So I've become a bit of a facebook junkie lately, and learned one of my friends joined the "Free Sami Al-Arian" group recently. I mean, I'm all for standing up for those falsely treated by our judiciary system, but Al-Arian? Are you serious???
For those who don't know who this is, Sami Al-Arian was a professor at Florida State University who abused his office and funneled money to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a terrorist organization that advocates the annihilation of Israel and uses suicide bombings and other violent means to achieve this goal (and recruit women and teens to do so). For a list of such attacks deliberately targeting civilians by the PIJ, click here.
Lest someone else point this out, the US government charged him with a lot of terrorism-related felonies that he was acquitted of. Now, we can argue whether or not he should have been convicted/tried for those another time, but one thing is for sure. He is serving a sentence to charges he pleaded guilty to, i.e. conspiracy "to make or receive contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Specially Designated Terrorist [sic], in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371". He admitted raising money for an organization he knew employed terror tactics to achieve its objective, and did nothing to stop the violence (to quote the judge in his case, he "lifted not one finger. To the contrary, [he] laughed when [he] heard of the bombings"). And, more likely than not, Al-Arian was a PIJ leader in North America. Someone who raises money to buy the explosives to put into a bomb that kills a dozen civilians and to pay the family of the homicide bomber is as guilty as the one who lights the fuse. Is this really the type of guy you want to be sticking up for???
To my like minded friends, there are a number of Muslim and/or middle eastern people who have run into difficulty with the law in recent years. Pick your battles, there are plenty of innocent people at the wrong place at the wrong time who are worth standing up for. Sami Al-Arian is no such man.