Judge Orders Islamic Jihad Terrorist Freed on Bond

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Judge Leonie Brinkema, last seen presiding over the farcical trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, has now ordered that Islamic Jihad kingpin Sami Al-Arian be freed on bond.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A federal judge is overruling government objections and has ordered free on bond a former professor who has been in custody since 2003 as part of a wide-ranging terrorism investigation.

It’s unlikely that former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian will immediately be set free. It’s expected that he’ll be transferred to immigration authorities since he’s subject to deportation.

But U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema’s order could trigger provisions that bar the government from prosecuting Al-Arian for criminal contempt.

For more details, see the Investigative Project on Terrorism: Judge Orders Al-Arian’s Release on Bond.

Al-Arian’s appeal for bond included 60 pages of letters from supporters of his, including three university professors who had worked with his think tank, the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE):

* John Esposito, director of Georgetown University’s Prince Alwaleed Bin-Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, told Brinkema he has known Al-Arian for 20 years and saw him as “a man of conscience with a strong commitment to peace and social justice.” Esposito described WISE as “a think-tank that brought together prominent scholars and experts from academia, the U.S. government and the media.”

* Esposito’s Georgetown colleague, John Voll, wrote of Al-Arian’s “devotion to his family,” and that he has “gotten to know [Al-Arian] through his children,” concluding that “it is highly improbable that [Al-Arian] would break the trust involved in being released on bond.” Voll, the dissertation mentor of Al-Arian’s son, Abdullah - currently a doctoral student at Georgetown - noted that Abdullah “will be teaching a course in the History Department curriculum this coming fall semester.”

* University of Maryland professor Charles Butterworth wrote to Brinkema that he held WISE “in high esteem, especially because of Sami Al-Arian’s excellent management of it.”

In fact, WISE was home to four members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) governing board, including Al-Arian, current PIJ leader Ramadan Shallah, Basheer Nafi and Mazen Al-Najjar. While it did produce academic work, it also received funding from PIJ accounts in addition to substantial financial support from the think-tank that is now targeted by the Virginia grand jury.

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