'Mastermind' weapons smuggler slams PLO, Fatah for abandoning prisoners
Palestinian prisoners wait to be released from Ketziot prison, southern Israel, October 1, 2007
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN / REUTERS)
"Shame on you for holding positions you don't deserve."
Fuad Shubaki, a senior Palestinian Authority security officer who is serving a 20-year prison sentence in Israeli prison for his role in the 2002 botched attempt to smuggle an illegal weapons shipment to the PA, has accused the PLO and Fatah of ignoring his case and that of all Palestinian prisoners.The 80-year-old Shubaki, who holds the rank of Major-General, previously served as chief financial advisor to former PA President Yasser Arafat.On January 3, 2002, Israeli troops seized the Karine A ship in the Red Sea, 500 kilometers from Israel.The vessel, purchased from Lebanon, was found to be carrying 50 tons of weapons from Iran, including Katyusha rockets, guided anti-tank missiles, mortars, anti-tank mines, machine guns, assault rifles, explosives and ammunition. The weapons were estimated at a value of nearly $15 million.
The Karine A affair triggered a crisis between the Bush administration and Arafat, who denied any Palestinian involvement. Bush was quoted as saying that Arafat had lied to him.Shortly after the ship was seized, Shubaki hid in the PA's Ramallah presidential compound. He was later transferred to Jericho Prison, where he was held under the supervision of British and American wardens in accordance with a deal brokered out between former US President George W. Bush and former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in April 2002.The agreement allowed Shubaki to be transferred from Ramallah to Jericho together with four members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) who were involved in the assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001.Shubaki’s letter to the PLO and Fatah was published on Monday by several Palestinian news websites. “I write to you today with the hope that your feelings of humanity may wake up,” Shubaki said. “I’m writing to you today because I am the son of this homeland, and it is your duty to stand with me. Today, gentlemen, I am over 80 years old and I have only a few days left. I would like to remind you that I have sacrificed for a cause of a homeland under occupation. I made the sacrifices at a time when my sons needed me. I chose the homeland over my sons and family.” Shubaki criticized the members of the PLO Executive Committee and Fatah institutions, including the Fatah “Revolutionary Council,” for ignoring him during their meetings. “Is there anyone who has asked about me or demanded that the [Palestinian] leadership launch a local and international campaign for my release?” he asked in his letter.“I’m not begging for your mercy or sympathy. You have failed me, gentlemen. By disappointing your prisoners, you are selling the homeland in order to preserve your temporary gains. Don’t forget that you haven’t achieved anything in the past years, and our cause is no longer a central one. Instead, our cause has become focused on seats, positions and gains. Gentlemen, if your prisoners are not at the top of your list of priorities, then you should be ashamed to hold positions that you are not worthy of.”While he was being hold in Jericho Prison, Shubaki gave an exclusive interview to The Jerusalem Post. Then, he expressed deep disappointment with Arafat and the PA leadership for failing to keep their promise to release him.“I was prepared to make the sacrifice for the sake of the ‘big brother [Arafat] and that’s why I agreed to leave Ramallah,” he told the Post during the phone interview. “I was told that I would stay in the Palestinian Authority compound in Jericho as Arafat’s guest. No one told me that I would be held in a prison with American and British wardens. I’ve been abandoned by Arafat and the Palestinian Authority.”Shubaki also denied that he had financed the Karine A weapons ship and insisted he knew nothing about the case. He claimed that the whole affair was a “conspiracy” targeting the “big man” (Arafat).