U.S. media is widely reporting that Sami Al-Arian, a leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the U.S, will stand trial in March on charges of criminal contempt in relation to his failure to testify about the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), a part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. According to one report:
A federal judge ruled Friday that Sami Al-Arian will stand trial in March on a criminal contempt charge. The former University of South Florida professor had requested that the charge be dismissed based on “selective prosecution.” But, while U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema agreed with Al-Arian that such prosecutions are rare and that the facts of his case are “absolutely unique,” the judge said a jury would have to decide if Al-Arian committed a crime. According to federal prosecutors in Virginia, the criminal contempt charge stems from Al-Arian’s refusal to testify before a grand jury about the actions of a Virginia think tank, the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT). Over 16 years ago, the think tank gave $50,000 to WISE (World and Islam Studies Enterprise), a former think tank on Middle Eastern issues at USF run by Al-Arian. Federal prosecutors want Al-Arian to testify about the details of that transaction.
Another media report recounts the history of U.S. prosecution against Al-Arian:
Al-Arian was acquitted in December 2005 of eight federal terrorism charges related to his alleged fund raising for Palestinian Islamic Jihad; the jury deadlocked on nine other charges. In a deal, prosecutors agreed to forgo a retrial on the nine charges and Al-Arian pleaded guilty to providing the organization with assistance in one instance after it became illegal to do so in the mid-1990s. He was to have served out his term and then be deported to Egypt in 2007. Instead, federal prosecutors sought his grand jury testimony in a similar case against the International Institute of Islamic Thought, a Virginia-based think tank.
IIT was founded in the U.S. in 1980 by important members of the Global Muslim Brotherhood who wished to promote the “Islamization of Knowledge.” IIIT was associated with the now defunct SAAR Foundation, a network of Islamic organizations located in Northern Virginia that was raided by the Federal government in 2003 in connection with the financing of terrorism. The organization appeared to have withdrawn from public view following the 2003 raids and although a report in the Washington Post from June 2007 indicated that IIIT and the SAAR Foundation were still under investigation by the Justice Department, IIIT seems to be enjoying a renaissance of late. Previous posts have discussed visits by foreign Muslims to IIIT sponsored by the U.S. State Department, a relationship between IIIT and George Mason University, and the role of IIIT in working with a probably Pentagon subcontractor in Iraq. Another post discussed plans by IIIT to construct colleges in Bosnia and Lebanon.