- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 3, 2002

JERUSALEM Israeli intelligence officials yesterday said they had discovered an "invoice for terror" that directly connected Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to the suicide bombings that shook the Jewish state.

Officials said they found a plea for reimbursement for bomb-making materials on the letterhead of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade during a search of the Ramallah office of the Palestinian Authority's chief financial officer.

The letter requests about $8,500 to cover costs of components for making suicide bombs, and it asks for additional funds for ammunition and for memorial ceremonies for suicide bombers.

"For the first time, this connects directly bombs prepared for suicide bombing to the Palestinian Authority officials," said Col. Miri Eisen, a spokeswoman for Israeli army intelligence.

Israeli authorities said the letter was found earlier this week in the office of Fouad Shoubaki, the head of the Palestinian Authority's financial administration.

Mr. Shoubaki was arrested and questioned by Palestinian intelligence regarding his suspected involvement with the Karine A arms-smuggling ship that was stopped in January.

Israeli authorities say he is a close aide to Mr. Arafat and has raised funds for Fatah and its offshoot, the Al Aqsa Brigade.

The Israeli government yesterday distributed copies of the letter in its original Arabic as well as an English translation.

Asked about the letter, senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said he had not seen it. But he was quoted by the Associated Press as saying Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "has asked everyone to help with his public relations campaign, and the Israelis are very busy fabricating things."

Col. Eisen said the letter is not addressed to Mr. Shoubaki, nor is there any indication that the handwriting in the margins is his. But the letter, if authentic, gives a chilling insight into how the suicide bombings are funded and publicized.

The letter requests $150 to build each bomb, "including various electrical components and chemical supplies." It says the group will need five to nine bombs each week for its various cells.

It also asks for about $17,000 in ammunition for Kalashnikovs and M-16 automatic rifles and additional funds to cover the costs of honoring dead suicide bombers with posters and memorial services.

It is not clear what effect the letter will have on Israel's already threadbare relationship with Mr. Arafat or the Palestinian Authority.

Although the government has long said it holds Mr. Arafat responsible for the suicide bombings, senior government adviser Dore Gold yesterday refused to say whether Israel would arrest Mr. Arafat.

"We have no intention of dismantling the Palestinian Authority," he said. "And we have no intention of occupying the Palestinian territories."

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