Tuesday, March 25, 2008
FROM WND'S JERUSALEM BUREAU
Americans paying rent for terrorists?
Militants complain they don't have enough money to cover their bills
Posted: March 23, 2008
4:36 pm Eastern
By Aaron Klein
JERUSALEM – Just days after it was announced the U.S. would transfer $150 million directly to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' government, members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group, the declared military wing of Abbas' Fatah party, were told they would receive cash grants, WND has learned.
According to Palestinian militant sources familiar with the issue, earlier this month, 20 members of the Brigades leadership in the West Bank city of Ramallah complained to PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad they did not have enough money to pay their bills, including, for many of them, rent for their apartments.
Last week, according to the informed sources, Fayyad told the complaining Brigades leaders he would provide them with a one-time grant of $3,000 each, or $60,000 to the Ramallah-based Brigades leadership.
The sources said after Brigades leaders in other West Bank cities, including Hebron and Nablus, heard of the grants, they also demanded pay increases.
"Some of the other fighters accused Fayyad of favoring the Brigades leaders in Ramallah since that's where Fayyad lives," said a militant source. "So he gave grants also to other cells."
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The sources estimate at least $350,000 in grants to Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leaders were pledged by Fayyad since last week. Some of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leaders serve in Fatah security forces while others only work in the Brigades.
The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades is responsible for scores of suicide bombings, deadly shootings and rocket attacks. It is listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization even though U.S. policy considers the Fatah party to be "moderate."
Many members of the Brigades openly serve in Fatah's official security forces.
Fayyad's purported grants to the Brigades come after the U.S. announced last week it will transfer $150 million directly to accounts controlled by Fayyad, marking the first time in eight months America has transferred money directly to the PA instead of to nongovernmental agencies.
President Bush pushed Congress to remove a hold on a $150 million aid package to be transferred to the PA. Bush said the PA was in economic trouble and needed the money at a time it is "threatened" by extremists and negotiating with Israel.
The U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee earlier halted the aid fearing it would be used to fund terrorism.
Fayyad claimed to reporters last week the U.S. money, due to be transferred tomorrow, would go directly to the Palestinian national treasury to be used for running what he termed a cash-strapped government.
"We see this [U.S. aid] as significant, especially because it underscores the confidence with which our financial system is viewed internationally," Fayyad said at a signing ceremony last week at the U.S. consul general in Jerusalem.
To interview Aaron Klein, contact M. Sliwa Public Relations by e-mail, or call 973-272-2861 or 212-202-4453.
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