Al-Arian is scheduled to speak next month at a conference in Istanbul that is sponsored, in part, by his old pals at Georgetown University's Saudi-endowed Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. The center's director, John Esposito, a Muslim Brotherhood apologist, also considers himself a "very close friend" of Al-Arian's. And — as we noted last spring, family ties strengthen the Al-Arian/Georgetown connection.
Al-Arian was deported to Turkey in 2015, pursuant to terms in his 2006 guilty plea connected to his Palestinian Islamic Jihad support. A computer scientist by training, Al-Arian now works as "director of the Center for Regional Politics at Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University."
His conference biography casts him as a civil rights activist and thinker. It is silent about Al-Arian's documented role as secretary for the PIJ's Majlis Shura, or board of directors. It also omits a 1991 introduction of Al-Arian captured on videotape, in which he is described as the head of "the active arm of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine" in the United States.
This makeover may be part of a public comeback that Al-Arian is staging as he starts a new life in Turkey. Following the failed coup attempt there, Al-Arian offered his analysis on its suspected instigators, twice hinting that Israel was involved.
TRT World — Turkish Radio and Television — is an active arm of the Turkish government ,which incurred harsh criticism over its coverage of the coup attempt. Al-Arian appeared there in July, and was identified as a "civil rights activist & writer."
During that appearance, he first rationalized a terrorist attack that killed two Israel police officers, both of whom were Druze Arabs. Then he repeated the false and incendiary claim that: "This right-wing Israeli government has been trying for many years now to partition Al-Aqsa Mosque. And this is where this whole episode — this whole crisis — was created."
In October, Al-Arian will speak at the Istanbul "International Conference on The Muslim Ummah," sponsored by Georgetown's Alwaleed Center. His presentation is called, "The Challenge of Settler Colonialism in Palestine/Israel."
He'll be joined by his son, Abdullah Al-Arian, and son-in-law Jonathan Brown, along with Esposito and Islamist luminaries as Tariq Ramadan — grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna — and Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Turkey's Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kalin joined Erdogan during visits with US Muslim groups last year.
Al-Arian also is slated to lead the conference's final session, which will feature Ramadan, Kalin and Esposito discussing "the Muslim Ummah in Today's World."
The October 8 conference is titled, "International Conference on the Muslim Ummah: Synthesizing a New Paradigm, Analyzing Modern Challenges." "Since the Ottoman Empire's fall, the concept of the 'Muslim Ummah' [community] has lost its historical meaning as many scholars and academics from many disciplines have been debating its relevance and practical manifestations in today's world," a conference description said. The meeting aims to "propose a new paradigm within the context of the modern world."
Al-Arian's academic friends don't seem to care about his work as the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's "active arm" in America, his service as a PIJ board member or his efforts to keep Iranian money flowing to these terrorist group in the 1990s. And this is a man who, in the wake of a horrific double suicide bombing that killed 21 people at a bus station, saw fit to write that the attack was "he best guide and witness to what the believing few can do in the face of Arab and Islamic collapse at the heels of the Zionist enemy..."
That bloodthirsty attitude makes sense, since the PIJ bylaws explicitly reject "any peaceful solution for the Palestinian Cause, and [affirm] the jihad solution and the martyrdom style as the only option for liberation." PIJ seeks to instill "a state of terror, instability and panic in the souls of the Zionists" and to create "a psychological barrier between the Jews and the Muslim Palestinian people and the creation of a conviction that the coexistence is impossible..."
While the Hamas charter has always been public, US officials did not know that PIJ had a similar document until Federal investigators found it in Al-Arian's possession during 1995 searches of his home and offices.
None of the academics gathering in Istanbul are dumb. They know these facts about their "very close friend," and yet they still treat him as a respected academic. Including Al-Arian in an academic conference isn't about advancing scholarship. It's about rehabilitating a terrorist's reputation.