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USF, WISE and Sami Al-Arian
The University of South Florida, December 19, 2001
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NOTE: This document builds upon a timeline created by USF's Office of Public Affairs in the mid-1990s. Dates prior to Sept. 26, 2001 are as complete as could be quickly reconstructed.
January 22, 1986 - Sami Al-Arian is hired as an assistant professor by USF.
1991 - USF Middle Eastern Committee is formed to promote dialogue after Persian Gulf War.
1991 - Al-Arian founds the World and Islam Studies Enterprise Inc. as an Islamic think tank in Temple Terrace, Florida.
1992 - USF's Middle Eastern Committee signs an agreement with WISE to sponsor academic meetings and occasionally publish papers.
1992-94 - WISE brings Islamic speakers to campus.
November 1994 - A PBS documentary, "Jihad in America" alleges Al-Arian is the head of the Islamic Jihad terrorist group's domestic support network. The documentary was created by Steve Emerson.
1994-95 - Ramadan Abdullah Shallah teach Arabic during the spring semesters.
May 1995 - A two-part series in The Tampa Tribune questions ties among USF, WISE and the Islamic Committee for Palestine charity.
May 1995 - USF's inspector general issues a report that finds irregularities with WISE graduate students and the hiring of an Arabic instructor.
1995 - A second report says USF violated its own policy.
1995-96 - Al-Arian takes a one-year sabbatical.
October 1995 - Shallah appears in Damascus and is named head of the Islamic Jihad.
December 5, 1995 - USF Provost Thomas J. Tighe announces changes to USF's procedures for entering into agreements with outside entities. Agreements now require high-level review and approval.
November 1995 - Federal immigration officials search the WISE office and Al-Arian's home and office.
January 1996 - USF retains outside counsel William Reece Smith Jr. to look into USF's agreements with WISE.
March 1996 - The Oracle student newspaper receives a letter from a group claiming connections to the Islamic Jihad and neo-Nazis. The group threatens to bomb a USF building and kill a white female professor on April 29.
April 29, 1996 - USF closes most of campus due to the bomb threat. Final exams are moved one week later to accommodate the closing.
1996 - Federal agents say in unsealed court documents that they have probable cause to believe the think tank and the charity are fronts for international terrorists.
May 2, 1996 - Provost Thomas Tighe places Al-Arian on leave with pay, effective August 7, 1996, pending completion of the federal investigation.
August 7, 1996 - Al-Arian's paid leave takes effect.
February 24, 1998 - At the request of USF President Betty Castor, USF Associate General Counsel Hank Lavendera writes to the U.S. Department of Justice, asking for status of federal investigation.
March 6, 1998 - U.S. Attorney Charles R. Wilson responds to Lavendara's February 24 letter saying that the Department of Justice will not comment on its investigations.
April 6, 1998 - Engineering Dean Michael Kovac notifies Computer Science and Engineering Chairman Abraham Kandel that Al-Arian can resume his regular faculty duties in fall 1998.
August 1998 - Al-Arian resumes his regular faculty duties.
Sept. 26, 2001 - Sami Al-Arian appears on FOX News' O'Reilly Factor. Host Bill O'Reilly questions him about alleged ties to terrorism.
Sept. 27, 2001 - USF receives hundreds of angry phone calls and e-mails about Al-Arian, including calls and e-mails with threatening language about Al-Arian. In the afternoon, the Computer Science and Engineering Department receives a death threat to Al-Arian. The department closes for several hours. Provost David Stamps, Engineering Dean Louis Martin-Vega, USF President Judy Genshaft and University Police Chief Paul Uravich discuss safety issues related to Al-Arian's presence on campus. They determine Al-Arian should be placed on paid leave for his safety and the safety of the rest of the USF community. Stamps and Martin-Vega meet with Al-Arian off campus and tell him that the university is placing him on leave until it determines that it's safe for him to return to campus.
Oct. 5, 2001 - Al-Arian is present in the USF's Marshall Center in violation of the terms of the leave of absence.
Oct. 8, 2001 - USF Provost David Stamps sends Al-Arian a letter notifying him that his presence on USF's campus on Oct. 5 violated his leave of absence. The letter constitutes a final warning to Al-Arian not to appear on campus.
November 1, 2001 - At the request of a USF trustee, R.B. Friedlander, interim general counsel, asks Tom Gonzalez, an attorney with Thompson, Sizemore & Gonzalez, to determine whether Dr. Al-Arian's actions constitute conduct which would justify discipline up to and including termination.
November 1, 2001 - December 18, 2001 - Gonzalez reviews the situation, including documents submitted by USF regarding disruption to the orderly and efficient operation of the university. He determines Al-Arian's conduct could be grounds for termination. Gonzalez is in contact with USF President Judy Genshaft during the process.
December 18, 2001 - Genshaft relates Gonzalez's determination to Dick Beard, chairman of the USF Board of Trustees. Beard calls an emergency meeting of the board of trustees to be held Dec. 19 at 9 a.m.
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