The Palestinian Authority’s Anti-Corruption Commission has issued an international arrest warrant for Muhammad Rashid, known publicly as Khaled Salam, a close adviser and confidante of deceased Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. Rashid, who left the Palestinian territories in 2004 following Arafat’s death, is accused of embezzling millions of dollars from the coffers of the Palestinian Authority.
Rashid, an Iraqi Kurd, has refused the request of the Palestinian prosecutor general to appear before a local court for questioning surrounding accusations of corruption and embezzlement during his tenure as head of the Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF), Rafiq Natsheh, head of the anti-corruption commission said in a press statement Tuesday.
The accusations leveled at Rashid revive the question of Arafat’s own involvement in embezzlement of Palestinian funds. Jaweed Al-Ghussein, the former chairman of the Palestinian National Fund – the financial branch of the PLO – had accused Arafat of stealing millions of dollars in donations from Arab states.
Natsheh said his commission has contacted a number of countries as well as Interpol, requesting that Rashid be extradited to the Palestinian territories.
But Inlight Press, a Jordan-based news website connected to Rashid, accused the Palestinian Authority and its President Mahmoud Abbas of targeting Rashid as a whistle-blower of PA corruption.
In February, the website claimed that Mahmoud Abbas tried to use his political clout in Jordan to shut down the website, believing it is owned by Rashid.
Meanwhile, the anti-corruption commission began investigating Palestinian foreign minister Riyad Al-Maliki on suspicion of providing diplomatic passports to non-diplomats, after the minister refused to appear before a parliamentary hearing in April, Al-Jazeera reported. Maliki would be the third Palestinian minister questioned by the commission in the past several months.