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