RealNews

Indictment: Smiling face hid hatred

U.S. agents listened in as leaders of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad discussed a problem during the spring of 1995. That problem, according to court documents, was another PIJ member, Tampa-based computer professor Sami Amin Al-Arian. According to allegations in a federal racketeering indictment filed last week, PIJ leaders feared Al-Arian’s high public profile was drawing unwanted attention to the group and compromising its mission: to organize suicide bombings to kill Israeli civilians. They said he needed to be ”more circumspect,” the indictment claims. It was too late. By then, the American-trained computer engineer had become the Palestinian cause’s smiling public face in central Florida, a regular at Middle East studies academic conferences, a source of quotes and quips in accented but Americanized English. The federal government says his loathing of Israel colored Al-Arian’s violent private side. The 50-count indictment filed Thursday, when he was arrested, charges that Al-Arian was the North American leader of PIJ, a terrorist group that was behind 13 suicide bombings that killed 100 people, including two Americans, from 1992 through 2002. The indictment says Al-Arian, 45, raised money for the PIJ, made payments to bombers’ families, moved the group’s money through disguised accounts and recorded wills for at least three bombers. Full Story

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