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Visiting professor accused of ties to Hamas

A pro-Israeli group quotes a government source alleging that the visiting professor at Florida Atlantic University "is known as an activist."

By Associated Press
Published October 26, 2003

JUPITER - The State Department is investigating a pro-Israeli think tank's allegations that a visiting professor at Florida Atlantic University's Honors College is linked with a Palestinian militant group, the school said Saturday.

Mustafa Abu Sway, a Fulbright professor from Israel, was accused of ties to Hamas in an opinion piece published Monday in the New York Post.

"We're waiting for word from the entities who have the abilities to thoroughly research the allegations," FAU spokeswoman Aileen Izquierdo said. "We don't have the tools to do it; the State Department does. So, we're waiting for the experts to let us know if we need to be concerned."

The opinion piece was written by Daniel Pipes, who heads the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum. Pipes quoted an unidentified Israeli government source alleging Abu "is known as an activist" in Hamas, but gave no further evidence.

According to another watchdog group, Abu Sway has made statements critical of Israel and has spoken at meetings also attended by Hamas-connected figures. The Investigative Project has published several pages of what it considers questionable statements by Abu Sway, who lives in East Jerusalem.

Abu Sway, an associate professor at the Islamic Research Center of Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, has denied the allegations.

"I said at a recent speech that I cherish the Jewish presence and I advocate nonviolence," Abu Sway told the Palm Beach Post. "My immediate reaction is that this is a witch hunt. These are the conjectures and whims of Mr. Pipes. It's very sad it's reached this level. It's obvious he's trying to intimidate people."

There was no phone listing for Abu Sway and he did not immediately respond Saturday to an e-mail from The Associated Press.

At the FAU Honors College, Abu Sway is teaching an introduction to Islam, as well as courses in Islamic philosophy and politics.

Before his arrival in June, Abu Sway was investigated by the State Department and the Fulbright Scholar Program.

"Both entities assured everybody who goes through the Fulbright Program goes through very rigorous background and security checks," Izquierdo said. "However, the State Department decided they were going to go ahead and take a second look at his file based on the fact that we had gotten allegations."

Izquierdo said there was no indication when the second investigation would be completed.

State Department spokeswoman Susan Pittman refused to comment Saturday on Pipes' opinion piece, the accusations and any current investigations.

Meanwhile, a former professor at the University of South Florida is awaiting trial on charges he raised money for terrorists.

Sami Al-Arian and three associates are charged in a 50-count indictment of using an academic think tank and a charity for Palestinians as a front to raise money for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The case is set to go to trial in January 2005.

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