Fox News reports:
President Obama's new envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference, Rashad Hussain, is at the center of a controversy over remarks attributed to him defending a man who later pleaded guilty to conspiring to aid a terrorist group.
The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs quoted Hussain in 2004 as calling Sami al-Arian the victim of "politically motivated persecutions" after al-Arian, a university professor, was charged in 2003 with heading U.S. operations of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The United States has designated the Palestinian Islamic Jihad as a foreign terrorist group as far back as 1997. At the time of al-Arian's arrest, then Attorney General John Ashcroft called it "one of the most violent terrorist organizations in the world."
Al-Arian pleaded guilty in 2006 to conspiracy to aid Palestinian Islamic Jihad and was sentenced to more than four years in prison.
At the time of his plea, the St. Petersburg Times wrote:
"In the plea agreement, Al-Arian admits conspiring to help people associated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad and covering up his knowledge of the PIJ associations... He also admits that he had been associated with PIJ during "the late 1980s and early to mid 1990s."
You can read the plea agreement itself here.
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