When John Loftus appeared at USF on April 9, he had already become a widely known and controversial figure, both in the Tampa Bay area and nationally.
His fame was not due to the fact that he is a respected author and attorney, or because he is head of the Florida Holocaust Museum. Loftus is known instead as the man who sued USF professor Sami Al-Arian.
But now it seems, at least temporarily, the lawsuit, which accused Al-Arian of providing aid for terrorists, will not see the light of a courtroom.
A Hillsborough County judge ruled on Monday that the lawsuit, which was filed in March, did not prove Al-Arian had caused Loftus harm. Loftus said he is not upset by the ruling.
“It’s not unexpected,” Loftus said. “The judge wanted more detail, which is not a problem.”
Loftus said the judge has given him 20 days to prepare an improved lawsuit. Loftus said preparing the lawsuit will not be a problem because he has a wealth of incriminating evidence on Al-Arian. He said he continues to classify Al-Arian as dangerous to Americans.
“He’s a leader of terrorists,” Loftus said. “He’s one of the founders and leader of what is arguably the second worst terrorist group in the world.”
Loftus said he believes Al-Arian to be one of the founding members of Islamic Jihad. He said Al-Arian is still active in that terrorist organization.
“Sami has been lying to everybody,” Loftus said. “Sami now appears to be the head of Islamic Jihad operations in America.”
Loftus’s accusations against Al-Arian go even further than links with Jihad. Loftus said he believes Al-Arian had a link to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Loftus said Al-Arian was involved with a group called Baraka that he alleges laundered money to support the suicide pilots as they trained at Florida airports. He said the Baraka group folded immediately after the attacks.
“It’s a hell of a lot of coincidences,” Loftus said. “We know Sami’s group has direct links. No one is making this up. Sami has gotten away with a good scam for many years.”
Many of Loftus’s claims are made in conjunction with a book by Meir Hatina. The book, published at Tel Aviv University and titled Islam and Salvation in Palestine, describes Islamic fundamentalist movements.
Information from this book, coupled with investigations Loftus has conducted, will provide the basis for the second version of the lawsuit. Loftus said his goal is to see Al-Arian criminally prosecuted.
“I want to stop the flow of money for terrorism,” Loftus said. “I want to know exactly who he works for and who he laundered money for.”
Loftus said he is disappointed the American Association of University Professors supports Al-Arian and that USF President Judy Genshaft has yet to officially fire him.
“When you leave something off your resume like ‘Oh, by the way, I’m the founder of the world’s second largest terrorist organization,’ that’s grounds for firing, don’t you think?” Loftus said.
Al-Arian, who has been on paid leave from USF since last year, said Loftus is spreading nothing more than lies about him.
“This guy has been saying a lot of things. These things have been fabricated,” Al-Arian said. “I’m not going to dignify any response.”
Al-Arian said, despite the fact Loftus says he will pursue a second lawsuit, he feels as though he has won.
“I always believed that he never had a case. I think it speaks volumes for the judicial system,” Al-Arian said. “I think people can’t manipulate the judicial system as they do other branches of the government.”
As for Loftus, Al-Arian said he could only describe him in one way.
“This guy is a lunatic, I can’t say anything more,” Al-Arian said. “How could you call him anything but a lunatic?”