May 1, 2006

Ex-professor gets over 4 years in jail

TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - Former Florida University
professor Sami al-Arian was sentenced to four years and nine
months in prison on Monday for aiding the Palestinian group
Islamic Jihad.

U.S. District Judge James Moody sentenced al-Arian to the
maximum 57 months in prison but gave him credit for 38 months
he has already served. He will have to serve the balance, 19
months, before being deported, prosecutors said.

Al-Arian, 48, was arrested in February 2003 on charges he
gave money and support to the group, which has been designated
as a terrorist organization by the United States.

He was acquitted on eight of the 17 charges against him
last December after a six month trial with three co-defendants.

On April 14, al-Arian pleaded guilty to a single count of
conspiracy to provide services to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad
and agreed to be deported. In return, federal prosecutors
agreed to drop the remaining eight charges against him.

In his ruling, Moody harshly criticized al-Arian for doing
nothing to stop bombings perpetrated by Islamic Jihad.

"You lifted not one finger. To the contrary, you laughed
when you heard of the bombings," he said.

"You are a master manipulator. The evidence is clear in
this case. you were a leader of the PIJ."