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) a notorious terrorist group responsible for the deaths of two Americans and over 100 Israelis. Seems that between teaching a computer engineering course at USF and leading prayers at a Tampa mosque Al-Arian also found time to direct and fund PIJ’s United States operations.
Upon hearing of Al-Arian’s indictment which came after years of painstaking F.B.I. surveillance and wiretaps pundits on the Left feigned shock wondering aloud how a ‘rumpled academic with a salt and pepper beard ‘ — as New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof so fondly described Al-Arian last year — could be guilty of such heinous crimes.
In short damage control. Because in the case of Sami-Al-Arian just as with the Cold War Gulf War Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom the Left made a conscious decision to side with a sworn enemy of the United States. And from The New York Times to Bill Clinton there’s plenty of blame to go around.
‘There are different levels of culpability ‘ says terrorism expert and NBC analyst Steven Emerson who with his 1994 PBS documentary ‘Jihad in America’ was the first to call national attention to Al-Arian’s murderous activities. ‘There are people who got thoroughly duped by Al-Arian and then there are people like [Georgetown professor] John Esposito who turned a blind eye because they were obsessed with an anti-Israeli dogma. They’ll use anything that can be parlayed into Israeli oppression of Palestinians so they gave Al-Arian a free pass.’
This despite a far-reaching 50-count 121-page indictment issued by federal authorities in Florida which charged the 45-year-old Al-Arian along with seven other men of operating a criminal racketeering enterprise supporting Palestinian Islamic Jihad conspiracy to kill and maim people abroad conspiracy to provide material support to the group extortion visa fraud perjury and a litany of additional charges.
The indictment describes PIJ as ‘an international terrorist organization with ‘cells’ or units located throughout the world ‘ and includes this revelation about our favorite mild-mannered USF professor: ‘Defendant Sami Al-Arian was Secretary of the Shura Council and the leader of the PIJ in the United States. In his capacity as a leader in the PIJ he directed the audit of all moneys and property of the PIJ throughout the world.’
Al-Arian’s emergence as the Left’s poster boy for academic freedom began with his now infamous appearance on the September 26, 2001 edition of Fox News Channel’s ‘O’Reilly Factor.’ In the segment host Bill O’Reilly hammered Al-Arian who was under federal investigation at the time but still teaching at USF for his connections to terrorism. Chief among O’Reilly’s concerns was a videotaped 1988 speech made before a Muslim group in Cleveland in which Al-Arian shouted ‘The Koran is our constitution! Jihad is our path! Victory to Islam! Death to Israel and victory to Islam! Revolution! Revolution until victory! Rolling rolling to Jerusalem!’
Pressed by O’Reilly to explain these violent statements Al-Arian stammered ‘Let me just put it into context…we have to understand the context. When you say ‘Death to Israel ‘ you mean death to occupation death to apartheid death to oppression death to…?
The interview concluded with O’Reilly telling a visibly rattled Al-Arian ‘Well Doctor you know with all due respect — I appreciate you coming on the program but if I was the CIA I’d follow you wherever you went…I’d go to Denny’s [restaurant] with you and I’d go everywhere you went.’