Islamic Jihad Suspect Seeks to Represent Self; 7 More Charged in Knotty Terror Case

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 27, 2003 | Go to article overview

Islamic Jihad Suspect Seeks to Represent Self; 7 More Charged in Knotty Terror Case


Byline: Jerry Seper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A former University of South Florida professor, accused of being the North American leader of a Palestinian terrorist organization, wants to represent himself in a still-pending trial that has been deluged with secret wiretapped conversations and classified documents.

Sami A. Al-Arian said he planned to dismiss his government-appointed attorneys and wants his trial to begin next month. He and seven others suspected of being Palestinian Islamic Jihad members are charged with conspiring to finance international terrorist operations.

Prosecutors and three co-defendants have opposed the move vigorously, saying trial cannot begin before next year because of the complexity of the case and the volume of classified evidence.

St. Petersburg, Fla., attorneys Frank Louderback and Jeffrey Brown were appointed April 7 by U.S. Magistrate Thomas McCoun III to represent Mr. Al-Arian. Earlier this month, Mr. Al-Arian, a U.S. resident since 1975, said he wanted to dismiss the two attorneys. He also said he would waive his right to a speedy trial and represent himself.

Mr. Louderback told The Washington Times last week that his client had not yet filed a motion in court to do either. He said a court hearing in the case was scheduled for June 5.

"In the meantime, we are doing what we can to represent our client. That's what we have been charged to do," he said.

Mr. Al-Arian, held at a detention center near Tampa, and the other suspects, including four U.S. residents, are accused of financing terrorist operations that killed more than 100 people in Israel and the occupied territories, including two Americans.

Identified by authorities as the North American leader of the Islamic Jihad, a State Department-designated terrorist organization, he first surfaced in February as a key focus of the government's counterterrorism efforts during raids on several Islamic businesses in Virginia.

A 50-count indictment, handed up by a federal grand jury in Tampa, said Mr. …

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Islamic Jihad Suspect Seeks to Represent Self; 7 More Charged in Knotty Terror Case
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