NEW YORK- Despite the Bush administrations promise that American and British personnel would ensure that six leading Palestinian Arab terrorists would be jailed in Jericho, an American reporter who visited the terrorists has found that they are not imprisoned at all, and the Americans and Britons are not even at the site where the terrorists are living.
Paul Martin, an investigative reporter for the Washington Times, reported (June 4, 2002) after visiting the Jericho facility:
Few guards and little more than a hedge confine Ahmed Saadat and five fellow prisoners to a Palestinian Authority jail under a U.S.-brokered deal five weeks ago Imprisonment of the six men was to be supervised by the United States and Britain. But there was no sign of any Americans or Britons during a visit last week to the cluster of low, brown buildings [in Jericho] A few young men, towels slung over their shoulders, walked unconcerned through the yard, separated from the main road into the city only by a few scattered bushes [They] later returned to unlocked cells where a prison officer lay fast asleep, barefoot but uniformed, on a bed in his office.
Mr. Saadat and [Fuad] Shoubaki [a senior PA official involved in the ship of terror] appear to occupy the second floor of a wing in the prison described by a stenciled sign in English as General Security HQ. No one answered when a reporter rang a bell next to the brown wooden door.
The reporter then wandered around the building opening doors at random, without finding a single prisoner in his cell. Only three of the cells were locked.
The reporter then telephoned one of Arafats top cabinet ministers, Saeb Erakat, who, unaware that a reporter had visited the prison, said that the British and American monitors are there 24 hours a day.
Incredibly, a State Department spokesman, responding to Martins report, said on June 3, 2002 that the U.S. and British personnel do not have to be present at the Jericho site, but merely have to verify the detention under appropriate conditions of the six and report to the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. (Washington Times, June 4, 2002)
Morton A. Klein, National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), said: How can the Americans and the British verify that the terrorists in jail without being on the site? Are they simply taking the word of the serial liar Yasir Arafat, or his fellow-liars such as Saeb Erakat, who brazenly claims the Americans and British are there for 24 hours a day, when they are evidently not even there for 24 minutes a day ? The hotel-like conditions that the terrorists are enjoying, and the State Departments evasion of the administrations solemn commitment to Israel to keep these killers in jail, make a mockery of President Bushs vow to bring the terrorists to justice, or bring justice to the terrorists.
The ZOA president added: This sends a message to Arafat that the U.S. is not seriously interested in imprisoning Palestinian Arab terrorists who have murdered both Israelis and Americans.
The Israeli government revealed last month that the above-mentioned Ahmed Saadat, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) used the telephone in the Jericho prison to order the suicide bombing in Netanaya that murdered two Israelis and wounded 25 on May 19, 2002. (Israel Radio, May 20, 2002)
The ZOA notes that on many previous occasions, the PA has claimed that a particular terrorist was behind bars, but the claim was later proven to be false. For example, the Fatah Tanzim terror leader in Bethlehem, Atef Abayat, was arrested by the PA on October 2, 2001, and then released after a few hours of conversation. (Israel Radio, Oct. 3, 2001) The PA subsequently claimed that Abayat was still in detention, but on October 18, 2001, Abayat was killed when a car-bomb he was preparing exploded prematurely. (Office of the Prime Minister, Oct. 18, 2001)
Another examples is the case of Youssef Rai and Shaher Rai, who were involved in the murders of two Israeli hikers in Wadi Kelt, near Jericho, in 1995. The PA claimed to have sentenced them each of them to prison terms of seven years. The head of the Central Intelligence Agency was taken to the Jericho prison in February 1998 by PA police officials and show a cell in which Shaher Rai was sitting. In fact, according to the Jerusalem Report (March 5, 1998), the visit was an elaborate ruse to placate the Americans. The Rais are prisoners only in name; until recently, the two activists of the PFLP had been leading normal lives outside the prison walls, albeit inside Jericho city limits. Eyewitnesses have seen them at coffee shops and markets in the town, in the company of family members and friends.
The ZOA also points out that the PFLP is also responsible for the murders of at least 14 Americans, including eleven Hispanic-American tourists; Harold Rosenthal of Philadelphia, who at the time was an aide to U.S. Senator Jacob Javits; and Barbara Ertle, the wife of a prominent reverend from Michigan. The PFLP also repeatedly hijacked American airplanes during the 1970s, holding hundreds of Americans hostage. As recently as September 4, 2001, Israel arrested six PFLP members who admitted they were planning to place a car-bomb at the American Consulate in Jerusalem.