Al-Arian update: “Shock and Awe Are Forecast in Terror Case,” from the New York Sun, :
TAMPA, Fla. – The most significant terrorism trial since the September 11, 2001, attacks is set to open this morning in federal court here as a jury begins hearing the case of four men accused of running the American wing of a deadly terror group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The most prominent of the defendants is a former computer science professor at the University of South Florida, Sami Al-Arian. Despite long-standing suspicions about his ties to terrorism, the Kuwaiti-born Palestinian Arab enjoyed entree with top American politicians. Mr. Al-Arian, 47, has been in jail since the 53-count indictment was returned in February 2003.
Standing trial alongside Mr. Al-Arian are three other Muslim activists: Sameeh Hammoudeh, Hatim Fariz, and Ghassan Ballut. All are charged with racketeering, conspiracy, and providing material support to a terrorist organization.
Defense attorneys are bracing for prosecutors to kick off their case with a torrent of gory photographs, videos, and live testimony about Palestinian Islamic Jihad attacks that killed more than 100 people in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, including five Americans.
“They are going to spend the first couple of weeks trying to shock this jury. It’s going to be shock and awe,” said Stephen Crawford, a lawyer for Mr. Hammoudeh, a former University of South Florida graduate student who was born in the West Bank.
In preparation for the trial, prosecutors have reportedly flown in from Israel dozens of victims of the terror group’s violence.
“It’s going to be bloody. It’s going to be horrible. It’s going to scare the hell out of this jury,” Mr. Crawford said.
Among the more dramatic images likely to be shown to the jury is a prosecution-arranged video shot in the Florida Everglades that depicts the reenactment of two suicide bombings of passenger buses carried out by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.