Salon.com was all too willing to defend former University of South Florida professor and suspected terrorist fundraiser/supporter Sami Al-Arian back in January of 2002, most noteably labelling him an “innocent professor.” To my knowledge, since Al-Arian’s arrest about two years ago, they’ve not said another word about him. Well, now’s their big chance:
Jurors got a view Tuesday of Sami Al-Arian as a fiery fundraiser for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as prosecutors played a video of a 1991 event in Cleveland.
The video, which was seized during a 1995 search of Al-Arian’s house, also depicted Fawaz Damra, a cleric, energetically raising money for the Islamic Jihad, exhorting the crowd to “donate to the intifada, for Islamic Jihad.”
According to a government translation, Damra introduces Al-Arian as head of the Islamic Committee for Palestine. Then he adds, “A brief note about the Islamic Committee for Palestine: It is the active arm of the Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine. We prefer to call it the `Islamic Committee for Palestine’ for security reasons.”
Al-Arian then talks about the history of Palestinians and the intifada, or the uprising in the occupied territories that began in 1987. “The stones today defeat the Uzi, the tanks and the weapons,” he said, according to the translation. “The stones that the boy, who is less than 5 years old, carries, and this mother, who receives the martyrdom of her children with smiles and trilling cries of joy, because her son has not died; rather he has been martyred …
“We see today the intifada, the truth which Muslims gather round. We say to them, `Come to the Holy Land! Come forward to jihad!’ ”
Al-Arian is standing trial, along with Sameeh Hammoudeh, Hatim Naji Fariz and Ghassan Zayed Ballut, on charges that they helped organize and finance the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Four years after the 1991 video was shot, President Clinton declared the Islamic Jihad a terrorist organization, making it illegal for Americans to give it money.
A year after the video was shot, Al-Arian was granted tenure as a computer science professor at the University of South Florida.
On the video, Al-Arian said, “Despite all difficulties, the Palestinian people have decided to continue: to continue to confront, to continue to resist, to continue to endure, to set an example for all people and Muslims around them. Thus is the way of struggle. Thus is the way of giving. Thus is the way of sacrifice. … Thus is the way of jihad. Thus is the way of martyrdom. Thus is the way of blood, because this is the path to heaven.”
If that’s “innocent” I’d sure as hell hate to see what Salon’s definition of “guilty” is.
I wonder if other big Al-Arian defenders like the NYTimes will carry this story and perhaps comment on their editorial page about it? Hmmm ..