Department of Justice Seal

February 20, 2003

     Today, the U. S. Department of Justice is announcing the indictment of Sami Al-Arian and seven co-conspirators. Among those charged are several individuals in the leadership of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a U.S. government designated foreign terrorist organization, committed to suicide bombings and violent jihad activities.

     As the indictment details, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is responsible for the murder of over 100 innocent people in Israel and the Occupied Territories, including at least two young Americans, Alisa Flatow, age 20, and Shoshana Ben-Yishai, age 16. FBI agents have arrested the four defendants who are located in the United States, including the North American leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Sami Al-Arian. Searches also are underway in six locations in the Tampa area and one location in Illinois.

     Palestinian Islamic Jihad is one of the most violent terrorist organizations in the world. Its goals are best described in the "Manifesto of the Islamic Jihad in Palestine," a document discovered in the course of this investigation. As explained in the indictment, the "Manifesto" rejects, and I quote, "any peaceful solution to the Palestinian cause" and affirms "the Jihad solution and the martyrdom style as the only choice for liberation." Again, the indictment explains that the "Manifesto" refers to the United States as "the Great-Satan America" and indicates that the only purpose of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is to destroy Israel and to end all Western influence in the region.

     The detailed, 50 count indictment charges the eight defendants with operating a racketeering enterprise from 1984 until the present that supported numerous violent terrorist activities associated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The terrorist activities of the defendants are detailed in part in now-declassified national security wiretaps described in the indictment.

     The indictment describes other Palestinian Islamic Jihad-assisted terrorist attacks and outlines what these defendants did here in the United States to organize and fund the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

     This indictment charges that these named defendants were "material supporters" of a foreign terrorist organization. They financed, extolled, and assisted acts of terror. Our message to them and others like them is clear: we make no distinction between those who carry out terrorist attacks and those who knowingly finance, manage or supervise terrorist organizations. We will bring justice to the full network of terror.

     Some acts of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad described in the indictment include:

     Four of the eight Palestinian Islamic Jihad members charged have been arrested in Florida and Illinois today. They include:

     The other four individuals named in the indictment are charged as the top worldwide leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. They are currently overseas.

     Charges in the indictment include:

      All the defendants face life in prison.

      The Department of Justice has pledged to use all of our means within the law to identify, disrupt and dismantle terrorist networks.

     This indictment is the most recent of the Department's efforts to choke off terrorist resources and financing. The Department's achievements include:

     Our record on terrorist support networks is clear: We will hunt down the suppliers of terrorist money, we will shut down these sources, and we will ensure that both terrorists and their financiers meet the same, swift, certain justice of the United States of America.

     I thank especially FBI Director Bob Mueller for his outstanding leadership, and Pat D'Amuro, FBI Executive Assistant Director for Counterterrorism and Counterintelligence. I thank also Paul Perez, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Jim Jarboe, for their tireless work in bringing these defendants to justice.

     I recognize also Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff, and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher, as well as the many prosecutors of the Terrorist Financing Task Force, for their relentless, dedicated efforts in our mission to prevent terrorism. I commend you all, and thank you for your sacrifice and your service.

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