Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

December 18, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Islamist Terrorists Active in South America's Tri-Border Region - Jeffrey Fields (Center for Nonproliferation Studies)

    Some 25,000 people of Arab descent live in the tri-border region of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.
    Francis Taylor, the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism, told Congress that the tri-border region had a "long-standing presence of Islamic extremist organizations."
    In 1999, agents from Argentina's Secretariat of State Intelligence told the CIA that operatives from al Qaeda were in the tri-border region and coordinating with extremist Shiite groups.
    At least one U.S. intelligence official says there are indications that al Qaeda is working in Latin America preparing for a future attack.
    See also Terror Cell on Rise in South America (Washington Times)


U.S. Army to Train 1,000 Iraqi Exiles - Daniel Williams (Washington Post)

    The United States has accepted 1,000 Iraqi exiles for military training as guides and go-betweens for U.S. forces in a war with Iraq, a contingent that exile leaders hope will grow into the core of a new Iraqi army after Saddam Hussein is ousted.
    The recruits come from the U.S.-protected zone in northern Iraq and from among exiles in Iran and Europe.
    Training is scheduled to take place at Taszar air base, southwest of Budapest, under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army's European Command.
    "It is supposed to be an Iraqi force which Iraqi soldiers inside can join, instead of just surrendering to the Americans," said an Iraqi opposition official.


Useful Reference:

"Use Jewish Skulls to Build a Bridge to Heaven" (IDF)
    See this banner from the Hamas website.


166 Homicide Bombers Since Sept. 2000 (IDF)
    There have been 166 suicide bombers since Sept. 28, 2000, of which 95 detonated themselves in 84 terrorist attacks.
    From 1993 until the beginning of the current conflict in Sept. 2000, there had been an additional 61 suicide bombers, in which 43 exploded themselves in 38 terrorist attacks.


Key Links

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Chemical Cache Found in French Raid on Islamic Militants
    French counterterrorism agents arrested three Algerians and a Moroccan in a Paris suburb on Monday. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said the raid also turned up false identity papers, two vials of an unidentified liquid, and "a protective military suit against biological, chemical, and nuclear risks." Sarkozy said the suspects were thought to have spent time in training camps in Afghanistan and Chechnya. The suspects were preparing a chemical attack, according to police officials and agents from the counterintelligence service DST. (AP/MSNBC)
  • Sharon in Contact with Palestinians
    Israel is maintaining contacts with Palestinians who are interested in negotiating peace, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Tuesday. "There are contacts. The contacts will continue. Slowly the number of people who are prepared to talk peace is growing, and I maintain contacts with them," Sharon said. (CNN)
  • Course Set for War, Kissinger Says - Ira Stoll
    "The war against Iraq is an integral part of the war on terrorism. How else can we convince the Saudi Arabias of the world that it is too dangerous to collude in challenging the United States?" Mr. Kissinger said at a lunch sponsored by the Center for Security Policy. "The point of no return with respect to Iraq has been passed." (New York Sun)
  • Iraqi Opposition Plans New Government - Craig S. Smith
    A meeting of Saddam Hussein's Iraqi enemies ended Tuesday in London with a nearly unified call for a democratic, federal, parliamentary government to replace their country's dictator. (New York Times)
  • Survey: Iraqis Would Welcome Saddam's Overthrow
    Iraqis would largely welcome a U.S.-led attack leading to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, according to a survey of public opinion inside Iraq. Although they are suspicious of the Iraqi opposition abroad, a majority of Iraqis from all social classes say they see a U.S. strike leading to a change of a regime as the only way they can lead normal lives after over twenty years of war, sanctions, and economic misery - according to dozens of covert interviews carried out by the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG). (Independent-UK)
  • Saddam City Ripe for Shia Uprising - David Blair
    Saddam City, Baghdad's poorest slum, is populated almost entirely by Shia Muslims, who comprise about 60 percent of Iraq's population and are viewed with deep suspicion by the regime. In 1999, thousands of Iraqis rioted there following the murder of Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, Iraq's leading Shia cleric, almost certainly on Saddam's orders. The official number of dead in the riots was 27, but most accounts put the true figure at closer to 100. (Telegraph-UK)
  • U.S. Reduces Forces in Sinai - Matthew E. Berger
    The American presence in the Multinational Force and Observers stationed in Sinai - established under the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt - will be significantly reduced from its current strength of 900. Israel and Egypt rejected a proposal by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to reduce the U.S. presence to as few as 26, seeking an American presence that was more than "nominal." According to one American military analyst, "Both Egypt and Israel would have preferred the status quo, but the peace is stable and secure right now, and I don't think either side feels that removing U.S. presence will have a dramatic effect on the ground." The total force numbers 1,900 troops from 11 countries. (JTA)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • After 40 Years, Aswan Dam Temples Opened to Visitors
    Egypt announced Monday it had finished the relocation and restoration of ancient temples saved over the past 40 years, after extensive flooding resulted from the construction of the Aswan Dam on the Nile. (Jordan Times)
  • Israeli, U.S. Companies Team Up for Homeland Security System
    Israel's Tadiran Electronic Systems has announced a strategic cooperation with biometric security innovator VeriTouch Ltd., based in New York City, to develop its Sharvit sleeve gateway system for securing airport, government, and military facilities in the U.S. The system gathers data about the person seeking passage into a secured facility in real-time, including biometric and other physical data, to ensure that only the authorized person can enter. (Israel21c)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas and al Qaeda: Collaborating Financiers of Terror - Rita Katz and James Mitre
    U.S. money earmarked for al Qaeda comes from the same source as money earmarked for the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas. Success in stemming the flow of money from the U.S. to al Qaeda will require shutting down the financiers of Hamas along with those of al Qaeda. (National Review)
  • Anti-Semitism on Campus: "An Ugly Infection" - Editorial
    In the face of anonymous threats, administrators at the University of Quebec in Montreal cited security concerns as they prohibited Israeli journalist and professor Gideon Kouts from speaking to the Jewish student group Hillel, although officials have now reversed their ban. In September, glass-smashing thugs silenced former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Concordia. Then the Concordia Student Union voted to expel Hillel on the flimsiest of pretexts. Not every cross word between Jews and non-Jews is the start of a new Kristallnacht, or Night of Broken Glass. But we have heard glass breaking on the streets of Montreal. (Montreal Gazette)
  • Democracy and Islam: The Case for Optimism - Stephen Schwartz
    I do not see September 11 as an act of protest by Muslims or Arabs oppressed by the advance of Western democracy or the success of Israel. I see it as an act of provocation by Saudi-based extremists, intended to divert the younger, better-educated, middle-class strata of Saudi society, and similar social elements elsewhere in the Muslim and Arab worlds, from their growing demands for restoration of Islamic pluralism and the right to live normal lives, in a normal country, in a world at peace. (Weekly Standard)
  • Talking Points:

    Security Official: PA Making Cynical Use of Christmas - Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)

    • PA officials are cynically exploiting Christmas and Bethlehem's Christian population in an attempt to draw international pressure for a withdrawal of IDF troops there, a senior Israeli security official said Tuesday.
    • "Unlike earlier years, no decorations adorn the city and there is no Christmas tree in Manger Square," the official said.
    • The government will allow Christians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to attend the prayers, but only a few thousand at the most are expected for the celebrations, the official said.
    • In August, the army handed over security responsibility in Bethlehem to the PA as part of confidence-building measures reached in the framework of the "Judea First" agreement. "The PA took no serious steps to halt the terror," the official said, and within two months the city had turned into a safe haven for Palestinian fugitives.
    • The IDF returned to Bethlehem on November 21, following a Jerusalem bus bombing in which 11 people were killed and scores wounded.
    • Since then, the IDF has arrested dozens of fugitives and at least three potential suicide bombers.
    • "The general atmosphere in the city is one of sadness, especially for the Christians who make up 30 percent of the population," the official said. But Israel allows truckloads of food, medical equipment, and other goods into the city constantly and no one is hungry, he said.


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