So Long, Sami
Sami Al-Arian, a former college professor in Florida, was arrested in February 2003. He was accused of providing support to Palestinian Islamic Jihad. A six month trial resulted in Al-Arian being acquitted of eight charges. Nine other charges resulted in a hung jury.
Under a plea deal finalized last month, Al-Arian, 48, agreed to admit guilt and accept a possible sentence of 46 to 57 months and eventual deportation from America. Prosecutors agreed to join defense attorneys in recommending a sentence at the low end of the range, but the judge, James Moody Jr., ignored those suggestions and imposed the maximum sentence allowed by the plea bargain.
At a court hearing yesterday morning, Judge Moody coupled the tough sentence with a stinging verbal rebuke of Al-Arian. The judge scoffed at many of the explanations and defenses Al-Arian has offered since news reports emerged in the mid-1990s alleging that the computer science professor and his Islamic studies think tank had ties to terrorism. "You are a master manipulator. You looked your neighbors in the eyes and said you had nothing to do with Palestinian Islamic Jihad. This trial exposed that as a lie," Judge Moody said. "The evidence was clear in the this case that you were a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad."