The professor I am a T.A. for is in jail. Its unbeleivable. He is just an innocent man unfortunate enough to have worked for two souls suspected of having terrorist links. I hope he gets out and cleared soon enough.
By Jim Leusner and Pedro Ruz Gutierrez
Sentinel Staff Writers
Posted March 20 2003
A computer-engineering professor at the University of Central Florida — an associate of two prominent Palestinians facing federal charges — was arrested Wednesday and charged with immigration violations.
Hussam Jubara, 42, also known as Hosam, was arrested at his home south of Orlando by FBI and immigration agents and Orange County deputy sheriffs.
Jubara, a visiting professor at UCF, was charged with making false statements on immigration forms used to fight U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service deportation proceedings in 1998, a federal affidavit says.
Prosecutors allege that Jubara lied about a prior marriage in 1984; misrepresented his immigration history; and failed to disclose other names he used. According to the affidavit, he also concealed $26,000 in “under the table” income paid him while working for an Orlando gift-shop chain in 1995 and 1996.
Jubara teaches one upper-level class in computer engineering at UCF, which hired him in 2000. UCF spokeswoman Linda Gray said FBI agents contacted university police looking for the professor earlier in the day.
She said Jubara, whose contract is up for review in May, will be allowed to teach until the charges are resolved.
“The university has to be objective, cautious and fair until the police and court phase plays out,” Gray said.
Jubara was booked into the Orange County Jail and will have an initial appearance today in Orlando federal court.
Federal agents last arrested Jubara in 1996, when he was working in Orlando as an information-systems manager for Big Bargain World, owned by Palestinian-American businessman Jesse Maali. Immigration officials said Jubara was working illegally at another business in violation of his visa.
Jubara fought INS efforts to deport him. In 1998, an immigration judge allowed him to stay in the country.
Wednesday night’s charges allege that Jubara understated his income while working in 1995 and 1996 for Maali, whom prosecutors recently accused of money laundering and immigration fraud. Maali has denied the charges, along with suggestions by prosecutors that he has links to terrorist groups.
The agents who arrested Jubara are part of the same task force that investigated and arrested Maali in November.
As a Tampa student in 1988, Jubara helped found the Islamic Concern Project with Sami Al-Arian, the University of South Florida professor indicted last month on racketeering and terrorism-related charges.
Jubara served as a director and secretary of the organization, which federal prosecutors have characterized as a front for a Palestinian terrorist group. He stayed with the organization until 1995, when federal agents closed it down.
Federal officials have alleged that Al-Arian used ICP and a think tank, the World and Islamic Studies Enterprises, to funnel money to terrorist groups, particularly Palestine Islamic Jihad and Hamas.
Three other former ICP directors also have been accused of collaborating with terrorists. No such allegations have been made against Jubara, however.
The Orange County man has denied any association with the organization, but court and state corporate records link him to ICP and to Al-Arian.
Jubara and Al-Arian bought property together in Tampa in 1988 and co-signed a loan together. According to Jubara’s rÃ©sumÃ©, they co-wrote six articles on technical-computing issues.
However, they have not written together since 1992. Two business partnerships they founded have been disbanded, and in 1997 Jubara sold his interest to Al-Arian.
The USF professor was one of three personal references listed on the rÃ©sumÃ© Jubara submitted to UCF in 2000.
In addition to teaching at UCF, Jubara is president of US Ventures Realty in Orlando and has worked with Islamic charities.
A longtime friend of Jubara, who spoke on condition that his name not be used, said the arrest was not surprising because of the media attention given the case of Al-Arian, who was Jubara’s academic adviser at USF.
“The charges against him are bogus,” the friend said. “He’s resigned to the fact that he’s been set up.”