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Trial video shows anti-Israel speech

Prosecutors are using the video to try to convince jurors that former USF professor Sami Al-Arian is guilty of supporting a terrorist organization.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published July 26, 2005


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Jurors in the terrorism conspiracy trial of Sami Al-Arian were shown a video Tuesday in which the former college professor moderated a symposium where participants spoke approvingly about the killings of Israeli citizens and police in terror attacks.

The video is another piece of evidence prosecutors are using to try to convince jurors that Al-Arian and three other men standing trial in federal court are guilty of raising money in the United States and supporting the mission of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group blamed for 100 deaths in the Middle East.

The video showed Al-Arian moderating a 1989 conference in Chicago sponsored by the Islamic Committee for Palestine, an entity he founded that prosecutors say was a front for support of the PIJ.

One of the panelists, asked by a young man for a practical solution to the smoldering conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, suggests they meet outside to discuss how to smuggle weapons.

One speaker, Fawaz Damra, imam of a Cleveland mosque who is an unindicted coconspirator in the Al-Arian case, said: "The first principle is that terrorism, and terrorism alone, is the path to liberation."

Along with Al-Arian, the video also shows Bashir Musa Mohammed Nafi and Abd Al Aziz Awda, who are named as defendants in the indictment but have not been arrested.

The indictment says Nafi is a member and founder of the PIJ who once worked at the World & Islamic Studies Enterprise (WISE), a Tampa think tank founded by Al-Arian. It described Awda as the imam of the Al Qassam Mosque in Gaza, and a founder and spiritual leader of the PIJ.

Al-Arian and three co-defendants face a 53-count indictment alleging that they conspired to support terrorism by using various charitable and educational organizations as fronts to support the PIJ.

The defendants contend they are being persecuted for their unpopular political beliefs.

[Last modified July 26, 2005, 15:48:00]


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