Interpol denies PA request to arrest Arafat adviser

Mohammed Rashid is wanted for embezzlement; PA A-G: Interpol won't comply because we're not a sovereign state.

Yasser Arafat 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Yasser Arafat 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Interpol has rejected the Palestinian Authority’s request to arrest Muhammad Rashid, a former adviser to Yasser Arafat, who is wanted for embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars, PA Attorney-General Ahmed al-Mughni announced over the weekend.
Rashid is wanted by the PA in connection with 21 cases of embezzlement, fraud and money-laundering, Mughni said.
He said that he had personally contacted Rashid and asked him to hand himself in to the PA authorities, but to no avail.
“The problem with Interpol is that they are saying that we are not a sovereign state, and that’s why they won’t comply,” Mughni told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an News Agency.
“Had we been members of the United Nations, it would have been easier to bring suspects to Palestinian justice. All countries must unite in fighting crime,” he said.
The attorney-general claimed that Rashid had at least five passports under different names, including a Palestinian diplomatic passport, making it even harder to track him down or seek his extradition.
Rashid, a former journalist who turned into a wealthy businessman thanks to his close relationship with Arafat, is an Iraqi Kurd who joined the PLO more than two decades ago.
He played an important role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and was part of the PLO delegation to the botched Camp David summit in the summer of 2000.
The PA’s Anti-Corruption Commission in Ramallah last week issued an arrest warrant against Rashid, who is believed to be living in Britain, after accusing him of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars.
But the timing of the warrant has raised questions among many Palestinians regarding the true motives of the PA leadership.
The arrest warrant was issued shortly after Rashid gave an interview to the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV station in which he threatened to reveal many secrets related to the current PA leadership in the West Bank.
In response to the warrant, Rashid last week demanded a probe into PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s personal fortune, which he estimated at more than $100 million.
Rashid said he would not report for interrogation in Ramallah because he did not trust Abbas’s judiciary system.