Since his infamous appearance on The O’Reilly Factor, controversial USF professor Sami Al-Arian has been on television several times to defend his case.
Al-Arian said he took to the airwaves again Sunday, only this time to plead for help for his brother-in-law and former USF adjunct professor Mazen Al-Najjar.
Al-Najjar was imprisoned by United States Immigration and Naturalization Services for roughly four of the past five years on “secret evidence” that allegedly linked him to terrorist organizations. In August, he was deported and reportedly “dumped” by INS officials in Lebanon, where his sister lives.
Lebanese officials, upset by the way that Al-Najjar was left on their soil, ordered his deportation to an undisclosed country less than a month later.
Since that time, Al-Arian and other family members have been searching for a permanent home for Al-Najjar in either a friendly Arab or English-speaking country. There, they hope, he can reunite with his wife and children, who still reside in Florida.
Al-Arian said he appeared Sunday on an Arab cable news program that is called, through translation, “The Issues of the Hour.” He said the program can be seen by 35 million viewers throughout the Arab world.
Al-Arian said he used the show to ask Arab leaders to help find Al-Najjar a permanent home.
“I pleaded with (countries such as) Saudi Arabia to solve the problem on a humanitarian basis,” Al-Arian said.
Al-Arian said he has already received feedback from people who said they were moved by the program. He said he hopes the show had a similar effect on Arab leaders. Al-Arian said Al-Najjar’s situation has grown increasingly tense.
“Right now, (the outlook) is dim,” Al-Arian said. “(But) we’re not losing hope.”
Last week, the London-based newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that 11 Arab countries had refused to receive Al-Najjar. Furthermore, the report stated that he had been placed under “house arrest.”
Al-Arian confirmed Monday that 11 Arab countries had denied Al-Najjar entrance, but said that he would not describe his brother-in-law’s current situation as house arrest.
“He’s under some restrictive conditions for his own safety,” Al-Arian said. “He’s not allowed to make phone calls to the United States, basically, or receive phone calls.”
Al-Sharq al-Awsat also reported that Al-Arian said Al-Najjar was in “a non-Arab country.”
Al-Arian said, as he has since the Lebanese deportation, that he could not reveal the name of the country because of the increased publicity. He said publicity has played a factor in the inability of Al-Najjar’s family to find him a country.
“(Publicity) has hurt it, especially in a region that doesn’t like publicity,” Al-Arian said.
Al-Arian said the fact that he cannot get in touch with his family in the United States has been difficult on Al-Najjar.
“He’s very aggravated, exhausted and tired mentally,” Al-Arian said. “It’s an instrument of mental torture.”
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that Al-Najjar was suffering from “acute mental distress.” Al-Arian said he has had to learn of Al-Najjar’s condition through third parties, but is concerned for his well-being.
“From what I understand, he is very anxious to be reunited with his family,” Al-Arian said. “It’s really having a negative effect on him. He’s not himself.”