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Timeline: Events in the case of Sami Al-Arian

By STAFF WRITER
Published December 7, 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.

JUNE 6: The trial begins.

JUNE 16: The father of Alisa Flatow, a 20-year-old American student killed in a suicide bombing attack as she rode a bus in Israel, testifies about what happened to his daughter, and the pain of losing her.

JULY 12: The jury sees a videotape of a rally in Cleveland in 1991 in which Al-Arian is introduced as the leader of the "active arm" of the Islamic Jihad movement in the United States.

JULY 18: A prosecution witness backfires, as Ziad Abu-Amr, a prominent Palestinian legislator, testifies that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) has a charitable arm, funding sports camps, kindergartens, child care and health services, and that Al-Arian didn't coach him on what to say in an affidavit he provided in a deportation case.

AUG. 1: Prosecutors present wiretapped conversations in which Al-Arian communicates about a with fellow members of the PIJ "Shura Council, a kind of board of directors for the group, about a financial crisis.

AUG 8: A letter Al-Arian wrote to a Kuwaiti legislator is introduced, in which he praised a suicide bombing and asked the man to raise money "so operations such as these can continue."

AUG. 9: An FBI report is revealed in which the Kuwaiti legislator who supposedly received Al-Arian's letter denies ever getting it.

OCT. 10: The prosecution is frustrated by its own witness, former college professor Abdul Raouf Dabus, who repeatedly says that he only knew of Al-Arian raising money for charitable purposes.

OCT. 27: Prosecution rests. Al-Arian's lead attorney, Bill Moffitt, surprises many in the courtroom when he announces that his defense will rest without putting on any witnesses or evidence. He explains that he will argue that Al-Arian has done nothing illegal, and is on trial for his words and opinions, which are protected by the U.S. Constitution.

OCT. 31: The father of co-defendant Sameeh Hammoudeh testifying on his son's behalf, says Hammoudeh sent donations from Islamic organizations in Tampa and Chicago to him, and he distributed the money to West Bank charities.

NOV. 15: After hearing 22 weeks of testimony and argument, jurors begin deliberations.

Dec. 6: The jury finds Al-Arian not guilty on 8 counts, deadlocks on 9; co-defendant Hatem Fariz not guilty on 25 counts, with and no agreement on a verdict on 8; Sameeh Hammoudeh and Ghassan Ballut not guilty on all counts.

Sources: Times files, University of South Florida

[Last modified December 6, 2005, 18:30:04]


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