RealNews

Professor was watched throughout 1990s

Throughout the 1990s, Sami Al-Arian, an outspoken critic of Israel, was secretly watched by two sets of U.S. investigators: FBI agents looking for evidence of crimes and intelligence officials examining Middle East terrorism. Neither group knew the extent of the other’s investigation of the University of South Florida engineering professor’s suspected role as leader of North American operations for a terrorist group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). At the time, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agents weren’t allowed to compare notes because of laws designed to prevent domestic spying by the FBI, particularly on political and religious groups. But all that changed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when Congress tore down the legal wall that separated the agents by passing the USA Patriot Act. Prosecutors in Tampa and Washington didn’t see the combined evidence against Al-Arian from secret phone and facsimile wiretaps until last November. That’s when a special appeals court gave the Justice Department approval to use the Patriot Act to its fullest extent. Full Story

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