Q&A: What happened to Al-Arian?

Sami Al-Arian?

Whatever happened to Sami Al-Arian?

A representative for the Tampa Bay Coalition for Justice and Peace has kept tabs on Sami Al-Arian, now 55, and provided this update:

"Dr. Al-Arian has been under house arrest in the Washington, D.C., since Sept. 2, 2008, pending a trial on criminal contempt. The indictment came in June 2008 because Dr. Al-Arian refused to cooperate with the government, citing his plea agreement.

"The house arrest was relaxed a bit early this year where he now has a curfew but is still monitored electronically. There is a pending motion before Judge Leonie Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia to dismiss the indictment. This motion has been pending since March 2009."

Al-Arian is the son of Palestinian refugees who was born in Kuwait and came to the United States in 1975. He began teaching computer science at the University of South Florida in 1986, and was active politically in Muslim causes. He co-founded the World and Islam Studies Enterprise, "a research and academic institution dedicated to promoting dialogue between the Muslim and Western worlds," according to his biography on the website www.freesamialarian.com.

Al-Arian became a tenured professor, and won a distinguished teaching award in 1993. In 1994, he was named in a PBS documentary as a key figure in Palestinian Islamic Jihad's U.S. support network.

Two weeks after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Al-Arian appeared on the Fox program, The O'Reilly Factor, with host Bill O'Reilly, where he was pressed about his ties to terrorist groups. Public reaction to the appearance was negative, and USF announced its intentions to fire him.

In February 2003, Al-Arian was arrested by federal authorities and charged for coordinating support operations for Palestinian Islamic Jihad. A week later he was fired from USF.

Al-Arian was acquitted of eight of the 17 charges against him in December 2005, with the jury deadlocked on the others. In April 2006 he agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy and to accept deportation once he had served the remaining 18 months of his sentence.

In October 2006 he was summoned to testify to a grand jury investigating an Islamic organization in Virginia. Al-Arian refused. A court disagreed, and he was cited for contempt.

The tan? It's natural

Every time I see John Boehner on TV, he looks so tanned. Is he a tanning bed junkie?

Boehner, R-Ohio, the speaker of the House, has said his dark complexion is natural, but it has been a source of jokes in Washington. "I have never been in a tanning bed or used a tanning product," he told the Wall Street Journal in 2010. Boehner, 63, said his complexion comes from his mother, and the paper reported that he had the darkest complexion in a picture of high school classmates.

Compiled from Times and wire reports. To submit a question, email answers@tampabay.com.

Q&A: What happened to Al-Arian? 10/02/13 [Last modified: Friday, October 4, 2013 4:38pm]

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