Digital Cameras Watch Men, but Cameras Not Watched By Humans

by DEBKAfile

15 May 2002


"The deal that turned Yasser Arafat loose from his besieged and battered Ramallah compound on May 1 entailed his surrendering six Palestinian terrorists and killers wanted by Israel, to be imprisoned in Jericho under American-Anglo custody. The guard consisted of two or three American CIA officers and a small detail of British security men, commanded by a British warden experienced in securing IRA terrorists.

The six prisoners are the Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi’s four assassins, the PFLP general secretary Ahmad Saadat, and the senior Palestinian money manager behind the failed Karin-A arms smuggling ship, Fouad Shoubaki.

The deal was signed and sealed by the US, Britain, Israel and the Palestinians.

However, less than two weeks after the six wanted men were driven in convoy from Ramallah to Jericho, DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources found neither hide nor hair of the international guard at the prison. With all the to-do over the Bethlehem siege, no one noticed that the human guards had transferred their duties to a digital surveillance system of 7 closed circuit video cameras – two for the suite of rooms housing Saadat and one each for the other five.

At first, the prisoners treated their virtual guards with care, believing a human eye was behind them. But after provocative motions went without response, they began to cover the cameras and do as they pleased. Tipped off by the Palestinians jailers who bring their meals, they know when the American and British custodians are due to arrive for inspection and then make sure the camera views are not obstructed.

DEBKAfile’s sources went looking for the TV surveillance monitoring center - to no avail. A senior security source said he would not be surprised to find it located in Jerusalem, at the US or British consulate or one of the institutions those governments maintain in the city. The physical absence of the British and American guards is understandable, he said. A secret clause of the four-way deal forces them carry out their duties unarmed, which means putting their lives at risk in the current security situation on the West Bank.

However, the resultant lax control over six dangerous men is of concern – and not only for Israel. The cameras covered most hours of the day are the ones installed in Saadat’s and the Shubaki’s quarters. In practice, the movements of neither are restricted. Shubaki can therefore keep his hand on the broad financial enterprises he manages on behalf of the Palestinian leader.
Regarding one in particular, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon secretly sent President George W. Bush another packet of documents from the archive Israeli troops found in Arafat’s compound. They lay bare underground strategic-financial exchanges between Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters and Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace in Baghdad, using Shubaki as middleman.
In this capacity, according to the documents, Shubaki received Iraqi capital to establish Eagle Petroleum Ltd. in Nicosia as a branch of the Middle Eastern and European conglomerate organizing the smuggling of illegal Iraqi oil shipments to international markets. The Saddam-Arafat deal provides for the Eagle Petroleum revenues to be handed over to Shubaki for use in financing Palestinian weapons purchases in the Middle East and Europe.

This deal provides a direct link between the Iraqi ruler and Palestinian terrorism."