The University of South Florida has fired a tenured professor jailed last week for allegedly running an international terrorist organization.
“We have determined that the University of South Florida must sever all ties to Sami al-Arian once and for all,” USF President Judy Genshaft announced at a press conference. “Today, the provost has issued a letter to terminate Dr. al-Arian’s employment immediately.”
As WorldNetDaily reported, computer science professor Sami al-Arian was arrested by federal agents last Thursday.
USF Professor Sami al-Arian arrested for supporting terrorists
A federal indictment accuses al-Arian of serving as the North American point man and treasurer of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a group designated by the State Department as an international terrorist organization.
The 50-count indictment also charges al-Arian, two other former and current instructors at USF and five other individuals of operating a criminal racketeering enterprise that provided funding and organization for the global terror ring responsible for the deaths of 100 people in and around Israel, including two Americans.
In addition to criminal racketeering, al-Arian and the seven others are charged with conspiracy to kill and maim people abroad; conspiracy to provide material support to the terrorist group; extortion; perjury; mail and wire fraud; obstruction of justice; and attempting to procure citizenship or naturalization unlawfully to help terrorists.
If convicted, the men could face life in prison.
Al-Arian and the seven alleged co-conspirators are described as having set up a terror cell at USF.
In the 1980s, al-Arian founded a religious charity, the Islamic Concern Project, that federal authorities now say has been funneling money and providing organizational support to Islamic Jihad since 1984.
In conjunction with his brother-in-law, Mazen al-Najjar, al-Arian also founded the World and Islam Studies Enterprises, or WISE, a now-defunct Islamic think tank at USF.
Federal agents raided the think tank, the charity and al-Arian’s home and office at USF in 1995. They seized tapes from the late 1980s and early 1990s in which al-Arian proclaims “Death to Israel” and “Let us damn America,” in Arabic.
Al-Najjar was arrested in November 2001 on suspicion of ties to terrorists and was deported last August.
Amid the federal investigation into his suspected association with terrorist organizations, USF suspended al-Arian with pay in December 2001 and banned him from the campus.
The university maintains the accusations against al-Arian and the media attention hurt the school’s fund-raising efforts and threats raised concerns over student safety.
“Dr. al-Arian has repeatedly abused his position at the university. He has misused the university’s name, reputation, resources and personnel,” Genshaft told reporters this morning. “No longer will he be able to hide behind the shield of academic freedom.”
An assistant at the office of al-Arian’s civil attorney Robert McKee told WorldNetDaily he had just received the documents from USF. He plans to go over them with al-Arian later today and is withholding comment in the meantime.
Federal agents also arrested another USF professor, 42-year-old Sameeh Hammoudeh.
Also indicted but still at large overseas, is former USF instructor Ramadan Abdullah Shallah. He served as the executive director of al-Arian’s charity and recently became the head of the worldwide Islamic Jihad. Shallah lives in Damascus, Syria.
USF is not actively taking steps to terminate Hammoudeh. A spokesperson told WorldNetDaily that because he is an adjunct professor who gets paid on an hourly basis, his incarceration sufficiently ends his association with the university.
When asked what would happen if Hammoudeh were to be released on bail, the spokesperson could not say whether he would be allowed to teach again.
WorldNetDaily reports U.S. Magistrate Mark Pizzo issued a continuance yesterday 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.
In a statement released by his family, the Kuwait-born al-Arian claimed he was being persecuted and declared he would go on a hunger strike: ”I’m crucified today because of who I am, a famous Palestinian, an Arab and Muslim, 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 in the statement obtained by 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.”
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.