In this latest Rumpled Academic Update, the defense tries to prove that Al-Arian was just that: a Rumpled Academic, just as Nicholas Kristof dubbed him, and nothing more. They’re arguing that he was editing what I believe has been alleged to have been a solicitation for money for the families of suicide bombers only in the interests of accuracy. I suppose we are to believe that as he did it, he hotly disapproved of the whole matter. Mmm hmmm. From the St. Petersburg Times, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:
TAMPA – Defense attorneys questioned an FBI witness in the federal trial of Sami Al-Arian and three co-defendants Monday. Their intent: to raise doubts about government evidence linking their clients to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad after 2000.
Al-Arian attorney Linda Moreno argued that Al-Arian’s editing of a 2002 request for charitable donations, written by his co-defendant Hatem Fariz, was simply an attempt to make the solicitation more accurate. Al-Arian told Fariz to ask for donations for “needy families,” not “needy orphans” in the letter sent out by an Islamic charitable organization in Illinois.
If I recall correctly, this was, according to the prosecution, a solicitation for support for the families of suicide bombers.
The reason for prosecutors’ emphasis on Al-Arian’s editing of the solicitation is not clear. Perhaps it’s to suggest that Al-Arian’s interest as late as November 2002 linked him to a Gaza charitable organization, the Elehssan Society, that prosecutors say was run by Palestinian Islamic Jihad members. They say the Illinois charitable organization sent money to Elehssan.
Al-Arian, Fariz and two other co-defendants are charged with raising funds in the United States for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist organization that has claimed responsibility for more than 100 deaths in Israel and its occupied territories. Prosecutors want to show that the defendants were linked to PIJ violence after 2000, through contributions to the Elehssan Society.
Fariz attorney Kevin Beck asked the FBI agent why a 2001 written description of the Elehssan Society, which was projected on a courtroom screen, did not include the seal of approval from the Palestinian Authority, appearing on the original document and described on the translation. The agent, Eduardo Ortega, said he didn’t know. The Palestinian Authority is recognized by Israel and the United States as the local governing body of the occupied territories.
Beck also questioned Ortega about a translation of an Arabic document that told how many families in the occupied territories had been helped with American donations collected by the defendants after 2000. Beck asked the agent whether he knew that the document in Arabic said that “380 families got food packages,” but the translation said that only “30 families” got food packages. Ortega said he doesn’t read Arabic and couldn’t comment.
Sounds like more witless for the prosecution follies.