Defenders of Sami Al-Arian, the "humble professor" at the University of South Florida who latched on to Republicans to fight anti-terrorism legislation - only to be arrested earlier this year as a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad - are starting to see the light. Some, but not all.
"For a long time, I have defended Sami Al-Arian," writes a columnist in the St. Petersburg Times, the newspaper of his adopted home town.
"But the government released an outline of some of its evidence last week, and it is no longer possible to simply look away."
Al-Arian has had a lot of defenders, including former Congressman Tom Campbell (R-Cal.) and former counterterrorism figure Vincent Cannistraro.
Prominent GOP activist Grover Norquist, founding chairman of the Islamic Institute, which the Center has criticized for taking large amounts of money from a Wahhabi regime in Arabia, accepted a prize from Al-Arian's organization in 2001, just weeks weeks before the 9/11 attacks, for helping fight anti-terrorism legislation. The Islamic Institute, housed in a suite with Norquist, is part of an influential Washington-based "Wahhabi lobby" that has been working to weaken the legal tools the FBI needs to fight domestic terrorist groups. From its offices on the same floor, the Center has observed Al-Arian at Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform/Islamic Institute suite.
Click here to see the statement of the Faculty Union of the University of South Florida in defense of Al-Arian. Click here for more articles on Al-Arian and USF.