A Florida professor charged with leading a global terror ring evoked Jesus Christ and quoted Patrick Henry in a statement read by a family member after a federal judge denied him bail today.
Accused of being the U.S. leader of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, professor Sami al-Arian of the University of South Florida called himself a prisoner of post-9/11 “hysteria,” according to a handwritten statement read by his 17-year-old daughter, Leena, outside the Tampa federal courthouse.
U.S. Magistrate Mark Pizzo issued a continuance after al-Arian’s lawyers said they weren’t prepared to make a case before the judge to have their client released on bond. The judge ordered al-Arian to stay in federal custody until March 24.
”I’m crucified today because of who I am, a famous Palestinian, an Arab and Muslim,” Leena said, quoting her father, “an outspoken advocate for Palestinian rights.”
”I am a prisoner because of the hysteria engulfing the country in the aftermath of the 9-11 tragedy and because there are very powerful political groups which are thirsty for my blood,” al-Arian wrote, according to the Miami Herald. “I am not the enemy, but the forces of exclusion and intolerance are. I have declared a hunger strike to protest this unjust persecution of me because of my beliefs and opinions.”
Al-Arian continued, “My guide during these trying times is the eternal cry of a true, genuine American patriot at the dawn of America’s birth – Patrick Henry: ‘Give me liberty or give me death.”’
Al-Arian’s wife, Nala, told Fox News her husband is “very strong spiritually.”
“He is praying to God to show the truth to people,” she said.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Attorney General John Ashcroft said last week that al-Arian is accused of leading the North American Palestinian Islamic Jihad and serving as treasurer of the international body. A federal indictment served to the professor and seven other men charges that they operated an international terror ring responsible for the deaths of 100 people in and around Israel. Among the victims, the indictment said, are two Americans.
The Miami paper reported that as al-Arian’s daughter spoke, about 70 protesters with signs demanding his freedom paraded in front of the courthouse chanting ”Free Sami” and “No Justice – No Peace.”
Al-Arian also quoted Patrick Henry at a conference on the Middle East four months ago at the University of California, Berkeley, according to the Tri-Valley Herald newspaper of Pleasanton, Calif. At the time, he said he faced persecution because of comments he made in 1988 that included the words “Death to Israel.”
He insisted that these comments were free speech and he did not believe in violence.
“Patrick Henry said ‘Death to Great Britain’ during the American revolution,” Al-Arian said. “That didn’t mean he wanted to murder the Brits.”
The American Association of University Professors has supported al-Arian, calling his plight a major civil rights issue.
As WorldNetDaily reported, an Islamic school in Tampa has removed al-Arian from its board of trustees. Some analysts believe the professor’s role at the academy raises disturbing questions about the use of mosques and schools in America by terrorist sympathizers as fronts or bases of operation for terrorist groups and their activities.