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- **Globe-Intel** The World's First, Authoritative Newsletter
Of Intelligence Newsbreaks-Analysis-Commentary Number 2
- Financing Arafat's Academy Of Atrocity
- By Gordon Thomas 3-12-2
- Yasser Arafat's Academy of Atrocity where the suicide
bombers are trained is financed by Iraq.
- The money is laundered through the Central Bank in Damascus,
Syria, to Athens, Greece. From there it is electronically transferred to
an account held by the Islamic Red Cross the equivalent of the Red Cross
in Gaza City.
It is then hand-carried to the cells of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs the deadliest
and most secret of Islamic extreme organisations in the Middle East.
It operates as a series of "martyrdom cells in Gaza and the refugee
camps of the West Bank. Each cell consists of a leader and two or three
young men and women suicide bombers."
After months of intensive religious study similar to that used by cults
in the West to indoctrinate its members each student is given the title
of shaheed al hay the living martyr.
With the help of Israeli psychologists working in the country's intelligence
community I have obtained the first clear insight into how the Academy
Each student is aged from 18 to 38 years. Until recently they were all
male. But since the escalation of the suicide bombings, women are admitted.
And children as young as eight years are prepared for death.
None of the students fits the typical profile of a suicidal personality.
Many are from middle-class backgrounds and have paying jobs.
The two who blew themselves up were sons of millionaires their fathers
still close to Arafat.
Marwan Kanafi, one of Arafat's most senior aides, has told me: " They
all seemed to be entirely normal. In their communities they were considered
More certain, all were deeply religious. The mother of the Academy,s first
woman graduate, Wafa Ali Idris, who killed and wounded over 100 in Jerusalem,
a precursor to last Saturday night,s massacre in the city, told me: "My
daughter always used the correct words and was well informed about the
Part of the money that Iraq provides is to ensure that her family, like
those of every successful suicide bomber, is financially secure for all
their life. All the family,s debts are paid off including those of extended
family members. Each immediate family member is given a "pension
for the rest of their lives."
This varies, but is generally said to be twice the income they received
before the suicide bomber struck.
After each successful mission, money is used to distribute copies of the
martyr's tapes to the media and to a number of Islamic organisations throughout
the world. A substantial sum is spent on the post-mission party. Hundreds
of guests congregate at the home of the bomber to offer their congratulations
much as at a wedding.
"The hosts serve the juices and food that the bomber specified in
his will. Often the mother will ululate in joy over the honour Allah has
bestowed on her family, Professor Ariel Merari told me."
Based in Tel Aviv, he is a world-ranking authority on the mentality of
He is among those who believe that outsiders find it hard to understand
Sheik Ahmed Yassim, the spiritual leader of Hamas whom I interviewed after
his release from an Israeli prison in 1997 (a decision designed to ease
tension in the region) told me: "Love of martyrdom is something you
have in your heart. You know, just know, this is what Allah wants from
you. That Allah wants you to die for him. So Allah selects the martyrs.
It is certainly an image of God that is not easy to grasp outside Islamic
The bulk of the money that Iraq provides is used to finance the instructors.
They are reputed to receive salaries equal to that of Arafat's top aides.
The money is thought to be held in secure banks. Mossad and other intelligence
agencies are trying to follow-the-money trail in the hope it can bring
them to capture the bombers.
Efraim Halevy, the Director General of Mossad, has assigned over fifty
of his top agents to do this. Over 100 operatives, drawn from the other
Israeli intelligence forces, are hunting the instructors at the Academy
In the wake of the latest massacre in Jerusalem, close to Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon,s home, the first detailed picture has emerged of how the
bombers are selected.
The selection process is lengthy sometimes months. For everyone accepted
there are a hundred volunteers. Turned away is anyone who is the sole
wage earner in his family, who is married. If two brothers volunteer,
only one is chosen.
A lengthy interview with one of the Imams priests attached to the Al-Aqsa
Martyrs is the next step.
During the preparations, each suicide bomber is repeatedly assured that
on the Day of Judgment he will be allowed, on entering Paradise to choose
70 of his relatives to join him. In Heaven he will have at his disposal
houris, the celestial virgins he is told live in Paradise.
The first sign he is close to graduation during which he has spent up
to nine hours a day in prayers, long fasts and studying the Koran is
when the bomber is joined by two "assistants. Older men steeped in
religious dogma, their job is to ensure in those last days the bomber
does not waver in his readiness to die. His mind is focused on "the
glory awaiting him in Paradise. Of being finally in the presence of Allah.
Of being allowed to meet the Prophet Mohammed."
As the time grows closer to his mission, the "assistants move the
bomber to a specially prepared room. Its walls are inscribed with verses
from the Koran. Between the verses are painted green birds flying in a
purple sky a reminder they carry the soul of martyrs to Allah."
For hours the "assistants and bombers pray together."
Then the time has finally come. The bomber places a copy of the Koran in
his left breast pocket above his heart. He straps the explosives round
his body. The detonator button is taped to his right hand palm.
Close to the target he leaves his "assistants. He is now alone, primed
to die to take as many others with him as possible."
At the moment before he presses the button, he reminds himself: "Allah
akbar. Allah is great. All praise to Allah."
"The further we are from the last time it happened, the closer we
are to the next, Dr. Merari told me."
His judgment should be set against that of two more.
The mother of Wafa Ali Idris, the first woman suicide bomber, has said:
"She died for what she believed in. That is what Allah wanted."
And the mother of an earlier suicide bomber, Ribbi Kahlout, had this requiem
for his dead son: "If I had known what he would do, I would have taken
a knife and cut open my heart and stuffed him deep inside. Then I would
have sewn it up right to keep him safe."
There are many mothers in Israel Jewish and Arab who no doubt feel the
same today. ___
- Gordon Thomas is a writer on intelligence for a number
of leading European newspapers (the Sunday Express, UK; El Mundo, Spain;
Welt am Sonntag, Germany). His work is also syndicated internationally
by World Wide Syndication. Any use of the above must carry a clear attribution
to both Gordon Thomas and Globe-Intel. He is a Contributing Editor to
Globe-Intel, an international newsletter devoted to intelligence matters.
- *** Gordon Thomas, latest book, Seeds of Fire: China
and the Story Behind the Attack on America, published by Dandelion Books,
is available in all bookstores, at www.dandelionbooks.com, www.gordonthomas.ie,
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