Reaching "Critical Mass" In Middle East

Part 3 -- Shutting Off Funds Easy, Bloodless Way To Stop Arafat's Terror

by DEBKAfile, 22 June 2002


To eradicate the plague of terror it is necessary to understand its structure, workings and motivations.

The al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, headed by Col. Tawfiq Tirawi, chief of Palestinian general security on the West Bank, were assembled by Yasser Arafat from two main elements:
1. Cadres of Palestinian terrorists released from Israeli prisons in line with the 1993 Oslo Peace accords, who swore to revenge themselves on Israel.
2. The dregs of Palestinian gangland, the murderers, robbers, rapists, rustlers and thieves, who instead of seeing the inside of Palestinian Authority jails were reinvented as national heroes.

With guns and paychecks from Yasser Arafat, this force became the dominant element of the Palestinian Authority’s security force - especially after Arafat launched his al Aqsa Intifada in September 2000. The other Palestinian terrorist bodies, the Fatah-Tanzim, Force 17, Hamas, Jihad Islami and the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine, were reduced to subsidiary roles.
The Gaza Strip branch of the al Aqsa Brigades is structured differently from the main West Bank body. There, the force falls under the Popular Resistance Committees, which are dominated by the territory’s strongman, Mohamed Dahlan.

Putting together hardened Palestinian terrorists, consumed with hatred for Israel, with tough criminal clansmen, assured Arafat of a force that was unafraid of violence, devoid of moral and political scruples and totally dedicated to the leadership of its paymaster.
With this force at his command, Arafat also kept Palestinian society quiescent under his rule. Would-be dissidence from politicians, intellectuals and financial circles, quickly melted away for fear of Arafat’s private army of thugs.

Because the violent and obedient al Aqsa Brigades are the central pool from which Arafat draws his terrorists and suicide killers, they must be liquidated as a first priority.
This can be accomplished by means of two devices:
1. By depriving their master, Arafat, and direct commander,Tawfiq Tirawi, of the power to issue them with their orders;
2. By choking off their funding.

When, during Operation Defensive Shield last April, Israeli tanks held Arafat to siege in his compound, he was allowed to keep at his side Tirawi, Dahlan, and Ahmad Saadat, the heads of the al Aqsa Brigades and the main Palestinian terror groups. In other words, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon instructed the IDF to leave the connection between Arafat and the al Aqsa Brigades in place.

The same immunity was extended in the siege at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, in which members of the Bethlehem Palestinian mafia who make up the local branch of the al Aqsa Brigades took sanctuary. The amazing part of that episode was the way in which the US president George W. Bush, secretary of state Colin Powell, the CIA, the British MI6, the Israeli prime minister, the IDF and the Shin Beit, all combined to invest their best efforts to ensure the safe exit of a gang of criminal-terrorists. They were clearly seen as such when they trooped out of the church.

As long as Arafat has this force at his bidding, he can keep the suicide-terror offensive running. Totally isolating him as Sharon refrained from doing in April, despite his solemn avowals, would leave the al Aqsa Brigades headless and without operational orders. It would also leave them starved of funds, which come from the same source as their orders. They would therefore be unwilling to give their services to any other master.

Aside from the Palestinian leader himself, only two people have access to Arafat’s personal multi-billon fortune which bankrolls his terrorist machine. They are Mohammed Rashid, his personal financial adviser, who is not a Palestinian but of Kurdish descent, and his wife, Suha, who lives apart from her husband in Paris. Fouad Shubaki, the Palestinian treasurer under detention in Jericho in American-British custody, has some knowledge of the secret Arafat accounts, though no access.

Without Arafat in control of his fortune, the flow of money to the al Aqsa Brigades would dry up and the Palestinian suicide-terror offensive, gradually peter out. Neither Rashid nor Suha Arafat is a likely candidate for command of the force. With Arafat and his funding for terror out of the picture, his minions, the men who pull the strings of the terrorists and suicide bombers, would step aside too.

Hundreds of Israeli tanks would no longer need to chase Palestinian terrorists through West Bank towns, whose populations go hungry while their leader buys bombs for terrorists; neither will a controversial security fence costing millions of dollars need to be erected to keep the terrorists in their lairs. Finally, an end could be in sight at last for the anguish, the grief and the mourning holding Israel in their grip.