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

January 16, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Background: Who is Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT)? - Ahmed Rashid (International Eurasian Institute for Economic and Political Research)

    According to a senior leader of the underground Islamic party Hizb ut-Tahrir, who said he heads activities in an area comprising several thousand cells, the group was formed in Saudi Arabia as a pan-Islamic movement in the 1950s, and at one time had a united plan with the Wahabbi movement.
    Hizb ut-Tahrir today has tens of thousands of members across Central Asia, and seeks to make a caliphate (Islamic state) which will reunite all the Central Asian states.
    Hizb ut-Tahrir supported the Taliban and many of its members had fled to Afghanistan to escape the crackdown in Central Asia.
    "We are very much opposed to the Jews and Israel - we don't want to kill the Jews but they must leave Central Asia."


White House Promises "Smoking Gun" Intelligence - Toby Harnden (Telegraph-UK)

    White House officials have signaled that America and Britain have powerful intelligence evidence to cement the case for war against Iraq.
    Andy Card, the White House chief of staff, and Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political strategist, have each indicated privately that the administration has proof that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction.
    Rove strongly suggested that the Bush administration already possesses a piece of intelligence from the CIA or MI6 that would amount to the "smoking gun" critics are calling for.


Arms for Iraq Seized in Beirut (MEED.com)

    Two men were detained at Beirut airport on Tuesday accused of smuggling military equipment to Iraq from Belarus, disguised as containers of food.
    Helmets for tank crews, wireless communications sets for tanks, and uniforms were impounded, apparently before they were to be driven overland through Syria to Iraq.
    The U.S. suspects that much of Baghdad's military equipment comes in from Syria: Damascus imports large quantities of oil from Iraq and a large volume of overland trucking and railway traffic flows between the two countries.
    Three Iraqi defectors who fled in 2001 and 2002 reported anti-aircraft missiles, rockets, and Scud missile guidance systems arriving from the Czech Republic under Syrian and Yemeni export licenses.


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Germany Bans Islamic Group Linked to Neo-Nazis
    An Islamic group accused of spreading violent anti-Semitism on German university campuses and establishing contacts with neo-Nazis was outlawed Wednesday, the third such ban of an extremist organization since the adoption of new anti-terrorism legislation in Germany following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S.
        Hizb ut-Tahrir, or the Party of Liberation, was accused by German officials of advocating the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews. The group's recruitment efforts centered on young Muslims, raising the specter of the formation of new groups such as the student-led Hamburg cell that spearheaded the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. "The organization is still more dangerous in that it has also sought contact with the far-right," Interior Minister Otto Schily said. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Resisting Calls for Second UN Vote on War with Iraq
    The Bush administration resisted calls by other nations Wednesday that it secure the explicit blessing of the UN Security Council before going to war with Iraq. In Moscow, the Russian foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, said that "a unilateral military operation against Baghdad that is not sanctioned by the UN Security Council is capable only of worsening the already difficult situation in the region." Faced with criticism from within his own Labour Party over joining the U.S. in a war without a new UN resolution, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said, "Of course we all want a second UN resolution. I believe we will get one." (New York Times)
  • U.S. Asks UN to Speed Pace of Inspections
    Hans Blix, the chief biological and chemical weapons inspector, pointed out that no deadlines were specified after the end of January in Resolution 1441, the Nov. 8 measure that set up the current round of inspections. Blix said that after the Jan. 27 report, he would follow the steps outlined in Resolution 1284, the December 1999 measure that first created the inspection teams. On that basis, he said he would make a new, major report at the end of March. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Sends 600 Troops and Antimissile Systems to Defend Israel
    Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, has informed American officials that Israel plans to strike back if it is successfully attacked by Iraq. Israel, however, would be under less pressure to respond if Iraqi missiles were intercepted by a combined American-Israeli defense. According to the Israeli plan, the Arrow system would try to shoot down Iraqi Scuds at high altitudes. American and Israeli-operated Patriots would concentrate on Scuds that leaked through, intercepting them at lower altitudes. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • UN Condemns Palestinians' Use of Children in Conflict - Melissa Radler
    At a UN Security Council debate Tuesday on measures to protect children in armed conflict, the UN's special representative on the issue, Under-Secretary-General Olara Otunnu, condemned Palestinian suicide bombings as destructive to both Israeli and Palestinian children. "The use of suicide bombing is entirely unacceptable. Nothing can justify this," said Otunnu. "We have witnessed both ends of these acts: children have been used as suicide bombers and children have been killed by suicide bombings. I call on the Palestinian authorities to do everything within their powers to stop all participation by children in this conflict," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • More Palestinian Minors Involved in Terror Attacks - Margot Dudkevitch
    There has been a marked escalation in the number of Palestinian minors involved in terrorist activities in recent weeks, highlighted by the incident on January 11 when two brothers aged 14 and 17 were captured after infiltrating into Netzarim in the Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of the year, five Palestinian youths aged 14 to 17 have been involved in attempted infiltrations of local communities. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A U.S. License to Kill - Doyle McManus
    When (al Qaeda member) Harithi's SUV was in open Yemini countryside, an unmanned Predator aircraft coming from Djibouti in Africa launched a Hellfire missile and killed six men, including Harithi. Even though the CIA wasn't sure who else was in the car, the customary rules of armed conflict say that anyone sitting next to a legitimate target such as Harithi was, in effect, accepting the risk of imminent death. "Having defined this as an act against a military adversary and applying the standards of international law, this was within the legal rights of a nation at war," said Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Defending France's Jews - Editorial
    Over the past two years France has been the site of hundreds of anti-Semitic incidents - synagogues defaced, sacred texts burned, individuals menaced - nearly all of them perpetrated by disaffected North African youths. Early this month a young rabbi in Paris was stabbed at the entrance to his synagogue by a man shouting "God is great" in Arabic. It remains sadly common for French intellectuals and officials to discount Jewish anxiety and to suggest that if only Israel would do right by the Palestinians, the problems of France's Jews would disappear. The two have little to do with each other. What remains clear is that the French government has a responsibility to treat acts of hatred as what they are and to protect all its citizens. (New York Times)
  • Wrong Role for Libya - Editorial
    There is but one candidate to chair the UN Human Rights Commission for the coming year, and that is Libya. The human rights organization Freedom House has written to the UN ambassadors of countries on the Human Rights Commission, pointing out that ''the United Nations itself has voiced concern over Libya's human rights practices, including extrajudicial and summary executions perpetrated by state agents, arbitrary arrest and long-term detention without trial, systematic use of torture and other ill-treatment or punishment, imposition of the death penalty for 'political and economic offenses,' and numerous restrictions on freedom of expression.'' It should be the responsibility of democracies to unite in preventing Khadafy from making the very notion of a UN Human Rights Commission seem a farce. (Boston Globe)
  • Talking Points:

    IDF: "Reforms in the Palestinian Authority - A Deception" (IDF)

    According to an internal briefing by a high-ranking official in Israeli military intelligence, the reform process under consideration by the Palestinian Authority is not authentic.

    • Arafat has endeavored to contain the process of reform, to thwart unwanted proceedings, and to set the pace as he desired. He made changes influencing only the very fringe of his control, trying to "buy time" in order to curb calls for real change that might significantly hinder his stature as the Palestinian decision-maker.
    • Arafat is presently engaged in removing the international pressure to make administrative changes in the Palestinian Authority, including appointing a fully empowered prime minister. The prime-ministerial office described in the draft constitution will only become valid in the future after the establishment of a Palestinian state.
    • Arafat displays a positive attitude regarding the "road map" and the reforms it implicates. However, he channels these reforms in directions that are of no threat to his personal position, and is in fact unwilling to concede to the primary demand that is the very foundation of the "road map," which is his withdrawal from the center of Palestinian decision-making.
    • The completion of the draft constitution for the future Palestinian state on the night of the London Conference, which discusses reforms in facets that do not obligate immediate implementation, was intended to conceal the lack of genuine and sincere action on the Palestinian side in other facets of the reform.
    • Arafat maintains exclusive control over the Palestinian security apparatuses. No genuine change has occurred in the manner in which the security apparatuses act.
    • The new Minister of Internal Affairs Hani Alhasan's recent moves do not involve clear actions against terror factors in the Gaza Strip, but are rather attempts to reach understandings and agreements.
    • Minister of Finance Salam Fayad has taken a number of positive steps that restrain Arafat's control of the Palestinian Authority budget. Yet he has not been successful in preventing Arafat's involvement and control over a large portion of the assets that Arafat himself owns.


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