Defense rests in al-Arian trial

Defense attorneys for the co-defendants of a fired college professor accused of supporting Palestinian terrorists have rested their cases, and closing arguments were expected to begin next week. Al-Arian and the three co-defendants - Sameeh Taha Hammoudeh, Hatem Naji Fariz and Zayed Ballut - are accused of using Palestinian educational and charitable entities in Tampa as fundraising fronts for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. They face 51 counts alleging they used charitable and educational entities to raise and launder money in support of the terror group. Defense attorneys say the men did not engage in violence, and are being persecuted for unpopular political beliefs. Government prosecutors called more than 70 witnesses in the case, which is nearing the five-month mark. Last week, attorneys for Al-Arian, 47, was fired from the University of South Florida after being indicted, rested their case without calling a single witness. Only a handful of defense witnesses for two of the co-defendants testified in recent days.