Deported Palestinian Islamic Jihad “Master Manipulator” Among Indiana University’s ‘Distinguished’ Panelists
by Steven Emerson, IPT News, December 20, 2022:
Every so often, Sami Al-Arian emerges to opine on some domestic issue, reminding us of two things: He’s an inveterate liar who continues to whitewash his years of service to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). And a disappointing number of American academics are willing to ignore that record and treat him as a credible voice.
Al-Arian joined academics and attorneys last Wednesday for a webinar on “Global War on Terrorism and its Impact on Muslim Charitable Institutions.” It was sponsored by the Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) in collaboration with Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law and its Muslim Philanthropy Initiative.
MLFA’s willingness to elevate Al-Arian at least is consistent. It helped fund his defense on terrorism related charges and criminal contempt. But why did two Indiana University branches see merit in lending their school’s prestige to a man recorded exhorting an audience with “Jihad is our path … Victory to Islam … Death to Israel”?
He meant it literally, telling his own 2020 academic meeting that the Muslim world “cannot realize its full potential without defeating and dismantling the Zionist project.”
No one on the MLFA/IU panel mentioned Al-Arian’s documented role on the PIJ shura council, or governing board, or the many times he publicly lied by denying any connection to the terrorist group.
Moderator Cindy M. Lott, director of Indiana University’s PhD. program in Philanthropic Leadership, described Al-Arian as “extraordinarily well known. He is the director of the Center for Islamic Global Affairs and Public Affairs Professor at Istanbul Zaim University in Turkey. He has numerous publications in many interrelated fields including education, research, religion, interfaith and he is coming at us today specifically around the areas of civil rights and human rights.”
But Lott was selectively dishonest in how she represented Al-Arian.
After pleading guilty in 2006 to conspiring to provide benefits to the PIJ, presiding federal Judge James S. Moody called Al-Arian “a master manipulator. You looked your neighbors in the eyes and said you had nothing to do with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. This trial exposed that as a lie. Your back-up claim is that your efforts were only to provide charities for widows and orphans. That, too, is a lie. The evidence was clear in this case that you were a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. You were on the board of directors and an officer, the secretary. Directors control the actions of an organization, even the PIJ; and you were an active leader.”
During Wednesday’s webinar, University of Wisconsin law professor Mark Sidel offered a different description of his colleagues, including Al-Arian. He thanked the organizers for including him on “this extraordinarily distinguished, other than me, group of participants and speakers.”
Academics Against Research
Al-Arian did run a charity. The Islamic Concern Project, also known as the Islamic Committee for Palestine (ICP), was incorporated in 1988 to pursue “the concept of brotherhood, freedom, justice, unity, piety, righteousness and peace” through “charitable, cultural, social, educational and religious” programs, records show.
But in private fundraisers, the ICP served a different mission.
“It is the active arm of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine,” Cleveland Imam Fawaz Damra said while introducing Al-Arian during a videotaped 1991 fundraiser. “We preferred to call it the ‘Islamic Committee for Palestine’ for security reasons.”
At the same event, Al-Arian urged his audience to give money to support the jihad.
“We want today’s Muslims to answer the call of God and to go to jihad,” he said. “… So whoever does not spend for the cause of God, will spend himself on the path to destruction and fire, God forbid! We ask God, praise and glory be to Him, to strengthen us with the truth, put the truth in our hearts and on our tongues, to bestow faith upon us, to bestow steadfastness upon us, to bestow jihad upon us, to bestow knowledge upon us, and to bestow unity upon us so that we will be united. So that we will confront our enemies united.”
At another event, Al-Arian asked, “Have we forgotten the Jews and who they are?” God “made [them] into monkeys and pigs … had cursed in this world and in the hereafter, and had imposed a punishment on them in this world until Judgment Day.”
The MLFA/IU panel, like virtually every group to host Al-Arian, did not find any of this pro-terrorism/antisemitic speech relevant in deciding whether to invite him. Nobody thought to ask how he can reconcile the two diametrically opposing images of his work. Rather, they let him spin more yarns of his own victimization….
EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.