April 19, 2006

Al-Arian muddle

With the plea agreement (PDF) approved by the judge this week, it looks like the criminal proceedings against Sami Al-Arian are winding down (barring weird stuff that is actually somewhat likely). From the coverage in the local newspapers (St. Pete Times and Tampa Tribune), it may end the legal situation in as clear a case as either side may wish: guilt on one count of conspiracy, with deportation to follow a relatively short sentence from this point on.

However, the end of the criminal case doesn't leave us with that much greater knowledge of the facts. Al-Arian admits to having lied in material ways about his relationship to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad before the 1995 declaration that it was a terrorist organization and about others in Tampa. But it's still not clear how much the PIJ exploited his presence in Tampa versus Al-Arian's exploiting the PIJ to boost his own ambitions with a think tank. Both are likely.

I may have more to say on the aftermath of the case after the semester winds down. Not now, though: I owe students a batch of papers returned.

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Posted in Academic freedom on April 19, 2006 4:56 PM |