What is Sami Afraid Of?
by Brian Hecht
November 14, 2006
Convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative Sami al-Arian is appealing a ruling from a federal judge in Tampa compelling him to testify before a Northern Virginia grand jury investigating the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) (See: Sami Al-Arian: A Valuable Witness?)
Initially, Al-Arian's lawyers claimed that the terms of his plea bargain stipulate that he does not have to cooperate with any government investigations, but the judge ruled that, since the government granted him immunity, Al-Arian must testify about his connections to IIIT. Today, the Washington Post is reporting that Al-Arian is claiming that testifying before the IIIT grand jury would put his life in danger. Al-Arian has said for months that he has no information which could assist prosecutors in their investigation into IIIT, and that the connections between him and the think tank are over a decade old. Yet now he's claiming his life is in danger? Perhaps he knows quite a bit more than he's letting on.
Now it is up to the 11th Circuit to decide whether Sami has to cooperate. If the appellate court rules against Al-Arian, and he continues to refuse to testify, he will likely be held in contempt of court, adding an additional 18 months onto his prison sentence, which would keep him locked up through mid 2009, before his deportation process would begin.