(photo credit: AP [file])
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) revealed on Sunday that tens of thousands of dollars worth of goods allegedly purchased to finance Islamic Jihad activities were seized by security forces and customs authorities at the Ashdod port recently.
Officials believe thousands of US dollars were transferred in a similar way and used by the Islamic Jihad to finance the West Bank infrastructures which planned and perpetrated a number of suicide bomb attacks in Israel. These include the Stage nightclub in Tel Aviv in January 2005 in which five Israelis were killed and scores wounded, the Netanya mall suicide bomb attack in July this year in which five Israelis were killed and last month's Hadera suicide bomb attack in which six Israelis were killed.
In order to finance its activities, the Islamic Jihad resorts to a number of money laundering tactics in order to evade detection. According to details released for publication, the seized goods consisted of bottles of palm oil and were sent to the Abu Akar company in Gaza that deals with importing foodstuff. Faiz Abu Akar, the company owner, is a Khan Younis businessman also known for his links to terrorist organizations. Security forces arrested him shortly after the raid at the port.
According to security officials, in an effort to whitewash money used to finance its activities, Islamic Jihad operatives abroad purchase goods that are sent to companies in Palestinian Authority controlled areas. There, the money from the sales of the goods is transferred to Islamic Jihad operatives to fund terrorist activities in the West Bank and Gaza.
On November 1, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz signed the seizure order. Officials noted that in recent months there has been an upsurge in Islamic Jihad attacks despite the so-called tahdiya (calm), and the organization has intensified its efforts to refurbish the infrastructures and strengthen its capability.
Because of the situation, security officials and customs authorities plan to tighten up supervision over merchandise sent from abroad.