Sami Al-Arian's eldest daughter has given a new interview on a news website based in Turkey in which she laments her father's fate in the American judicial system and lashes out at those whom she thinks did him wrong. Chief among them is Investigative Project on Terrorism Executive Director Steven Emerson, whom she accuses of treason as an Israeli agent and of general prejudice toward Muslims.
A daughter should stand by her father and Laila Al-Arian's passionate defense of Sami Al-Arian is understandable and even commendable. But this is an intelligent, well-educated woman. If she wants to defend her father, fine, but she shouldn't make empty claims and misrepresent the facts to do so, as she does in the World Bulletin interview:
"My father was an activist. He wanted to give the American people a different perspective on the Palestinian issue. So, he would organize rallies, write articles and regularly give speeches on the Palestinian issue. During the late eighties and early nineties he made some enemies from the pro-Israeli lobby and the right wing, hawkish supporters of Israel. Especially Steven Emerson, a very well known islamophobe, and according to some, an agent of Israel, made it his cause to attack al-Arian. Eventually the FBI began investigating; they wire trapped our phones for more than ten years. It was a very stressful and miserable life."
Her father was more than an activist. He was a senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a terrorist group responsible for the deaths of dozens of Israelis and several Americans. FBI wiretaps show he spent much of early 1994 trying to keep the PIJ from imploding after Iran stemmed the flow of financial support to the group. The presiding judge in his 2005 trial noted the evidence showed Al-Arian was a PIJ officer, an assessment shared by Al-Arian's host at a 1991 fundraiser, who called him the head of the PIJ's active arm long before supposed "enemies from the pro-Israeli lobby" had ever heard of him.
He arranged visas for other PIJ board members, including the man who has run the group since 1995.
An honest defense would say Sami Al-Arian was a member of a terrorist group, that a jury did not convict him of any crime, but that he pleaded guilty to conspiring to serve that terrorist group rather than roll the dice on a retrial. That's not what Laila Al-Arian offers. Instead, she makes baseless smears against Emerson for having the tenacity to expose this in 1994.
In "Jihad in America," Emerson cited law enforcement sources to call Al-Arian's operation "the primary support group in the United States for Islamic Jihad." Subsequent disclosures have proven that assertion many times over.
It is not surprising that she chooses to lie and obfuscate, instead. It's a family tradition.