U.S. Opens Priority Probe into Charges That the PLO UN Mission Illegally Raised Funds in the U.S.

The United States is “trying to determine” whether a report that the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Mission at the United Nations in New York is raising funds in this country to help finance its terrorist operations and guerrilla activities, the State Department confirmed today.

“Should it turn out any members of the PLO Observer Mission are involved in fund-raising activities in this country, such activity would be clearly beyond the scope of activities for which they are admitted,” spokesman Frederick Brown said. He added that the probe is on a “priority basis” and that the U.S. has asked the UN Secretariat “to convey our serious concern” to the PLO regarding fund-raising. He indicated “possible expulsion” of any PLO members involved in the reported venture but not the Mission as a whole.

DEPOSITED FUNDS IN OVERSEAS ACCOUNT

Columnists Jack Anderson and Les Whitten reported today that PLO Mission members collected funds from sympathizers in the U.S. and deposited them in a PLO account overseas. The columnists said they have proof in the form of “a thank you note” written in Arabic on the stationery of the PLO’s UN office. “The letter is signed by Jacob Oubedi, the PLO’s top fundraiser in Beirut and is addressed to the Palestinian Committee in the state of Virginia,” Anderson and Whitten wrote.

They said the Virginians collected $4084 which Oubedi was quoted as saying would go into the “PLO national chest.” “We hope you will continue to work for our holy cause and revolutionary victory,” Oubedi wrote, according to the columnists.

Oubedi, whose code name is “Abud Khaled,” the columnists said, noted that the Virginians’ money had been turned over to him by the PLO director in New York Zoyer Tarazi. The columnists said Tarazi admitted that the Virginians delivered the $4084 check to him. According to the columnists. Tarazi said the PLO has entered many states but money for the PLO is “scarce.”

The PLO registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for “information activities.” not fund-raising. Oubedi apparently is not registered.

Two previous violations by PLO members of their Mission restrictions–travel beyond the 25-mile limit of Columbus Circle in New York City in the past year have not resulted in their expulsion. The violations consisted of visits to Chicago and Washington. “Our very serious concern was made known to the PLO Mission,” at the time, Brown said.

Meanwhile, a State Department source confirmed to the JTA that the United States has entered its fourth month of communication with the PLO in Beirut for “security reasons,” although President Ford and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger have said the U.S. would not deal with the PLO until it had recognized Israel’s right to exist as a state in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

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