ABC News: Palestinian is called terrorist leader in US trial
TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - A Palestinian former professor was portrayed as a leader of one of the world's deadliest terrorist groups as his trial began on Monday on charges he helped finance suicide bombers in the Middle East.
Sami al-Arian and three co-defendants of Palestinian descent were arrested in February 2003 on charges of raising money and providing support for the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad. The United States lists the group as a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of over 100 people in Israel, including two Americans.
"The evidence will show the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is one of the most deadly terrorist organizations on earth, dedicated to the elimination of Israel," Assistant U.S. Attorney Walter Furr said in his opening statement in one of the highest-profile terrorism prosecutions in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The prosecutor added that al-Arian, 47, a computer science professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa until his arrest, was one of the Islamic Jihad's top leaders.