The movie USA vs. Al-Arian, about the trial of Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian, has been released to the public via the internet. Its producers refer to it as a “documentary.” That is just as much of a fable as the way the terrorist’s family has been portrayed in the film.
Sami Al-Arian was indicted in February of 2003, charged with leading an American cell for the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). During the mid-eighties to mid-nineties, Al-Arian had succeeded in building an entire infrastructure for PIJ within Southwest Florida. As well, he had been involved in the 1981 founding of the future propaganda wing of Hamas, the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), and the 2000 establishment of a Tampa subsidiary to Al-Qaeda financier, the Al-Baraka Group.
Regardless of any of this, Al-Arian has his supporters. One of them is a Norwegian filmmaker named Line Halvorsen, who, according to her bio, took an interest in the Al-Arian case in 2004.
USA vs. Al-Arian premiered to a sold-out crowd, in Tampa, Florida, on May 16, 2007. The theatre canopy read in lights, “C.A.I.R. PRESENTS USA VS. AL-ARIAN.” Indeed, CAIR has been a major part of the Al-Arian support network -- the group’s Tampa chapter head, Ahmed Bedier, playing the role of Al-Arian’s unofficial spokesman from the start.
Following the showing, Bedier led a panel discussion [pdf] sponsored by CAIR. During the discussion, Al-Arian’s eldest son, Abdullah, who was a participant, thanked an audience member for his support, ignoring the fact that the individual had just stated that “the Bush administration was responsible for 9/11.”
Halvorsen’s film is described as a documentary, but in reality it is nothing of the sort. Instead, it is a one-sided puff piece made to create sympathy for a cold-hearted terrorist and his not-so-innocent family, while denigrating the U.S. government. The poster for the film states, “A family facing charges of terrorism discovers truth and justice – the American way.”
As of the beginning of this month, the movie has been available online, for all to see.
The opening scene is of an American flag flapping in the wind backwards. This same depiction of the flag is repeated throughout the film, apparently to make the point that there is something wrong with our country -- which is interesting, because Halvorsen has been living here for four years.
However, according to Al-Arian’s wife, Nahla, the United States is more than backwards -- it is evil. In the film, after being told that the government wants Al-Arian to pay restitution to his victims, she states, “Evil is in their blood. The devil has learned from them.” And subsequent to Al-Arian being transferred to a “special housing unit,” she states, “My blood is boiling now, after hearing this... They are evil. They are evil.”
Nahla Al-Arian was a religion teacher at the Islamic Academy of Florida (IAF). As well, she was a co-director and the Secretary of the World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE). Both of these organizations were named by the U.S. Justice Department as fronts for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, used for the purpose of raising money for terrorism overseas.
What is more evil, the United States government putting a terrorist in prison or someone being involved in fronts for a group responsible for the heartless murders of scores of innocent men, women and children?
For the vast majority of the hour-long flick, viewers are treated to a portrayal of a very somber Al-Arian family. One of the sad faces is Al-Arian’s daughter, Leena. Leena is very much like her father, an activist, involved in the radical Muslim Students Association (MSA). She was Vice President of the MSA at the University of South Florida (USF). The group’s website still has her listed as being as such.
While she was at USF, Leena Al-Arian had a weblog that she created with her friend, Sarah, called Drunk but Sober. The blog contains links to such pro-terror sites as Electronic Intifada, Al-Aqsa Intifada, and Islam Online, which sanctions terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, against Israelis and Americans.
In the blog, Leena refers to former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleisher as a “bitch,” President Bush as “Satan,” and one of her father’s prison guards as a “sick Fu**er, power-hungry, army reject.” Additional quotes from the blog include:
- “Leena and I have decided to finally get over our indolence and start blogging again. All it takes is a good caffeine source like Starf*cks for some blog-motivation at this hour. Unfortunately, it’s my second Starf*cks today. I really do feel guilty every time I purchase an item. Unfortunately Leena’s come to the realization that ‘we’re such [Zionist] Yahoodi [Jew] supporters.’” (Sarah, March 29, 2004)
- “Anyway, Sarah came over today and we worked on our Palestine powerpoint presentation... Since I cannot actively join in their struggle (at the moment), I only pray that Allah (SWT) may continue to give them... the strength to resist. And still, there are more fights to be fought, more struggles to overcome, more truth to proclaim, and more people to damn-eh, just kidding (well, not really).” (Leena, March 29, 2004)
- “I know Western media is garbage, but I honestly thought this paper [St. Petersburg Times] had a little more integrity than that). I think this is just complete and utter bullshit propaganda once again unleashed by the Israeli government (and American media) to vilify and dehumanize the Palestinians, and justify the murder of innocent children (as well as extra-judicial assassinations of certain unnamed wheelchair-bound individuals [Hamas spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin] for that matter).” (Leena, March 29, 2004)
- “[M]y hatred for these two people [Condoleezza Rice and Ariel Sharon] has grown considerably in this past week alone... Inshallah, they will one day be joined together, in a Next Liiiiifetiiiiiime... I think we all can reach a consensus as to where they will probably reunite, and boy, oh boy, it will be HOT IN HERRE!;) I hope Condi likes the taste of smoked ham.” (Leena, March 29, 2004)
- “I am just so tired of reading blatantly biased writings on the Holocaust... [T]he thought of sitting through that nauseating three-hour class makes me want to put a bullet through my head. I am sick of the likes of propagandists such as Elie Wiesel, Rubenstein, and others who continue to exploit the tragedy of the Holocaust to justify the continued, unjustifiable suffering of the Palestinians.” (Leena, March 2, 2004)
In the movie, Leena looks tired and depressed -- quite the opposite of how this author found her, at her father’s trial.
I sat next to Leena, in the back of the courtroom, her older brother and sister sitting to the left of her. That day, July 12, 2005, the prosecution showed a video of a 1991 Cleveland fundraiser for PIJ led by then-imam of the Islamic Center of Cleveland, Fawaz Damra. Damra, prior to settling in Ohio, was the imam of the Al-Farouq Mosque in Brooklyn, New York and had established Al-Qaeda’s American headquarters, the Alkeefah Refugee Center, within the mosque.
One part of the video, which starred Al-Arian, showed Damra’s congregation loudly chanting: “Khyber, Khyber, ya Yahood, jesh Mohammed sofa ya’ud.” The song is in reference to the Saudi city of Khyber, where Mohammed’s followers attacked and enslaved its Jewish inhabitants in the year 628. The line translates: “Khyber, Khyber, oh Jews, Mohammed’s Army will return.” It was repeated by the congregation five times.
As they were singing, the tune must have jarred a memory from Leena, as she broke out laughing, bending over and putting her hands over her mouth to try to hold it in. It was only when her sister, Laila, nudged her that she stopped. In less than a moment, Leena went from intense laughter to the same pathetic sad face that is seen on camera.
Knowing this, one could easily come to the conclusion that much of USA vs. Al-Arian was staged, as if to dupe the audience into believing that this family was in terrible pain, when in truth Sami Al-Arian and his wife had gotten off easy. In fact, the website of the movie, itself, renders the family members, as well as the group’s lawyer, Linda Moreno, as mere actors, referring to them as “Cast.”
The supporting cast in the film includes: Meg Laughlin, a St. Petersburg Times columnist and writing shill for Al-Arian, and Mahdi Bray, the Executive Director of the Muslim American Society’s Freedom Foundation and general terrorist supporter. CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad is seen standing next to Bray, clapping when Bray tells the U.S. government to “cut bait, go home, and let our brother [Al-Arian] go free.”
Also starring in the movie was United States Attorney Paul Ignatius Perez. He was the lone voice for the “other side.” He was made to look foolish, as everything he said was depicted by Halvorsen and the producers as being unreasonable or worse.
The website for the movie, www.usavsalarian.com, is also very telling. Pictures adorn its homepage of the director posing with members of the Al-Arian family -- again, as if they were actors -- at various events concerning the film. The first link in its “Links” section is to the site Free Sami Al-Arian, a website that is raising money for the legal defense of Al-Arian, which happens to be registered to Al-Arian’s wife.
To try and describe USA vs. Al-Arian as a documentary is to attempt to change the definition of the word. It is pure propaganda, made only to show a family of Palestinian extremists in a good light.
After Sami Al-Arian pled guilty to the count of “conspiracy to provide services to Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” an organization that is found on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), the judge in the case, U.S. District Court Judge James S. Moody, Jr., handed Al-Arian the maximum sentence of five years. When doing so, Judge Moody described Al-Arian as a “master manipulator.”
The judge stated to Al-Arian, “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.... The evidence was clear in this case that you were a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad...”
The movie, USA vs. Al-Arian, has continued to repeat this lie to the public. Those behind it, it seems, are master manipulators, as well.