In 2006, Sami al-Arian, one of the most
prominent American Muslim leaders introduced to George W. Bush by power broker Grover Norquist at the turn of the millennium,
began a 57-month prison term for his support of a Specially Designated Global
Terrorist (SDGT) group. In September 2006, while serving his sentence, Al-Arian was
ordered to testify in America’s largest terror financing investigation, Operation
Greenquest, which raided a network of Northern Virginia Muslim charities linked to
other terror groups Al-Arian had founded. He refused, saying that it violated his
plea agreement and would put his life in danger. He was sentenced to 18 more months
for contempt of court.
In 1981, Al-Arian helped found the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP). One of IAP’s founders, Mousa Abu Marzook,, a leader of Hamas, the SDGT group that now controls the Palestinian government.
IAP is one of several groups, along with Holy Land Foundation, held responsible for the death of an American who was shot and killed by Hamas members in Jerusalem in 1996. Marzook has spoken in favor of suicide bombings and has invested with several individuals and companies, such as Ghassam Elashi and Holy Land Foundation (HLF), convicted on terrorism-related charges. (IAP and HLF are closely tied, and Elashi helped launch both organizations.) The IAP was the parent organization of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy group that is the mainstream media’s first call on Muslim issues despite recent convictions of several of its leading alumni.
In a 1995 raid on the office of Al-Arian’s World & Islam Studies Institute (WISE) in Tampa, Florida, the FBI found stationery with the logo of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)—a small, radical Muslim Brotherhood splinter group condemned by human rights organizations for attacking Israeli civilians and given an SDGT designation by the Treasury Department. (In 2007, the State Department offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, PIJ’s leader.) The 1995 WISE raid also turned up a letter dated October 23, 1995 showing that WISE intended to keep Ramadan Abdullah Shallah on its payroll through 1996. (Shallah fled to Syria to take the reins of the PIJ right around the time of that letter, whereupon the U.S. quickly designated him SDGT.) Another letter, dated the same day as the raid, listed a deported PIJ leader as a former WISE researcher. According to former federal prosecutor John Loftus, the FBI called off the investigation in 1995 because the State Department did not want Al-Arian’s activities to be traced to Saudi Arabia.
During the 2000 presidential campaign, Grover Norquist introduced Al-Arian to George W. Bush. Norquist wanted American Muslims, known as wealthy and socially conservative, to join the GOP, and Bush helped when he decried the use of secret evidence in immigration cases. “Arab-Americans are racially profiled in what's called secret evidence,” Bush said on camera. “We've got to do something about that.” (Bush was scheduled to present a Justice Department proposal to restrict the use of secret evidence to Muslim activists at the White House at 2 p.m. on September 11, 2001.) In July 2001, Al-Arian’s civil liberties group, National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom, gave Norquist an award for his fight against secret evidence.
After Bush took office, members of a Muslim advocacy group called the American Muslim Council—including Al-Arian and Abdurrahman Alamoudi—attended a briefing convened by Karl Rove. Alamoudi was one of the most visible public advocates for American Muslims, and had already appeared twice in public with George W. Bush. He also did consulting for the Pentagon and donated $10,000 to help launch the Islamic Free Market Institute, which was founded by Grover Norquist, close friend of Jack Abramoff and President George W. Bush. Alamoudi lost some of his cachet when he spoke out in support of Hezbollah and Hamas right in front of the White House in 2001. In 2003 he was sentenced to 23 years in prison for terrorist funding and involvement in a Libyan plot to assassinate the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
In 2002, Operation Greenquest raided a group of offices and homes in Northern Virginia. The raids, launched by the Treasury Department under Secretary Paul O’Neill, U.S. Customs, and then Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff, targeted a network of Muslim charities and advocacy groups, which they named the “Safa Group,” alleged to be financing terror. One of the organizations, the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) contributed $10,000 to Norquist’s Islamic Institute and $60,000 to Al-Arian’s institutes, including WISE. Mazen Al-Najjar, Al-Arian's brother-in-law, once worked for WISE and spent over three years in prison for a connection to PIJ that was uncovered through the type of “secret intelligence information” that Al-Arian and Norquist so abhorred. The terror financing investigation, dissolved during a turf battle between the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, has as of yet produced only one major conviction out of the Northern Virginia raids: Alamoudi’s 23-year sentence.
In 2005, Al-Arian was tried in Tampa on 17 terror-related counts, including being the North American ringleader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The list of 203 witnesses called to testify in the Al-Arian trial magnifies the links between the Tampa Al-Arian case and the seemingly unrelated Northern Virginia network. One of the witnesses called was Mohammed Al Jaghlit, “an active supporter of Al-Arian and PIJ, both ideologically and financially” according to David Kane, a U.S. Customs officer who wrote the affidavit authorizing the raid. Jaghlit is an officer of the Safa Trust, which funded Al-Arian’s think tank, WISE. Jaghlit is also the owner of two suites in Ashburn, Virginia, that house the Graduate School of Islamic Social Sciences (GSISS) and The Heritage Education Trust. GSISS had contracts in 2003 and 2004 to provide the U.S. Army with chaplains. Heritage Education Trust is the owner of 555 Grove Street, the epicenter the 2002 raid, and David Kane believes that the Trust laundered $5.5 million dollars for the “Safa Group.”
The trial was controversial: a jury acquitted Al-Arian of eight counts and deadlocked on the other nine. Rather than face a new trial, Al-Arian took a plea deal in April 2006 on one count—providing non-violent services to PIJ. In May 2006, the judge sentenced Al-Arian to the maximum 57-month sentence, plus deportation upon release.
In October 2006, U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg called Al-Arian before a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia to testify about the International Institute of Islamic Thought. Al-Arian’s lawyers said this violated his plea, but a federal judge in Tampa rejected that claim.
Al-Arian refused to testify, and his attorneys told the judge that he felt his life would be in danger if he did. On November 16, 2006, with just 147 days left in his original sentence, Al-Arian was found in contempt of court, and 18 months were added to his sentence. That contempt charge was dismissed in December 2007, but in January 2008, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Al-Arian must indeed testify.
- Real Property databases for Loudoun and Fairfax Counties, VA
- http://www.governmentcontractswon.com/department/defense/the_graduate_school_of_isla mic_965420094.asp?yr=04
- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/middle_east/israel_and_the_palestinians/profiles /1005081.stm
- siteinstitute.net/bin/articles.cgi?ID=news5203&Category=news&Subcategory=0 li>
- http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/longterm/stories/040896dnnathamastr ail.7b89d011.html
- http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F00EFD61E3CF93AA35751C1A9679C8B63 (“secret evidence”)
- http://www.sptimes.com/2002/03/21/news_pf/Worldandnation/Terror_raid_warrant_n.shtml - 1995 investigation called off because of political Saudi Arabia issues
- http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/crime/stories/DN-holyland _08met.ART.State.Edition1.42373b7.html, “Ghassan El-Ashi, another Holy Land Foundation co-founder and an incorporator of the Islamic Association for Palestine”…“The Dallas Morning News examined court filings, business records and materials produced by the Islamic Association for Palestine and Holy Land Foundation …The examination revealed two close-knit groups that often work together.” http://www.fox11az.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/longterm/stories/040896dnnathamastrail .7b89d011.html
- http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/badguys/070214/bad_guys_of_the_week_hezbollah.htm< /li>