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An Overview of the Entire Controversy
Background: Before Sept. 11
The Year 2001 - 2002
The Year 2002 - 2003
Recent News
The year 2002 - 2003:
7 Days: 8/21/02 - 8/27/02
September: 8/21/02 - 9/26/02
Looming Clouds: 9/27/02 - 11/04/02
Anticipation: 11/05/02 - 12/31/02
Transitions: 1/1/03/02 - 2/19/03
Indictment: 2/20/02 - 2/21/03
Termination: 2/22/02 - 2/28/03
Reverberations: 3/1/03 - 3/19/03
A Greater Circle: 3/20/03 - 3/28/03
Recent News: 3/29/03 -
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Reverberations

Links from March 1, 2003 to March 19, 2003

The indictment and dismissal of Professor Al-Arian was immediated seized as a vindication by many of his accusers, so much so that Tampa Tribune staff were miffed by O'Reilly's attempt to hog the credit. The situation had become so emotional that many observers could discern only two sides to the conflict: pro-Al-Arian versus anti-Al-Arian; any more subtle position (like ``we believe that the USF Board of Trustees should presume Al-Arian innocent until proven guilty') was lost in the verbal fire. Most of the punditry consisted of I-told-you-so's from Al-Arian's opponents, and one recipient of these declarations was UFF.

Nevertheless, interesting developments came to light. Al-Arian's political activities, particularly his support for the GOP (and vice versa) became a topic of much hand-wringing, while the precise nature of his official mosque and academy duties became the subject of background reports. Meanwhile, Al-Arian started a modified hunger strike: he drank only some breakfast drinks, a compromise between a protest against his arrest, and his diabetes.

These links are in a very rough chronological order, and will be updated as events develop. Again, links marked with an asterisk (*) are to the LEXIS-NEXIS site: this is restricted to on-campus users and requires that the user do a search; two asterisks (**) apply to other restrictions.

WARNING ABOUT `LINK ROT': Some websites take pages down, or restrict access to them, after some time passes. So unfortunately, some of the links on these pages will be inoperative. However, most of the items can be found by searching lexis-nexis.

Here are links back to the site map, to the main Al-Arian page of this site, and to the main UFF/USF page.


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Termination
2/22/03 - 2/28/03
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A Greater Circle
3/20/03 - 3/28/03
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Howlers by Owl-Post

How many people visit this site? That question was first asked last April, when it was discovered (in the aftermath of a major hacking of USF's UNIX systems) that the hit-counting commands for the servor supporting this site did not work. Since then, both the webmaster for this site, and the IT staff maintaining the servor, have been too busy to get around to the problem of counting hits. Someone must visit: the account has received a number of (mostly negative) e-mails from random visitors. But even ball-park figures are hard to guess.
spacer During the last week, the site had a large number of angry visitors, who sent a lot of e-mails on Al-Arian. 46 people sent 50 e-mails during the following week. There were four queries (including two from reporters), one favorable e-mail, and 45 unfavorable ones. 36 of the unfavorable ones were signed (or had the name appear in the path), leaving 9 unsigned. Only two (one signed, one unsigned) had obscenities. There is a sampling of comments. (I have taken the liberty of correcting the spelling.)

In addition, the UFF office got a number of unpleasant phone calls during the first few days after the indictment. Why do angry people take it out on the secretaries?

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Set on Low Heat

Finally, the story subsiding to a simmer.

  • The Mar. 1 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asked *Is the professor a terrorist? in an editorial that looked at many anomalies in the case, concluding, ``If al-Arian broke no laws, then he probably is guilty of nothing more -- or less -- than gross insults and ingratitude to the country that has sheltered him for nearly 30 years.''
  • The Mar. 1 St. Petersburg Times reported that Jailed Al-Arian taken to hospital after a physician ``physician saw symptoms that `caused him concern.''' Asked if the symptoms could be related to Al-Arian's on-going hunger strike, Hillsborough Chief Deputy David Gee said, ``It is possible that it's related to that.''
  • The Mar. 1 Tampa Tribune reported that Al-Arian Taken To Hospital, Returns To Jail After 2 Hours.
  • The Mar. 1 Tampa Tribune reported that WFLA Defends Al-Arian Stories As Objective. To complaints that WFLA gave the story too much coverage, WFLA News Director Forrest Carr said, ``America is about to go to war over issues related to terrorism. In the wake of 9/11, we can't imagine an issue more important to our country and our community. That is why we devoted so much time and attention to this case.'' To a complaint, ``Am I the only one who thinks the poor guy is being railroaded? I am a Christian, 4th generation Floridian and a Vietnam-era vet who is very concerned that the U.S. Justice Department is running roughshod over our civil liberties,'' Carr responded that, ``We closely attributed every allegation against Al-Arian to its source. We included in our reporting a wide range of viewpoints, including those sympathetic to Al- Arian.''
  • The Mar. 2 St. Petersburg Times Washington Journal noted Suspected terrorist, White House guest? with more about Al-Arian's 2001 visit to the White House. Quoting California Rep. Henry Waxman: ``It appears that a suspected terrorist under investigation by the FBI was allowed access to the White House complex.''
  • On Mar. 2 St. Petersburg Times columnist Robin Blumner wrote that Ashcroft line on Al-Arian doesn't fly. Ashcroft had said that before the PATRIOT Act, intelligence data was kept from the Justice Department, and so the evidence for the indictment had not been available to the FBI until then. Blumner counters with a precedent for using intelligence data prior to the PATRIOT act, and argues that it was FBI incompetence, not the legal situation, that prevented an earlier indictment. Note that there is a slight confusion between the FBI, which traditionally handles Western hemisphere intelligence, and the CIA, which traditionally handles the rest of the world.
  • The Mar. 2 Sarasota Herald Tribune ran a background story on Feds write rules on laundering, describing the nuts and bolts of money laundering.
  • On Mar. 3, Insight Online ran an article on Khan Says He Didn't Open Door to Al-Arian, said that Al-Arian was invited to the White House for events for which the guests were chosen by the American Muslim Council, described in the article as a ``radical Muslim group.''
  • On Mar. 3, Newsweek ran a story on Hiding in Plain Sight: Did a Muslim professor use activism as a cloak for terror?, and went from Al-Arian's quote ``I think I personally played a big role in electing Bush,'' to Khaled Saffuri, chairman of the Islamic Institute, saying, ``If these charges are true, then he's betrayed me--and a whole lot of others in the Muslim community.''
  • The Mar. 3 USF Oracle ran a story on Al-Arian's hunger strike: Taking a slow toll, describing the history of such hunger strikes: ``maybe the most comparable to Al-Arian's case was the world-famous 1981 hunger strike by members of the Irish Republic Army. Imprisoned as terrorists, the prisoners began to starve themselves, reportedly because they wanted to be considered political prisoners. The British government refused to concede, and by the end of the strike, ten people were dead from starvation.''
  • The Mar. 3 University of Pennsylvania Daily Pensylvanian columnist David Copley wrote about A colleague who does not deserve support, wrote of the USF Chapter of UFF's statement that, ``defend his rights related to his job on campus, as we do for all faculty members'': Copley responds: ``Amazing! At a minimum, you'd think a group of our nation's leading academics would condemn the slaughter of innocent civilians. Or express concern that a professor had been using his position to obtain U.S. visas for Islamic Jihad members.''
  • On Mar. 4, AP reported that *Three accused in terror activity were educated in North Carolina, reporting that in addition to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, charged with being the senior al Qaida operative who masterminded the Sept. 11 attacks, two other graduates of North Carolina A & T University were Al-Arian and Al-Najjar. Mohammed apparently got a degree in mechanical engineering, Al-Arian in computer engineering, and Al-Najjar in industrial management & engineering.
  • The Mar. 4 Southern Illinois University (Edwardsville) Alestle columnist Jon R. Pike wrote that *Patriot Act is patriotic propaganda, which began with ``Back in the 1950s, the U.S. government would give information to various friendly organizations and so-called `journalists' to ignite the public against various suspect figures. The government would then prosecute such figures under such thankfully gone measures as the Smith Act, which effectively made dissent against the government a crime,'' and wrote, ``The message from the Bush administration to the academic community became clear on the day Al-Arian was arrested -- if you step out of line, what we did to him, we can do to you.''
  • On Mar. 4, U.S. Attorney-General John Aschcroft appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and citing several recent cases, especially Al-Arian's, whose investigations had been facilitated by the U.S. PATRIOT Act, said, ``The indictment charges a total of eight defendants under RICO with operating a racketeering enterprise from 1984 until the present that engaged in a number of violent activities. In addition, the indictment charges conspiracy within the United States to kill and maim persons abroad, conspiracy to provide material support and resources to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, conspiracy to violate emergency economic sanctions, engaging in various acts of interstate extortion, perjury, obstruction of justice and immigration fraud. If convicted, the defendants face up to life in prison.''
  • On Mar. 4, the New York University Washington Square News columnist Shankar Gupta wrote that Florida prof is no political prisoner, writing, ``Every step in this sordid tale has been greeted with a stink from al-Arianís assorted supporters ó and, up until his recent arrest, their objections to al-Arianís treatment have been perfectly justified. Before last week, al-Arianís detractors were attacking him solely for his controversial public statements and vague, unsubstantiated claims of terrorist involvement.'' But now, ``more concrete allegations have surfaced ó concrete enough to warrant a federal indictment, in fact ó questions of academic freedom and politics need to be put to rest. Al-Arianís arrest and his subsequent dismissal were not motivated by politics.''
  • On Mar. 4, New York Post columnist John Podhoretz wrote in Wile E. Democrats - Another `Gotcha' Ploy Fails that Al-Arian's arrest is a blow to Democrats in general and Bob Graham in particular.
  • The Mar. 4 St. Petersburg Times ran a background piece on Al-Arian's criminal attorney, described as One lawyer, trying to slay giants: Nick Matassini has a long and personal history of fighting the federal government. Now he leads the Al-Arian defense, the case of a lifetime. The story predicts that the primary difficulty for Matassini's small law firm is the huge expenses anticipated.
  • The Mar. 4 Tampa Tribune reported that FBI Agent Who Refused To Tape Al-Arian Is Suspended, reporting that agent Gamal Abdel-Hafiz refused to tape a telephone conversation with Al-Arian in 1998. The story reported that Abdel-Hafez refused to record another conversation, and prevented a third conversation from being recorded.
  • The Mar. 4 Weekly Standard editorialized in Al-Arian Nation that although Al-Arian ``will have a full and fair trial,'' he already ``has made an abject fool out of every non-terrorist friend he has ever had.'' The Standard is amazed that this ``very, very bad man has somehow managed to retain a significant body of institutional support in the United States,'' and points to two groups: academic organizations (specifically UFF and the AAUP) and Muslim- and Arab-American organizations (specifically the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the American Muslim Political Coordination Council, the Arab American Institute, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee). The Standard concludes: ``Even from a jail cell, it seems, Sami Al-Arian's poison spreads.''

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Back to the Contract

The Public Employees Relations Commission was petitioned twice last Fall to rule on whether USF had to recognize the union and the contract. Both times, PERC decided that the time was not yet ripe for a ruling. Now it is March, the time is past ripe, and PERC has a third petition to respond to. There are several parallel efforts:

  • The union would like to declare that the union still represents faculty, and that the old contract must be followed by a successor contract.
  • The union has offered to join USF in petitioning for an ``amended certification,'' which would delcare that the union still represents faculty, and that the old contract must be followed by a successor contract.
  • If the Board of Trustees refuses to recognize the union, the union has collected enough faculty cards to compel USF to hold a certification election on whether the union represents faculty.
And the USF Administration has offered to (apparently) petition PERC to certify the union, but (apparently) sans contract.
  • The Mar. 5 USF Oracle reported that PERC reviewing certification for unions. The Oracle quoted UFF USF Chapter President Roy Weatherford saying, ``So far, management has even refused to talk about negotiations.'' The Oracle also paraphrased a statement by PERC General Counsel Steve Meck: ``Meck said the commission has moved along with the governance changes in Florida, but had to wait to see what role the BOG would take,'' and then quoted him: ``We knew they were going to take on a role since November, but we didn't know what role they were going to take on ... I really think this is about as fast as it could have been done.''

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Feeding Frenzy

The Al-Arian case is so entangled with so many controversies, from civil liberties to clashes of cultures, that four arrests --- and one conspicuous non-arrest --- would be recognized as ideological injuries. The sharks scent blood in the water, and before long skeletons (real and imaginary) fall out of closets, recriminations fill the air, and the talking heads jockey for advantageous positions.

The Qu'ran contains several denunciations of sectarianism and divisiveness, and so it is not surprising that some members of some of the various sects of Islam claim their sect to be Islam, and that members of other sects are heretics. (The origin of the word ``heretic'' suggests that this view is not exclusively Islamic.) One Islamic sect has been aggressively marketing itself as the exclusive form of Islam: this is Wahhabism, or Salafi Islam, whose missionary campaigns in Africa and the MidEast get substantial backing from public and private Saudi sources. On Mar. 11, the St. Petersburg Times ran a story on Saudi form of Islam wars with moderates: Some Muslims say Wahhabism, the fundamentalist version of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, is intent on stamping out all other sects, reporting on missionary campaigns in the USA. In particular, the Times describes a takeover of an unnamed mosque in Temple Terrace, and reports that a Hillsborough County Sheriff's report listed Mazen al-Najjar's two sisters (one of them Al-Arian's wife) for participating in a violent episode in the 1980s in the mosque; since then, according to the Times, Al-Arian has assumed leadership of the mosque, and has received funding from Saudi missionary sources, including the International Institute of Islamic Thought, which had arranged for financial support for WISE.
  • The Mar. 11 Federal News Service ran testimony by *Ms. Alice Fisher, deputy assistant attorney general of the Criminal Division at the Justice Department, who was describing surveillance of Al-Qaida when she briefly detoured into Al-Arian, and said that ``Al- Arian attempted to hide his support for PIJ after the group was designated as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997, but court approved electronic surveillance of his office revealed his continued active support for PIJ long after the designation.''
  • The Mar. 11 St. Petersburg Times also described: Friends in high places: Sami Al-Arian isn't the only prominent Muslim leader who posed for chummy pictures with President Bush. Many conservative Republicans are uneasy at the way GOP power broker Grover Norquist curries support from the Muslim community. Former White House speechwriter David Frum wrote, ``That outreach campaign opened relationships between the Bush campaign and some very disturbing persons in the Muslim-American community. Many of those disturbing persons were invited to stand beside the president at post-9/11 events.'' Conservative columnist Frank Gaffney is unhappy with Americans for Tax Reform chairman Grover Norquist's efforts to build bridges between the GOP and American Muslims. American Conservative Union President David Keene reportedly joined Gaffney in accusing Norquist of using ``Stalinist tactics,'' and Keene reportedly wrote, ``The problem is that moderate Muslims control few organizations and have virtually no voice.'' Norquist is described as a co-founder of the Islamic Institute, whose chairman said Gaffney is ``bitter for his lack of access to some important 'political circles,' particularly the White House.''
  • The Mar. 11 White House Bulletin reported that *Neo-Cons 'Chilling' U.S. Muslims' Relationship With White House. The lead is: ``Terrorism charges against a Muslim professor who visited the White House and a spat between conservatives over Islamic values have strained President Bush's relationship with Muslims.'' But despite the concern over ``Islamic values,'' the Bulletin reported that Muslims supported Bush not only because of his campaign promise to end the use of secret evidence, but also his stance against abortion and same-sex marriage. Sarah Eltantawi of the Muslim Public Affairs Council said: ``The president is going to have a lot of trouble with the Muslim community in the next election because a cabal of neo-conservatives is consistently working to undermine the president's message.''
  • The small Temple Terrace biweekly, the Temple Terrace Beacon, reported in its Mar. 12 - 25 edition that ``Al-Arian drinking breakfast snacks with medication,'' and reported that Al-Arian has vowed to continue his hunger strike through his trial.
But something interesting is happening: the number of hits for ``al-arian'' on google is declining: as of Mar. 12, it was down to 7,120 hits. This site, as usual, is Number 2: and is as usual, Number One is Salon's Jan. 19, 2002 article The prime-time smearing of Sami Al-Arian, and, as has been the case recently, Number Three is the official USF Al-Arian Case - Related Documents Index.

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The Patter of Dropping Shoes

The Al-Arian case is so tangled and complex that it is not surprising that the cascade of stories following his arrest continued into the fourth week.

  • The Mar. 12 Jerusalem Post ran a column by Richard Pipes on *FBI fumbles: A tale of mystery, reporting the various different versions of why FBI agent Abdel-Hafiz allegedly refused to record conversations with Muslims, including Al-Arian.
  • The Mar. 12 University of Michigan--Ann Arbor Michigan Daily reported that Al-Arian speaks out on father's arrest. Laila Al-Arian spoke at the First Annual Banquet for a Free Palestine after an interview with the Daily, where she said, ``I'm extremely proud of all of the work my father's done. I honestly don't think that he committed anything or that he did anything illegal.'' The Daily also reported in Finkelstein: War looming between Israel, Palestinians that at the banquet, Al-Arian said: ``All my father has ever done is to educate people about these issues.''
  • The Mar. 13 Tampa Tribune reported that Al-Arian's Attorney Seeks Prosecution Files, as part of the ``discovery'' process, as part of his effort to make the case for bail.
  • On Mar. 16, AP posted two items. One was a background piece on Al-Arian: Terrorist or victim of anti-Muslim bias? (published in the Herald-Tribune as ``Supporters say Al-Arian's being treated unjustly''). Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman Ahmed Bedier said, ``We're not saying he's innocent or guilty, but we question the timing of the arrests ... It seems like everyone is coming at the Muslim community in America, looking for links to terrorism.'' AP also reported that John Loftus, who was described as ``a former U.S. Justice Department attorney who sued Al-Arian last year as a private citizen,'' said, ``The people that are supporting Sami really don't care what the evidence is ... because everything is justified by the cause.'' AP also posted a *Timeline of events in the investigation into Sami Al-Arian.
  • The Mar. 16 New York Post editorialized on *Useful Idiots Redux, which observed, among other connections, that ``Not In Our Name, the major antiwar organizer, relies for its fund raising on the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO) - which, in turn, sponsors the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom,'' whose president was Al-Arian.
  • The Mar. 16 St. Petersburg Times ran a background story on how Local ties to Islamic school are intricate: Four members of the board of the Islamic Academy of Florida are from Hernando County. Al-Arian founded the Islamic Academy of Florida, and the Department of Justice claims that it was used by Al-Arian for services to the PIJ. Four Hernando County residents are on the Academy board, including Dr. Ayman Osman, whose office manager, Hatem Fariz, was arrested with Al-Arian. Also arrested was the Academy's treasurer, Sameeh Hammoudeh. Chairman of the Anti-Hate Committee for the Greater Florida B'nai B'rith Norman Gross said, ``Where does the money go? There doesn't seem to be any real accountability.''
  • On Mar. 16, Sarasota Herald-Tribune columnist John Hammer wrote about Making Ex Post Facto Law: Rules bent to trip Al-Arian, saying of one of the laws used to charge Al-Arian: ``From our national infancy we have insisted that you can't arrest somebody for violating a law that hadn't been passed when he did it. It has a fancy Latin title, and it's right there in Section 9 of Article I of the original Constitution, adopted even before the Bill of Rights was brought up.''
  • The Mar. 19 National Review ran a column by Joel Mowbray on how No Mea Culpas: The pre-arrest al-Arian defense team in the media has fallen silent, sharply criticizing columnists Nicholas Kristof and Eric Boelhert, and noting that ``Now that al-Arian is facing multiple felony counts ó based on solid evidence including documents and wiretaps ó his defenders are no longer singing from the same hymnal.''


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spacer Previous:
Termination
2/22/03 - 2/28/03
Next:
A Greater Circle
3/20/03 - 3/28/03
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spacer Al-Arian Site Home
USF/UFF Site Home
Major Postings
The Issues
Contact Us
Site Map
An Overview of the Entire Controversy
Background: Before Sept. 11
The Year 2001 - 2002
The Year 2002 - 2003
Recent News
The year 2002 - 2003:
7 Days: 8/21/02 - 8/27/02
September: 8/21/02 - 9/26/02
Looming Clouds: 9/27/02 - 11/04/02
Anticipation: 11/05/02 - 12/31/02
Transitions: 1/1/03/02 - 2/19/03
Indictment: 2/20/02 - 2/21/03
Reverberations: 3/1/03 - 3/19/03
A Greater Circle: 3/20/03 - 3/28/03
Recent News: 3/29/03 -
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