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Al-Arian ordered to testify in case

His ex-lawyer believes this is a ploy to further punish Al-Arian, who will likely not testify and will be held in contempt.

By MEG LAUGHLIN
Published September 26, 2006


Sami Al-Arian, who is seven months away from leaving prison, is about to be subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in another terrorism-related case in Virginia, according to his former attorney, Bill Moffitt.

Al-Arian, who was serving his sentence at a prison 60 miles north of Tampa, has been moved to a county jail in Virginia, where he will be summoned to testify before a grand jury about an Islamic think tank.

"It is a clear violation of the plea agreement, which was supposed to end Sami's business with the United States, and prosecutors know that," said Moffitt.

Steve Cole, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa, said, "We can't comment on any activity involving Sami Al-Arian."

Linda Moreno, Moffitt's co-counsel, said, "The plea agreement doesn't mention cooperation and that is intentional. That Dr. Al-Arian would not cooperate was negotiated."

What this means, said Moffitt, is that Al-Arian will probably take the Fifth Amendment and refuse to testify, which will result in contempt charges. This could extend his sentence by 18 months.

In May, Al-Arian was sentenced to 57 months in prison as part of a plea agreement in which he admitted helping associates of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad with non-violent activities. His release date was set for April 13, 2007, because he had already spent several years in prison before and during the trial.

The agreement came five months after Al-Arian received not guilty verdicts in a jury trial, where he was charged with fundraising for the violent activities of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Israel and the Occupied Territories. At the end of the six-month trial, a jury acquitted him on eight counts and hung on nine.

Al-Arian's plea agreement stated that the Department of Justice could not "charge defendant with committing any other federal offenses known ... at the time of the execution of this agreement."

At the plea agreement hearing in April, federal prosecutor Cherie Krigsman specifically told the court that Al-Arian would not be charged in the Eastern District of Virginia, "with committing any other federal crimes known ... at the time of this agreement."

Krigsman mentioned the Eastern District of Virginia because of Al-Arian connections to the International Institute of Islamic Thought, a think tank in eastern Virginia. The IIIT is still being investigated by the federal government.

"It's an outrageous violation of the agreement," said Moffitt. "Sami is about finished and they're piling on."

Contact Meg Laughlin at mlaughlin@sptimes.com or 727 893-8068.

[Last modified September 26, 2006, 01:06:50]


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