Pentagon investigating man linked to Al-Arian

The Pentagon is investigating an Islamic scholar from Virginia, believed to be an unindicted co-conspirator in the Sami Al-Arian case, the St. Petersburg Times reported Thursday.

Taha Jabir Alalwani, president of the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences in Leesburg, Va., has trained Muslim chaplains in the U.S. military.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., requested earlier this month that the Department of Defense investigate Alalwani’s school.

Alalwani helped found the International Institute of Islamic Thought, which had its offices in Herndon, Va., raided in March 2002. He is also the chairman for the Fiqh Council of North America, a group of Muslim scholars that analyzes issues such as capital punishment and stem cell research in regard to Islam.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Abdullah Shallah said in a letter to USF in the early ’90s that IIIT was one of the greatest contributors to the now-defunct World and Islam Studies Enterprise, Al-Arian’s Middle Eastern think tank that was the subject of a federal investigation in the mid-’90s.

Federal investigators alleged that WISE helped raise money that was sent to the Middle East to fund PIJ suicide bombings in Israel.

A federal judge cleared WISE in 2000, but just before the raids in Virginia last year, the FBI, in a rare twist, announced that its investigation of Al-Arian was still open and ongoing.

The search warrant used in the March 2002 raid in Virginia instructed investigators to look for any evidence pertaining to a list of provided names, which included Al-Arian, his deported brother-in-law Mazen Al-Najjar, PIJ’s Shallah and Osama bin Laden.

In December 2001, Alalwani spoke to the New York Times for a story it was writing about Muslims who had earlier that year become angered that the U.S. government immediately held bin Laden responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.

“I changed my mind,” Alalwani said in the story. “I respect the justice and information agencies in this country. And I don’t have from the other side something that would be stronger than what they tell us.”

Contact Ryan Meehanat