Show me the money - The Washington Times: Commentary - November 22, 2004 "In the wrong hands, these secret funds will continue to support terrorism and will be used to undercut any effort to moderate the Palestinian position, isolate the rejectionists, or begin to restore the Palestinian economy," wrote Edward S. Walker Jr. ? president of the Middle East Institute, a former assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs, and former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Egypt Considering, that by FBI estimates, the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon required only about between $175,000 and $250,000 to pay for the terrorists' flight training sessions, air fares, hotels, car rentals and other associated costs, the damage that could be inflicted if the wrong people got their hands on Arafat's millions, or even billions of dollars, is downright frightening. Two primary questions everyone asks ? including the new Palestinian leadership ? is how much money is there, and where is that money now? In answer to the first question, U.S. sources believe there could be between $2 billion and $6 billion spread about in Swiss, Israeli, Cayman, Malaysian and other banks, not to mention stocks and shares in a number of companies Arafat invested in, including an airline. In 2003, Arafat's fortune was estimated by Forbes magazine to be at $300 million. According to the International Monetary Fund, international aid to the Palestinian Authority from donor countries ? including the United States and the European Union ? hovered around $1 billion yearly since Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization relocated from Tunis to the occupied territories in 2000. Part of the problem surrounding management of PLO funds, a number of observers say, is that Arafat bundled his personal finances with those of the organization. Also thrown into the fray were hundreds of millions of dollars Arafat managed to talk emirs of the oil-rich Gulf states into donating to Fatah, the PLO and the Palestinian Authority. There was apparently no distinction between funds meant for Fatah or the Palestinian Authority. Add to that monies from Israeli taxes in the occupied territories, which Israeli officials say were placed in Tel Aviv banks under Arafat's name. "While Arafat bought stability and shored up his own position of leadership, he also bought terrorism, corruption and a continuing struggle against Israel," said Mr. Walker. As Mr. Walker notes, if Arafat's secret money stash is discovered ? and claimed ? by the wrong people, it could sustain terrorism for decades.
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