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BBC: Palestinian Authority funds go to militants

Zondag, November 9, 2003 / Last Modified: Zaterdag, December 31, 2011

BBC News, November 7, 2003. Description of the program ‘Correspondent: Arafat
Investigated’ broadcasted in the UK on BBC Two at 1915 GMT on Sunday, 9 November 2003.

Note of Likud of Holland: There was even more in this program then noted below
what is normally not shown on European television, for instance how Arafat in Arabic
praises suicide bombers (while condemning them in English).

The Palestinian Authority, headed by Yasser Arafat, is paying members of a
Palestinian militant organisation which has been responsible for carrying out
suicide attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians, a BBC investigation has
found.

A total of up to $50,000 a month is being sent to members of the al-Aqsa
Martyrs’ Brigades, an armed group that emerged shortly after the outbreak of
the current Palestinian intifada, a BBC Correspondent programme reveals.

A former minister in the government led by ex-Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas
(Abu Mazen) says that the money is an attempt to wean the gunmen away
from suicide bombings. He says the policy of paying the money was not
instigated by Mr Arafat but has been carried out with his knowledge and
agreement.

Despite the payments, the al-Aqsa group has not declared a formal ceasefire
and Mr Arafat has not asked the group to stop the suicide bombings, according
to an al-Aqsa leader interviewed by the programme. The Palestinian leader has
publicly condemned recent Palestinian suicide bombings.

‘Living expenses’

Abdel Fattah Hamayel, the minister for sports and youth until Abu Mazen
resigned in September implemented the policy of paying what he describes as
living expenses to the gunmen. He told Correspondent:

“Originally, some people in these groups had been chosen to work for
the security services, so they were getting salaries and still are doing so.”

He says this summer a decision was taken by the Palestinian Cabinet to pay
living expenses to those al-Aqsa members not getting these salaries to help
support their families. He says the money is intended to ensure that al-Aqsa
members were not influenced by outside organisations to carry out further
suicide bombings. Al-Aqsa has not claimed to have carried out any suicide
bombings since May.

Asked how the Palestinian Authority could be sure that the money was not
spent on weapons, Mr Hamayel replied: “The amount sent to them is very
small. At most, it’s not more than $250 per person. How can anyone buy
weapons with this amount of money?”

In April 2002, Israeli troops stormed Mr Arafat’s compound in Ramallah as part
of a widespread incursion into the West Bank in response to a number of
suicide attacks. Israeli officials claim that they found documents proving that
the Palestinian leader was funding Palestinian suicide bombers.

They used this as part of their argument, supported by US President George W
Bush, that Mr Arafat could not be trusted and that rather than opposing
terrorism, he was, in fact, encouraging it.

Fatah links

Close links between Mr Arafat’s political faction Fatah and al-Aqsa are also
discovered by the programme. One local Fatah leader in the West Bank town of
Jenin says that the al-Aqsa group is the military wing of his organisation and
that Mr Arafat is the overall leader of both the political and military arms.

“Fatah has two sections: a military wing, led by the military and a
political wing, led by politicians. But there is no difference between Fatah and
the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades,” a leader of Fatah in the Jenin refugee camp tells
Correspondent.

Asked if al-Aqsa would formally end hostilities with Israeli if asked to by Mr
Arafat, Zakaria Zubaydi, the leader of the group in Jenin says:

“Of course. But he won’t order us to do this until Israel stops the
assassinations.”

He adds: “When Arafat calls for a ceasefire, we will respect his decision
and stop.”

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