- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 20, 2001

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) The president of the University of South Florida said yesterday that she plans to fire a Palestinian-born professor linked to Middle Eastern terrorists.
President Judy Genshaft sent a termination letter to Sami Al-Arian, a tenured computer science professor who has been on paid leave since September because the university feared for his safety.
Mr. Al-Arian, 43, has 10 days to respond to the letter. He said he could not comment until he talked with an attorney.
The recommendation prompted concern that academic freedom was being threatened and that Mr. Al-Arian was being fired because of his unpopular views.
Mr. Al-Arian has been the subject of continuous death threats because of his support for anti-Israeli interests.
Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor" had Mr. Al-Arian as a guest on Sept. 26.
The professor was questioned about his links to known terrorists as the television screen displayed the university's logo.
A barrage of threats by telephone and e-mail the next day forced university police to shut down the computer science department where Mr. Al-Arian worked.
A day later he was banned from campus.
Miss Genshaft also said Mr. Al-Arian's continued employment has prompted alumni and university donors to withdraw their support, Miss Genshaft said.
The letter was sent after the public university's board of trustees recommended Mr. Al-Arian be fired for disrupting campus life.
"This has nothing to do with academic freedom," said Richard Beard III, the board president. "It has to do with what he's done to the university."
Mr. Al-Arian, who is paid more than $67,000 a year, has the right to have an independent arbitrator review his dismissal.
Mr. Al-Arian once headed an academic think tank on Islamic issues called World and Islam Studies Enterprises.
The organization was later found to be involved in raising funds for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group.
Mr. Al-Arian's brother-in-law, Mazen al-Najjar was jailed for three years on secret evidence as a threat to national security.
The FBI raided the think tank in 1995, and its assets were frozen. Another former head of the think tank, Ramadan Abdulah Shallah, left it in 1995.
He later resurfaced as an Islamic Jihad leader.
Mr. Al-Arian was videotaped at some of the institute conferences a decade ago, rallying the crowd with shouts of "death to Israel."
He now says he was making a political statement regarding the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and what he considers Israeli oppression, not advocating the deaths of people.

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