(Communicated by Israeli Security Sources)
May 2, 2002
It has become unequivocally clear from the questioning of senior Fatah figures now in Israeli custody (Marwan Barghouti, Nasser Aweis, Nasser Abu Hamid and Ahmed Barghouti) that Yasser Arafat personally approved funding for Fatah operatives, with the knowledge that it would be used to finance terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. In addition, it was revealed that explosive charges used by the terrorists were supplied from the Palestinian Authority’s own weapons depots.
During the course Operation Defensive Shield, numerous high-ranking West Bank operatives of Arafat’s own Fatah organization were apprehended. Their questioning has revealed a clear picture of the direct link between PA Chairman Yasser Arafat and the terrorist attacks carried out by Fatah members. It has become apparent that Marwan Barghouti, who maintained direct communications with Arafat, transferred money to Fatah operatives, who then used the money to carry out terrorist attacks targeting Israeli civilians. In these operations, numerous civilians were killed. These disclosures render absurd the public and international debate over whether Arafat is ‘doing everything possible to prevent terrorism’. These revelations plainly demonstrate that Arafat did indeed do ‘everything possible’ – but in the realm of ‘terrorism promotion’ rather than ‘terrorism prevention’, especially within his own Fatah organization.
1. Marwan Barghouti, the head of the Fatah in the West Bank, stated when questioned that he was personally involved in directing terrorist attacks which resulted in the killing and injuring of scores of Israeli civilians. Barghouti described in detail the transfer of funds to the terrorist operatives. As the Secretary-General of the Fatah, Barghouti was responsible for providing the funding for weapons acquisition and armed operations. Every operative requiring financing was made to fill out a detailed requisition request. Barghouti then added his recommendation and signature, and relayed the requests to PA Chairman Yasser Arafat. Barghouti stressed that every expense – even the smallest sum – required the approval of Arafat himself. After receiving Arafat’s approval, the funding was transferred to the operatives according to the instructions of Hakem Bil’awi, the Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee, who was responsible for disbursements.
In addition to Barghouti, other senior Fatah figures, who were subordinate to Barghouti, provided details about Arafat’s role in the execution of terrorist attacks.
2. Nasser Aweis, the head of the Fatah infrastructure in Samaria, was responsible for the recruiting, arming and handling of terrorist cells. He stated in questioning that he personally, together with other Tanzim terrorist operatives under his command, received funding directly approved by Yasser Arafat. He explained that the names of the Tanzim terrorist operatives were sent to Marwan Barghouti, who would then present their requests for funding to Arafat for his signature. The operatives would subsequently receive checks corresponding to the approved sum.
Nasser Aweis admitted to having been behind numerous terrorist bombings and shootings in Israel, among them:
- 17 January 2002 – A bombing attack at a banquet hall in Hadera, in which 6 Israelis were killed and 26 wounded.
- 22 January 2002 – A shooting attack in downtown Jerusalem, in which two Israelis were killed and 36 wounded.
- 25 February 2002 – A shooting attack in Neve Yaakov, Jerusalem, in which an Israeli policewoman was killed, and 10 civilians wounded.
- 5 March 2002 – A shooting attack on the ‘Seafood Market’ restaurant in Tel Aviv, in which three Israelis were killed.
- 9 March 2002 – A gun and grenade attack in the Margoa Hotel in Netanya, in which two Israelis were killed and 50 wounded.
3. Nasser Abu Hamid, one of the commanders and founders of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was responsible for numerous shooting attacks, explosive charges and suicide bombings. He revealed during questioning that he and his men received funding and weapons from Marwan Barghouti, through Marwan’s aide, Ahmed Barghouti. Abu Hamid stated that Marwan Barghouti was informed of the details of every operation carried out by himself and his men. Marwan Barghouti was also involved in the decision regarding the procurement of weapons for the terrorist cells, and even provided the payment approval for these weapons.
Abu Hamid and his men were responsible for the following terrorist attacks:
- 24 November 2000 – A shooting attack near Akrabeh, in which an Israeli civilian was killed.
- 21 December 2000 – A shooting attack on Route 443, in which an Israeli civilian was killed
- 31 December 2000 – A shooting attack near Ofrah, in which the Kahane couple was killed and their five children wounded.
- 19 May 2001 – The planting of an explosive device in the Biancini Pub in Jerusalem
- 27 January 2002 – The suicide attack on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem, in which one Israeli was killed and dozens wounded.
- 27 February 2002 – The murder of the owner of the Bashkevitz factory in Atarot, Jerusalem, and the premature detonation of suicide bomb near the Maccabim roadblock in which the female terrorist was killed.
During questioning, Abu Hamid also revealed the involvement of Force 17, Arafat’s Presidential Guard, in the execution of terrorist attacks. Abu Hamid stated that his men would receive the explosive devices needed for their terrorist operations from the Force 17 weapons depots. Similarly, terrorist operatives subordinate to Abu Hamid also described Force 17’s complicity in attacks. They stated that Force 17 members would regularly assemble explosive devices, which they then provided to Fatah operatives to use in their terrorist operations.
4. Ahmed Barghouti, the personal aide to Marwan Barghouti, personally dispatched suicide bombers to their terrorist missions, in which dozens of Israeli civilians were killed and hundreds wounded. When questioned he provided details about the numerous attacks in which he was involved, including:
- 25 January 2001 – A shooting attack against an Israeli van near the Atarot industrial park in Jerusalem, in which one Israeli was killed.
- 25 February 2001 – A shooting attack against an Israeli vehicle, west of Bir Zeit, in which an Israeli was critically wounded in the head.
- 25 August 2001 – A drive-by shooting near the Bet Horon service station, in which three Israelis were killed and two infants wounded.
- 3 October 2001 – A drive-by shooting on Route 9 in Jerusalem, in which two Israelis were wounded
- 15 January 2002 – A shooting attack against an Israeli vehicle near the Givat Zeev service station, north of Jerusalem, in which the driver was killed and her companion wounded.
The picture that emerges from the questioning of those apprehended during Operation Defensive Shield reveals the direct involvement of Yasser Arafat in the terrorism carried out by his Fatah organization. Noteworthy is the fact that the particulars of this terrorist connection, described by the senior Fatah/Tanzim figures themselves, were supported and corroborated by the numerous documents captured in the offices of the various Palestinian Authority security organs in the course of the operation.