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The six accused Palestinians handed over in the deal that freed Yasser Arafat from his Ramallah compound are no longer under direct guard, according to DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources.
Human guards have been replaced by a digital surveillance system that can easily be manipulated, allowing the prisoners to continue activities that threaten Israel, the sources said.
Four of the prisoners are wanted for the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi. The others are Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Secretary Ahmad Saadat and the senior Palestinian money manager behind the failed Karine-A arms smuggling ship, Fouad Shoubaki.
The agreement that released Arafat on May 1 called for the six to be placed under combined US.-British guard. Initially they were watched by three American CIA officers and a small detail of British security men, commanded by a British warden experienced in securing IRA terrorists.
According to DEBKAfile sources, however, the human guards have transferred their duties to a surveillance system of seven closed circuit video cameras.
The prisoners initially treated their virtual guards with care, believing a human eye was behind them, but after provocative motions went without response, they began to cover the cameras and do as they pleased, DEBKAfile said.
Tipped off by the Palestinian jailers who bring their meals, the prisoners know when the American and British custodians are due to arrive for inspection and then make sure the camera views are not obstructed, said intelligence sources.
DEBKAfile’s sources were unable to find a surveillance monitoring center. A senior security source said he would not be surprised to find it located in Jerusalem, at the U.S. or British consulate or one of the institutions those governments maintain in the city. The physical absence of the British and American guards is understandable, he said. A secret clause of the four-way deal forces them to carry out their duties unarmed, which means putting their lives at risk in the current security situation on the West Bank.
However, the resultant lax control over six dangerous men is of concern – and not only for Israel. The cameras covered most hours of the day are the ones installed in Saadat’s and Shoubaki’s quarters. In practice, the movements of neither are restricted. Shoubaki can therefore keep his hand on the broad financial enterprises he manages on behalf of the Palestinian leader.
According to DEBKA, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon secretly sent President George W. Bush a packet of documents from the archive Israeli troops found in Arafat’s compound that detailed one of Shoubaki’s enterprises. The papers show underground financial exchanges between Arafat’s Ramallah headquarters and Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace in Baghdad, using Shoubaki as a middleman.
In this capacity, according to the documents, Shoubaki received Iraqi capital to establish Eagle Petroleum, Ltd., in Nicosia as a branch of the Middle Eastern and European conglomerate organizing the smuggling of illegal Iraqi oil shipments to international markets. The Saddam-Arafat deal provides for the Eagle Petroleum revenues to be handed over to Shoubaki for use in financing Palestinian weapons purchases in the Middle East and Europe.
This deal provides a direct link between the Iraqi ruler and Palestinian terrorism.
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