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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Don't Let the Screen Door Hit Ya Where the Good Lord Split Ya

Yahoo News is reporting that former University of South Florida professor, Sami Al-Arian, pled guilty to a charge of "conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (a designated terrorist organization)." Here's a clip from the article...

"In a closed proceeding before a federal magistrate at U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Florida last week, Al- Arian pleaded guilty to Count Four of the indictment against him -- a charge of conspiracy to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The plea hearing was closed over the objections of the government and unsealed today. The guilty plea was accepted by U.S. District Court Judge James S. Moody, Jr. this afternoon. Sentencing was scheduled for May 1.

Al-Arian's agreement with the government calls for a recommended prison sentence of 46 to 57 months in prison, based on a five-year maximum statutory sentence. Al-Arian, 48, who has been in custody since his arrest on Feb. 20, 2003, has agreed to stipulate to deportation to another country by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement once his prison sentence has ended. Al- Arian has lived in this country for approximately 30 years."

Here's how the Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace at the Free Sami Al-Arian website is spinning the guilty plea...

"At this time, it can be confirmed that in exchange for Dr. Al-Arian’s plea on one of the lesser charges, the government has agreed to drop all remaining charges and expedite his release and voluntary departure to another country. We welcome this resolution following an ordeal that kept Dr. Al-Arian from his family for over three years..."

"The decision to accept the product of these negotiations was made by the Al-Arian family as a whole. Their concern first and foremost was to end Dr. Al-Arian’s suffering. Even after he spent two years in solitary confinement under harsh conditions in a federal penitentiary while awaiting trial, and following his acquittal on the most serious charges, Dr. Al-Arian’s conditions of confinement have remained deplorable. His release will also reunite him with his youngest children, who have been traumatized by their father’s absence in the past three years."
(as opposed to the children traumatized or killed by terrorist attacks funded via Al-Arian and Palestinian Islamic Jihad)

I wonder if those claiming the government railroaded an innocent man back in December 2005 will admit they were wrong. Here are some blasts from the past that we'll be following (but not holding our breath) to see if they report on Al-Arian's guilty plea... - "The prime-time smearing of Sami Al-Arian"
Joe Kay - "Palestinian activist Sami Al-Arian acquitted on charges in Florida"
Andy Martin - "Sami Al-Arian Wins a Great Victory for Palestine"

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