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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DAILY ALERT

December 25, 2002

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info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issue:

How PA Diplomats "Do Business" - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)

    The Palestinian diplomatic corps is rampant with corruption, favoritism, and abuse of power, columnist Ali Sadek charged Sunday in the Ramallah-based Al-Hayat al-Jadeeda.
    In the Palestinian Authority's 86 embassies and representative offices around the world, heads of missions levy illegal fees for consular work, and the money never reaches the PA, Sadek wrote.
    There are many cases where PA envoys have turned into businessmen in the countries in which they serve. "Our ambassadors have become owners of restaurants, real estate, and other property," he said.
    "There are also cases where a father and his sons or an ambassador and his brothers have taken control over a PA embassy. In some instances, the diplomatic missions have become stations for selling scholarships."
    Earlier this year, the Bosnian Foreign Ministry threatened to take legal action against the PA's ambassador, Jamal al-Jardali, following complaints that he and the embassy staff were driving around in stolen cars.
    Sources in Gaza said they could not understand how Jardali was appointed to a top diplomatic job since, prior to his appointment, Jardali was an ordinary worker in one of the PA security forces in the Gaza Strip.


Al Qaeda's New Life on the Internet - Mark Hosenball (Newsweek)

    Intelligence and terrorism experts say the Islamist presence on the Internet is expanding rapidly.
    Mojahedoon.net distributed an audio message from Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, taking responsibility for the Mombasa, Kenya attacks.
    The CIA employs "psy-ops" agents and linguists who work chat rooms, trying either to trick radicals into revealing information or posing as moderate Muslims countering extremist arguments.
    Six months ago, a U.S. Internet service provider learned that it was hosting Jehad.net, regarded as a semiofficial Qaeda site. Jehad.net recently carried copies of two training manuals: "The Mujahideen Explosives Handbook" and "The Mujahideen Poisons Handbook."


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • "Sleeper Cell" Contacts Revealed by Canada
    Al Qaeda "sleeper cells" in Canada and the United States have communicated with each other as recently as this month, probably to plan terrorist attacks in the U.S., Canadian intelligence experts said Tuesday. According to a court report filed by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, there are al Qaeda members living in Canada who fought alongside Arab Islamic militants in Afghanistan and trained in al Qaeda camps. Neutralizing the potential terrorist threat in Canada remains a top priority, said U.S. government officials. The CIA has increased the number of case officers in Canada and the FBI has also increased its presence in Ottawa and elsewhere. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Troops Join Israelis in Iraq War Exercises
    About 1,000 U.S. troops are expected to arrive in Israel this week, bringing with them the latest version of the Patriot missile. In contrast to 1991, the Bush administration appears to be cultivating a cozy relationship with the Israeli government. U.S. troops are expected to stay in Israel throughout any conflict, training Israeli missile deployment crews and fighting alongside them if necessary. The Americans are also reported to have stationed an Aegis destroyer equipped with sophisticated radar and shorter-range anti-missile defenses in the Mediterranean off the coast of Israel. (Independent-UK)
  • Israeli Court Verdict Strengthens Case Against Barghouti
    An Israeli court sentenced a Palestinian to seven consecutive life terms in prison on Tuesday in a verdict that could add ammunition to Israel's case against Marwan Barghouti. The Jerusalem District Court found that Nasser Abu Hamid received arms and funding from Barghouti for the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group linked to Arafat's Fatah faction. Barghouti, a leader of Fatah in the West Bank, is on trial in Israel on murder charges related to the deaths of 26 Israelis. Abu Hamid, described by Israeli authorities as a close aide to Barghouti, was involved in the killing of seven Israelis, including Benjamin and Talia Kahane. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Sharon: Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction Hidden in Syria - Amos Harel
    Saddam Hussein may have ordered chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction to be sent to Syria for hiding, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Tuesday. Sharon also said that Iraq and the Palestinian Authority are coordinating their positions in advance of an American attack, with a senior Fatah official, Zakariya Al Ara, having recently visited Iraq for the purposes of "coordination." (Ha'aretz)
        According to additional information that Sharon presented, a Palestinian Liberation Front unit recently intercepted by Israel had trained in Iraq to launch Strella shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles at planes taking off and landing at Ben-Gurion Airport. This is not the first time that Palestinians have been trained in Iraq. Two months ago, the existence of another such PLF (Abul Abbas) unit from Ramallah and Kabatiya was disclosed. (Maariv)
  • Egyptian Clerics Order Islamic States to Attain Nuclear Weapons - Margot Dudkevitch
    The Islamic Ruling Committee at Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, considered to be the highest religious ruling authority for Sunni Moslems, said on Monday that it is a religious obligation for Islamic nations to arm themselves with nuclear weapons.
        Also, in a signed statement published on Monday in London's Arabic daily Al-Quds al-Arabi, 200 Moslem religious leaders and scholars warn that a U.S. attack on Iraq "will open the gates of Jihad and the legitimate struggle that will end in the ousting of the Christian and Zionist invaders." While the majority of those signing the statement were from Saudi Arabia, other officials included leading Egyptian Moslem religious leader Sheikh Yusef Kradawi. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iraq and the Arabs' Future - Fouad Ajami
    The driving motivation behind a new U.S. endeavor in Iraq should be modernizing the Arab world. Most Arabs will see such an expedition as an imperial reach into their world. But in this case a reforming foreign power's guidelines offer a better way than the region's age-old prohibitions, defects, and phobias. No apologies ought to be made for America's "unilateralism." (Foreign Affairs/New York Times)
  • Fatah-Hamas Relations: Rapprochement or Ready to Rumble? - Gal Luft and Jonathan Schanzer
    An Egyptian-sponsored summit designed to achieve rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas sputtered in Cairo last month, but talks are scheduled to resume on December 22. Fatah's attempts to rein in Hamas are crucial if the Palestinian Authority is to remain the ruling institution in the territories. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Time to Expose the Mullahs - Fareed Zakaria
    Iran's democracy is a sham. Almost three-quarters of the way through his reign, President Mohammed Khatami has accomplished virtually nothing by way of political reform. In some ways Iran is more closed today than it was when he was elected in 1997, with more than 80 reformist newspapers shut down in the last few years. Real power rests with a tiny clerical establishment who use their oil loot to keep happy a cadre of religious leaders, corrupt bureaucrats, student revolutionaries, and army officers. (Newsweek)
  • Talking Points:

    In U.S., Terrorism's Peril Undiminished - Barton Gellman (Washington Post)

    U.S. exposure to ruinous attack, more than 15 months into the war with al Qaeda, remains unbounded. The global campaign launched by President Bush has destroyed Osama bin Laden's Afghan sanctuary, drained his financial resources, scattered his foot soldiers, and killed or captured some of his most dangerous lieutenants. But there is nothing al Qaeda was capable of doing on Sept. 11, 2001, that is now beyond its reach.
        Retired Army Gen. Wayne Downing, President Bush's deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism until July 8, who granted no interviews during his White House tenure, describes the threat:

    • "They're not 10 feet tall, they're not supermen, and in a lot of cases they're very primitive, but they are probably more capable than before."
    • "Most sobering to me was their research on chemical weapons, radiological dispersion devices, and their fascination with nuclear weapons. They are obsessed with them."
    • Al Qaeda returned on Sept. 11, 2001, to the World Trade Center, which allied terrorists nearly succeeded in toppling in a 1993 bombing. It failed, then succeeded, in attempts to kill an American diplomat in Amman, Jordan. And after missing the USS The Sullivans in port in Yemen in January 2000, al Qaeda mounted an identical attack with an explosives-laden boat - this time successful - against the USS Cole eight months later. "These guys continue to go back after targets they have tried to get before. That's why I expect they're going to go back to Washington and New York, both because of the symbolic impact of those attacks and the economic effect."
    • "Certainly they've been blooded, which has strengthened their misguided commitment to their cause. Those who have survived have learned valuable lessons. They have adapted, decentralized their organization, grown new leaders. They have had to find new ways of operating. This makes them more dangerous."


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