JERUSALEM – A senior Hamas activist recently arrested in Jerusalem has revealed to Israeli police the terror group maintains an operations command center in Saudi Arabia that finances suicide bombings and important Hamas campaigns, security sources told WND.
While Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups have been known to raise funds in Saudi Arabia, the existence of a Hamas terror control center in the kingdom is “disturbing news,” said a security official.
Ya’akub Abu Assab, 35, of the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Souana, was arrested last month in an anti-terror operation. During his interrogation, police officials now expose, Assab detailed the existence of a Hamas headquarters in Saudi Arabia, and said he was a liaison between the terror group’s Jerusalem and West Bank offices and its Saudi command center.
Assab allegedly told interrogators he received operational instructions from Hamas’ headquarters in Saudi Arabia that he was asked to relay to the terror group’s West Bank offices. For example, Assab explained, according to the interrogators, he was sent money from senior Hamas officials in the kingdom and told to conduct surveys among Hamas’ West Bank operatives about whether the terror group should participate in Palestinian legislative elections scheduled for January.
Assab said he was also asked to regularly update the Saudi command center about Hamas’ latest activities in the field, and about Israel’s construction of its West Bank security barrier and its razing of terrorists’ homes.
Assab said he also received large sums of money from Hamas in Saudi Arabia. He told interrogators he transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars from Hamas’ Saudi headquarters to Hamas institutions in the West Bank, where he said the money was used to provide financial support for the families of suicide bombers and imprisoned operatives, and to finance Hamas attacks.
Assab also reportedly transferred money to two eastern Jerusalem Hamas offices Israel has since shut down.
Matthew Levitt, director of the Terrorism Studies Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, commented, “Neither the fact that individual Hamas operatives are active in Saudi Arabia nor the fact that Hamas receives significant funding from within the kingdom is news. … [But] the revelation that Hamas operates a command center in Saudi Arabia with close ties to Hamas militants executing attacks and the movement’s political and social-welfare operations is remarkable.”
Levitt noted in the early 1990s it had been known Hamas raised large sums of money in Saudi Arabia. Some Palestinian scholars claimed the kingdom and some Gulf states stepped up their financing of Hamas to strengthen it against the Palestinian Liberation Organization after the PLO supported Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
In September 2003, David Aufhauser, general counsel to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, testified to Congress that donating to Hamas was still not a crime in Saudi Arabia despite the kingdom’s promises to curb terrorism financing.
Levitt pointed out: “Just last month, Saudi television ran a program on the jihad in Palestine that implored viewers to donate funds to the Palestinian intifada. A caption on the screen informed donors that they could send funds through … [what was described as] a joint account at all Saudi banks. Meanwhile, a speaker instructed viewers, ‘Jihad is the pinnacle of Islam.’ He explained that the funds would go directly to those waging jihad, where it would, in his words, ‘help them carry out this mission.’”
Dr. Reuven Erlich, director of the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at Israel’s Center for Special Studies, told WND: “A Hamas control center in Saudi Arabia goes along with the escalations we have seen in financing and the terrorist ideology coming from there. Someone has to influence the Saudis to end this. If Hamas is operating a center in the kingdom, it means officials are allows them to act there, and this needs to be stopped.”