Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Palestinian Deported From Tampa Indicted

TAMPA, Fla. — The brother-in-law of Sami Al-Arian was indicted Tuesday in the terrorism financing case against the former University of South Florida professor.

Mazen Al-Najjar, a Palestinian, was deported from the United States in August 2002 and is believed to be in Lebanon.

Besides facing racketeering and conspiracy charges, Al-Najjar was specifically charged with perjury for denying to an immigration court judge that he was a member of the Islamic Jihad, knew other members or provided the group with financial support.

The U.S. Attorney's office declined comment. The Islamic Jihad is believed responsible for the deaths of more than 100 people in terrorist attacks in Israel.

Al-Najjar was named as an unindicted co-conspirator when Al-Arian and eight others were indicted in 2003. Prosecutors allege the men used an Islamic charity and academic think tank at the university as fund-raising covers for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Al-Arian and three others are scheduled for trial in January. They have denied the charges.