Saturday, January 21, 2006

NY Sun: Possible terror connection to Brandeis professor

The Al-Arian trial showed some evidence that a Palestinian professor at Brandeis University may have been raising money for Islamic Jihad.

Alisa Flatow, murdered by Islamic Jihad in 1995, was a Brandeis student.
Concern is mounting about the possible connections between a prominent Palestinian Arab scholar, Khalil Shikaki, and leading members of the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Government wiretaps introduced at the trial of a Florida professor accused of operating the American wing of PIJ, Sami Al-Arian, show Mr. Shikaki distributed money in the West Bank for Al-Arian associates allegedly tied to PIJ - conversations the federal government argues may represent terrorist activity.

Mr. Shikaki is, among many scholarly affiliations, the founder and director of a prominent polling institute, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, and last year was named a scholar at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University. Among Palestinian Islamic Jihad's more notorious acts was an April 1995 bombing in Israel that killed a Brandeis student, Alisa Flatow.

He is also the brother of the assassinated founder of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Fathi Shikaki, and a former director of the Florida-based World & Islam Studies Enterprise. WISE was founded by Mr. Al-Arian and connected to several other figures involved in the recent PIJ terrorism trials in Tampa, Fla., during which Mr. Al-Arian and three co-defendants were acquitted.

Wiretaps of conversations between Messrs. Shikaki, Shallah, and Hammoudeh introduced as evidence at the Al-Arian trial...suggest that Mr. Shikaki distributed money in the West Bank for Al-Arian associates, who raised the funds in America, and then stopped the money transfers in January 1995, shortly after PIJ was declared a blocked terrorist organization by President Clinton.

In a government wiretap dated January 15, 1995, in a conversation between Messrs. Shikaki and Hammoudeh, Mr. Hammoudeh says to Mr. Shikaki: "If you please, do us a favor. There is an amount of money for orphans in Nablus." In the case against Mr. Al-Arian, the government argued and introduced evidence indicating that "orphans" was a code for Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Mr. Shikaki replies: "Um ... Eah. [Pause.] [Sighs.] Okay, when you want to give it to them."

In a wiretap from January 28, 1995, Mr. Hammoudeh calls Mr. Shikaki again from Florida to inquire about the money distribution, and Mr. Shikaki refuses - five days after Mr. Clinton signed an executive order prohibiting financial transactions with terrorist organizations threatening the Middle East peace process, including PIJ.

"What have you done for us regarding the subject," Mr. Hammoudeh asks. "Ehh ... I did not do anything for you yet, by God, Sameeh," Mr. Shikaki replies. "If you have another way to give them money, a way other than my way ..."

Mr. Hammoudeh then says: "By God... I mean I can send them a check through the mail. But I thought this way is better, more secure."

This sounds exactly the way two people would speak about giving money to orphans, right?