By Khaled Abu Toameh, February 23, 2010.
Translation in Dutch:
Fatahgate: hoe Fatah de Westerse hulpkas leegrooft
Donor countries have yet to respond to revelations by former Palestinian
intelligence official Fahmi Shabaneh that top Palestinian Authority officials are
continuing to pocket millions of dollars earmarked for financial aid to the
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Shabaneh expressed frustration over the way the international media has been
handling his exposures: “Don’t the Americans, Europeans and Arabs care about
their money that is being stolen? If they continue to turn a blind eye to the
corruption of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas will eventually take over the
West Bank the same way they took the Gaza Strip.”
Nearly a month after Shabaneh, who headed the anti-corruption unit in the
General Intelligence Service, revealed in an exclusive interview with The
Jerusalem Post that some of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s
close aides and loyalists had siphoned off hundreds of millions of dollars to
private bank accounts, decision-makers in the US and EU continue to bury their
heads in the sand.
The foreign media has continued to cover the story as if it were only a
‘sex scandal’ in Abbas’s bureau – a reference to a videotape revealed by
Shabaneh showing Rafik Husseini, director of the president’s bureau, naked in a
Following are examples of some of how, according to Shabaneh, international
aid to the Palestinians is being “hijacked” by “thieves and thugs in the inner
circle of Mahmoud Abbas”.
Thousands of civil servants whose names appear on the payroll of the
Palestinian Authority either do not exist or have never reported for work. The
Palestinian Authority has more than 150,000 registered civil servants whose
salaries are paid by American, European and Arab governments. Shabaneh’s
investigations showed that senior officials in the president’s office and the
Palestinian Ministry of Finance have been “diverting” millions of dollars of these
payments to their private bank accounts every month.
Just before the January 2006 parliamentary election, the US gave $3.2 million
to help Fatah boost its image among Palestinians. The goal was to prevent
Hamas from winning the vote back then. [Hamas did win in the end]. Shabaneh
says that his investigations showed that the money was given to an
advertisement company owned by Abbas’s family and that most of the money
A former minister in the Palestinian Authority convinced Mahmoud Abbas and
his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, to give him about $5 million of international aid
so that he could purchase lands in Jerusalem before Jews lay their hands on
them. Shabaneh’s investigations showed that the minister deposited most of
the money in his private bank account and had built a huge and luxurious villa
on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Shabaneh’s inquires also found that Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Abbas advisor
and Fatah official, took about $1.5 million from Arafat and Abbas under the
pretext that he, too, wanted to purchase land that would otherwise end up in
the hands of Jews. Ahmed’s brother, who served as the PLO’s lawyer in
Jordan, is also suspected, according to Shabaneh’s files, of defrauding the
Palestinian Authority into paying him millions of dollars for fictitious land deals.
Shabaneh discovered that a former Finance Minister in the Palestinian Authority
had deposited $8 million in his private bank account. When Shabaneh
demanded explanations, he was told to mind his own business.
These are only a few samples of the hundreds of cases Shabaneh dealt with
when he was in his job, according to the former Palestinian intelligence official,
who is now “wanted” by the Palestinian Authority on charges of “collaboration
with the Israeli enemy”.
He maintains that he has many of the documents and files to back up his
charges that the Palestinian Authority and many of its leaders and
representatives are continuing to steal financial aid.
“This is not only about a sex scandal”, Shabeneh stressed. The sex
scandal is only the tip of the iceberg. Shabaneh says that since Abbas
appointed him as the chief corruption-buster in the Palestinian Authority six
years ago, he has collected incriminating evidence against dozens of senior
officials, in addition to the president’s two sons, Yasser and Tarek.
“I don’t know why most people in the West are treating this case as if it
were only about a senior official caught naked in a woman’s bedroom.”
Abbas, meanwhile, has cut off Shabaneh’s salary to punish him for speaking
out against corruption — as the international community and the media, through
their silence, continue empowering Hamas.