Arresting terrorists immediately after bombings, only to quietly report their "escape" after the bombing was no longer a news item, was an effective tool used by Arafat. Because of this approach, the West praised him as a terror fighter, while he was praised at home as a terror supporter.
The PA under Arafat used varied methods to facilitate these "escapes." The following item from the PMW archives is the PA's own description of one particularity creative "escape" from a PA prison of three terrorists in 1999.
Al Quds: October 6, 1999
"Governor of Nablus, Brigadier General Mahmud Alaalul, a member of the revolutionary committee of Fatah...disclosed the details of the escape of three Islamic Jihad prisoners...
Last Saturday, the prison officials allowed four prisoners to go to the Al-Quds Open University to register for studies. The four were accompanied by a single policeman and once there, the four entered the university while the policeman waited for them outside. After a few hours, only one of the four prisoners returned, the others did not. It was clear that the other three had escaped.
Alaalul notes the high level of trust between the prison management and the prisoners as the reason that the prison sent only one policeman. There was no expectation that they would escape."