In the middle of this month, a trial is scheduled to begin, linking a number of groups and individuals to the financing of terrorism abroad. At the same time, a woman, also related to overseas terror financing, is planning on leaving the country for Egypt. Whether that’s coincidence or not should be determined by law enforcement. However, this woman’s involvement in a terror front is undeniable. The following will lay the groundwork for why this woman, Sami Al-Arian’s wife, Nahla Al-Arian, should be held back from going anywhere.
In 1979, Sami Al-Arian found himself in Cairo, Egypt. He had just earned an undergraduate degree in Electrical Sciences and Systems Engineering at Southern Illinois University, and he would soon head back to America to complete a graduate program in computer engineering at N.C. State. But before ending his short stay in the Motherland, Al-Arian would witness two major events in his life, his marriage and the founding of one of the worst terrorist organizations known to man, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).
Over the course of the 70s, Cairo was increasingly becoming Westernized. This did not sit well for those that longed for a return to the past, when Islam ruled over the entire Middle-East. Students connected to the radical Muslim Brotherhood held secret meetings to determine the region’s future. One group, which included Al-Arian, was particularly concerned about the Palestinian situation. Heavily influenced by the Iranian Revolution, the members believed that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was too secular and the Palestinian Brotherhood (Islamic Society, Islamic Association), which would later morph into Hamas, was not violent enough. PIJ was born.
Beside his “political” activities, Al-Arian was seeking a wife. His good friend in Cairo, Mazen Al-Najjar, suggested his younger sister, Nahla. Soon, the two would be married with children, residing in North Carolina.
1981 was an important time for the Brotherhood. It was during this year that the President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, was assassinated by an operative of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), which, like PIJ, was a violent Brotherhood fringe. EIJ took offense to Sadat’s relations with Israel, as well as his crackdown on Islamists within Egypt. Future members of PIJ were implicated in the attack, along with the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel-Rahman, and Ayman al-Zawahiri, who is today second in command of Al-Qaeda.
1981 was also an important year for the Brotherhood within America. The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) was incorporated in Indiana, in July of 1981. The Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP) was incorporated in Illinois, in November of 1981. [Note the similarity in their names with the aliases for the Muslim Brotherhood – Palestine.] Today, ISNA, an umbrella organization for 30 to 40 percent of all U.S. mosques, is referred to by the government as a co-conspirator to the financing of Hamas, and the IAP, found liable for the murder of an American boy by Hamas in December of 2004, no longer exists. Sami Al-Arian had a hand in the founding of both these groups.
In 1986, Sami was hired as an Assistant Professor by the University of South Florida (USF) Department of Computer Science and Engineering. Mazen was hired, as well, and Nahla took up classes there, soon to earn a degree in religious studies. The three of them, along with a small group of other radicals, including the future international head of PIJ, Ramadan Shallah, would create a PIJ infrastructure within Tampa, responsible, at least in part, for the murders of over 100 innocent human beings.
This “PIJ Enterprise,” as the U.S. government put it, consisted of a “charity” called the Islamic Concern Project a.k.a. Islamic Committee for Palestine (ICP); a “think tank” called the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE); and a children’s school called the Islamic Academy of Florida (IAF). Sami, Mazen and Nahla all had their specific roles that they played within these organizations, but to this date, only two of the three have had action taken against them. Sami went to prison for pleading guilty to conspiring with others to help PIJ, and Mazen was deported in 2002 for violating his visa and for having established ties to terrorist groups.
To this day, Nahla Al-Arian has yet to be punished for her dealings with these organizations. She was a religion teacher at IAF. But more importantly – and more damning to the case against her – she was a co-director and the Secretary of WISE. As stated in a press release put out by the Department of Justice, in November of 2001, “The ICP and the World and Islam Studies Enterprise are front organizations that raised funds for militant Islamic-Palestinian groups such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas.”
As a federal judge made the decision to extend Sami Al-Arian’s prison stay till at least October of 2007, it was reported in the media that Nahla had made her own decision to leave Florida for Virginia, where her husband is being held, en route to Egypt, where Sami’s family resides. On June 29th, she went on the radio show of Ahmed Bedier, her husband’s unofficial spokesman in the media, to say goodbye to the city of Tampa. She then attended a going away party at the mosque her husband founded over two decades ago, the Islamic Community of Tampa Bay a.k.a. Al-Qassam, named after the main PIJ mosque, located near Gaza, in Beit Lahiya.
At the same time Nahla is planning on leaving the United States, a trial is set to begin in Virginia against those that are connected to the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), a “charity” that was shut down by the government, in December of 2001, for raising millions of dollars for Hamas. Named in this trial as co-conspirators are a plethora of groups and individuals that have ties to Sami, including a number of IAP officials and ISNA, itself. [ICP was an affiliate of ISNA and had use of ISNA’s tax ID number.] It is possible that, sometime during this trial, Nahla might play a role as well, and it is possible that she understands that and is trying to avoid it.
If Nahla Al-Arian is allowed to leave the country, it would send the wrong message to others, such as herself, who have been involved in groups that support terrorism – that their activities are somewhat tolerable, when in reality they are more than atrocious. Is there not enough evidence to warrant Mrs. Al-Arian being taken into custody? If she is to ultimately leave the country, it should be by deportation alone, not by choice.
Recently, a film was released about Al-Arian’s trial and his overall experience with the American justice system, titled ‘USA vs. Al-Arian.’ It was a puff piece made to make the U.S. government look as if it had a long-running vendetta against Al-Arian. He and his wife were depicted as victims of hate. However, the reality was/is nothing of the sort. The only victims were the Israelis and Americans that were murdered – via suicide bombs and other deranged means – and their families. Sami Al-Arian is paying for his crimes against humanity. That is justice. Does Nahla need to pay her debt as well?