FAYETTEVILLE — A University of Arkansas graduate student accused of trying to join the Palestinian holy war against Israel has been released on bond.
Arwah J. Jaber of Fayetteville was arrested by federal authorities earlier this month on a criminal complaint accusing him of knowingly attempting to provide support to a foreign terrorist organization, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
U.S. Magistrate Beverly Stites Jones set conditions for Jaber’s release, including a mental examination, at a hearing Wednesday in Fort Smith….
Other conditions of release include putting up the family’s home for bond, electronic monitoring and limiting his travel to Washington County or Little Rock to meet with lawyers with the court’s permission. Jaber is not allowed to drive or possess weapons and was ordered not to have contact with UA professors and students to whom he allegedly made statements or sent electronic mail. Jaber’s passport has already been revoked and he is on a no-fly list.
A further condition is Jaber, a chemistry student, continue working to complete his doctoral dissertation and defense, which his lawyers say he could complete and earn his degree before the case goes to trial.
The government’s version of events leading to Jaber’s arrest and his explanation for them were so diametrically opposed Wednesday that Jones said she was having trouble reconciling the arguments.
“This case is troubling to me because the facts are in such dispute,” Jones said….
The government contends he was flying out to join the jihad. Jaber maintains he was going to visit relatives….
Jaber, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in the West Bank town of Yamoun, allegedly told federal authorities that he told his doctoral professor and others at the university that he was going to Palestine to “fight for freedom, peace and justice.”
The U.S. State Department has designated the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a terrorist organization.
Jaber maintains he was frustrated with his professor over delays in graduating and made the statments in an effort to sway the teacher into signing off on his degree. He contends he didn’t mean any of it and recanted the statements under questioning by FBI agents.
He wanted the prof to sign off on his degree — or else he would join the jihad? “Give me a doctorate or I’ll blow up a restaurant full of unsuspecting civilians”?