The Florida Jihadist and His Defenders
Sami Al-Arian has now pleaded guilty to a charge of “conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds to or for the benefit of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.” He has agreed to accept deportation.
In his 2002 defense of Al-Arian, Eric Boehlert wrote: “The al-Arian story reveals what happens when journalists, abandoning their role as unbiased observers, lead an ignorant, alarmist crusade against suspicious foreigners who in a time of war don’t have the power of the press or public sympathy to fight back.”
In fact, the al-Arian story reveals what happens when journalists and Leftist academics, abandoning their role as unbiased observers, lead an ignorant, alarmist crusade against Americans who in a time of war try to defend our country from those whose politics make them the darlings of the Leftist media and academic establishment.
When Al-Arian was acquitted last December 6 on eight of 17 terror-related charges, Linda Moreno, one of his attorneys, exulted: “This was a political prosecution from the start.” The acquittal appeared to vindicate those who had maintained Al-Arian’s innocence. Chief among them was Boehlert, whose January 2002 article was titled, “The prime-time smearing of Sami Al-Arian: By pandering to anti-Arab hysteria, NBC, Fox News, Media General and Clear Channel radio disgraced themselves — and ruined an innocent professor’s life.”
Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times also likely felt vindicated. In March 2002 he wrote: “Professor Al-Arian, a rumpled academic with a salt-and-pepper beard…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
The new agreement leaves no room for doubt: “Defendant is pleading guilty because defendant is in fact guilty. The defendant certifies that the defendant does hereby admit that the facts set forth [in the agreement] are true, and were this case to go to trial, the
Al-Arian acknowledged that he was “pleading guilty freely and voluntarily…without threats, force, intimidation, or coercion of any kind.” But although she signed the agreement, Moreno acknowledged only that “in the agreement, he did not plead guilty to any crime of violence, and by pleading he gave his family closure in this ordeal.”
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) was also ready to concede nothing. CAIR-Florida’s Ahmed Bedier, contradicting the agreement that Al-Arian actually signed, declared: “The decision not to retry Dr. Al-Arian is proof that the prosecution lacked the necessary evidence to secure a conviction in this case….There is no plea to any sort of conspiracy to support terrorism at all.”
A press release from CAIR’s national office disingenuously neglected to identify the “lesser charge” to which Al-Arian pled guilty, and echoed Linda Moreno in noting that “the government conceded in the agreement that there were no acts of violence committed by Al-Arian.”
U.S. Attorney Paul Perez has said: “Al-Arian has now confessed to helping terrorists do their work from his base here in the