The American Civil Liberties Union has sent a letter (Acrobat) to Department of Justice calling for the dismissal of the remaining charges against former University of South Florida professor Sami al-Arian. Citing Al-Arian's acquittal on 8 of the 17 charges against him, the ACLU claims that since "the two most serious charges" were thrown out, that al-Arian should be set free, and that such a move would demonstrate that the United States "welcomes religious and ethnic diversity."
While it is true that al-Arian was found not guilty on two important terrorism-related charges, the ACLU conveniently ignores that the jury deadlocked on several serious terrorism charges, including "Conspiracy to Provide Material Support to a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization," "Conspiracy to Make and Receive Contributions of Funds, Goods, or Services to, or for the Benefit of Specially Designated Terrorists," as well as racketeering and money laundering charges.
Further, during Al-Arian's trial, his own lawyers conceded he was affiliated with the "cultural, charitable" arm of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a terrorist group which has claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent victims by sending suicide bombers to shopping malls, restaurants and buses. Upon news of the verdict, the St. Petersburg Times, largely favorable to Al-Arian during the trial, called him a "carrier of hate," and said that, "[a]s a legal resident, Al-Arian has abused this nation's hospitality and engaged in conduct that may warrant his deportation" - conduct which the ACLU apparently believes contributes to the "religious and ethnic diversity" of the United States.
PIJ is not the only Palestinian terrorist group to find its way onto the ACLU's docket.
Earlier this month, the ACLU filed an amicus brief on behalf of Abdelhaleem Ashqar, an alleged Hamas operative indicted on racketeering charges along with Hamas' deputy political chief, Musa Abu Marzook. The ACLU is attempting to suppress evidence by claiming that the FBI conducted an "illegal" search of Ashqar's home in December 1993.
In fact, Attorney General Janet Reno authorized federal agents to search Ashqar's home, pursuant to Executive Order 12,333 Sec. 2.5, which allows for warrantless searches for foreign intelligence gathering purposes, if probable cause exists that the target of the search is deemed a foreign agent. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court had already approved the electronic surveillance of Ashqar, and ruled that there was probable cause to believe that he was an agent of a foreign power (as defined by FISA).
Ashqar was the one of the key organizers of the 1993 Philadelphia meeting of U.S.-based Hamas operatives, held for the purpose of developing a strategy to bolster Hamas's fund-raising and political activities in the United States. Ashqar's trial is expected to begin later this year.
These are only the two most recent examples of the ACLU putting the rights of terrorists above the safety and security of innocent civilians. In December 2005, the New York branch of the ACLU tried to prevent law enforcement from conducting random searches on the New York subway system, a highly appealing target for terrorists seeking to murder innocent civilians and disrupt a major financial center.
The ACLU's outrageous positions on terrorism and militant Islam threaten the security of the United States, and undermine the ability of the government to perform its most important duty, the protection of its citizens.
Cross-posted at Counterterrorism Blog.