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A timeline of events leading up to the trial of Sami Al-Arian

By Times Staff Writer
Published October 23, 2005

JANUARY 1986: The University of South Florida hires Sami Al-Arian as an assistant computer science and engineering professor.

OCTOBER 1988: Al-Arian starts the Islamic Committee for Palestine, ICP, to support Palestinian causes.

1990: Al-Arian founds the World and Islamic Studies Enterprise, WISE, as an Islamic think tank.

1991: The FBI asks Al-Arian to become an informant. He declines but invites an FBI agent to an ICP conference.

JANUARY 1994: Betty Castor is named USF president.

NOVEMBER 1994: A PBS documentary, Jihad in America, alleges that Al-Arian heads the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group's domestic support network.

FEBRUARY 1995: The FBI contacts USF police for information on Al-Arian.

APRIL 1995: Castor says she was informed of the FBI's request and directs USF police to seek information from law enforcement. The school says it was given no relevant information.

MAY 1995: The Tampa Tribune publishes a two-part story linking WISE, ICP and Al-Arian to fundraising and politicking for terrorist groups. Castor says she knew nothing of Al-Arian's alleged terrorist activities.

MAY 1995: The USF inspector general questions $16,000 from WISE to USF for a graduate student stipend and $2,000 from USF to WISE for an instructor to teach Modern Arabic. He recommends USF review both transactions.

JUNE 1995: USF suspends its agreement with WISE.

JUNE 1995: USF contacts the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service seeking information. The school says it was given no relevant information.

OCTOBER 1995: Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, former USF instructor and WISE administrator, is chosen leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Damascus, Syria.

OCTOBER 1995: USF issues a statement saying it has no current relationship with WISE or Shallah and denounces terrorism.

NOVEMBER 1995: FBI agents search Al-Arian's home and offices.

JANUARY 1996: Castor hires William Reece Smith, lawyer and former USF interim president, to investigate the school's agreements with WISE. He concludes in May that USF promptly responded to allegations about Al-Arian and cooperated with law enforcement and found no evidence that Al-Arian raised money for terrorists.

1996: Unsealed affidavits of immigration and FBI officials say they have probable cause to believe the think tank and charity are fronts for international terrorists.

MAY 1996: USF places Al-Arian on paid leave during a federal investigation.

JULY 1996: An Immigration and Naturalization Service agent testifies in court that WISE and ICP exist as "fronts for the purpose of fundraising activities for the Islamic Jihad."

FEBRUARY 1998: Castor asks the USF General Counsel Office to write to the Department of Justice asking the status of the federal investigation. It gets "no comment" in reply.

AUGUST 1998: Al-Arian returns to teaching.

OCTOBER 1999: Castor leaves USF.

SEPTEMBER 2001: USF's new president, Judy Genshaft, puts Al-Arian on paid leave and announces that she intends to fire him after he appears on a nationally televised talk show.

FEB. 20, 2003: Al-Arian is indicted and arrested by the federal government on charges that he raised money for terrorist groups.

FEB. 26, 2003: Genshaft fires Al-Arian.

MAY 16: Jury selection begins.

MAY 20: The jury is selected.

JUNE 6: The trial begins.

Sources: Times files, USF

[Last modified October 23, 2005, 01:21:14]

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