Saudi Millions Finance Terror against Israel; Officials Say Papers Prove it.(PAGE ONE)
Byline: Ben Barber, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will bring to his meeting today with President Bush captured documents that, his government says, show that the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry has paid millions of dollars to families of Palestinian suicide bombers and to the terrorist group Hamas.
"The Saudis wanted to cover this up," said Col. Miriam Eisin, an Israeli intelligence official who provided copies of the documents to reporters at the Israeli Embassy yesterday.
The Saudi government gave $135 million in the past 16 months to help the families of suicide bombers and fund other aspects of the anti-Israel uprising, she said.
"The money goes to a list of 13 charities, and seven of them fund Hamas," which the State Department lists as a terrorist organization, Col. Eisin said.
Israel said it discovered the documents in mosques in the West Bank but got around to translating and reading them only after spending weeks working on Palestinian Authority papers captured from Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah.
Those documents, also made public by Israel, indicated that the Palestinian leader signed his approval to requests for payments of about $600 each to people accused by Israel of terrorism. A Palestinian official said those documents were forgeries.
Mr. Bush yesterday repeated his lack of faith in Mr. Arafat but insisted that the Israelis couldn't avoid dealing with the Palestinian leader in any peace process.
"He has disappointed me. He must lead. He must show the world that he believes in peace," Mr. Bush told reporters during a visit to an elementary school in Southfield, Mich.
Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan, in a statement released last night, called the Israeli charges against his country "totally baseless and false."
"These allegations are a smoke screen intended to distract attention away from the peace process. Israel wants to discredit Saudi Arabia, which has been a leading voice for peace," he said.
The Saudis have had some success in influencing Bush administration policy. After a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah in Crawford, Texas, in late April, Mr. Bush phoned Mr. Sharon three times to press him into accepting the compromise that ended the confinement of Mr. Arafat in Ramallah last week.
Some of the documents released by Israel yesterday bore the letterhead of the "Saudi Arabian Committee for Support of the Al Quds Intifada," headed by Saudi Interior Minister Naif Ibn Abed al Aziz.
That same committee recently collected $109.56 million in a telethon to back the Palestinians.
"This committee, according to the captured documents, transferred large sums of money to families of Palestinians who died in violent events, including notorious terrorists," said an Israeli report describing the documents. …