With federal authorities closing in on him Shallah one of eight co-defendants in the Al-Arian indictment abruptly left the United States in 1995 and returned to the Middle East. He now serves as head of the Syrian chapter of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. According to the indictment a typical day for Shallah includes events like his 1996 speech ‘to a group which included among others several Iranians representatives of Hamas and Hizbullah and several future suicide bombers ‘ in which Shallah ‘mentioned past successful PIJ terrorist attacks ‘ and promised to ‘make the lives of the enemy’s leaders and their allies an explosion of hell and fire.’
As the indictment shows Al-Arian and Shallah worked diligently together to maintain their North American fronts dipping into the PIJ treasury as ‘a source of funds for WISE and ICP’ in order to keep the organizations afloat. Al-Arian was even recorded as saying ‘it was possible he might be receiving $50 000 for WISE from sources in the Sudan.’
While virtually all of Al-Arian’s useful idiots in the print media ran for the hills when his indictment was announced he still had supporters in the television realm. The February 20 broadcast of ABC’s World News Tonight opened with a clearly perturbed Peter Jennings saying ‘We’re going to begin tonight with the government’s aggressive campaign in the U.S. against people it accuses of supporting terrorism. Today the Attorney General John Ashcroft said the Bush administration is charging eight people four of them in the U.S. with helping what the government calls a terrorist group overseas. The most prominent of the accused is a controversial professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa. ABC’s Pierre Thomas covers this story from Washington today and it is indeed controversial.
What is ‘indeed controversial’ is Jennings’s glaring contempt for the way the Bush administration is conducting the War on Terror. That same night CNN’s Aaron Brown closed his network’s coverage of the Al-Arian arrest by lecturing viewers ‘Allegations are one thing evidence is another and we need to hear the evidence.’
Al-Arian’s dubious connections to several elected officials began in 1997. That year Al-Arian’s brother-in-law Mazen Al-Najjar was detained by INS agents presumably for overstaying his student visa. But that was only part of the reason. Al-Najaar along with Al-Arian helped operate the aforementioned Muslim organizations ICP and WISE both PIJ fronts notorious for hosting Islamic radicals as guest speakers in the early 1990’s. Among the jihadists invited by Al-Arian and Al-Najaar to speak was Omar Abdul Rahman also known as the ‘blind sheik.’ Rahman was convicted for his role as ringleader of the First World Trade
Center bombing in 1993. Other invitees included PIJ founder Abdel Aziz-Odeh and leading Hamas official Mohammed Sakr. With friends like these it’s no wonder the INS held Al-Najjar without bond and dubbed him a ‘threat to national security.’
Al-Najjar’s three-and-a-half year detainment spurred Al-Arian into action securing him access to people in high places. Richard Leiby wrote admiringly about this in a Washington Post article stating ‘Sami Al-Arian threw himself into a one-man lobbying campaign to free his brother-in-law. He flew to Washington knocked on doors on Capitol Hill and forged ties with leaders in both political parties. His goal: a legislative ban on the use of secret evidence.’
Al-Najjar was eventually released in 2000 (only to be deported this past August). Al-Arian may have failed in the battle to save his brother-in-law but he was successful in a sense that he made several political connections along the way. This led incredibly to four White House visits the most recent coming in June 2001 under President George W. Bush. Al-Arian was one of 160 members of the American Muslim Council (AMC) — a radical Islamic group — invited by Bush aide Karl Rove for a White House briefing on the administration’s faith-based initiatives.