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Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thank you for watching us tonight.
When you do a program as controversial and intense as The Factor, it's good to be right. That is the subject of this evening's Talking Points Memo.
Federal authorities arrested University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian this morning, almost a year and a half after The Factor broke the story nationally.
Al-Arian is charged with illegally raising money for the terrorist organization Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which authorities say is the responsible for the murders of more than 100 people in the Middle East, including two Americans.
As you may know, Al-Arian was suspended by USF after we grilled him. He has denied all wrongdoing and indeed is innocent until proven guilty.
Nevertheless, Al-Arian is in deep trouble.
Here's some of what he said to us.
All right, what say you, professor? This guy is now a big shot in the Islamic Jihad and they're taking credit for all kinds of terrorist activity. You know him pretty well. Got an explanation here?
SAMI AL-ARIAN, UNIVERISTY OF SOUTH FLORIDA PROFESSOR: Well, I mean, when he came here, he came as a volunteer. He worked in an intellectual think tank. And he taught at the university and then he left. He said that his father was sick and he was going back to the occupied territories.
And then, six months later, we were shocked like everyone else in the world, in which he became the leader of the Jihad movement.
O'REILLY: You were shocked. You couldn't understand it. He never told you that his political views were that extreme? You were just taken by surprise?
AL-ARIAN: Everyone was.
O'REILLY: All right. You knew a man named Tarik Hamdi correct? You know Tarik?
AL-ARIAN: Mr. Tarik Hamdi, yes.
O'REILLY: You know him. Were you surprised that he set up an interview with ABC News with Osama bin Laden? That surprise you?
AL-ARIAN: I didn't know about that.
O'REILLY: Were you surprised that he was implicated in the embassy bombings in Africa?
AL-ARIAN: Well, my understanding he was never implicated.
O'REILLY: Yes, he was.
AL-ARIAN: My understanding is that the FBI has talked to him, they give him security clearance. And if the FBI gives someone security clearance, he must not be implicated.
O'REILLY: Right now he's on the list of suspected terrorists. Did you know that?
AL-ARIAN: No, I'm not aware of that.
O'REILLY: In 1988, you did a little speaking engagement in Cleveland. And you were quoted as saying, "Jihad is our path. Victory to Islam, death to Israel. Revolution, revolution, until victory rolling to Jerusalem."
Did you say that?
AL-ARIAN: Let me just put it in the context. When President Bush talked about cross, we understood what he meant here. The Muslim world thought that he was going to carry a cross and go invade the Muslim world and turn them into Christians. You have to understand the context.
When you say death to Israel, you mean death to occupation, death to apartheid, death to oppression...
O'REILLY: But not death to any human beings?
AL-ARIAN: No, absolutely not. Absolutely not. Absolutely not.
O'REILLY: All right. So what we have here is you saying death to Israel. You're bringing a guy over here who gets paid by the good citizens of Florida and then goes back and becomes one of the lieutenants or generals of the Islamic Jihad. You don't know anything about it.
Another guy sets up an interview with Osama bin Laden for ABC, and you don't know anything about that.
You know, doctor? It looks to me like there's something wrong down there at the University of South Florida. Am I getting the wrong impression?
AL-ARIAN: You're getting completely wrong impression. Because you can pick and choose and interpret it, you know, in different ways.
O'REILLY: With all due respect, if appreciate you coming on the program. But if I was the CIA, I'd follow you wherever you went.
O'REILLY: Now, after our report on Al-Arian, we were vilified by some at the university and by some in the Arab-American community.
Listen to this.
Mr. Ibish, now. Am I out of line here or what?
HUSSEIN IBISH, AMERICAN-ARAB ANTI-DISCRIMINATION COMMITTEE: I think it was handled very irresponsibly. I mean, I think first of all in a climate where people are getting shot and another Arab-American store owner today murdered for being an Arab, it has to be -- it can't be presented the way it was.
I mean, the whole segment was entitled "Professor of Terrorists." But what have you got? You've got people he knew in the past, who turned out to be later on to be bad guys and things he may have said 15 years ago, 14 years ago.
There's nothing there. I mean, it's a very McCarthy-ite, instead of guilt by association.
O'REILLY: All right. Now we like Mr. Ibish. He's a stand-up guy. But he was wrong on this one.
The larger point, however, is that the USA is full of pressure groups with strong agendas and those agendas are inhibiting many news agencies that do not want to be branded McCarthy-ites or whatever.
Thus, we stood alone on Sami Al-Arian.
Finally a few kinds words for Attorney General Ashcroft. We've been tough on him for being too passive in corruption investigations, but it looks like his work on terrorism is getting stronger.
Talking Points is happy this case has finally come to a head. But, again, the government must prove its case in court.
And that is The Memo .
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day
Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day"...
According to the Reuters News Agency, plastic surgery in Britain is booming. Ladies are going in for breast enlargements and liposuction primarily, and the men are going in for manhood enhancement. Is that the correct description here?
British men made up 35 percent of plastic surgery patients, and, while the manhood enhancement deal may be a sensitive area, it may also be ridiculous.
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