The individuals arrested in Florida and Illinois earlier today, including Sami al-Arian, a professor at the University of South Florida, were apparently supporters of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Tomorrow’s New York Times has a pretty balanced (i.e., neutral as between bombers and bombees) article. They quote Steven Emerson, one of our heroes: “The indictment shows an elaborate, sophisticated, comprehensive campaign, going back to 1984, and explicitly how Al-Arian and others were serving as actual leaders of a militant Islamic group within the U.S.”
Al-Arian and his friends and relatives have been the focus of anti-terror concerns for a number of years. His brother-in-law was recently deported after several years of detention. In June 2001, his son–at the time, an intern for Democratic Congressman David Bonior–was ejected from a White House conference by the Secret Service, who apparently realized belatedly who he was. This incident caused the other Muslim leaders present at the White House meeting to walk out in protest. As reported by the New York Times on June 29, 2001, “Secret Service officials later apologized for what they said was a mistake, but would not elaborate.” President Bush himself apologized the following day. At that time, the Times described Al-Arian as “a pro-Palestinian organizer who has campaigned against the government’s use of secret evidence to detain political organizers in the United States.”
Much has changed since then, even at the Times.
Two aspects of this story deserve particular mention. The first is the role of the much-maligned Patriot Act:
“While suspicions of terrorist ties have swirled around Mr. Al-Arian for years because of his outspoken advocacy for Palestinian causes, the authorities said they were stymied in bringing charges against him because of restrictions that, before the passage of the 2001 Patriot Act, limited the use of foreign intelligence information in criminal cases.
“Prosecutors said much of the material used to produce today’s indictment was not even made available to them until several months ago, even though it details planning and payments a decade old.”
The second is reflected in the indictment, which is available here. The indictment details many “overt acts” allegedly carried out in furtherance of the terrorist conspiracy, but what struck me most was paragraph 29:
“The enterprise members would and did commit acts of violence, intimidation and threats against Israel, its inhabitants and others, including murders and suicide bombings, and solicit and cause others to do so, with the intent to drive Israel out of the territory from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and to end any influence of the United States in the Middle East.”
It is refreshing, to say the least, to see the Islamofascists accurately characterized: not as frustrated activists whose arguably legitimate goals–an end to Israeli “occupation,” formation of a Palestinian state, etc.–are pursued by misguided means, but rather as genocidal maniacs. Let’s hope this candor is a sign of things to come.
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