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US Businessman Charged in West Bank

December 29, 1998

BEIT EL, West Bank (AP) _ An Israeli military court on Tuesday charged a Palestinian-American businessman with funneling money to the Islamic militant group Hamas.

The court said money from Jamil Sarsour went to Adel Awadallah, a top Hamas fugitive and mastermind of suicide bombings in Israel. Awadallah was killed in an Israeli commando raid in September.

The court ordered Sarsour held until the end of proceedings. It was not clear when he was arrested.

Sarsour denied any connection to Hamas. ``I only made a small contribution to the family (of Awadallah), that’s all I did,″ Sarsour, a resident of the West Bank town of Ramallah, told Israel army radio on Tuesday.

The radio said Sarsour gave $40,000 over two years.

Sarsour’s hometown in the United States was not immediately available.

The indictment said Sarsour channeled funds to Hamas from the United States, using an Israeli bank account. The money was cashed by a 70-year-old woman and was transferred to Awadallah.

Awadallah also reportedly asked Sarsour to get him a false passport or any other identification that would enable him to flee the country.

``From the investigation it became clear that Awadallah felt the ring tighten around him,″ the military prosecutor, Sgt. Eli Baon, said on the radio.

Sarsour did not get Awadallah a passport, but did provide him with other false papers, the radio said.

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