Al-Arian's Game Is Up

Sami Al-Arian has been a master manipulator for years, gaining strong and vocal support for the American Left. But his luck has now run out. When he pled guilty recently to “conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds to or for the benefit of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Specially Designated Terrorist” organization, the maximum sentence was set at four years, nine months. But on Monday Judge James Moody, according to the St. Petersburg Times, “shocked the courtroom when he ignored the recommendation of prosecutors and defense attorneys for a lower sentence,” and slapped Al-Arian with the maximum.

Referring to Al-Arian’s claim that he was raising money only for PIJ’s “charity for widows and orphans,” the Judge declared: “Your only connection to orphans and widows is that you create them.”

When Al-Arian tried the manipulation games that had served him well for so long, speaking of his “belief in the true meaning of a democratic society … and the integrity of the jury system,” Moody was having none of it. “Dr Al-Arian,” he said, “as usual, you speak eloquently. I find it interesting that here in public in front of everyone you praised this country … but that’s just evidence of how you operate…. You are a master manipulator.”

Many on the Left have been all too eager to be manipulated. In 2002 Phil Donahue featured Al-Arian as a guest on his talk show, and apologized for asking him about his genocidal statements: “So, one more time, sir, and I know that you’re probably getting tired of these same questions — death to Israel did not mean you wanted to kill Jews, do I understand your position?” Al-Arian suggested that his statement was comparable to Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death!”

Other encomiums to Al-Arian appeared in the New York Times, Salon, and elsewhere — and Al-Arian himself pitched in on August 26, 2002 with a self-exculpatory piece in CounterPunch: “Fighting for Right of Dissent & Due Process.” In it, he describes himself as “under the threat of being fired for controversy stemming from activism for the Palestinian cause.” Sounding all the right notes for the Left, he writes ominously that “in a number of ways my case is indicative of the status of civil liberties in post-9/11 America.”

He seems in this article to make an unequivocal renunciation of suicide terror attacks: “I have never once in my life advocated the killing of innocent civilians. I abhor terrorism at all levels, against all people. I condemn all violence against civilians — regardless of the faith of the perpetrators — whether they are in pizza parlors, bus stations or refugee camps. It’s wrong not only politically, but, more important, on religious, moral and ethical grounds.” Of course, this statement is empty if Al-Arian holds to the common view among jihadists that there are no civilians in Israel, much less any innocents.

On Monday Judge Moody told Al-Arian, “You continue to lie to your friends and supporters, claiming to abhor violence.” But Al-Arian’s supporters dug in. “The judge’s words — that Al-Arian supported violence — contradict the very basis of the jury’s acquittal and the plea agreement, and raise questions about fundamental fairness,” declared David Cole of Georgetown University. One of Al-Arian’s attorneys, Linda Moreno, said flatly that “there was no mention of violence in the plea agreement, which the judge approved.” Yet in fact the plea agreement stipulates that Al-Arian raised money for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and that he “was aware that the PIJ achieved its objectives by, among other means, acts of violence.”

Al-Arian, as well as Cole, Moreno, and the Florida jihadist’s other remaining supporters should come clean. The time for such deception and denial is over. The fact that Moody gave Al-Arian the maximum sentence is a positive indication that perhaps henceforth Americans, Left and Right, will not be so easily fooled by the likes of Sami Al-Arian, and will move resolutely to resist their efforts to foster the goals of the worldwide Islamic jihad on American soil.