A US jury in Florida has acquitted Arab-American Sami al-Arian of terrorism charges, but he could be retried as the judge declared a mistrial a
A US jury in Florida has acquitted Arab-American Sami al-Arian of terrorism charges, but he could be retried as the judge declared a mistrial after the panel remained deadlocked on other charges.
The decision on Tuesday was a setback for the US administration, as the case, built largely on wiretaps and seized documents, was seen as a test of the controversial Patriot Act that gave the authorities wider surveillance powers after the 11 September 2001 attacks in New York and the Pentagon.Al-Arian, 47, was found not guilty of conspiring to "murder or maim people" outside the United States and of providing material support to the Palestinian resistance movement, Islamic Jihad, which the US has labelled a "terrorist organisation".The federal jury acquitted al-Arian of eight charges out of the 17 against him but was deadlocked on the others.The former University of South Florida computer engineering professor wept after the verdicts, and his attorney, Linda Moreno, hugged him. He will go back to jail until prosecutors decide whether to retry him on the deadlocked charges.Federal prosecutors said al-Arian and his co-defendants acted as the communications arm of Islamic Jihad, spreading the word and raising money that went towards bombings that have killed hundreds.He was considered one of the most important "terrorist" figures to be brought to trial in the United States since the 11 September attacks.
The Patriot Act gave sweeping powers to the authorities
"Any discussion of Sami al-Arian being the most powerful man in the [Islamic Jihad] is fantasy"William Moffit,Al-Arian's attorney