TEL AVIV ø Jordan has become an insurgency base for Fatah operatives
loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.
Israeli security sources said that after a lull of several years Fatah
agents have resumed the use of Jordan as a base for operations planning,
recruitment and the transfer of money from Iran to Arafat loyalists in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip. The sources said the Fatah operation, which began
about two years ago, has been raised by Israel in discussions with the
"Iran and Hizbullah have been using Jordan as a base for operations,
particularly for the West Bank," a security source said. "The Jordanians are
trying to hard to stop it, but it's been a very difficult task."
The Fatah insurgency network in Jordan has been led by Fuad Balbisi,
security sources said. Balbisi works in the PLO's Political Department in
Amman, headed by Farouk Khaddoumy, and has been financing Fatah insurgency
cells with money from Iran and Hizbullah. Balbisi was directing the
recruitment and operations of Fatah squads in the West Bank in attacks
against Israeli targets.
"From his home in Jordan, Balbisi has been directing Fatah squads in the
territories and links them with Iranian and Hizbullah entities," another
security source said.
Israeli security authorities obtained information on the Fatah network
in Jordan in wake of the arrest of three Palestinians from the West Bank
city of Nablus. The Palestinians, members of the same family, were accused
of transferring money from Iran and Hizbullah via Jordan to operatives in
the West Bank.
One of the brothers detained, Fadi Abdu, identified as a leading Fatah
operative, was said to have told Israeli interrogators that he received more
than $230,000 from Balbisi to recruit and operate Fatah squads. The sources
said the Iranian funds were disguised as donations for social welfare
projects in the Palestinian Authority areas. Abdu was an educator in the
Nablus area and headed a branch of Fatah's Shabibi youth movement.
The Iranian funds were transferred to insurgents by the Abdu brothers in
the West Bank and Gaza Strip. One attack said to have been financed by the
Fatah office based in Amman was the insurgency strike on the Israeli city of
Kfar Saba in April 2003.
Security sources said the operation on the Kfar Saba railroad station
cost Iran about $22,000 and was directed by Fatah insurgent Anir Sawalme,
who headed a cell in the Balata refugee camp outside of Nablus. One person
was killed and 15 were injured in the insurgency strike. Sawalme, who was
also said to have been financed by Iran, was captured by Israeli forces in
The Fatah insurgency command in Jordan also financed another Fatah
operative, identified as Husni Zalum, the sources said. Zalum was said to
have told Israeli interrogators that he received funding from Hizbullah in
Lebanon via the Fatah office in Jordan operated by Balbisi. The funding was
said to have been used for the recruitment of insurgents and the purchase of
Iran has long sought to infiltrate the PLO leadership in an attempt to
direct the Palestinian insurgency, the security sources said. The sources
said Iran has tried to woo Khaddoumy himself to form an alternative to the
PA in an effort thwarted by Israel.
One source of Iranian funding through Jordan was Al Hussein Saleh,
described as a leading member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Abdu
said he received $30,000 from Saleh from October 2002 until Saleh was killed
in August 2003. The money was delivered by young women from Jordan to the
In October, Abdu's brother, Shadi, was sent to Jordan to meet Hizbullah
operatives from Lebanon. The Hizbullah agents were meant to provide Shadi
with unspecified equipment for the insurgency cells in the West Bank. Israel
arrested Shadi on Oct. 7.
Jordan has placed on trial several insurgents said to have been financed
by Hizbullah to purchase and transfer weapons to Fatah insurgents in the
West Bank. Amman has often called on Iran and Hizbullah to end their
insurgency activities in the kingdom.