Caroline Glick’s Jerusalem Post column tells the of the odyssey of Fahmi Shabaneh, “an odd candidate for dissident status.” Shabaneh is a Jerusalemite who joined the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Service in 1994. Glick writes:
Working for PA head Mahmoud Abbas and GIS commander Tawfik Tirawi, Shabaneh was tasked with investigating Arab Jerusalemites suspected of selling land to Jews. Such sales are a capital offense in the PA. Since 1994 scores of Arabs have been the victims of extrajudicial executions after having been fingered by the likes of Shabaneh.
A few years ago, Abbas and Tirawi gave Shabaneh a new assignment. They put him in charge of a unit responsible for investigating corrupt activities carried out by PA officials. They probably assumed a team player like Shabaneh understood what he was supposed to do.
Just as Abbas’s predecessor, Yasser Arafat, reportedly had full dossiers on all of his underlings and used damning information to keep them loyal to him, so Abbas probably believed that Shabaneh’s information was his to use or ignore as he saw fit.
For a while, Abbas’s faith was well-placed. Shabaneh collected massive amounts of information on senior PA officials detailing their illegal activities. These activities included the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid; illegal seizure of land and homes; and monetary and sexual extortion of their fellow Palestinians.
Over time, Shabaneh became disillusioned with his boss. Abbas appointed him to his job around the time he was elected PA head in 2005. Abbas ran on an anti-corruption platform. Shabaneh’s information demonstrated that Abbas presided over a criminal syndicate posing as a government. And yet rather than arrest his corrupt, criminal associates, Abbas promoted them.
Abbas continued promoting his corrupt colleagues even after Hamas’s 2006 electoral victory. That win owed to a significant degree to the widespread public revulsion with Fatah’s rampant corruption.
With Israel and the US lining up to support him after the Hamas victory, Abbas continued to turn a blind eye to his colleagues’ criminality. his new status as the irreplaceable “moderate,” he allowed his advisers and colleagues to continue enriching themselves with the international donor funds that skyrocketed after Hamas’s victory.
Since 2006, despite the billions of dollars in international aid showered on Fatah, Hamas has consistently led Fatah in opinion polls. Rather than clean up their act, Abbas and his Fatah colleagues have sought to ingratiate themselves with their public by ratcheting up their incitement against Israel. And since Abbas has been deemed irreplaceable, the same West that turns a blind eye to his corruption, refuses to criticize his encouragement of terrorism. And this makes sense. How can the West question the only thing standing in the way of a Hamas takeover of Judea and Samaria?
Recently, Shabaneh decided he had had enough. The time had come to expose what he knows. But he ran into an unanticipated difficulty. No one wanted to know. As he put it, Arab and Western journalists wouldn’t touch his story for fear of being “punished” by the PA.
In his words, Western journalists “don’t want to hear negative things about Fatah and Abbas.” Lacking other options, Shabaneh brought his information to The Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh.
On January 29, the Post published Abu Toameh’s interview with Shabaneh on our front page. Among other impressive scoops, Shabaneh related that Abbas’s associates purloined $3.2 million in cash that the US gave Abbas ahead of the 2006 elections. He told Abu Toameh how PA officials who were almost penniless in 1994 now have tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars in their private accounts. He related how he watched in horror as Abbas promoted the very officials he reported on. And he showed Abu Toameh a video of Abbas’s chief of staff Rafik Husseini naked in the bedroom of a Christian woman who sought employment with the PA.