Money authorized by Congress to improve economic conditions in the PA has been used indirectly to subsidize terrorist activity. Much of the money was distributed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
"I am very disturbed by the findings of this report, particularly the widespread nature of the alleged violations," said Congresswomen Nita Lowry (D - New York). "I will ask USAID to provide Congress with a detailed response to these findings immediately. This report cannot go unanswered by the leadership of USAID."
PMW Director Itamar Marcus says that this year, USAID has paid out $7 million to PA universities, which allow Hamas and Islamic Jihad to organize and operate freely on campus. Marcus also says that PA universities provide terror groups with the means to inculcate thousands of students with radical Islamic philosophy.
In the past, Israel's Civil Administration repeatedly ordered the closure of PA universities due to terrorist activity taking place on campus. Israel’s Supreme Court has upheld the legality of the closures after reviewing evidence of terrorist activity submitted by the Shin Bet (General Security Service) and the IDF. Terror groups have recruited suicide bombers from among the student body on numerous occasions.
Just a week ago, a 21-year-old woman terrorist was caught with 15 pounds of explosives hidden in her pants, on her way to a planned terror attack at an Israeli hospital. She was a student at Al-Quds University near Ramallah.
A USAID official, Sylvia Foa, responded to Marcus’ allegations by comparing the situation at PA universities with that prevailing on campuses elsewhere in the world, including Israel. "I don't think there is a university in the whole wide world that doesn't have radical student groups who don't belong in the politics of the mainstream," said Foa. "I know that in Tel Aviv University there are radical groups, but that is not any reason to stop giving books to that university."
Foa contends that USAID’s assistance to PA universities, such as Al Najah in Shechem, was mainly in the form of books, library subscriptions, and equipment for computer labs.
Marcus points out, however, that United States’ law prohibits allocating taxpayer money to any "individual, private or government entity, or educational institution that the Secretary [of State] knows or has reason to believe advocates, plans, sponsors, engages in, or has engaged in, terrorist activity..."
Foa does not believe that USAID has violated the law. “How can anyone say that donating to a library is promoting terrorism?" asked Foa.
Aside from Arab universities, Marcus claims that USAID subsidizes other PA institutions that support and glorify terrorists. PA schools named for terrorists have received USAID grants. One example given is the Dalal Al-Mughrabi High School for Girls in Hebron. Al-Mughrabi was a female terrorist who took part in the 1978 Coastal Road massacre of 36 Israelis, including American nature photographer Gail Rubin.
When PMW exposed USAID funding for renovations in the school in 2002, the State Department froze the money until the PA said it had changed the school’s name. But the original name, glorifying the memory of a mass murderer, still appeared in the PA press in 2004 when the school was listed as a polling station.
PMW reports that in June 1994, USAID spent $410,000 of U.S. taxpayer money to build the Salah Khalaf Recreation and Sports Center near Nablus (Shechem). Salah Khalaf, also known as Abu Iyad, was a leader of the Black September terror organization that was responsible for the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics and the killing of two US diplomats in Sudan the following year.
USAID also distributes money to PA municipalities that have named streets after terrorists who have murdered Israelis. Khan Yunis, a city in Gaza east of N'vei Dekalim in Gush Katif, has named its main street after former Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Yassin oversaw the murder of hundreds of Israelis before he was killed by the IDF.
USAID recently gave the municipality of Khan Yunis $800,000 to build a sports complex.
Marcus suggests that USAID, quick to spend the millions it gets from the U.S. Congress, has not been effective in making sure its money does not go to institutions that support or glorify terrorism.
(The full PMW report is available at "www.pmw.org.il")