TAMPA – As an international student, job options were severely limited for Sammeeh Hammoudeh. Immigration law severely restricts off-campus work. Before enrolling, he had to show University of South Florida officials that he had enough money to cover his studies and living expenses.
But jurors in the terror support trial of Hammoudeh, former USF professor Sami Al-Arian and two other defendants heard testimony Tuesday that Hammoudeh taught at a private school and worked at a think tank.
Such work, even done voluntarily, wouldn’t be allowed, testified David Austell, USF’s director for international student services.
“In no case can the student work off campus without authorization” from immigration officials, Austell said.
Prosecutors say he was on another payroll, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s, and that Al- Arian brought him here to help launder its money.
His defense attorney denies that and says Hammoudeh organized charity for needy children in Palestine….
Other records indicate the Islamic Community of Tampa, the formal name of Al-Arian’s mosque, contributed nearly $36,000 in 1996 to cover Hammoudeh’s education expenses while he pursued a master’s degree in religious studies.
Meanwhile, retired FBI agent Edith “Eddie” Tuttle testified about a 1995 search of Al-Arian’s home. Through Tuttle, prosecutors introduced dozens of new exhibits including videotapes, Al-Arian’s personal telephone book, financial records and a 1993 Islamic Jihad calendar.
Defense attorney William Moffitt asked whether political material was seized during the search.
“I remember seizing items that said `Islamic Jihad’ if you deem that political,” she said.
Moffitt seems to be banking on the prosecution not knowing, or being afraid to say, that the jihad is an inherently political concept. From the beginning Muhammad waged jihads to extend the political parameters of Islam, and that idea is very much alive today.