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Reactions to the verdicts

Comments from people who have been involved in the controversial case over the years.

By Times Staff Writer
Published December 6, 2005

"I've got to accept our system, but it's distressing to me. I went to a number of the trial sessions. What I heard convinced me that he definitely was chief paymaster for (Palestinian Islamic) Jihad. We're going to be collaborating in our own demise because eventually the INS will begin deportation and then if he gets sent back (to the Middle East) he can do us some damage."

-- Norman Gross, president of Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting (PRIMER) and a longtime critic of Al-Arian.

"I'm absolutely delighted. They had 10 years to investigate this guy, thousands of hours of wire taps. They had the CIA, the FBI and Israeli intelligence gathering evidence. After all that, they couldn't get 12 people to agree on one count guilty. I think that sends a message: Let this man get on with his life."

-- Bob McKee, Al-Arian's former attorney

"When I first saw the indictment of Al-Arian, I called it a work of fiction. The jury's verdict bears that out. I knew from the beginning that the government's transcripts were flawed...I believe from the start this was a case of political speech...The verdict is a stinging rebuke on this government's war on terrorism that has become the government's war on free speech."

-- Nicholas Matassini, former Al-Arian attorney.

"I think it was a good try by the prosecution. When you deal with an indictment of this size, the jury has to absorb a lot of information and connect a lot of dots...The jury did the best they could do. But the acquittal sets back this type of prosecution...I knew a conviction wouldn't bring Alisa back. But at the same time I did hope it would send a signal and inhibit other people from sending money overseas to these groups."

-- Stephen Flatow, father of 20-year-old Alisa, who was killed in Israel in 1995 by a suicide bomber.

"At the end of the day, this was a guilt-by-association case. They never connected Sami Al-Arian to a single illegal act, here or abroad...When you fight the war on terror, you need to focus on terrorists, not on people whose political associations you find distasteful.

-- David Cole, a Georgetown University law professor who represented Mr. Al-Arian's brother-in-law, Mazen Al-Najjar, in an earlier deportation case during the 1990s.

" After following the Al-Arian case in the media - where he and his co-defendants were so vilified - it was encouraging to see our judicial system give the presumption of innocence. It reaffirms our faith as American muslims in the U.S. legal system."

-- Arsalan Iftikhar, National legal director Council American-Islamic Relations.

[Last modified December 6, 2005, 19:06:13]

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