Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with the Fairness Project
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 2, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

The Syria-Al Qaeda Connection - Ze'ev Schiff

    Hundreds of al Qaeda operatives have been permitted by Syria to settle in the Ein Hilwe Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon in Lebanon.
    The group
, estimated at 150-200, including senior commanders, arrived from Afghanistan through Damascus, Iran, and directly to Lebanon, which is under control of the Syrian army.
    According to various intelligence services, this group is responsible for the latest outbreak of fighting in Ein Hilwe in an effort to take over the neighborhood, a struggle not yet over.
    Other details of the Syrian-Al Qaeda connection:

  • Mohammed Atta, leader of the group that attacked the U.S., had visited Syria a number of times.
  • Bin Laden's wife and son had lived in the Alawite stronghold in Latakiya, Syria, in an arrangement that gave refuge to bin Laden's close relatives. The two are not now in Syria.
  • Before 9/11, Syria served as a transit point for al Qaeda operatives who had an infrastructure there and could move around in relative freedom with few restrictions.
  • Three Syrians have been arrested in Spain, one of whom met with Mohammed Atta in that country.
  • After the American attack in Afghanistan, Syria permitted tactical and partial intelligence cooperation with the U.S. via information about al Qaeda cells in other countries such as Germany, but not about what al Qaeda was doing in Syria. (Ha'aretz)

    Urban War, the Right Way - Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down

        The kind of urban fighting the U.S. faced in Mogadishu would little resemble such fighting in Baghdad, which would involve the full force of the U.S. conventional arsenal.
        The most valuable armored tool in such an assault would probably be the bulldozer, found by the Israelis in Jenin to be their most effective weapon. It proved virtually impervious to mines and booby traps and simply crushed any resistance in its path.
        "The Israelis have shown that you can conduct urban assaults, moving in city streets, without taking massive casualties," said Mac Dorsey, a retired U.S. Army colonel and former chief of staff for the Army's Special Operations Command. (Los Angeles Times)

    Key Links

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    Back Issues

  • News Resources - USA and Europe:

  • Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades Interrogators Trained in U.S. and Britain
    A spokesman for the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades in Tulkarm, which executed a widow with seven children on charges of "collaboration with Israel" last week, insisted that his group had made sure the charges were substantiated. "The interrogators were experienced and qualified intelligence men from the Palestinian Authority, trained in Britain and the United States," he said. Thirteen Palestinians have been assassinated in Tulkarm alone, he said, and more than 100 elsewhere in the West Bank and Gaza. (New York Times)
  • Cuomo: Territories "Disputed," Not "Occupied"
    During his recent visit to Israel, former HUD secretary and candidate for governor of New York Andrew Cuomo said Israel "has a bona fide claim" to Judea-Samaria-Gaza, and added: "Why do we call this territory 'occupied territory'? Why is it not 'disputed territory'?" (ZOA)
  • Troops Dig In to Defend Baghdad as Saddam Prepares for Attack
    The Iraqi military is digging in to protect Baghdad in the biggest build-up of defenses around the city since the Gulf War. "It's the largest defensive preparation since Desert Storm," said a White House official. "The rhetoric they are hearing coming from the United States - they're taking it very, very seriously." US intelligence believes that Saddam keeps some of his weapons research labs in cities. Biological weapons labs are believed to be under hospitals, and chemical labs may be in pharmaceutical factories. (Telegraph - UK)
  • U.S. Strike on Iraq would Help Israel
    A U.S. strike on Iraq will strengthen Israel's hand on the Palestinian front and throughout the region, Deputy Interior Minister Gideon Ezra suggested. "The more aggressive the attack is, the more it will help Israel against the Palestinians," said Ezra. He said a U.S. strike would "undoubtedly deal a psychological blow" to the Palestinians. He predicted a U.S. strike would "calm down the entire region" by eliminating "the extremism of Saddam."
        According to Likud MK Yuval Steinitz, "After Iraq is taken by U.S. troops and we see a new regime installed as in Afghanistan, and Iraqi bases become American bases, it will be very easy to pressure Syria to stop supporting terrorist organizations like Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad, to allow the Lebanese army to dismantle Hizbullah, and maybe to put an end to the Syrian occupation in Lebanon." (Christian Science Monitor)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:

  • Soldier Wounded in Hizballah Attack Dies
    Sgt. Ofir Mish'al, 20, of Ma'aleh Adumim, who was critically injured in a Hizbullah attack on Israeli outposts in the Har Dov area last Thursday, died in hospital on Monday. Prime Minister Sharon convened the security cabinet Sunday night for a discussion of stepped up Hizbullah attacks against northern Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Intelligence Attempted to Recruit IDF Women Soldiers
    Documents captured by the IDF at the Beitunya headquarters of Jibril Rajoub's Palestinian Preventative Security service during Operation Defensive Shield reveal an attempt to recruit IDF women soldiers to spy for the PA in exchange for money and drugs. The documents are official reports addressed to Rajoub from the "Agents Division" of his organization, detailing contacts and financial transactions with the prospective recruits. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Intruder Wounds Two
    Ya'acov and Dalit Rand of Jerusalem were shot and wounded by a Palestinian terrorist who infiltrated the village of Har Bracha near Nablus where they had been visiting Saturday night. The terrorist, who was killed, was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. He wore a bulletproof vest and was armed with a Kalashnikov rifle. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Scent of a Madman - Maureen Dowd
    An intriguing and bizarre documentary, "Uncle Saddam," by the French journalist Joel Soler, paints Saddam as the genocidal Jerry Seinfeld. He gasses the Kurds without flinching and murders his relatives without twitching. But when it comes to personal hygiene, the guy is extremely fastidious - a clean freak who craves dirty bombs. He also loves to go grenade fishing. Aides in scuba gear retrieve the catch. (New York Times)
        See also Tales of the Tyrant - a detailed portrait of Saddam. (Atlantic Monthly)
  • Signs of Israeli Success - Danny Rubinstein
    Columnist Mohammed Shaker Abdallah of Al Quds wrote recently with a measure of despair that all signs now show that the Israeli government appears to be succeeding in its campaign against the intifada. The IDF and the security forces have managed to change all of the West Bank's cities from Area A, where the Palestinians had full control, into Area B, where Israel has security control. (Ha'aretz)
  • Rolling Back Radical Islam - Ralph Peters
    We are not at war with Islam. But the most radical elements within the Muslim world are convinced that they are at war with us. For decades we have downplayed - or simply ignored - the hate-filled speech directed toward us, the monstrous lessons taught by extremists to children, and the duplicity of so many states we insisted were our friends. (Parameters - U.S. Army War College)
  • Put Arafat on Trial - Alan M. Dershowitz
    Yasser Arafat is a cold-blooded, premeditated murderer who should be brought to trial. Arafat took credit for the murders of three diplomats during a private dinner with Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1973. Arafat also claimed credit for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. His killing continues up to the present time, as do his false denials. Any experienced prosecutor, given access to the evidence - some of which is currently secreted in American, Israeli, and European intelligence files - could present an open-and-shut first-degree murder case against Yasser Arafat. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Gulf over War - Editorial
    September 11 demonstrated that the international structures of "containment" for which the Clinton administration had shown such enthusiasm were bankrupt. If there is one sure lesson of the years since the Gulf War, it is that EU rhetoric, UN resolutions, and the pressure of what Foreign Secretary Straw called "customary international law" have made precisely zero impact upon Saddam. (Telegraph - UK)
  • Talking Points:

    Israeli Defense Minister Briefs Cabinet (IMRA)

    Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday:

    • Israel was fully aware of the possibility that Hizballah might continue its provocations along the northern border. Israel was using various channels to clearly warn Syria, Lebanon, and Hizballah that they were "playing with fire."
    • In the Palestinian arena, there had been a drop in the scope of attacks, and impressive, successful, counter-terrorist actions, but the situation on the ground is still not quiet.
    • Israel is making a comprehensive effort in the civil-humanitarian sphere.
    • The defense minister expressed his regret over mishaps in which civilians have been killed, and added that the IDF is inquiring into these events.

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