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Sunday April 7, 2002

Saddam stokes war with suicide bomber cash
March 26 2002 The Iraqi leader's payments to the families of dead Palestinian terrorists means more trouble for Yasser Arafat, writes Paul McGeough in the West Bank. The hall was packed and the intake of breath was audible as a special announcement was made to the war widows of the West Bank - Saddam Hussein would pay $US25,000 ($47,000) to the family of each suicide bomber as an enticement for others to volunteer for martyrdom in the name of the Palestinian people. The men at the top table then opened Saddam's chequebook and, as the names of 47 martyrs were called, family representatives went up to sign for cheques written in US dollars. Those of two suicide bombers were the first to be paid the new rate of $US25,000 and those whose relatives had died in other clashes with the Israeli military were given $US10,000 each.

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The $US500,000 doled out in this impoverished community yesterday means that the besieged Iraqi leader now has contributed more than $US10 million to grieving Palestinian families since the new intifada began 18 months ago. But the timing of this clear signal that Saddam is stoking the Middle East conflict with his new $US15,000 bonus to encourage more suicide bombers - and exclusive pictures from the distribution ceremony, which was attended by the Herald - could make it more difficult for the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, to manage his already strained relationship with the United States. Because the Palestinians and the Israelis have been unable to agree to a ceasefire during the US-brokered talks that began in Jerusalem two weeks ago, Mr Arafat may be denied an opportunity to put the Palestinian case directly to the US Vice-President, Dick Cheney. As well, the Israelis have yet to decide if they will lift Mr Arafat's effective house arrest to allow him to travel to Beirut for this week's summit of Arab leaders that is to discuss a Saudi Arabian plan to end the crisis. And now, the US and Israel will have the opportunity to accuse Mr Arafat of being in the embrace of two of

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http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/03/25/1017004766310.html

9/12/2007

smh.com.au - Saddam stokes war with suicide bomber cash
President Bush's three "axis of evil" countries, Iraq and Iran. The New York Times reported on Saturday the suspicion of US and Israeli intelligence agencies that Mr Arafat had developed an alliance with Iran to import weapons worth millions of dollars to be used by Palestinian fighters. Mr Arafat has denied any knowledge of a recent shipment of Iranian arms seized by the Israelis on its way to Palestine. But he may be hard pressed to deny knowledge of a public ceremony on his own territory, during which supporters of Saddam handed out $US500,000 and encouraged others to become suicide bombers with the blessing of the Iraqi leader. The US will also be keen to use Saddam's provocative intrusion into the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as another reason for its planned military strike against him. Yesterday's ceremony at Tulkarm, about 90 kilometres north of Jerusalem, was the first public distribution organised by the Arab Liberation Front, a small PLO faction closely aligned with Saddam's Ba'ath Party. Previously, the cheques were delivered privately by officials of the front to the homes of martyr families. A senior front official, Ma'amoon Tayeh, said that the extra $US15,000 was to encourage more Palestinians to volunteer as suicide bombers to help "confirm the legitimacy of our national questions". He said: "Saddam Hussein considers Palestine to be a governate of Iraq and he thinks the same of the Palestinian martyrs as he does of Iraqi martyrs - they all are martyrs for the whole Arab nation." Dr Hassan Khraisheh, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council who told the crowd he had just returned from a solidarity conference in Baghdad, said some families believed the money should be sent back to Iraq because of the hardships imposed by sanctions; others used the money to " buy weapons to defend Palestine". Later, he praised Iraq as the only Arab country officially donating to the Palestinian cause. "The Saudis used to give $US4000 to the martyrs, but now it depends on public donations. "Saddam Hussein's $US25,000 is a message to those who might offer themselves as martyrs that their families will be supported ..." Printer friendly version Email to a friend

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http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/03/25/1017004766310.html

9/12/2007

smh.com.au - Saddam stokes war with suicide bomber cash
Copyright © 2002. The Sydney Morning Herald.

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http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/03/25/1017004766310.html

9/12/2007