US: Palestinian cleared of terror charge

Convicted of 5 lesser charges; "I am not a terrorist. (The jury) knew it."

US palestinian 88 (photo credit: )
US palestinian 88
(photo credit: )
A federal jury on Monday night found a Palestinian-born University of Arkansas graduate innocent of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization. But the jury convicted Arwah Jaber, a naturalized US citizen born in the West Bank, of five lesser charges: obtaining his naturalization unlawfully, making false statements on passport and immigration applications, and two counts of making false statements on credit card applications. "I am not a terrorist. (The jury) knew it," Jaber said. He called the jury's decision on that charge "a victory for the American people." After his conviction, the US government filed to revoke Jaber's citizenship. A hearing is set for Tuesday morning on the motion. Jaber came to the attention of authorities after he talked openly about joining the Islamic Jihad movement, a group the United States government regards as a terrorist organization. He was arrested last year when he was trying to board a flight at Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport. He maintains he was going to the Middle East to visit relatives, but the government says he wanted to join the holy war. "The consequences of failing to act are too high when it comes to terrorism, particularly in this case when he was about to board an airplane and leave the United States," said US Attorney Bob Balfe. "We had to take action. We do believe he violated the law with his actions that led up to that point." Had he been convicted of the terror charge, Jaber would have faced up to 15 years in prison. Jaber will be sentenced within the next 90 days on the lesser charges. Both sides saw the verdicts as a victory: Jaber said it was proof that he is not a terrorist. US Attorney Bob Balfe said Jaber's arrest may have prevented a terrorist incident. On the stand last week, Jaber said he made the statements because he was upset at delays in obtaining his degree. He went on to receive a doctorate in chemistry from the university. He admitted using a false Social Security number, but said he needed it to obtain credit cards in his Palestinian name, Orwah Houshia. Jaber also testified that he did not include the name Orwah Houshia on immigration papers because he had used Arwah Jaber previously for immigration documents. A former CIA officer testified for the defense that he did not think Jaber was a terrorist.