'Terror Invoice' Links Arafat To Terrorism, Expert Says
Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - A financial report seized by the Israeli army from the headquarters of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat in Ramallah directly links the Palestinian leader to the preparation of terrorist attacks, an Israeli counter-terrorism expert said on Wednesday.
The financial report -- sent by the Al-Aksa Brigades of Arafat's Fatah faction to Arafat's main financial advisor -- was discovered by Israeli troops in an office in the Mukata'a compound in Ramallah over the last few days.
The document, addressed to Arafat's chief financial officer Fouad Shoubaki, requests money from the PA to cover expenses associated with suicide bomb attacks.
Shoubaki has been implicated as having a major role in the Karin-A affair, in which Palestinians were allegedly attempting to smuggle more than 50 tons of weapons and ammunition from Iran into the PA-controlled areas. He is believed to be hiding out in Arafat's quarters with the Palestinian leader in Ramallah.
Israel has in the past had intelligence information that links Arafat's people to the preparation of terrorist attacks, said Ely Karmon, senior researcher of the International Policy Institute on Counter-Terrorism, near Tel Aviv.
According to some, the Al-Aksa Brigades are not directly connected to Arafat's Fatah organization, and yet when they need weapons and armaments they turn to the PA, Karmon said.
"If Israel has information from intelligence sources, they can't give it to the media but now they have material proof of a direct link between Arafat's administration and the [preparation of] terror attacks," Karmon said in a telephone interview.
According to Karmon, Israel needs such proof because it has two problems.
The international community including the U.S. does not want to acknowledge that Arafat is "an impediment to the peace process and he is not able or not willing to make peace because of his history or psychological [make-up] or political goals," Karmon said.
"We see that even Secretary of State [Colin] Powell sees him as a partner to future negotiations," he said.
Powell dismissed on Tuesday an idea put forth by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to expel Arafat and never let him return.
The second problem Israel faces is internal -- the belief within the government and the political opposition that Arafat is the only one who can be Israel's negotiating partner, Karmon said.
For Israel it's a Catch-22 situation, said Karmon: Israel cannot kill Arafat or even expel him because he would become more active than ever outside of the territories; and yet, Karmon said, he is "absolutely sure" that Arafat will not change his strategy of terrorism.
Col. Miri Eisin, a senior officer in the military intelligence unit, described the Al-Aksa Financial Report as a "terror invoice." She said a date on the document indicated it had been sent to Shoubaki on September 16, nearly a week after the September 11 terror attacks that hit the U.S.
Arafat was quick to express his condolences to the U.S. at the time and say that he would join the campaign to fight against terrorism, but at the same time, crowds of Palestinians took to the streets to celebrate the terrorist attacks against the U.S.
Eisin, who briefed reporters on the Israeli find, noted that the original letter had notes scribbled alongside the requests, indicating that someone in Shoubaki's office had received the letter and done something with it. It was not clear if the money had been allocated for the expenses, she said.
A translation of the report provided to journalists requested money to cover the costs of printing posters, announcements, invitations, mourners' tents and memorial ceremonies for specific "martyrs."
It also detailed the cost of making bombs and requested money for ammunition, which it said was required "on a daily basis."
"Cost for various electrical components and chemical supplies (for the production of charges and bombs)," item five on the report says.
"This has been our largest expense (the cost of a prepared bomb being at least 700 New Israeli Shekels). We need about five to nine bombs a week for our cells in various areas - 5000 NIS x 4 weeks = 20,000 NIS," it added.
Eisin said that the original document in Arabic had put the financial figures in Israeli currency. She also noted that the document had been found in the same offices where Israeli troops discovered millions of shekels of counterfeit Israeli currency.
No doubt, Eisin said, the things taken from Shoubaki's office were "things they meant to destroy."
Karmon said he believed that Israel would be translating many more documents that it seized in the sweep of the compound.