USD $300 for a Junior Terrorist, USD $800 for a Senior Shahid

On April 1, 2001, the Fatah secretary general in Tulkarm, Faik Kanaan, sent a letter signed by himself to PA Chairman Yasser Arafat. “We request,” he wrote on official stationary at the top of which “State of Palestine” appears, “to allocate a sum of USD 2,000 for each of the fighting brothers whose names follow below.”

The document contains the names of 15 “fighting brothers” found worthy of funding. The list includes, among others, Mohammed Fares, who committed a shooting attack in the Tulkarm area, Karim el-Jilad, who took part in shooting attacks, Bilal Abu-Amsha who took part in fatal terror attacks in September and the murder of a Jew in Baka Gharbiya in May 2001, and Bilal Abu Aisha, who took part in shooting attacks in the Tulkarm area.

The letter was first passed to the Tanzim secretary general, Marwan Barghouti, who added his signature. Arafat decided to reduce the “bonus” and instead of USD 2,000, he wrote in his own hand, “let the Finance Ministry pay USD 800 to each of them.” The date near Arafat’s signature is April 5, 2001.

The hierarchy goes through the Fatah office in Tulkarm to the Tanzim secretary general in Ramallah, Barghouti, and from there to Arafat, who is shown to be involved in small sums. Arafat is the one who decides the amount to be paid to the “fighting brothers.”

On January 17, 2002, Arafat also found the time to handle another payment for the “fighting brothers:” This time, the hierarchy is more complicated: Raed Karmi (who was the leader of the Fatah-Tanzim in Tulkarm until his assassination) sent a fax to Marwan Barghouti’s office in Ramallah asking for urgent monetary aid. On the list of “recommended” are the names of Jamil Hamed Atwan, Majed Yousef Jarad, Subhi Yousef Jarad and Mohammed Sharif Zaidan, all Fatah activists known to the Israeli security establishment for their involvement in lethal terror attacks. After reading the document, Barghouti comments in his own writing: “To my respected brother Abu Amar, may God keep you, greetings, I request you order an allocation of 1,000 dollars to each of the fighters.” Arafat, however, on January 17,2002, decides to save money: he writes to the Palestinian Finance Ministry in Ramallah: “Allocate only USD 350 to each of them.”

Another document, from February 14, 2002, highlights the involvement of the Palestinian General Intelligence, commanded by Tawfik Tirawi, in efforts to cover up the link between a woman suicide bomber and Fatah. On official “Palestinian National Authority, Preventive Security Service Headquarters, Ramallah” (whose commander is Jibril Rajoub) stationary, under the classification “important,” Amana Aidaya of the Political Security Organization reports on Tirawi’s efforts to cover up the link between Wafa Idris, who committed the terror attack on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem, and Fatah.

“Regarding: Special information on the shahid Wafa Idris.
“On the night that it was revealed that the person who committed the attack was Wafa Idris, and before any organization claimed responsibility for it, the commander of General Intelligence on the West Bank, Colonel Tawfik Tirawi, phoned Khalil Idris, the shahid’s elder brother, a number of times. He (Tirawi) asked him that the family not say that Wafa (who was affiliated with Fatah) had committed the attack, but say instead that she had gotten married and moved to Jordan or somewhere else. In exchange, Tirawi is willing to let Khalil move to Jordan even though he is officially on Israel’s list of wanted men. But Khalil replied that he was unwilling to ‘sell’ his sister’s blood this way.”

Thousands of documents were seized by the security forces in the course of Operation Protective Wall from Palestinian intelligence offices in West Bank cities and in the mukataa in Ramallah where Arafat is being held. A special sorting team, that was enlisted to handle the papers, has already put some of them on a special computer program, sorted by subject and by the names appearing in them. Those with access can come, say the name of the Fatah or Hamas activist they want, and get the information. The material, a small part of which is already on the IDF Spokesman’s Office Internet site, is also meant for the Israeli and foreign media.

Another part, more classified, was shown to foreign intelligence agents, including the CIA and some European attaches. In two separate meetings held by Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer’s adviser with representatives from the Egyptian and Jordanian ambassadors, he showed them documents from Arafat’s office and from Palestinian Preventive Intelligence, proving Arafat’s links and involvement in funding the Palestinian terror infrastructure against Israel. The two senior diplomats, Dr. Maazen Tal from the Jordanian embassy, and Dr. Ihab Sharif, the Egyptian representative, tried to hide their amazement. “How can we be sure,” they both asked, “that these documents are not forged?”

Along with Arafat’s direct involvement in funding and helping the terror infrastructure of Fatah, the Tanzim and the El-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, as proven by his signature on the letters of request, the system is also revealed:

  1. Arafat makes use of the PA organization to transfer sums of money. The funding is done by means of a civil organization: the Palestinian Finance Ministry. Arafat, according to some documents, makes a great deal of use of Fuad Shubaki, the head of the General Security’s financial administration and his confidant, who was also involved in the purchase of the Karine-A weapons ship.
  2. There is a “tariff” set by Arafat for funding terror: a junior terrorist is paid by the Palestinian Finance Ministry after an order is given, with Arafat’s signature, of between USD 300-350. More senior commanders (local commanders of terror infrastructure) receive USD 600. The families of shahids-commanders get USD 800 per family, as a one-time “bonus,” beyond their regular aid. For large “projects,” such as setting up a workshop for manufacturing weapons, a standard rate of USD 800,000 is set.
  3. Arafat is not directly in contact with the commanders of the terror cells and the terror organizations on the ground, but does this through “middlemen.” The documents mention: Marwan Barghouti, Hussein a-Sheikh, Kamal Hamid (Fatah secretary general in Bethlehem) and Fuad Shubaki.
  4. Arafat does not generally disqualify those “recommended” but definitely uses his own judgment when it comes to the amount of payment. He regularly “cuts” the sums requested drastically. USD 2,000 is asked for a “fighting brother,” and USD 600 is given. When USD 1,300 is asked, Arafat approves USD 350. The list of “recommended” includes “fighters” who have already committed acts of terror, and others, who should be paid prior to committing an act.

The documents seized in Ramallah, Bituniya and Tulkarm indicate intensive preoccupation of the security organization in mutual surveillance. Jibril Rajoub, so it turns out, kept discreet surveillance even on his boss, Arafat. Documents found in Rajoub’s headquarters also show a discreet cooperation between Rajoub and Salah Taamri, today the mediator to release the armed men in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Rajoub also monitored his colleague in Gaza, Mohammed Dahlan, and filed the reports. The Preventive Security Service in Ramallah also kept surveillance on Abu Ala and Nabil Shaath. A special surveillance was reserved for Palestinians with foreign citizenship, as well as for Palestinians who often traveled to Jordan, on suspicion that they had been enlisted by the Jordanian intelligence to spy on the PA. A thick file was found in Rajoub’s office on the person who was head of Jordanian intelligence, General Samih el-Batihi, who was arrested two months ago on suspicion of involvement in the defrauding of four state banks in Amman. A long list of documents indicates the “top trio” who were in the know about the secret of the anonymous back accounts opened in Switzerland and in South America: Yasser Arafat, Farouk Kadumi (now mentioned as Arafat’s successor) and Umm Jihad, the minister for social affairs and the widow of Abu Jihad assassinated by Israel in Tunis.

On July 9, 2001, Kamal Hamid, the Fatah secretary general in Bethlehem, sent a letter of request to Arafat to allocate funds to 24 Fatah activist, the most prominent of them being Atef Abayat, a senior Fatah activist. Hamid asked for USD 2,000 for each of them. Arafat erased the amount, and wrote to the Finance Ministry in Ramallah: “Give each USD 300.” Arafat’s signature appears beside the date, August 12, 2001, a month after the request was submitted. Atef Abayat was assassinated on October 18 and three weeks after this, Hamid again appealed to Arafat with a new list. This time he asks for USD 3,000 for each of the nine families of shahids “who fell in battle protecting Beit Jala, Bethlehem and el-Aida.” Topping the list is “the family of shahid Atef Abayat.” Ending the list is “brother shahid” Hassan Abu Shaira, who was involved in the murder of Lt.-Col. Yehuda Edri on June 14, 2001 and killed in the course of that incident. Arafat approved only USD 800.

The funding system indicates two ways of payment: the PA would send money to the civilian administration offices, the schools, and welfare projects in shekels. The funding of more sensitive matters, i.e. maintaining the terror infrastructure, was done in dollars. Israeli security sources say the money came from the regular monthly aid sent by the European Union to the Palestinian Authority of 40 million euro. “The documents prove what we knew before Operation Protective Wall: instead of using the aid for the civil population in the territories, the PA offices used at least part of the aid to fund terror infrastructure, and to cover it, they would send a false report to the international supervisory foundations with inflated figures.”

One document seized by the IDF in the mukataa is of a financial report of the El-Aksa Martyrs Brigades from September 2001, with a list of accumulated debts of the organization, which is subordinate to Fatah.

  1. The cost of posters of El-Aksa Martyrs Brigades fallen: Azzam Mazhar, Osama Jabara, Shadi Afouri, Yasser Badawi, Ahed Fares (added in handwriting: NIS 2,000 just for printing).
  2. The cost of printing ads, ordering them and putting up booths for the dead (added in handwriting: NIS 1,250).
  3. The cost of posting personal pictures of the fallen on wooden boards, in addition to the pictures of fallen Thabet Thabet and Mahmoud el-Jamil (added in handwriting: NIS 1,000).
  4. The cost of memorials for the fallen (added in handwriting: NIS 6,000).
  5. The cost of electrical appliances and various chemical substances to manufacture bombs and explosives: the cost of one bomb, of course, is at least NIS 700. We need five to nine bombs a week for cells in various areas (added in handwriting: NIS 5,000 a week, NIS 20,000 a month).
  6. The cost of bullets (Kalashnikov bullets are NIS 7-8 per bullet. M-16 bullets cost NIS 2.5 per bullet). We need bullets daily.
  7. Note: 3,000 Kalashnikov bullets can be obtained at a price of NIS 7.5 per bullet and 30,000 M-16 bullets can be obtained for NIS 2 per bullet. We need this sum to be transferred immediately. (Added in handwriting: NIS 22,500 for Kalashnikov bullets and NIS 6,000 for M-16 bullets).

In another document, also seized in the mukataa, in Fuad Shubaki’s offices, is the budget for setting up a workshop for manufacturing heavy weapons. The required investment is USD 100,000 and the running expenses are estimated at USD 15,000 per month. The largest expenses are for a lathe (USD 25,000) and a milling machine (USD 40,000).

Three senior officials in different branches of the intelligence community who were given a photocopied and translated copy of the documents told Yedioth Ahronoth this week: “We weren’t surprised. Arafat was sunk in the terror swamp in a way he cannot deny. We know about Arafat’s personal involvement in funding the terror infrastructure, in guiding it, in encouraging it, in giving out the money. And still, it is astonishing, to see it with our own eyes in black and white, in all the smallest details.”

This piece ran in Yediot Aharonot on April 29, 2002