8/21/2005

Recent News on Al-Arian: Trial : 10th week

The Tenth Week

In both the original indictment and the superseding indictment, the period from 1995 to 2000 -- from the dissolution of WISE to the release of Mazen Al-Najjar (or, if you prefer, from the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin to Ariel Sharon's appearance at the Dome of the Rock) -- is a period of many financial transactions and routine communications as part of some kind of organizational effort. Since these transactions and communications took place after President Clinton declared the PIJ to be a terrorist organization, these are the events that lie at the legal center of the prosecution's case; however dramatic or compelling the events of 1987 - 1994, the PIJ was not verboten then. And this is ultimately a racketeering case, which means that it relies not so much on the individual actions of the defendent as on the pattern of actions making up the illegal activity: and such patterns, being complex, require a lot of exploration for the jury to see their illegal character. So as one might imagine that a conviction being somewhere on the prosecution's list of priorities, one would suppose that the prosecution would go over the long list of transactions and communications in the 1995 - 2000 period with some care, especially as the indictments themselves do not go into the distinction between operational support for the PIJ and operational support for any other organizations Al-Arian might be involved in, like his extensive missionary activity. But instead, the prosecution glided through those five years as if on skates:

* On Monday, the prosecution went over the Beit Lid suicide bombing on January 22, which was the proximate cause of Clinton's proscription. On Aug. 16, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Witnesses detail Israel bombings at Al-Arian trial, in which Judge Moody denies a defense motion to block testimony on the bombing

* Of Tuesday, the Aug. 17 St. Petersburg Times reported that Evidence covers five years quickly, beginning with the lead, "Prosecutors picked up the pace in the federal trial of Sami Al- Arian Tuesday, spanning five years in five hours."
* For the rest of the week, the trial turned on 2000 and later, with Al-Arian being watched and pursued, and concerned about being watched and pursued, as described in the Aug. 18 story Wiretaps: Al-Arian tried to prove legitimacy and the Aug. 19 story Al-Arian, others feared government action.

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