May 1, 2006, - 7:35 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
**** SCROLL TO MID-COLUMN FOR UPDATE ****
While everyone was talking about the plea deal for Rush Limbaugh (who sought treatment), few noticed a far more important sentencing matter–that of Sami Al-Arian, a terrorist about whom I’ve been writing since before 9/11.
This morning, Al-Arian was sentenced to the maximum sentence for the one count to which he pled guilty. Since Al-Arian used pitiful U.S. immigration laws and weak immigration enforcement to get a green card, visas for other terrorists, and voted illegally, it is auspicious that he was sentenced to a paltry amount on Illegal Alien May Day.
Yes, the 57 months is very little, especially since Al-Arian, a founder and world-wide chief of Islamic Jihad, gets to lop off 39 months of time served. He will be out in, at most, 18 months and then be deported . . . if ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) ICE can find a country that will issue him travel documents and accept him, not an easy feat.
Unlike one so-called terrorism expert who praised Judge James S. Moody, Jr. for his stern lecture at sentencing, the Judge gets no praise from us. We’ve called Moody, a Clinton appointee, “the Dancing Judge Ito of terror trials” (though, we think he is tied for the title with Federal Judge Gerald Rosen). His repeated cracking of stupid jokes, kicking off jurors favorable to convicting Al-Arian of all terrorism charges, and other behavior and rulings on motions and evidence only piled on to the horrible job the Justice Department did in “prosecuting” (or whatever you call what they did) Al-Arian. (There was so much strong evidence they never presented, which we will present at a later date–stay tuned.) Moody is one of the reasons this site was alone in predicting that Al-Arian would NOT be convicted of a single charge (and he wasn’t)–and our prediction was recognized by The Weekly Standard. Judge Moody shares the blame in Al-Arian doing so little time and enjoying a life his victims will never enjoy.
****UPDATE, 05/02/06: Incredibly, today’s New York Sun heaps on the schmaltz, calling this buffoonish judge “the authentic American voice” and even evoking Abraham Lincoln’s name. Puh-leeze.
That’s what happens when lazy editorial writers don’t closely follow a trial and read a judge’s phony words at the end. Abraham Lincoln? More like another great American, Bozo the Clown (with apologies to Mr. Clown). The Sun claims that Judge Moody illustrates Lincoln’s declaration that you can’t fool all the people all the time. But apparently The Sun was fooled quite easily by the unworthy Judge Moody. ****END of UPDATE
This sentencing is not a cause for celebration. It is a cause for lamentation–lamentation that a worldwide terrorist mastermind who knowingly funded mass murder and used our immigration and other lax laws to his advantage, will not really pay for his evil deeds. Lamentation that the government and that so-called terrorism expert are praising what happened today. It is anything but praiseworthy.
We would have linked to Judge Moody’s statement to Al-Arian, but we prefer that you buy your fertilizer at Home Depot, where it is of much higher quality (you get what you pay for). While we agree with his comments, his behavior throughout the trial over which he presided says he does not.
What we will post here, though, are the contrasting statements of my friend, Stephen Flatow of New Jersey–whose daughter, Alisa Flatow (a young college student), was murdered in a bus bombing funded and orchestrated by Al-Arian–and the statement of Al-Arian, which reads alternatively like a “thank you” speech at Tori Spelling’s Sweet 16 party and a “Long Live the Jihad/Free Palestine” treatise. It is not the contrite statement of a mass murder financier who has any sense of remorse whatsoever. But it is the declaration of a man who knows that in no more than 18 months he can show America a middle-finger salute and wants to give us a sneak preview.
Stephen Flatow’s statement is a letter he wrote, if he had a chance to speak at Al-Arian’s sentencing. He was not allowed to (don’t know why), and that is a tragedy upon a tragedy. Here is what he wrote, as posted in the Tampa Tribune, under the fitting headline, “A Father’s Plea”:
I testified at Sami Al-Arian’s trial in connection with a Palestinian Islamic Jihad attack that killed my daughter, Alisa. I had hoped to make a victim’s impact statement at Al-Arian’s sentencing but that will not be allowed. Had I been allowed to speak in open court, here is what I would have said to U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr.:
I am writing to urge you to impose the most severe sentence possible when you sentence Sami Al-Arian on May 1, 2006.
I am the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered by PIJ in an April 9, 1995, terror attack. No one has ever said that Sami Al-Arian was in Gaza the day the bomb went off. And we have never accused Sami Al-Arian of recruiting the suicide bomber, of driving the truck or pushing the plunger on the bomb that killed Alisa that Sunday morning. However, by pleading guilty “to mak[ing] or receiv[ing] contributions of funds, goods or services to or for the benefit of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” I believe Mr. Al-Arian at long last admits his role in providing the material means to kill Alisa and seven others that morning and is just as culpable as the actual bomber in her death.
I could tell you much about Alisa and my family’s experiences since her death. My words are necessarily inadequate to describe our loss because you cannot see something buried deep inside us, our broken hearts. For the first seven years after Alisa’s death, you could not mention her name to her mother because the mere mention of her name would bring tears to her mother’s eyes. As for me, when a cold wind blows, I often catch myself looking down at my chest to see if the hole I feel is there.
Alisa’s murder at the hands of cowards and faceless mandarins shocked us, her extended family, friends and people we do not personally know. On that Sunday, in one instant, Alisa went from being a vibrant young lady, proud of who and what she was, into a mortally wounded casualty, her brain shredded by shrapnel.
When I saw her at the hospital the next morning, her eyes were the same beautiful brown they were when she was 2 years old, but that morning they stared into space. There was no recognition of my face; Alisa saw nothing. The spiritual leader of our family and good friend was gone at the age of 20 years. The oldest child, the oldest sister, is now and will forever be the youngest member of our family.
After donating her organs for transplant into six very sick people, we brought her back home to New Jersey for burial; 2,000 people attended her funeral, the majority of whom had never met Alisa. But they came because they sensed that something evil had happened and that the only way to fight evil is to stare it in its face and say, “You are not going to get me.”
Alisa was not politically active. What attracted her to Israel in 1995 was the same thing that attracted her five times previously – it was her belief that the best place to learn about yourself and your religion is to visit and live in the land where it is practiced around the clock, where the policemen, the bus drivers and the merchants share a heritage with you.
There was also something intangible. Every time that Alisa returned from one of her trips to Israel, she came back not just a better Jew, but a better person too.
We will never be able to understand what drives people to enable others to commit terrorist acts. We cannot understand why or how God allowed people like Sami Al-Arian and his cohorts to carry out their plans. The only way I can combat their wickedness is to try to make myself a better person each day. I try each day to let the people who provide resources to terrorists such as PIJ know that you will not intimidate us, you will not scare us, and you will not stop us from living our lives as fully as possible.
If I had the ability to make this statement in open court, I would want Mr. Al-Arian to know that, unlike him, we are not going to use code words on the telephone and in our communications; we are not going to slink around as he did, advocating murder and mayhem and praising death under the guise of free speech. I want him to know we are going to fight him and his ilk in the open – in the courthouse, in the Congress, and in the courtroom of public opinion, and we are going to win.
I want Mr. Al-Arian to know that we are going to continue to fight for the right to live safely in our communities and to travel safely to all corners of the world. We are not going to stand by idly while terror’s supporters sitting cozily here in the United States send young men and women to their deaths in the name of God.
I once again urge you to impose the harshest sentence possible on Mr. Al-Arian. Thank you for your consideration.
Very truly yours,
Stephen M. Flatow
Now, if you can grit your teeth and bear it, here is the arrogant, smirking, “I’m about to start a new chapter of my life” statement made by Sami Al-Arian, professional Islamic terrorist, also as posted in the Tampa Tribune:
Statement by Dr. Sami A. Al-Arian Addressed to the Court
May 1, 2006
I thank my outstanding lawyer, Ms. Moreno, for eloquently expressing my sentiments to the court this morning.
I also would like to thank her and my former attorney, Mr. Bill Moffitt, for their exceptional representation and their tireless efforts on my behalf for the past three years. I’d like as well to thank Mr. Lee Fugate, Mr. Jack Fernandez and Mr. Simon Gaugush for their excellent efforts on my behalf for the past few months.
This process, your Honor, affirmed my belief in the true meaning of a democratic society, in which the independence of the judiciary, the integrity of the jury system, and the system of checks and balances are upheld, despite intense political and public pressures.
Hence, I’d like to express my deep appreciation for the jury for their remarkable courage and efforts in the service of justice in this case. It’s also my belief that an impartial and conscientious jury, as well as principled judicial rulings that uphold the values of the constitution, are the real vehicles that win the hearts and minds of people across the globe, especially in the Arab and Muslim world.
Your Honor: This May 21 will mark my 31st anniversary in the United States. The American chapter of my life has surely been the longest. But it’s about to end, as I will soon leave and start a new chapter.
As I leave, I harbor no bitterness or resentment. Looking back at my three decades in America, I’m indeed grateful for the opportunities afforded to the son of stateless Palestinian refugees in a foreign country, while denied such opportunity in his country of origin and the countries where he was born or raised.
I’m grateful that my five wonderful children were born and raised in a society that provided them with freedom and equal opportunities in order to reach their potential. Had they been born anywhere else, they’d still be classified and treated as stateless Palestinian refugees. During my many years in America, I have tried to uphold the great values of my faith and culture and the honored ideals and principles of this society.
I’m very proud of my contributions to this society. And I’m very grateful to have been able to contribute positively in many endeavors.
I’d also like to thank my loving family, my beloved wife and children, whom I’m looking forward to join with soon.
Their continuous love and unwavering support during this ordeal have been ceaseless and inspiring. During this entire time, my family never lost faith in the ideals of truth and justice that our society holds in esteem.
Finally, and most importantly, I want to thank the Almighty for bestowing on me deep faith and calming peace that have sustained me during these past few years.
Thank you, your Honor.
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