As a result of Israel´s Operation "Defensive Shield," new documents
have been uncovered from Palestinian offices that directly link the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with financial backing of terrorist attacks
against Israel. The Saudis have repeatedly denied such connections.
Last month, for example, Saudi state television held a telethon for
the families of "Palestinian martyrs" that raised over $100 million.
Responding to charges that with the telethon Saudi Arabia was backing
terrorism, Adel Al-Jubeir, foreign policy adviser to Saudi Crown
Prince Abdullah, told Fox television: "We have made it very clear in
terms of where Saudi funding has gone to provide humanitarian
assistance to the families who have suffered as a result of the
Israeli occupation and the recent Israeli aggression." Adel Al-Jubeir
added: "We do not support suicide bombers. Our objective is to put
food on people´s tables and medicine in their pharmacies" (Fox News,
April 28, 2002).
Earlier in the month, the U.S. government was apparently given
similar assurances by the Saudis. Thus, White House spokesman Ari
Fleischer responded to a press briefing on April 12 by saying: "As I
said, we have received assurances from the Saudi Arabian government
that the money is going to the Palestinian people, and not to support
terrorism." Fleisher was sufficiently confident about Saudi
assurances that he even compared the Saudi aid from the telethon to
U.S. financial assistance to the Palestinian people.
One new Saudi document found in Palestinian offices demonstrates that
the Saudis were not providing general humanitarian aid as they
told the U.S. government and explained to American television
audiences. Riyadh had misled Washington, for the Saudis itemized
their allocations line by line, detailing the circumstances of the
death of Palestinians whose families received assistance; the Saudis
themselves explain that the allocation was for suicide attacks.
Rewarding Suicide Bombers
Among the documents found in Tulkarm was a table from Saudi
Arabia itemizing the tenth set of payments to the "Martyrs
of the Al-Aqsa Intifada." The table details how $545,000 was
allocated to 102 families. The logo at the top of the table
reads: "Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Committee for Aid to the
Al-Quds Intifada." This committee was established in the fall of
2000 under the Saudi Minister of the Interior, Prince Nayef bin ´Abd
al-Aziz. Prince Nayef´s organization was also responsible for
collecting Saudi contributions during the April 11 telethon for
Palestinian "martyrs" on Saudi state television.
The table explains the type of activity that entitled a family to
receive Saudi assistance:
According to the document, Abd al-Fatah Muhammad Musalah
Rashid, number 15 on the list, died in a "martyrdom act." The
individual involved was a member of the pro-Iranian Islamic
Jihad who died in a car-bomb attack at Beit Lid on September 9,
2001, for which he was responsible. Eight Israelis were wounded.
Abd al-Karim Amr Muhammad Abu Na´sa, who appears as number 17
in the Saudi table, is described as having died in a "martyrdom act
in Afula." This is a reference to his suicide bombing on behalf of
Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Afula
on November 27, 2001. Forty-six Israelis were wounded.
There is no doubt that when the document refers to
a "martyrdom act" -- amliyya itishaddiyya -- it is referring
to suicide attacks. A martyr, or "shahid" in Arabic, is an
individual who gave his life in a holy war -- or in a Jihad --
and is therefore entitled to automatic entry into Paradise after his
death, according to Islamic tradition. The term "martyr" has thus
become synonymous with suicide bombers or those who died attacking
Israelis. Israel has been able to determine that at least
eight of the beneficiaries of Saudi aid are the families of
Other "martyrs" on the Saudi list may not have been suicide
bombers, but were well known for their past involvement in
terrorism. Thus, number 68, Mahmud Abu Hanud, was the commander of
Hamas for the West Bank. Number 8, Atef Abiyat, commanded the
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Bethlehem. His name was well known
to those who engaged in peace process matters since Yasser Arafat
promised the European Union that he was in prison while he moved
about freely until his death.
When a potential suicide bomber knows that his family will be
handsomely rewarded with financial aid after his death, his
motivation to undertake suicide operations increases. Thus, Saudi aid
promotes terrorism directly.
Implications of Israeli Revelations about Saudi Arabia for the
U.S. War on Terrorism
- First Evidence of Direct Saudi Aid to
Terrorism: Prior to the discovery of the Saudi document, attempts
to trace the Saudi money trail in backing international terrorism
focused on Saudi-backed charities. For example, on March 11, 2002,
the U.S. Treasury identified the Al-Haramain Islamic
Foundation, based in Saudi Arabia, as an organization with which
U.S. citizens are prohibited from making any transactions because of
its suspected support for terrorism. Al-Haramain receives millions of
dollars per year from the Saudi government; some of this aid may
indirectly reach terrorist organizations. The Saudi documents
found with the Palestinians point to a direct link between
Saudi funds and suicide bombing attacks.
Saudis Not Involved in Humanitarian Aid but Rather in
Assistance to Recognized International Terrorist Groups: The
specificity of the Saudi table allows the Saudis to monitor in detail
the identity of each recipient family. Matching the names in the
table to its own information, Israel was able to link suicide bombers
with specific organizations -- Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Aqsa Martyrs
Brigades -- that have been declared by the U.S. to be indisputable
international terrorist organizations. Had there just been a Saudi
grant for families who had lost relatives, without the details of the
table, then Saudi advocates could argue that the money was provided
as general aid to the Palestinian people.
The official Saudi table itemizing allocations to the
families of "martyrs" was not the only document found by Israel in
Palestinian offices during Operation "Defensive Shield." According
to additional captured documents, which were Palestinian intelligence
reports, the Saudis also transferred direct aid to Palestinian
Islamic terrorist groups – both to Hamas and Islamic
Saudi Arabian financial aid to terrorist groups is not just an
Israeli problem. During October 2001, NATO forces entered the offices
of the Saudi High Commission for Aid to Bosnia. Surveillance
photographs of possible American targets were found. A former
employee of the Saudi Commission is now in Guantanamo Bay, suspected
of plotting an attack against the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo. Saudi-
sponsored charities have been tied to other terrorist attacks,
including the U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa in 1998.2 Unless Saudi Arabia ceases all
assistance, direct or indirect, for acts of international terrorism,
it cannot play any role to stabilize the Middle East and advance Arab-
1 Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dan Naveh, "The
Involvement of Arafat, PA Senior Officials, and Apparatuses in
Terrorism Against Israel, Corruption, and Crime," May 2002, p. 67.
2 Matthew Levitt, Senior Fellow, "Tackling the Financing
of Terrorism in Saudi Arabia," in Policywatch, No. 609, March
11, 2002, Washington Institute of Near East Policy.
Dore Gold, Publisher; Mark Ami-El, Managing
Editor. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (Registered Amuta), 13
Tel-Hai St., Jerusalem, Israel; Tel. 972-2-5619281, Fax. 972-2-
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www.jcpa.org. © Copyright.
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