Sunday, 23 February 2003

Sami Al-Arian

Tacitus reports on Florida's reaction to the indictment of Sami Al-Arian, the University of South Florida professor who was suspended by USF while he was under investigation (see USF's archives on the Al-Arian case).

On a seemingly unrelated note (at least, at first glance), InstaPundit links to this New York Post piece by Byron York looking at the financial underpinnings of “Not in Our Name”, the celebrity-driven anti-war movement, seemingly written before the weekend's events. Dig down and you'll find this astounding revelation:

FOR its fund raising, the Not In Our Name Project is allied with another foundation, this one called the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization. Founded by several New Left leaders in 1967 to "advance the struggles of oppressed people for justice and self-determination," IFCO was originally created to serve as the fundraising arm of a variety of activist organizations that lacked the resources to raise money for themselves.

In recent years, IFCO served as fiscal sponsor for an organization called the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom (their partnership ended when the coalition formed its own tax-exempt foundation). Founded in 1997 as a reaction to the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act, the coalition says its function is to oppose the use of secret evidence in terrorism prosecutions.

Until recently, the group's president was Sami Al-Arian, a University of South Florida computer-science professor who has been suspended for alleged ties to terrorism. (He is still a member of the coalition's board.) According to a New York Times report last year, Al-Arian is accused of having sent hundreds of thousands of dollars, raised by another charity he runs, to Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The Times also reported that FBI investigators "suspected Mr. Al-Arian operated 'a fund-raising front' for the Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine from the late 1980s to 1995." Al-Arian also brought a man named Ramadan Abdullah Shallah to the University of South Florida to raise money for one of Al-Arian's foundations - a job Shallah held until he later became the head of Islamic Jihad.

Of course, the conspiracy theorists will argue that Al-Arian was indicted to silence and discredit the anti-war movement (never mind that large chunks of it have managed to do that on their own, with no help from the government). But it's an interesting development nonetheless, and one that shouldn't be lost on those who ignored the underpinnings of ANSWER.

Meanwhile, you can read the indictment for yourself (via Martin Kramer, who has some pointed commentary on the academic community's past defense of Al-Arian).