When the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad challenged the loyalty of Ramadan Shallah, who was living in the United States, Shallah responded by sending a poem.
I am against America until this life ends and the scale is placed in the afterlife.
I am against her even if the stones relented one day and the flint liquefied.
My hatred for America is so that if the worlds contained some of it, the worlds would tumble down.
She is ... in evils and all evil on this earth.
Who other than her planted tyrants on our land?
Shallah, whose admission to the United States was sponsored by Sami Al-Arian, told Al-Arian during a wiretapped phone conversation in February 1994 about the poem, which he attributed to Arab poet Ahmad Matar. Shallah told Al-Arian he sent the poem to Fathi Shikaki after Shikaki told Shallah, "You are living in the lion's den."
"I sent it to soothe his mind about the issue of America," said Shallah, who then was executive director of Al-Arian's think tank, World & Islam Studies Enterprise. He would replace Shikaki as head of the Islamic Jihad after Shikaki was killed in 1995.
Although he didn't seem upset by the poem, Al-Arian worried about creating problems between the U.S.-based Islamic Jihad members and those in the Middle East, particularly at a time Al-Arian was trying to push through financial reform.
"By God, my brother, the issue is that this is the worst time for any friction and defiance between us and them," he said. "But it's either this thing or never. I mean if it doesn't happen now, it will never happen again."
It was a tense time, as Al-Arian maneuvered to implement his financial reform plan. It didn't become illegal in the United States to belong to the Islamic Jihad until nearly a year after the conversation, but the evidence is being presented under the theory that it was part of a continuing crime.
Iran, the Islamic Jihad's chief financial backer, had cut off funding after questions about whether Shikaki was stealing money, according to transcripts read in court. In what was known as the Beirut agreement, Iran put controls on the money. The agreement upset members of the Islamic Jihad, and the organization was close to being torn apart by infighting.
Al-Arian proposed rejecting the Beirut agreement and moving control of the Islamic Jihad's money out of the Middle East and into the hands of two committees. The one that would receive and distribute the money would include Al- Arian, his brother-in-law, Mazen Al-Najjar, and Shikaki. The committee that would supervise the budget included Al-Arian, Shallah and Al-Najjar.
According to transcripts read in court Monday, eight of the 10 members of the shura council, or governing body, approved Al-Arian's plan, but it met resistance from the Iranian government.
One of the shura council members who opposed the plan was Muhammed Tasir Hassan Al-Khatib, who was treasurer for the Islamic Jihad before the Beirut agreement.
In a tense telephone conversation on Feb. 10, 1994, Al- Khatib told Al-Arian that the Islamic Jihad's spiritual leader, Abd Al Aziz Awda, was upset with Al-Arian because he thought the reform plan let Shikaki off the hook, according to FBI Agent Kerry Myers.
Al-Khatib also said Shikaki was using Al-Arian to get control of the money again and that some shura council members wanted to continue with the Beirut agreement.
By the end of the conversation, Al-Arian seemed disgusted, after Al-Khatib suggested Al-Arian might want some members out of the Islamic Jihad.
"I don't want anyone out," Al-Arian said. "Let them hit their heads together, all of them. I don't care. I am out. That's it."