'Outside agitators' were among students in Columbia University protests: NYPD

Pro-Palestinian students and activists gather at a protest encampment on the campus of Columbia University in New York City on April 25, 2024. (Credit: LEONARDO MUNOZ/AFP via Getty Images)

There's been a drastic escalation in protests across New York City. 

Following the NYPD's overnight raid on Hamilton Hall, officials say protests are being led by individuals not affiliated with Columbia University. 

They say these outside influences could be potentially training students on violence.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams said Columbia asked police to look into "external actors" before the raid. 

"Young people are being influenced by professionals at radicalizing our children," Adams said. 

When asked to name the alleged actors, officials mentioned that "the wife of somebody who had been convicted for material support to terrorists," had attended one of the demonstrations on campus.

However, officials said there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the part of the woman. 

Alleged agitators 

In a post on X, Sami Al-Arian, an indicted terrorist, who was deported from the U.S., posted that his wife had been on campus last week standing in solidarity with students. 

In the photo, his wife, Nahla Al-Najjar, is seen sitting inside the pro-Palestinian encampment on campus. 

Who is Sami Al-Arian?

Sami Al-Arian is a Kuwait-born political activist of Palestinian origin who taught computer engineering at the University of South Florida.

Following the September 11 attacks, Al-Arian fell under intense scrutiny. 

He had been a target of U.S. authorities for decades before being charged with playing a leadership role in the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. 

He took a plea bargain on reduced charges after a jury failed to convict him in 

Federal prosecutors eventually dropped all the charges against him after the case sat in limbo for five years before a judge. 

In a separate trial, Al-Arian eventually pled guilty to a single count of supporting a terrorist group and was deported to Turkey in 2015.