FBI agents interviewed a Palestinian pollster with links to Jewish institutions about his conversations with a man accused of ties to Islamic Jihad.
Khalil Shikaki, who heads the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, is affiliated with Brandeis University and has addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
He told JTA on Thursday that FBI agents contacted him in 2003 and showed him transcripts of his 1995 conversations with Sameeh Hammoudeh, who was acquitted last month in a Florida court of charges that he helped fund the Palestinian terrorist group. Shikaki told JTA that the conversations concerned funds for an orphanage in the West Bank town of Nablus run by his in-laws, and that the FBI never contacted him again.
"It was a personal desire to help people," he said. In the end, he said, "there was no transfer of funds."
Some critics charge that "orphans" was a euphemism for terrorists. An FBI spokesman refused to comment on the matter