The top leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad had big problems in April 1994.
They were running out of money, and they couldn't agree on a place to hold a meeting.
The bickering was intense, and more than once, different members of the board of directors, or shura council, threatened to leave the organization. Islamic Jihad officers in the United States weren't getting their salaries, and one based in England complained that he had to take a second mortgage out on his house.
Then on April 6, 1994, a young Islamic Jihad member got into a car supplied by Hamas. It had seven propane tanks filled with 500 pounds of black powder and seven pounds of steel nails, according to a stipulation by attorneys.
The suicide bomber, Raed Muhammed Zacharane, drove up to a public bus in Afula, Israel, and blew up the car, killing nine people and injuring about 50 others.
The operation cost about $90,000, according to statements made in intercepted phone conversations read to jurors in the trial of Sami Al- Arian on Wednesday.
According to news reports, the bomber was a West Bank teenager, and many of the victims were Israeli teenagers who were getting ready to board the bus, which was attacked as it stopped near two schools that had let out.
Al-Arian is standing trial along with Sameeh Hammoudeh, Hatim Naji Fariz and Ghassan Zayed Ballut on charges that they helped organize and finance the Islamic Jihad. Although providing material support to the Islamic Jihad did not become illegal until January 1995, the evidence is being presented under the theory that it shows an ongoing criminal conspiracy.
Prosecutors are reading to jurors excerpts of more than 400 intercepted phone conversations and faxes, a process that is expected to span weeks.
Most of the conversations read Wednesday dealt with details of the desired shura council meeting Al-Arian was trying to organize. The members disagreed over whether the meeting should be in Syria or Iran and whether it should be in May, August or October.
Al-Arian even joked about having the conference in Tampa because four of the shura council members were here. He suggested that if the Islamic Jihad officials came to the United States, they wouldn't want to leave.
"There are people who will come and will not go back," he said, laughing, according to the transcript. "I swear to God, there are two or three who, when they see what chances they have here, they will not go back."
A few times, they talked about the suicide bomber.
For example, on April 28, 1994, Al-Arian spoke to Ramadan Shallah, then the executive director of Al-Arian's think tank, World and Islam Studies Enterprise.
Much of the discussion centered on the difficulty of arranging travel for the shura council meeting. They talked about a threat by another Islamic Jihad official, Bashir Nafi, to quit the organization.
At one point, Shallah told Al- Arian about a conversation he'd had with Fathi Shikaki, the secretary general of the Islamic Jihad.
"I swear I talked to him about things that I didn't plan to talk about," Shallah said, "like the matter of the funeral. ... This boy, this poor thing, it hasn't even been two weeks."
On April 24, Al-Arian spoke on the phone to someone named Samir, and the Afula attack came up. "It is terrible, my brother."
Using what prosecutors said were code words - "the family" for Islamic Jihad and "the others" for Hamas - Al-Arian continued, "The boy was from the family, but the car and the preparation were from the others. ... Of course, the cost of the thing was approximately 90,000."