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March 20, 2003
 
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Feds: Fired Professor a Danger to U.S.
Prosecutor Argues Fired Professor Is a Danger to National Security, Should Remain Jailed

The Associated Press


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TAMPA, Fla. March 20

Federal prosecutors argued Thursday that a fired university professor should remain jailed without bond until his trial because he is a "powerful" member of a Palestinian terrorist group and a danger to national security.

Outside the courthouse, about 50 people protested Sami Al-Arian's detention, saying he is a victim of racism and anti-Islamic fervor. The group briefly scuffled with about three others who oppose Al-Arian's release.

The former computer engineering professor, who was fired last month by the University of South Florida, is accused along with seven others with operating a racketeering enterprise since 1984. The charges include conspiracy to kill and maim people abroad, conspiracy to provide material support and resources to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, extortion, obstruction of justice and immigration fraud.

Al-Arian, who was born in Kuwait, has consistently denied any ties to terrorists.

During the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Walter Furr told the judge that Al-Arian was the "lifeblood" of the Islamic Jihad's North American operations.

"Mr. Al-Arian was, in one way or another, involved in many of the terrorist acts this organization took part in," Furr said. "For a time he was as powerful as any member of the Islamic Jihad on the planet."

U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark A. Pizzo also is considering bond requests from three other defendants. The other four are free overseas. The hearing was expected to last through Tuesday.

The government alleges Al-Arian used the university as a cover to bring Islamic Jihad members to the United States under the guise that they were attending academic conferences and raised money for the group.

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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