Anti-Muslim hate persecution of Sami Al-Arian dropped after 11 years by US Government
Now drop the deportation case and allow the Al-Arian family to live as the Americans that they are
By Ray Hanania
In 2003, Sami Al-Arian, a professor at the University of South Florida and a Palestinian American civil rights activist, was identified by the right wing news media including Bill O’Reilly of associating with individuals who were identified as active terrorists.
Those “associates” included Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, who taught classes at USF and later became a leader of Palestinian Islamic jihad in the Gaza Strip. Another was Tariq Hamdi, a journalist who helped arrange an interview for ABC with al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and was implicated in the embassy bombing in Africa. And, in 1988, Al-Aryan was quoted as saying at a public event in the United States “Jihad is our path. Victory to Islam. Death to Israel. Revolution. Revolution until victory. Rolling to Jerusalem.” Click here to read the O’Reilly transcript.
Al-Arian denied knowing anything about any violence or the activities of any of the individuals, saying they were people he met while working at USF. And he defended his criticism of Israel saying that his remarks in context were targeting the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine and its oppression of millions of civilians. In September 2004, Dr. Sami Amin Al-Arian was charged, along with various co-defendants, in a 53-count Superseding Indictment, and the government sought to deport Al-Arian from the United States.
Yet despite his denials, and the lack of evidence, the U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that al-Arian had been arrested in a major coup against the war on terrorism. And Al-Arian has been painted as not only a supporter of terrorism and violence, but as being a threat to America.
Al-Arian, who prior to Sept. 11, 2001, was an active fundraiser for President George W. Bush and the Republican Party, was indicted in February 2003 on 17 counts under the Patriot Act. A grand jury acquitted him on 8 counts but deadlocked on the remaining 9 counts. To avoid further prosecution, and under intense pressure, Al-Arian agreed to a plea deal where he admitted to one of the remaining 9 charges, a minor one, in exchange for being released and deported by April 2007.
The plea deal was characterized by the mainstream American hate media as a defeat for the U.S. War on Terrorism and a black eye for Ashcroft and the Bush Administration.
However, just before April 2007, a politically motivated Federal Prosecutor in Virginia pressured by the rightwing hate media in America, demanded that Al-Arian be forced to testify before another grand jury in a separate, unrelated case. Al-Arian refused, saying it violated his plea agreement. Al-Arian was then placed under house arrest where he has remained from 2008 until this week.
The tragic case of Sami AL-Arian has become the symbol of American persecution and bigotry against Arabs and Muslims, partly driven by the pro-Israel community which has used the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorism as a means of undermining Palestinian rights. The tragic story of persecution of Sami Al-Arian has also been made into a movie, also, highlighting how the administration of President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and the U.S. Attorney have persecuted Al-Arian and how his family has suffered over the past 11 years. Click to view information on the film USA vs Al-Arian.
His attorney for the past eight years, Jonathan Turley, announced Friday that the U.S. Government has finally dropped all charges against Sami Al-Arian, who has been viciously slandered by the U.S. Government, the pro-Israel activists and American conservative talk show hosts like O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity. The American media has supported the persecution of Sami Al-Arian because he “met” people who later were accused of terrorism, and because he was an outspoken critic of Israel, a foreign country that has committed unending warcrimes against civilians since 1948. Even mainstream news media like the Miami Herald joined the tar-and-feathering of Al-Arian and beating the drums of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hatred.
Turley said that United States District Judge Anthony J. Trenga signed the order dismissing the indictment against Dr. Al-Arian. The case was before Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, but it was Judge Trenga who signed the order on Friday afternoon.
“I have represented Dr. Al-Arian for roughly eight years as we fought against his deportation and the dismissal of these charges. We have litigated the case from the 11th Circuit to the 4th Circuit to the Supreme Court and back again. It has been a long and difficult road for the Al-Arian family,” Turley explains in a statement on his website, www.JonathanTurley.org.
“Following a highly publicized six-month trial in 2005, Dr. Al-Arian was acquitted on eight counts and the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the remaining nine counts. There were only two jurors who voted against acquitting Dr. Al-Arian of all of the remaining counts.
“As the government considered whether to bring charges against Dr. Al-Arian on the remaining counts, the parties began to negotiate a plea agreement. As a result of these negotiations, Dr. Al- Arian executed a written plea agreement on February 28, 2006. Pursuant to this agreement, Dr. Al-Arian committed to pleading guilty to Court 4 of the Superseding Indictment. The narrative of this count largely dealt with a statement that Dr. Al- Arian made to a reporter and his support with an immigration matter for a person “associated” with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). The count notably did not admit to any of the core terrorism charges levied against him regarding alleged leadership in PIJ and the other terrorism acts. Dr. Al-Arian was sentenced to a 57-month term of imprisonment on May 1, 2006.”
Turley said that Al-Arian was subjected to a “highly abusive incarceration.”
“This case remains one of the most troubling chapters in this nation’s crackdown after 9-11. Despite the jury verdict and the agreement reached to allow Dr. Al-Arian to leave the country, the Justice Department continued to fight for his incarceration and for a trial in this case,” Turley said in his statement.
“It will remain one of the most disturbing cases of my career in terms of the actions taken by our government. However, despite our often heated hearings in this case, I thank those at the Justice Department who agreed to the dismissal of the indictment. This family has been put through over a decade of grinding, unrelenting litigation. It is time to bring closure to this matter once for all.”
Turley also published a statement issued by the Al-Arian family, which has been subjected to years of harassment, bullying and intimidation by the mainstream American hate news media, and by American politicians who have used racism tied to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, to advance their political agendas.
“We are glad that the government has finally decided to drop the charges against Sami Al-Arian. It has been a long and difficult 11 years for our family in what has ultimately been shown to be a political case. We are relieved that this ordeal finally appears to be at an end. We hope that today’s events bring to a conclusion the government’s pursuit of Dr. Al-Arian and that he can finally be able to resume his life with his family in freedom. We are so grateful to our brilliant attorney, Jonathan Turley and his legal team for their tireless efforts and advocacy on our behalf. Thank you to all of our supporters around the country and across the globe, who have stood behind us throughout the years.”
Al-Arian was born in Kuwait and his family includes his wife Nahla Al-Najjar, and his children Abdullah, Laila, Leena, Ali and Lama. Laila AL-Arian, who helped in making the film, is a producer at Al-Jazeera.
The Al-Arian saga is a black eye for America and Americans. It is a symbol of the laws that corrupt the American justice system and that allow the American justice system to be used for political agendas.
It is one of the great American injustices and tragedies. Al-Arian should now file a lawsuit against the U.S. Government and claim hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for pain and suffering that has brought not only to Sami Al-Arian, destroying his reputation and his ability to work in America, and the suffering experienced by his family for more than 11 years, but also the harmful impact this case has had on every American Muslim and American Arab who has ever challenged and criticized the illegal practices and war crimes of the State of Israel, a nation that has the United States in a political headlock.
It is shameful but that is what American has become since Sept. 11, 2001, a place where justice and facts have been replaced by paranoia, political expediency and racism.
This should be a class action suit representing every Arab and Muslim who has been vilified by the false claims against Sami Al-Arian and dozens of other public persecutions of critics of the state of Israel, a foreign country that wields untold powers over the American people.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and columnist and managing editor of the Arab Daily News www.TheArabDailyNews.com.)
Ray Hanania is the Managing Writer of the Arab Daily News online news site. He is an award winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist who covered the beat from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley). Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions.In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also writes for Al Jazeera English. Hanania has written for the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.
Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.
His personal website is www.TheMediaOasis.com.
Email him at: RayHanania@theArabDailyNews.com
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