JERUSALEM – A Palestinian university that receives U.S. funding counts among its students senior members of the Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror groups, WND has learned.
One Brigades leader openly enrolled at the college – Al-Najah University in the northern West Bank town of Nablus – described the school as a main jihad recruiting ground.
Another terror leader told WND he was studying chemistry at the university to learn how to enhance the deadly effects of suicide bomb belts.
This week, Al-Najah hosted a law conference at which the trial of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was deemed “illegitimate,” America’s war in Iraq was slammed as “illegal” and Saddam was hailed for encouraging insurgents to “fight American occupation.”
Since September 2004, the United States Agency for International Development has provided $4 million to Arkan, a Palestinian program that funds law schools at several universities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including Al-Najah University.
The Arkan program is entirely funded by USAID.
Last Sunday, the Arkan section of Al-Najah University hosted a law symposium called “The trial of the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, and the American role in this trial – a witness testimony from the courthouse.” The conference featured Saddam defense attorney Curtis Dobler as well as a Palestinian professor Nabil Alawi.
According to the Al-Ayyam Palestinian newspaper, during his lecture, Dobler called Saddam’s trial “illegal and vindictive since it took place during the American occupation of Iraq.”
“Saddam Hussein’s defense team gave to the courthouse a memorandum of 300 pages which confirms the illegality of this trial, since it took place during the period of the illegal American occupation of Iraq,” said Dobler, according to a translation by Palestinian Media Watch.
Dobler said Saddam “did for the Iraqis a kind of justice and encouraged them to fight against the American occupation of their country in his death.”
Israeli security officials say Al-Najah University is one of the most important recruitment grounds for West Bank terror organizations. The Israeli Defense Forces a number of times has raided the college and arrested terror suspects. At least 15 Palestinians who carried out suicide bombings the past six years attended the school.
One senior leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the declared military wing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, told WND many Brigades leaders study at the university, which he described as a “recruitment center for jihad.”
The senior leader said he is currently studying sports education.
A leader of the Islamic Jihad terror organization said he is studying chemistry to enhance his terror group’s bomb-making capabilities. He said others in the chemistry department manufacture explosives for Palestinian groups.
Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has taken joint responsibility for every suicide bombing in Israel the last two years, including a bombing two weeks ago in Eilat and an attack in Tel Aviv last April that killed eight Israelis and American teenager Daniel Wultz.
According to the U.S. Foreign Operations Bill of 2006, it is illegal to fund universities which the Secretary of State “knows or has reason to believe advocates, plans, sponsors, engages in, or has engaged in, terrorist activity.”
A USAID spokesman told WND the organization provides funds to Al-Najah’s law school indirectly through the Arkan program.
USAID has a history of funding anti-American Palestinian projects.
WND first reported last month a northern West Bank street funded by USAID was renamed for Saddam after his execution.
Zacharias Zubeidi, leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Yaabid, told WND the city changed the name on the U.S.-funded street to show “Saddam Hussein is still alive.”
“We will honor his memory until the American and Zionist occupation is driven from our land,” Zubeidi said.
WND reported USAID also reconstructed roads and municipalities in areas in the Gaza Strip controlled by Hamas.
In a WND interview, Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar thanked USAID for its efforts.
According to Palestinian Media Watch translations, after USAID funded road projects in the West Bank city of Jenin in 2004, a central street there was named after the first Iraqi suicide bomber, who killed four American soldiers in Fallujah. The mayor of Jenin reportedly participated in an anti-American dedication ceremony in which speakers blessed the “resistance of the residents of Fallujah”
Also, a USAID-funded Palestinian sports center was named after Salef Khalef, operational head of the Black September terror organization, which was behind the killing of two U.S. diplomats in Sudan in 1973 and the massacre one year earlier of 11 Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich.
Would you like to interview WND Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein? Let us know.