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February 22, 2024

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More jail time given to terrorist professor

By Mitch Stacy THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

TAMPA, Fla. – A judge sentenced former professor Sami Al-Arian yesterday to another year and a half in prison before he will be deported in his terrorism conspiracy case, calling him “an active leader” in a Palestinian terror group.

Al-Arian, 48, was sentenced to four years and nine months, but he will get credit for the three years and three months he already has served.

Attorney Linda Moreno asked the judge to release her client now, but the judge refused and called Al-Arian “a master manipulator.”

Al-Arian signed a plea agreement April 14 in which he admitted providing support to members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a State Department-designated terrorist group responsible for hundreds of deaths in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The former University of South Florida professor took the plea deal even though a jury failed to convict him on any of the 17 charges against him after a six-month trial last year. His family said he took the deal to get out of jail and end their suffering.

Al-Arian once was considered one of the most important terrorist figures brought to trial in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism attacks. His indictment in 2003 was hailed by then – Attorney General John Ashcroft as one of the first triumphs of the Patriot Act, enacted in the weeks after Sept. 11.

As part of the plea agreement, he admitted being associated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad since the late 1980s and providing “services” for the group, which included filing for immigration benefits for key members, hiding the identities of those men and lying about his involvement.

Al-Arian’s attorneys argued during his trial that although he and his co-defendants were vocal advocates for the Palestinian cause, the government had no proof they planned or knew about specific acts of violence. They said the money the defendants raised was for legitimate charities.

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