Israel Resource Review 4th July, 2002


Saudi Arabian King's Two Brothers Provided Financial Aid to Suicide Bombers
Jackie Hugi
Correspondent, Maariv

Two high-ranking personages in the Saudi government oversaw the monarchy's financial support mechanism for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. This information was extracted from documents the IDF seized in the course of Operation Defensive Shield.

The two high-ranking officials are the brothers of King Fahd, Prince Salman bin Abed el-Aziz and Prince Naif bin Abed el-Aziz, the interior minister and the chairman of the Saudi Intifada aid committee. The committee prepared lists of shahids and provided financial support directly to their families in the territories. Each family received approximately USD 5,300, or 20,000 rials. The documents the IDF seized pertain mostly to terror attacks that pre-dated the Intifada, and the financial support was given in the first months of the Intifada.

The most important document has the following title: The Arab Saudi Kingdom, the Saudi el-Aksa Intifada Support Committee, the General Secretariat, Riyadh." Among the names of the 24 shahids on the list are the names of Majdi Abu-Warda, who committed the suicide bombing attack on bus #18 in February 1996 (26 people were killed); Moussa Abed el-Kader Ghanimat from the village Tzurif, who carried out the bombing attack at cafe Apropos in Tel Aviv in March 1997 (three women were killed); Sufian al-Jabarin, the perpetrator of the suicide bombing attack on bus #26 in Jerusalem in August 1995 (four people were killed). Also on the list are the names of Ibrahim Sarahna, who committed a suicide bombing attack in Ashkelon in February 1996 in which a woman soldier was killed, and Iyad Batat, a Hamas activist who was responsible for a series of shooting attacks.

The role played by the two high-ranking Saudi figures is pointed to in the correspondences between the Palestinian ambassador to Riyadh, Mustafa Dib, and Yasser Arafat. In January 2001 the Saudi interior minister announced that he had allocated 124 million rials to the families of the "el-Aksa Intifada martyrs." In the wake of this statement, Arafat complained to the Saudis that he was being bypassed and that the Saudis were sending money to Hamas and Islamic Jihad and not to Fatah. Arafat responded to his ambassador's report about the Saudi interior minister's statement with a hand-written note: "please inform me to whom these funds were transferred, because nothing has reached the deceased and the injured."

As a result, Dib wrote a letter to Prince Salman, the chairman of the support committee. Arafat also sent Dib to meet with the high-ranking Saudi officials. He asked for Saudi permission to send a Palestinian delegation to Riyadh to coordinate the money transfers. After his meeting with Prince Salman, Dib wrote to Arafat that the Saudis independently know which families of shahids need to be supported. They also indicated that they did not trust the PA as a conduit and preferred to work directly with the families.

This article ran in Maariv on July 4th, 2002

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Bargouti Admits Terror Involvement
Yoav Limor
Correspondent, Maariv

Marwan Barghouti confessed in his GSS interrogation that he was involved in terror attacks in which dozens of Israelis were wounded and killed. New testimony has been revealed,uncovering the involvement of Palestinian security mechanisms in terror attacks.

In recent weeks, significant progress has been noted in Barghouti's interrogation. He confessed his involvement in directing and financing shooting attacks. In addition, Barghouti said that he referred Ismail Radaida, a Palestinian who expressed willingness to commit suicide, to a senior Force 17 official in Ramallah, Mahned Diria, who would send him on an attack. Diria himself was killed by Israel a few months ago.

The heavy involvement by Force 17 (Arafat's presidential guard) in terror attacks also becomes clear from a series of events that have been released for publication: the interrogation of Amar Nasser el-Din, a senior Tanzim operative in Hebron, revealed that members of Force 17 also took part in terror attacks that were carried out in the area. Among them were Hatem Jemal and Yar Sharbati. Freij Adwan, a Palestinian police officer from Ramallah, told in his interrogation that Force 17 operatives had suggested he join them in forming a cell that would carry out terror attacks against Israeli targets. Adwan said that during the operation of the unit, which carried out shooting attacks and smuggled weapons, he met with Barghouti, who financed the unit.

Adwan also said that a videotape filmed by the cell that carried out the terror attack on the Atarot-Givat Zeev road, was given to Tawfik Tirawi, director of the general intelligence mechanism in Gaza. According to him, the tape was given to Yasser Arafat, who watched it himself.

Tirawi's involvement in terror attacks, which led to his becoming wanted by Israel following Ma'ariv's exposure of it, also came up in the interrogation of Issa Jibarin, a Tanzim operative from Ramallah, who said that last March, Tirawi ordered him to help a terrorist infiltrate the Green Line to perpetrate a shooting attack. The attempted attack was thwarted by IDF soldiers, and following that, Tirawi confiscated Jibarin's car and took away his identity card. Mahmad Hamaisa Abu Tul, a Tanzim operative from Jenin, said that he had received a Kalashnikov assault rifle to commit a terror attack against IDF troops in Ramallah.

This piece ran in Maariv, July 4, 2002

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EU and Russia Stand with Arafat
Itamar Eichner
Correspondent, Yediot Ahronot

A week after President George Bush's speech, a sharp dispute came to light on Tuesday between the US and EU, Russian and UN representatives over the issue of boycotting Yasser Arafat.

In a meeting between Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs William Burns and representatives of the "quartet" -- an international collaboration of the US, Russia, Europe and the UN to find a solution to the Middle East conflict -- the former announced that that the administration's stand on Arafat is unequivocal: the US would continue to work for the PA to have a source of authority other than Yasser Arafat.

Burns asked that European, Russian and UN representatives follow the US administration's example and avoid meeting with Arafat. However, "quartet" representatives rejected this request and announced that they would not boycott Arafat and would continue to maintain contact with him. The EU representative said that preparations must be made for the possibility that Arafat would win the elections that will be held in the Palestinian Authority and it is inconceivable that there be a break between him and the international community.

American sources said after the meeting that the US will continue to work to persuade all sides that there is no possibility of making progress as long as Arafat continues to head the Palestinian Authority. The administration is to decide in the next few days how to implement President Bush's speech. Among other things, the question of whether to send Secretary of State Colin Powell and CIA Director George Tenet to the region to help promote the reforms and examine the possibility of convening an international conference, will be decided.

Yossi Bar adds from Rome: In an interview to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said: Arafat made two mistakes, he supported terror and he lied to Bush. She said that the Palestinians need a leader who is capable of leading the people to make reforms.

This ran in the July 4, 2002 issue of Yediot Ahronot

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New Revelations: How Funds of the P.A. Wound up in Arafat's Pocket
Smadar Peri
Correspondent, Yediot Ahronot

Revelations came to light this week, for the first time, of the incredible ways that Palestinian Authority money passed in only one direction -- into Yasser Arafat's private pocket.

This enabled him, for example, to buy -- at a generous price -- the silence of his parliament members.

In contrast to previous reports on corruption starring Arafat, which came from sources outside the Palestinian Authority, this time the source comes from home: Muawiya el-Masri, a serving member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, who presented a gloomy picture, backed up by proof.

"When faced with the phenomenon of corruption and the disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars, the ministers of the Palestinian cabinet stand weak and powerless," el-Masri, a member of the PA Economic Committee, revealed in an interview to the Jordan weekly A-Sabil. "Every one of them is dependent on Arafat and is controlled by him. The budget, the sources of funding, the donations and the decision as to where to channel all the money -- is all in the hands of one person: Yasser Arafat."

El-Masri, who survived an assassination attempt two months ago, after he signed, along with 19 other Palestinian MPs, a petition protesting monetary corruption in the PA, also recounted the juggling involved in transferring revenues on sales of goods such as kerosene, cigarettes, condensed milk and cement: "The revenues, including money from EU and US donations, comes to over a billion dollars a year, but none of this money ever got to the government ministries," he said in the interview. "The money all flowed to the office of Mohammed Rashid, Arafat's personal financial adviser. Arafat doesn't care what the Americans and the Europeans say. He administers the money with his own shrewd methods. Everybody knows that he controls the money."

El-Masri revealed in the interview that some close Arafat associates, including Fuad Shubaki, in charge of military procurement, or Rashid Shabak, from the security apparatus, appealed directly to Arafat and got money "under the table," without the sums being recorded anywhere. As an example of theft, he presented ways in which the budget for the Palestinian Health Ministry is apportioned.

"The Health Ministry was promised USD 104 million, of which 24 million were allocated as salaries, and the rest for routine expenses: building hospitals, buying medicine and medical equipment. In the end, the patients were forced to 'lend' money to the Health Ministry to fund operations and treatment."

El-Masri relates a long list of stormy meetings at the PLC, during which grave charges were made over the "escape route" of hundreds of millions of dollars meant to fund daily life in the Palestinian Authority: "In one meeting we raised the matter of corruption. Suddenly, Minister Saeb Erekat started shouting and tried to come to Arafat's defense.

"Everyone immediately started to try and silence him, and one minister commented to him 'don't be so naive.' Erekat told him, 'yes, it's true, I know that I'm naive, I know that some of the rais's associates get hush money. I know, for example, that Marwan Kanafani (Arafat's PR adviser) gets USD 40,000 a month not to open his mouth in parliament meetings, and I know of others who get similar amounts, meant to ensure our parliament a calm atmosphere."

In contrast to them, el-Masri reveals, members of the Palestinian Audit Committee, which was established a few years ago to examine complaints of a network of corruption -- among other reasons in response to a European demand, after the Europeans heard of the corruption and demanded to know where their donations were going -- were given a "punishment" from Arafat: after they wrote a severe report pointing at the rais's office and his close financial adviser Mohammed Rashid, it was decided to stop paying them their salaries.

The harshest charges coming from el- Masri's vehement remarks have to do with the close ties between Arafat and his financial adviser, Mohammed Rashid, also known as Khaled Salaam. El-Masri reveals details from one of the parliament meetings in Ramallah in which the finance minister, Nashashibi, announced "I have no money," and told those present that he had taken a loan of USD 35 million from "Salaam" to pay the salaries of Palestinian Authority workers.

"Nobody here knows where this Rashid came from," el-Masri complains, "nobody had any convincing explanation for how this man, who is not even a Palestinian, managed to take control of hundreds of millions of dollars belonging to the Palestinian people."

The parliament, el-Masri reveals, decided not to let Arafat off the hook: "We insisted and asked him 'why do you rely on someone who is not even Palestinian? How it is possible that this Rashid is the treasurer of the 'el-Kuds committee,' which controls hundreds of millions of dollars in donations from all over the Arab world, while we do not see even one dollar?' In response, Arafat informed us, 'Rashid is my financial adviser, and you must accept this. You have no choice.'"

El-Masri also tells of the "reforms" undertaken by the rais in the government ministries in the wake of American pressure: "While Arafat did indeed appoint a new finance minister and a new interior minister, the other ministers were just moved around, like in a game of musical chairs, from one ministry to another. The two new ministers have no power. The chairman forbids them from making any move without his personal signature. No signature, no money. And if he already does promise them money, it turns out that the millions have rolled into his private pockets."

El-Masri, who describes himself as "a sworn opponent of corruption, but not an opponent of the Palestinian Authority," reveals that the last report put on the chairman's desk regarding money theft, bribes and corruption, was prepared five years ago, in 1997, and since then the Audit Committee has been discontinued.

"The committee chairman brought the report, which included grave findings, to Arafat and asked him 'should we make it public?' The chairman said 'of course,' and prepared to make a fervent speech against corruption and the need to battle it. We asked, in response, that he punish the errant ministers, but Arafat surprised me -- instead of deposing them, he chose to appoint them to new jobs in the government ministries, and even added three new, weak, ministers, to collaborate with his monetary machinations."

The question of funding the Palestinian terror organizations, which was revealed in the hundreds of documents that the IDF took from the mukataa in Ramallah, also came up in the interview. El-Masri, who was asked if the rumors that Arafat paid terror organizations and those who committed suicide bombings and shooting attacks against Israelis were true, replied:

"Arafat is the person who funded absolutely everything. The decision as to whom to give and how much was in his hands. By means of this funding, he was able to subject these organizations to his authority."

This article ran in Yediot Ahronot on July 4th, 2002

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