According to Sami Al-Arian’s lawyer, the FBI contradicted itself by holding the former USF professor after using Al-Arian as an FBI informant more than a decade ago.
William Moffitt said in federal court on Monday that the FBI talked to Al-Arian at least five times in the late 1980s and early 1990s about Al-Arian’s knowledge of a variety of Middle East happenings.
“The FBI can’t talk about Dr. Al-Arian from both sides of its mouth,” Moffitt said according to The Tampa Tribune. “Obviously providing information to the FBI puts Dr. Al-Arian in a different category than that of a terrorist.”
Moffitt would not identify the topics discussed between his client and the FBI, saying only that the conversations had been described to him through edited documents provided by the prosecution.
Moffitt also requested that U.S. Magistrate Thomas McCoun order prosecutors to provide the name of the FBI agents involved in Al-Arian’s interviews. Assistant U.S. Attorney Terry Zitek said he would provide the name and information regarding the Al-Arian conversations to Al-Arian’s co-defendants.
Al-Arian, a former USF professor of computer science, was, along with three co-defendants, arrested in February 2003 on charges that they gave money and other support to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The four will face trial in January. Zitek told McCoun on Monday that a new grand jury is hearing evidence in the case and working on an indictment that will correct factual errors in the 2003 indictment.
“We have heard over and over and over again that Dr. Al-Arian was someone to be feared in the United States,” Moffitt said, according to the Tribune. “If the FBI was utilizing Dr. Al-Arian in any way, that belies that assumption.”