THE PLEA AGREEMENT IN THE SAMI AL-ARIAN CASE04/20/06
Earlier this week it was revealed that Dr. Sami Al-Arian and the Justice Department had reached an agreement on the terrorism realted charges against him. Al-Arian is the former USF professor who allegedly sent money to and was the highest official of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the U.S. But a six month federal trial failed to bring any convictions against Al-Arian or his co-defendants. Al-Arian remains in jail and for the past several months secret negotiations have taken place between his lawyers and federal prosecutors. Under the agreement Al-Arian will admit that he "provided services" to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad by providing immigration help for several PIJ associates, including his brother-in-law Mazen Al-Najjar. He also agrees he was "associated" with several organizations including the PIJ in the late 1980's through the early and mid 1990's. He also admits that he "denied to the media" that he knew of an associate's association with the PIJ. Backers of Al-Arian say these are relatively minor charges, that no money was ever funneled to the Middle East, that being untruthful to a reporetr is not a crime, and that the Al-Arian is not admitting to participating in violence. Our guests were law professor David Cole of Georgetown University who represented Al-Najjar on immigration issues; Norm Gross of Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting (PRIMER), Pilar Saad a friend of the Al-Arian family and Ahmed Bedier of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).