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December 8, 2004

Lawyer Involved In Al-Arian Case Asks Extortion Charge Be Dropped

Topics: National News

Tampa Bay Online (TBO) reported on Tuesday that one of Tampa, Florida's more infamous citizens, Sami Al-Arian, who is now in jail and may stay there for a few life times if we are all fortunate.


Click on image to enlarge - Sami Al-Arian, left, and Hatim Naji Fariz in the Tampa FBI headquarters. JAY CONNER/Tampa Tribune)

TAMPA - A federal public defender, who represents a co-defendant of former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian, asked a judge on Friday to throw out charges of extortion.

Extortion was included in a 53-count federal indictment against Al-Arian and eight other men. Al-Arian, Sameeh Hammoudeh, Hatim Fariz and Ghassan Ballut are scheduled to go to trial in April. The five other men live abroad and have not been arrested. All are accused of leadership roles in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group responsible for dozens of attacks and more than 100 deaths in Israel.

On Friday, public defender Wadie Said, who represents Fariz, asked U.S. District Judge James S. Moody to throw out extortion charges against his client, Fariz. If the judge agrees, the charges would likely be dropped from the other defendants as well. Several more charges would remain, including charges that they supported terrorism, racketeering and money laundering.

I have some personal knowledge of Sami Al-Arian's background in Tampa, having followed his career while he was at USF where I am an alumnus. Al-Arian was born in Kuwait and lived in Temple Terrace not far from the university where he was a tenured computer science professor. TBO once wrote that he was President of the Islamic Committee for Palestine, which an Al-Arian associate publicly described in 1991 as "the active arm of the Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine." He also Incorporated the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE), an Islamic think tank that worked with a USF faculty group to organize seminars and share libraries. There use to be a great little Cuban restaurant that had great cuban sandwiches just down the street from Al-Arian's WISE, and I hate to be judgemental but some rather scary-looking Islamic types are known to frequent the place (later proven by local papers who identified Al-Arian's associates).  Although Al-Arian denies it, Israeli officials say Al-Arian helped create and served on the governing board for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.   

To name just a few of our infamous professor's associates:

Sameeh Hammoudeh


Born in the West Bank, a resident of Temple Terrace and an instructor at USF. He was an alleged member of the PIJ in the Tampa area.



SamifarizHatim Naji Fariz

 Born in Puerto Rico, a resident of Spring Hill, Fl and a manager for a medical clinic. He was an alleged PIJ member and allegedly ran an Illinois-based charity called the American Muslim Care Network.


SamiballutGhassan Zayed Ballut
         Born in the West Bank, a resident of Tinley Park, Ill. and a small business owner. Ballut was an alleged member of a PIJ cell in Chicago. Ballut reserved an auditorium for a 1991 rally to memorialize a gunfight four years earlier between Islamic Jihad fighters and Israelis that ignited the Palestinian intifada against Israel. The Islamic Jihad's spiritual leader, Abdel Aziz Odeh, appeared at the rally where Ballut said, "May our guns be pointed one way ... to the chest of the enemy.''


SamishallahRamadan Abdullah Shallah

         Born in the Gaza Strip, a resident of Damascus, Syria, has been the worldwide leader of the PIJ and a member of the PIJ's Shura Council. Shallah, formerly of Tampa, worked with Al-Arian in the Islamic Committee for Palestine and was the former executive director of WISE. Shallah was appointed secretary general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in October 1995. By November, he was designated by the United States as a Specially Designated Terrorist.           Source..

With friends like these you surely don't need any enemies. What a sweet bunch of guys to hang around with. Many in Florida would say that Al-Arian helped Betty Castor to lose the Senate race in Florida to Mel Martinez, and for sure at the very least her support of Al-Arian while she was President of USF didn't help her reelection campaign. It took far too long for the government to arrest Al-Arian, and with any luck at all, he'll never get out of jail. That's luck as in for the rest of us that are not interested in having people blown-up.

Posted by Hyscience at December 8, 2004 1:30 AM

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