Sami Al-Arian, in his wordsBy Times staff
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 21, 2003
"I do not support that. I said that over and over again. . . . Morally, religiously, Islam is against the killing of any civilian, of any mother, of any father, of any ethnicity, and I do not support, you know, Palestinians being killed by the Israeli army."
ON ISRAEL AND JEWS
At the Islamic Committee for Palestine's annual conference in 1988, and again in 1990 at an event commemorating the 1,000th day of the intifada, Al-Arian said, in Arabic:
"God is One, Mohammed is our Leader, the Koran is our Constitution. Struggling in the cause of God is our way. Victory to Islam, death to Israel. Revolution, revolution until victory. March, march towards Jerusalem. There is no deity but God. Mohammed is the Messenger of God. God is great. Victory to Islam."
At another speech in 1991, a few weeks after the end of the Persian Gulf War, he said, "God cursed those who are the sons of Israel, through David and Jesus, the son of Mary. . . . Those people, God made monkeys and pigs."
In the same year, he also said: "Let us damn America, let us damn Israel, let us damn them and their allies until death."
When he said "jihad," he says he did not mean "holy war." He meant "effort" or "struggle," and he says the Koran teaches that "the greatest struggle is against yourself -- your whims, your desires, your habits, your weaknesses."
When he referred to "the sons of Israel" as "monkeys and pigs," he says he was quoting from a passage in the Koran about those who earn the wrath of God.
When he said "Damn America," he says he didn't mean it literally: "I was very surprised to hear myself say that, and I've never said anything like that again."
Though Al-Arian says he won't say "Death to Israel" now, he maintains it is a "racist, apartheid state" that "has no moral or legal right to exist."
"I despise Israel," he said in an interview last year. "I wish it would go away tomorrow. There are many Jews who do not support Israel. It's unfair to the Jews as much as it's unfair to anybody else."
When he said "Death to Israel," he says he did not wish violence on Jewish people and would never say it now because, "I'd be misunderstood."
ON SEPT. 11
"Whoever did this is not a Muslim, is not a religious person."
He says he never realized Sept. 11 "would affect me personally the way it has." He said he was worried that authorities would arrest him at any moment.
ON TERROR GROUPS
From a letter Al-Arian wrote Feb. 1, 1995, after a terrorist attack killed 19 Israeli soldiers:
"The link with the brothers in Hamas is very good and making steady progress, and their (sic) are serious attempts at unification and permanent coordination. I call upon you to try to extend true support to the jihad effort so that operations such as these can continue."
Al-Arian says the letter was a response to a Kuwaiti friend's inquiry about the relationship between Islamic Jihad and Hamas, and whether to support them.
He says that in his letter, "I ask others to support them, but I don't support them personally." It's really a half-hearted response. The notion I wanted to communicate was, "Do not stay idle.' "
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