Middle East studies in the News
Sami Al-Arian: Farewell to a Tenured Terrorist [incl. John Esposito]
by John Perazzo
The "Islamophobes" won't have Sami Al-Arian to kick around any more. The former tenured professor from the University of South Florida has just been deported to Turkey, after more than a decade of fighting valiantly to supposedly clear his name and reputation in the United States.
Throughout his many years in America, Al-Arian showed himself to be a pious man with a deep and abiding religious faith, as evidenced by his proud membership in theMuslim Brotherhood—the font from which sprang a number of other godly organizations, like Hamas and al-Qaeda, which have done so much to educate the world vis-à-vis the theological virtues of suicide belts, collapsing skyscrapers, and mountains of smoldering infidel corpses.
Al-Arian, for his part, carved out a cozy niche as the North American leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), an organization that was established by a pack of energetic Gazans who wished to put their own sacred piety on display by detonating powerful explosives amidst crowds of unsuspecting Jews.
PIJ's holy warriors, you see, are committed to the noble cause of creating an Islamic state on every square inch of land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River—that is, the territory that some people—though not PIJ members, of course—call "Israel." And while PIJ seeks to achieve this goal by slaughtering as many Jews as possible, we must refrain from falling into the trap of labeling its aspirations as "genocidal." After all, as Sami Al-Arian would surely acknowledge in a candid moment, you really can't make a decent caliphate without breaking a few million Jews.
Not only a man of piety, Al-Arian is also a man of charity. We know this because he personally established a charitable organization known as the Islamic Committee for Palestine (ICP), devoted to alleviating the suffering of impoverished Palestinian widows and orphans—and oh, yes, financing the activities of suicide bombers seeking to blow up lots of Jews.
Throughout the late '80s and early '90s, ICP rallies and conferences featured prominent displays of Palestinian Islamic Jihad emblems and literature. At one ICP conference in Cleveland in 1991, Al-Arian declared—on behalf of weeping widows and orphans, no doubt—
Pretty heady stuff, wouldn't you say?
Other featured speakers at Al-Arian's ICP events included such luminaries as these:
In addition to his piety and charity, Sami Al-Arian is also a very deep thinker. We know this because he himself co-founded a "think tank" called the World & Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE). His partners in this endeavor were some highly interesting fellas:
Al-Arian's think tank was also blessed to have had a highly accomplished board member named Tarik Hamdi, who in May 1998 met personally with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, where he gave the al-Qaeda leader a satellite telephone and battery pack to facilitate his orchestration of mass death. In fact, bin Laden used that very same phone to plan the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania three months later, which killed 234 people.
When FBI agents eventually raided the headquarters of WISE, they seized not only some 500 videotapes of conferences in which Al-Arian had raised funds for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's efforts overseas, but also a most interesting 1995 letter he had written to solicit money from a Kuwaiti associate. Referencing a recent pair of suicide bombingsthat had killed 21 Jews at a bus station in Western Israel, Al-Arian, in this letter, urged his acquaintance "to try to extend true [financial] support of the jihad effort in Palestine so that operations such as these can continue."
In December 2001, as it was becoming increasingly clear that Al-Arian was somehow affiliated with Islamic terrorism, University of San Francisco officials suspended the tenured professor. This prompted him, in turn, to display yet another of his many talents: adopting the posture of a pathetic, whining victim. "I'm a minority," Al-Arian said. "I'm an Arab. I'm a Palestinian. I'm a Muslim. That's not a popular thing to be these days. Do I have rights, or don't I have rights?"
This bullet-proof logic, naturally, was persuasive enough to galvanize instant support from the American Left. Salon.com reporter Eric Boehlert, for example, lamented that the "innocent professor" was being subjected to a "prime time smearing" solely on the basis of "discredited, years-old allegations." Professor Ellen Schrecker of Yeshiva University characterized Al-Arian's suspension as a tragic illustration of "political repression." The head of Georgetown's Middle East Studies program, Professor John Esposito, voiced concern that Al-Arian might become a "victim of … anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry." And Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times told us that Al-Arian was an upstanding patriot who "denounces terrorism, promotes inter-faith services with Jews and Christians, and led students at his Islamic school to a memorial service after 9/11 where they all sang 'God Bless America.'"
Others who joined the Al-Arian defense chorus included the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the American Association of University Professors, the University of San Francisco faculty union, and the Duke University faculty—the latter of which invited Al-Arian to be the featured speaker at an academic symposium on "National Security and Civil Liberties."
Notwithstanding all this support, in February 2003 a federal grand jury issued a 17-count indictment against Al-Arian. In the 2005 trial, which ended in acquittal on eight counts and a hung jury on the remaining nine counts, Al-Arian's attorney conceded that his client was in fact an operative for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Likewise, a journalist covering the court proceedings reported that "the trial exposed the professor as having been deeply enmeshed in the internal workings of Palestinian Islamic Jihad."
Seeking to avoid a retrial and to gain permission to be deported upon the fulfillment of whatever legal penalty he might be required to pay, Al-Arian in February 2006 agreed to plead guilty to a single count of conspiracy to "make or receive funds … for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad." He was then sentenced to 57 months in prison, which included 38 months that he had already served. At the sentencing, Judge James S. Moody told the defendant: "The evidence was clear in this case that you were a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad … [which engaged in] blowing up women and children on buses…. Anyone with even the slightest bit of human compassion would be sickened. Not you, you saw it as an opportunity to solicit more money to carry out more bombings." With regard to Al-Arian's claim that he had only raised funds for the needy and vulnerable, the judge said bluntly: "Your only connection to widows and orphans was that you create them."
In June 2008, Al-Arian's deportation was delayed when he was indicted for criminal contempt after repeatedly refusing to testify before a federal grand jury that was investigating a terror-financing network based in northern Virginia. That case against Al-Arian languished for five more years until prosecutors finally dropped it in June 2014, thereby setting the stage for his deportation this week.
As we would expect from a man of Al-Arian's caliber, he took pains, on his way out of the country, to leave behind one last turd in the proverbial pool. "Today," he wrote in a lengthy, self-serving statement,
So, Sami Al-Arian has come full circle, ending his time in America exactly as he began it forty years ago—as a pathetic, deceiving, bloodthirsty anti-Semite who casts himself as a helpless, misunderstood victim of the ever-dreaded "intolerance" bogeyman. The only sign that anything at all has changed, is that his beard is now somewhat grayer.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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