A Florida newspaper has reported on continuing efforts by the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood to defend imprisoned Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian, currently on a hunger-strike to protest his treatment by Federal authorities. According to the report, Al-Arian was recently visited by a Brotherhood delegation that included Nihad Awad of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) who stated:
“I was really shocked to see how skinny he is and how much weight he lost,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). “His hunger strike began on March 3, and now he looks like a totally different person from the person I knew five years ago.” Still, Awad said, Al-Arian’s spirits are high. “Amazingly, he is composed and he made sense. He was very sharp, very alert. “He believes in his just cause and we were there to support him,” Awad said. “This defies logic,” Awad said Monday night. “It violates the spirit of justice that this country is so proud of. We just hope that people of conscience and responsible people in the government will look at this case because it is publicized worldwide.” Visiting Al-Arian were representatives of the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), CAIR, and American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT). After the visit, the contingent called on the House Judiciary Committee to intervene in the case.”The last thing you want to see,” Awad said, “is a political prisoner dying on hunger strike.”
All of the organizations identified in the report on part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.
In 2005, a federal jury deadlocked on eight of nine charges related to aiding terrorists but Al-Arian pleaded guilty to one count of supporting a Palestinian terrorist organization. Having already served most of his sentence, it was expected that Al-Arian would be released and deported but his ongoing refusal to testify before the grand jury is holding up his release. National media has reported that Al-Arian claims his life would be endangered should he testify. This is the second hunger-strike by Al-Arian in connection with the grand jury affair. IIIT was one of the Herndon, Virginia organizations that are sometimes referred to as the SAAR Network or SAFA Group that was raided by federal agencies in March 2002. CAIR has championed Al-Arian since the time of his arrest.