Saddam Buys Popularity in Jenin

(Boston Globe/Daily Telegraph) - The Arab Liberation Front, a Palestinian group loyal to Saddam Hussein, is handing out $25,000 checks to families who lost their homes in Jenin. Thirty awards have been made so far and another 30 to 40 will be made next week. The families will not have to use the money to rebuild their homes since that expense is already being covered by UNRWA, thanks to a promise of $25 million from the United Arab Emirates. "The Iraqi money is a gift, no more than that. They can put the money in their back pockets, or build another house," said Saddam's agent, Mahmoud Besharat. The ALF is also doling out generous bounties for the dead and injured in the 20-month intifada. Payments are on a strict scale: $500 for a wound, $1,000 for disablement, $10,000 for death as a "martyr," and $25,000 for a suicide bomber. The rules for rewarding suicide attackers are strict: only someone who blows himself up with a belt of explosives gets the full payment. This has angered the parents of six young men from Jenin who went to the nearby Israeli town of Afula with a gun and opened fire, only to be shot dead themselves. On being told that they merited only the $10,000 reward for an ordinary martyr, they complained to the Iraqi embassy in Jordan and sent a telegram to Saddam. Overall, the donations are generating enthusiastic support for Saddam and contempt for Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian Authority leaders, who have been accused by some Palestinians of skimming off international aid for personal use.

2002-05-31 00:00:00

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