- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 22, 2003

The indictment Thursday of a college professor and seven other men on charges of conspiring to finance attacks by Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a reminder that al Qaeda is hardly the lone terrorist group operating in the United States.
The 50-count indictment, delivered by a federal grand jury in Tampa, Fla., provides a detailed account of how Palestinian Islamic Jihad raised money and coordinated terrorist activities in the Middle East from the United States. Specifically, it charges that Sami Al-Arian, a professor at the University of South Florida, "directed the audit of all monies and property of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad throughout the world" and served as the secretary of the group's worldwide governing body. Two Americans were killed in a spate of attacks carried out by Palestinian Islamic Jihad against Israeli targets, including an April 1995 bus bombing in the Gaza Strip that killed Aliza Flatow, a 20-year-old Brandeis University student.
Some Arab groups in this country, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, heaped scorn on the charges, claiming that the government provided no evidence of criminal activity. But, on the contrary, the indictment charges that, since 1984, Mr. Al-Arian and the other seven men had operated a racketeering enterprise that engaged in murder, extortion, moneylaundering and providing support to terrorism. It describes faxes and telephone calls of the conspirators discussing Palestinian Islamic Jihad bombings and other terrorist attacks, and discussing whether to align the organization more closely with terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. The government contends that two groups run by Mr. Al-Arian the World and Islam Studies Enterprise and the Islamic Committee for Palestine served as fund-raising organizations for Palestinian Islamic Jihad. According to the indictment, the chief source of foreign financing for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the government of Iran, was bothered by the inability of Mr. Al-Arian and the others to account for much of the money.
Attorney General John Ashcroft said that changes made in U.S. law pursuant to the Patriot Act (passed following the September 11 attacks) made it possible for the government to go forward with the case against Mr. Al-Arian. That law made it easier for the government to use information obtained in classified national security investigations in criminal cases.
If the charges against Mr. Al-Arian and his co-defemdants are proven to be true, they constitute proof-positive that one of the world's most violent terrorist groups has been raising money and coordinating operations on American soil for nearly 20 years.


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