In the first half of 2004 Israeli intelligence reported that Hizballah’s fingerprint was present on 80 percent of terrorist attacks emanating from the West Bank. By then a series of arrested Fatah operatives conceded that Hizballah was funding nearly all of their group’s attacks.
To be sure, Iran also provides a tremendous amount of funding and logistical support to Hamas through Hizballah, in addition to funding Fatah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hizballah conditions this funding on successful Palestinian attacks, paying three to five thousand new Israeli shekels per attack and allowing operatives to keep any funds left over after successful strikes. Given the desperate economic situation in the West Bank and Gaza, this is a very effective means of encouraging terrorist activity.
Over the past several years, Hizballah has provided between $750,000 and $1.5 million to Palestinian terrorist groups annually. Besides the large-scale funding obtained from Iran, Hizballah uses charities as humanitarian fronts for terrorist activities against Israel (e.g., the al-Ansar Charity Association in Gaza). Israel has taken several measures to frustrate these efforts, including arresting moneychangers and seizing their funds; confiscating undeclared funds over 2,000 Jordanian dinar at Israeli-Jordanian crossing points; and raiding accounts tied to terrorists and front organizations in Ramallah banks.
But like other successful terrorist groups, Hizballah constantly adapts its tactics to evade counterterrorism efforts. Its innovations include transferring funds to the accounts of terrorists’ family members and smuggling a computer chip with a detailed bombmaking guide from an operative in Jordan inside a Sony Playstation videogame console.
But the latest evidence that Hizballah continues to finance Palestinian terrorist groups and fund specific attacks comes from Ireland.
A Dateline NBC report that aired September 11, 2005 reveled that Jihad Jaara, a top operative for the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, is living free in Ireland where he continues to meet with fellow terrorist operatives and finance terror attacks.
On Jaara’s suggestion, Dateline correspondent Lisa Myers contacted his friend and fellow al-Aqsa operative Salem Bawaqnah in an Israeli maximum security prison. Jaara believed Bawaqnah would corroborate his claim that he has entirely renounced terrorism following his exile from the West Bank. Instead, Bawaqnah told Myers that since July 2004 Jaara has helped him secure funding from Hizballah for terrorist cells in the West Bank involved in car bombings in Israel.
Jaara lived a double life as an officer in the Palestinian Preventative Security Force and an al-Aqsa operative. While serving as a Palestinian security officer, he masterminded countless violent actions against both Israelis and Americans, including the January 2002 murder of Avi Boaz (a seventy-two year old American citizen in Bethlehem) and a suicide bombing that killed eleven in that same year. In March 2002, Jaara was among those taking refuge in the Church of Nativity, one of Christianity’s holiest sites, during the forty day siege there following the Israeli reoccupation of the West Bank. This terrorist action spawned international attention. Jaara was permitted to leave Bethlehem and resettle in Ireland under the condition that he assure Irish authorities in charge of monitoring him that have would have no further involvement in terrorist activities.
Irish intelligence officials, who denied NBC’s requests for an interview, affirm they have intensified surveillance on Jaara after he left the country under a fake passport in 2003 for a meeting in Spain with other suspected militants. Spanish authorities detained Jaara and shipped him back to Ireland only after he "rang the leader of (Spanish) security and told him, ‘I am Jihad and I am now in Spain.’" This is not the first time Jaara has taunted the authorities. He previously has not only bragged to Newsweek about his role in the murder of Boaz, he has also allowed BBC camera crews to follow and film him as he fired into an unsuspecting Jewish neighborhood.
According to Jaara, he acquired much of his operational expertise — "especially for shooting" — in CIA counterterrorism training courses he took as a Palestinian security officer.