Prosecution: video links Al-Arian to terror group

Jurors had another opportunity to watch video footage of a vocal Sami Al-Arian yesterday, which the prosecution is using to link the former USF professor to supporting and funding a terrorist group.

Both videos showed meetings of the Islamic Committee of Palestine, a group the prosecution says was a front for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an organization responsible for violent terrorist acts.

On the tape, Al-Arian is introduced by Fawwaz Abu Damra, an imam of the Islamic Center of Cleveland. Abu Damra describes Al-Arian as the president of the Islamic Committee of Palestine in America, and two other men were shown requesting donations from a selection of Cleveland’s Muslim population in September 1991.

“I would like to open the door to donations … to the Intifada, to Islamic Jihad in Palestine,” Abu Damra said on the tape.

Soon thereafter, about 30 attendees rose up and gave donations ranging from $50 to $1,000 for Palestinian families and children of martyrs. Prosecutors said by the end of the video, $6,785 had been raised for Islamic Jihad. To ensure that funds were being spent properly, Damra said donators would be given photos and the opportunity to correspond with their sponsors.

In the video, Al-Arian stressed the importance of donating to those Palestinians who were directly affected by the Intifada.

“The least we can do is to resolve ourselves to Jihad with small portions of our assets for the benefit of those who have sold themselves to God, to whom be ascribed all perfection and majesty, and then confront this aggressive enemy with palms facing upwards,” Al-Arian said, according to the translation.

An independent contractor, Tausin Ali, translated the video, approximately 15 phone taps and 13 faxes that were seized by the FBI from Al-Arian’s home and World Islamic Studies Enterprise office. During court proceedings, he testified to the validity of these documents.

After numerous objections from the defense, a majority of these exhibits were admitted into evidence.

But the trial was nearly turned upside-down the day prior when, according to The Tampa Tribune, defense attorney Linda Moreno asked for a mistrial after prosecuting lawyer and Assistant U.S. Attorney Cherie Krigsman stated that it was not clear from the tape that it was Damra raising money for the Islamic Jihad.

The request for a mistrial was shot down by Judge James Moody, and a third video is likely to be shown.