Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Confessions of a Fleeing Officer - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

Rarely does an intelligence officer appear on television revealing secret documents; however Israeli Channel 10 found an intelligence officer willing to do so. Fahmi Shabana, who was introduced as a former intelligence officer in the Palestinian Authority, claims to be in possession of a box full of documents and recordings that Palestinian intelligence has gathered against its citizens and officials. This is an idea that in itself is extremely dangerous, and capable of toppling a government or creating havoc.

The interview on Channel 10 went smoothly, despite it attracting a large audience on account of the bizarre circumstances surrounding this interview and its timing. With the exception of some mocking official statements, this interview failed to cause a stir on the Palestinian street. Is this because the interview was broadcast by an Israeli television channel or because the whistleblower [Shabana] lacks credibility? Or has the Palestinian Authority suddenly become above suspicion in the eyes of its citizens?

This television interview is useful in understanding the feelings and thoughts of the Palestinian citizens on the current situation [in Palestine] nearly six years after a change in the Palestinian leadership, and three years after a new security system was established in Ramallah. The alleged documents and recordings are relatively old and belong to the era of former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. However Palestinians of all political spectrums are not comfortable with the idea of sitting in judgment on this era as they consider Arafat to be their only historical icon. It is unfair to attempt to slander him or pass judgment on him after his death, and this is not to mention that the administrative and political situation in the occupied territories have changed since then.

There may be some truth in some of the allegations made by the intelligence officer in terms of corruption or abuse of power, but the entire story, the man, the timing and location of this interview lacks any sort of credibility. Therefore contrary to the intentions of the fleeing intelligence officer and the Israeli media which is biased against the Palestinian Authority, this story bolsters and strengthen the value and leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, as his era is known as one in which respect has been restored in the Palestinian Authority. One of his most important achievements was putting an end to the endless deluge of corruption and the chaotic multiplicity of authorities. Abbas put an end to the multiplicity of security agencies, one of which was the intelligence agency that the officer with the alleged or stolen documents belonged to. Specifically, over the past three years, after President Abbas appointed Salam Fayyad as Prime Minister, he reorganized the Palestinian Authority, removed the security services from under the control of individuals, and placed them under mutual scrutiny.

Those wishing to tarnish the reputation of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah or discredit it, whether this is former intelligence officers who were sacked over allegations of corruption or due to inter-departmental disputes, may inadvertently have provided it with good publicity because these allegations focus on a period of time ten to fifteen years ago, rather than the current era. For although the Palestinian Authority has failed to deal with the Israeli occupation so far, it does currently enjoy a distinguished standing of administrative reputability at an international level.

I don’t think that the storm that former intelligence officer Shabana and any of those behind him tried to create deserves all of this emotion and threats of prosecution, as a high-ranking Palestinian source threatened. Shabana does not look or sound stable, and on Israeli television he said that the Palestinian Authority had put a million-shekel bounty on his head and that he was in fear of his life. He even said that he had bought a grave in East Jerusalem in case he is killed. Nobody can believe such nonsense, especially after it became clear that his documents are old and do not incriminate anybody today.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

More Posts