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USA vs Al-Arian
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A Prisoner of Conscience in the USA

Feb. 9, 2007
LE MONDE diplomatique

DOCUMENTARY: Norwegian documentary film can also claim to depict political issues that are of global significance. In the film USA versus Al-Arian, we see the jury found Al-Arian not guilty on all counts…and the judge hand down a prison sentence and deportation. Evidence is not so important in counteracting terror. The documentary is due to be shown on Norwegian cinemas in February.
By Kim Bredesen
Journalist for norske Le Monde diplomatique

Link:Click here
The documentary film USA versus Al-Arian (2007), directed by Line Halvorsen and recently shown at the Tromsø International Film Festival, provides us with a grotesque example of the willingness of the American authorities to trample over the civil liberties of the individual to achieve political aims. Not to put too fine a point on things: if you’re looking for decisive proof that the war against terror is a farce of enormous proportions, you need look no further than this film. It painstakingly and methodically documents how the peace activist and campaigner for Palestinian rights,

Professor Sami Amir Al-Arian was a sacrificial pawn in the American authority’s frantic hunt for scapegoats to link to 9/11. The film starts by recounting the events of 20 February 2003 - the day the FBI stormed Al-Arian’s family home in Tampa, Florida and arrested him on suspicion of supporting terrorist organisations.

The film then follows his case as seen through the eyes of Nahla, his indefatigable wife and supporter and their five children. All credit to the director who gives a unique insight into the situation of those most directly affected by the case. It is through their eyes that we witness the entire prosecution case and track the American mass media’s blatant, grand-scale demonisation of Al-Arian.Al-Arian was summoned to appear in court alongside four others accused of having provided support - financial and other - to terrorist activities in Palestine. Even though the prosecution had no direct evidence connecting him to e.g. suicide bombings, he was nonetheless accused of conspiring to facilitate these actions. However this accusation was not especially convincing due to the prosecution’s decision to allow Israeli victims and families of Palestinian suicide bombers to testify, regardless of the fact that there was no evidence to link Al-Arian to the events these people had experienced. So what were the grounds for his court appearance?

Well, it was claimed that Al-Arian supported terrorism as he had been involved in lobbying Congress (where he met George W. Bush) for the rights of Palestinians and had also attempted to raise funds for Palestinian social causes. In addition, the prosecution presented a range of “evidence” to the jury that was withheld from both Al-Arian and the public. Al-Arian’s defence saw that they did not have a strong case against them and so did not consider it necessary to call a single witness, believing that the burden of proof rested with the prosecution. The insubstantial, or more accurately, non-existent submission of evidence was apparent to the jury deliberating the case; they found Al-Arian not guilty on all counts.

Several jury members were interviewed in the film as saying that they did not understand the grounds for the Israelis’ testimony or their connection to the case. Several others also said that they had the distinct impression that the prosecution wanted the jury to quite simply take their word for it that Al-Arian was guilty. But they could not sentence him on such flimsy grounds.

WHEN NEWS OF the jury’s verdict reached Al-Arian’s family there was immense relief and they concluded that the justice system was a fair one. But their joy was short-lived – the prosecution decided to reverse their crushing defeat and charge Al-Arian again, this time on the 9 of 17 counts for which there had been a hung jury. The result was a desperate campaign of attrition against both Al-Arian and his family. As Al-Arian himself says in the film: “justice doesn’t come cheap in this country.” Several hundred thousand dollars were paid to the defence lawyers. After another round of hearings both parties came to a settlement. It culminated in an absurd end-game where Al-Arian was to be allowed to leave the country if he was willing to “admit” to a series of truisms, like helping Palestinian activists in the USA and having worked to bolster human rights and strengthen Palestinian independence. None of these admissions in any way constituted a criminal act, but the prosecution nevertheless looked upon it as a victory.

Things were to get even worse when sentencing took place, in accordance with the settlement. In what is normally a legal procedure, a federal judge took it upon himself to chastise Al-Arian for being guilty of murder and terrorist acts against Israeli citizens, calling Al-Arian “dangerous” and a “master manipulator.”The judge began to invent his own evidenceNone of the circumstances the judge mentioned could be connected to Al-Arian, but the judge nevertheless saw fit to overlook this and began to invent his own evidence. The result was that Al-Arian was given the maximum penalty and had to serve several years in prison before being allowed to leave the country. This happened to a man who had been found innocent of all the charges against him. This is the stuff of horror movies and seriously calls into question the rule of law in the USA. How could the judge have allowed himself to behave in this way?

Prosecution representative, Paul Perez perhaps provides the best explanation of this in the film when he says that after 9/11 a new paradigm had been introduced to the American Justice Department – there was now less focus on the actual prosecution of terrorist suspects and more on prevention. In other words, evidence is not so important in counteracting terror, rather the ability to see conspiracies and connections between events. This is a perplexing case and the director has done a truly great deed in finally bringing it before a larger audience. The film is proof that Norwegian documentary film can also claim to depict political issues that are of global significance. We are the visual witnesses to the fact that conspiracy theories constitute the most significant legal grounds on which the American authorities accuse individuals of terrorism. For Al-Arian, this means that he is a prisoner of conscience in the USA. Right now he is serving a sentence in Virginia USA, 1300 kilometres away from his family, for crimes he did not commit. He will not be released before 2008. His family is still searching for a country to which he can be deported. Why should that country not be Norway? © Diplo Norway

Documents & Releases

Statement of Chairs of American Muslim Task-Force on Civil Rights and Elections  (AMT) and  Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Howard Zinn Statement on Professor Al-Arian

SITE SEARCH

SPOTLIGHT

March 2000

December 2005alarian.jpg

January 2009

To be patriotic is to be able to question government policy in times of crisis.
To be patriotic is to stand up for the Bill of Rights and the Constitution in times of uncertainty and insecurity.
To be patriotic is to  speak up against the powerful in defense of the weak and the voiceless.
To be patriotic is to be willing to pay the price to preserve our freedoms, dignity, and rights.
To be patriotic is to
challenge the abuses of the PATRIOT Act.
From a speech by Dr. Al-Arian
9/1/2002

Biography---

UFF Summary: Al-Arian and USF

Poetry

Announcement of Book: The Al-Arian Reader

A new compilation of all relevant articles to be released soon by the National Liberty Fund

Selected Poems
by Sami Al-Arian

We Shall Rise

To Maya Angelou
Like the dream of the slave
You rise
And with the scream of the brave
I shall rise
In honoring the memory of your ancestors
You rise
With my stateless brothers and sisters
I shall rise
Like dust in the sunlight
You rise
And as ashes in a fiery night
I shall rise
You offend
Because of your existence
And I
For my resistance
You upset them
Recalling their past
And I
By holding steadfast
They may trod you in dirt
May cause me all the hurt
Inflict upon you excruciating pain
While they shut me up and detain
But they won't see you broken
Neither would my faith be forsaken
As you've never bowed your head
And never lowered your eyes
I'll continue to raise my fist
And hide my mother's cries
They may shoot you with their words
Cut me up with their swords
They may insult you with their eyes
Denigrate me with their lies
Trying to kill you with their hate
Bury me alive to seal my fate
But they'd certainly
Be shamed and fail
As the free chant and sing
On their march to prevail
So keep your head held high
As I follow you and try
And keep your beautiful smile
As I walk my first mile
They'll pressure and blame
Throw us in prison to control and tame
They'll exile and defame
Lynch us all or shoot and maim
Burn crosses with no shame
Target our children in a dirty game
But why is that a surprise?
Despite their evil and terror
Their falsehood and lies
You shall rise
And I shall rise
You're the black ocean
Leaping and wide
I'm the Mediterranean
With a stormy tide
Staying together
Side by side
It's no surprise
We shall rise
Surely shall rise
We together shall rise
No Longer Afraid
For us to feel "secure"
What price is being paid?
If living in freedom
Why are we afraid?
Fear is everywhere
All around
Perhaps irrational
But without any bound
You can see it on our faces
Sense it in our eyes
You can hear it in our whispers
Feel it in our cries
More>>No Longer Afraid
The Bird and The Vulture
The bird was chirping
In a house on a tree
But the vulture was angry
Because it was free
When the bird is singing
The vulture ain't safe
More>>The Bird and The Vulture
The Smile of Freedom
He looked like
A body-builder
Tall, tough, and full
All muscles and no fat
His mind was simple
Suited to follow orders
No questions asked
Acting mean and mechanical
Like any bureaucrat
More>>The Smile ...
In the Name of Freedom
In the name of freedom
We shall rule the world
To spread democracy
And set you free
In the name of freedom
We’ll descend on you
To make you civilized
Modern and orderly
More>>In the Name ...
The Accused: Franz Kafka Meets George Orwell in 21st Century America
Act I: The Mother of all Evidence
Act II- Weapons of Mass Deception
Act III: Silencing of the Lambs
Act IV: Attacks of the Wolves
Act V: Occupied Territory
Act VI: Police State
Act VII: Official Obituary
Act VIII: A Close Encounter of the Scariest Kind
Act IX: The Inquisition
Act X- Conspiracy Theory
Act XI- Secret Trials
Act XII- Silent Pain and Teary Eyes
Act XIII- True Patriot Acts
Do Not Sign
Rights are not for sale
History is not kind
On those who sell their people out,
Betray their cause,
Surrender their land
To tow the line
Do not sign
More>>Do Not Sign
Rachel Corrie: Daughter of Palestine
The most gentle
Amongst all honorable
Women
Had a spirit
As dazzling as
The garden of
Eden
More>>Daughter of Palestine
Ole Jerusalem
O Ole Jerusalem
I feel your pain
I hear your cries
The light thunder
In the darkness
And the heavy rain
I see the steady bleeding
Of your wound
With its mark and stain
More>>Ole Jerusalem
Patrick Henry
A revolutionary
At heart
A patriot
From the start
Loved by his country
To the core
Defended freedom
Even more
Hated arrogance
In shape and tone
Fought tyranny
With every bone
He was the conscience
Of his people
Striking fear in the enemy
And made it feeble
More>> Patrick Henry
Injustice
An overwhelming feeling
Of bitterness
Emptiness
Hopelessness
Helplessness
Sadness
Madness
Of hatred and rage
Trapped in a cage
Disappointment and anger
Continuing to linger
Wounding of dignity
Violating your virginity
More>> Injustice
Political Riddles
He sees the world as black and white
His solution to every quandary is fight with might
The economy will not stimulate
Because he can’t articulate
While jobs are gone
He says, “bring ‘em on.”
Who is he?
He likes to be called the General
The head of an agency that’s federal
If you spit on the sidewalk
He’ll send the Incredible Hulk
He hates to cite truth or fact
Because he’s busy promoting his unpatriotic act
He frequents TV cameras with a smash
The first part of his last name sounds like trash
Who is he?
He is the ideal dutiful poodle they say
From an empire where the sun did not set one day
He adores his cowboy friend and considers him a fan
And insists: I’m nobody’s yes-man
When the cowboy says no, I say no
Who is he?
More>>Political Riddles