French officials following the Arafat dead-or-alive fiasco were floored to discover that Suha Arafat’s constant companion and financial adviser is none other than Pierre Rizk. Like her a Maronite Christian (although she went through a “conversion” to Islam when she married Yasser), Rizk headed the Phalangist intelligence service during the Lebanese civil war and was in close personal contact with the Phalangist guerrilla group which carried out the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camp in 1982.
An ally of Israel, Rizk was at the time the chief deputy of ElieHobeika, widely held directly responsible for ordering the bloodbath.
According to Daniel Nassif, Executive Director, of the American Lebanese Institute, “Elie Hobeika and Pierre Rizk,who shared command of the Lebanese Forces (Phalangists) at the time of the Sabra and Shatilla massacre, have flourished in Syrian-controlled Lebanon. Hobeika has been one of the most trusted people in Lebanon by Damascus since at least 1985 and an influential minister in the Syrian-controlled Lebanese government since 1990. Rizk, who long collaborated with the PLO leadership, is currently reaping millions of dollars as a business front for Yasir Arafat and his wife Suha.
Hobeika was murdered in Beirut in 2002, reportedly as a result of his involvement in the massacre. Rizk himself was in 1997 sentenced to death for his collaboration with Israel, Maariv reported. Yet, according to Western intelligence sources, he continued to profit by millions from his contacts with the Arafats.
Rizk is well known to Israeli officials. Indeed, in his role as Phalange intelligence chief, he spent long periods in Israel, meeting and socializing with numerous government officials and businessmen. Israelis who have met with him in person describe him as a flamboyant figure and, according to the normally staid Haaretz newspaper, “something of a womanizer.” Even after moving into the private sector in the 1990’s, according to foreign sources cited by Maariv, Rizk maintained close connections with the Israeli Mossad.
No Rizk, no reward Living in Paris since his exile from Lebanon, Rizk is an international businessman with operations in Europe and the United States. In 1999, Rizk won a lawsuit filed in U.S. courts against the Palestinian Authority which caused quite a commotion in PA financial circles.
Apparently, Rizk had been promised, by the Ra’is Himself, a license for his U.S. corporation to develop the communications infrastructure of the West Bank. Unfortunately for Rizk, Arafat had make similar promises to many other people and companies, promising them jobs, tenders and contracts in his future government.
As was Arafat’s usual practice, however, none of the promises were ever fulfilled. However, unlike other disappointed parties, Rizk decided to sue Arafat for violating his word and, lo and behold, was awarded $18 million by American reports. As a result, Haaretz reports, U.S. banks froze $80 million of the PA’s money, threatening its financial stability. The crisis was eventually ended, according to the newspaper, when the PA sent special envoys to Rizk in Paris to negotiate a settlement.
Because Rizk now holds power of attorney for Suha, French and Palestinian officials have been negotiating with him over her financial demands which, she says, are intended to ensure the financial future of her and her daughter. The outcome of these contacts is still not clear, although Israeli papers reported Wednesday that she rejected a proposed settlement of $2 million offered by the Palestinian Authority, according to French sources.
That, apparently, would not be nearly enough to maintain the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed in Paris’ super-rich sixteenth arrondissement, reportedly shelling out $15,000 nightly for a full floor of a five star hotel.
The settlement was intended to persuade Suha to allow completion of the tests to determine her husband’s cause of death. Contacts between Suha Arafat and the Palestinian financiers began as soon as it became clear that Arafat would have to be flown to France for emergency medical treatment, Haaretz reports.
That didn’t come for free either. The Washington Times reports that shortly before Arafat was flown to France, Suha “received $60 million in her Paris bank account.” And that’s on top of an alleged $11.4 million deposited in her accounts between July 2002 and September 2003 (which French authorities are investigating). Since the Washington Times article notes that at least 60 percent of the Palestinian Authority’s budget came from international aid contributions, that means — as Daniel Pipes points out — that the taxpayers of the world are “footing the bill for Suha’s legendary shopping expeditions.”
The spy who loves me?
Apparently, the Western world has also being helping to cultivate the love affairs of Suha and her favorite Phalangist. She and Rizk have known each other for more than a decade. A special relationship reportedly arose between the businessman jilted by Arafat and the lonely and very, very wealthy wife of the Palestinian president….”