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

February 20, 2003

To contact the Presidents Conference:
info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issue:

Al Qaeda Financing Documents Turn Up in Bosnia Raid: Saudi Role Highlighted (AP/FOX News)

    U.S. authorities recovered a list of 20 financiers they suspect funneled money to Osama bin Laden and other extremist Muslim causes among a cache of documents seized in March 2002 from the Bosnian offices of the Benevolence International Foundation, an Illinois-based Muslim charity, according to an unsealed court document.
    Handwritten notes detail the original formation of al Qaeda, including minutes of an Aug. 11, 1988, meeting bin Laden held to discuss "the establishment of a new military group."
    Those notes record bin Laden's own statements on the efforts to recruit members from Saudi Arabia for his network and to raise money.


Some Syrian Troops Begin Leaving Lebanon - Mariam Karouny (Reuters/Washington Post)

    Syrian troops in the Tripoli region of northern Lebanon began pulling out Wednesday, the first step in the planned redeployment of some 4,000 of its roughly 20,000 soldiers in the country that Syrian forces first entered early in the 1975-1990 civil war.


Germany Accused of Hiding Evidence of Smallpox Virus Arsenals in Iraq - Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim (Jerusalem Post)

    The German government suppressed evidence of smallpox virus arsenals in Iraq for months, fearing such news could undermine Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder's re-election campaign, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
    A report written by senior officials in the Health Ministry last August cited German intelligence reports that batches of smallpox virus were stored in Iraq, as well as in North Korea and in non-government laboratories in Russia.
    The report called for the immediate purchase of millions of doses of smallpox vaccines and presented estimates that as many as 20 million Germans could die in the event of a biological attack. It also warned that "terror groups are attempting to manufacture biological weapons."


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • The Timing of War - Gen. Wesley Clark
    Here is why the attack might slip three weeks. First, the diplomatic game is only now shifting into high gear. Britain needs another UN resolution, and the U.S. needs Britain. The greater the consensus for going in, the easier the fight and postwar occupation will be. But if Washington feels the diplomatic momentum faltering, the President would elect to attack early, UN resolution or not. Secondly, much of the air power is in position, but deployments of additional squadrons and aircraft carriers may take another three weeks. The main problem, however, involves the logistics of ground forces. The full ground forces deployment, including the British elements and a couple of U.S. divisions, is probably at least a month from completion. The more complete the deployment, the lower the risks when the attack begins. (Gen. Clark led NATO forces during the Kosovo campaign.) (London Times)
        See also War's Start Pushed to Mid-March - Rowan Scarborough (Washington Times)
  • Pentagon: Use of Human Shields is War Crime - Pamela Hess
    With 30 Western volunteer "human shields" now in Baghdad and more on their way, Pentagon officials Wednesday warned that any Iraqi military personnel who put those civilians at risk would be violating international law and could face war crimes charges. Article 51 of the 1977 amendment to the 1949 Geneva Conventions specifically prohibits human shields: "The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objects from attacks or to shield, favor or impede military operations." (UPI/Washington Times)
  • Arab League Struggling for Consensus on Iraq - Steven Lee Myers
    A week after President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt proposed that the Arab League hold a special summit meeting devoted to the Iraq crisis later this month, the prospects for an emergency meeting appeared all but doomed. Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, said in remarks published Wednesday that he saw no need for an emergency summit meeting. (New York Times)
  • Saudis Launch First Al Qaeda Trial - Magdi Abdelhadi
    Saudi Arabian authorities say 90 Saudi nationals are to stand trial accused of membership in the al Qaeda network. The interior minister, Prince Nayef Bin Abdulaziz, told the Saudi newspaper Okaz that more than 250 detainees were being investigated on similar charges. (BBC)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Rocket Hits Sderot Industrial Park, Wounds 1 - Tsahar Rotem and Arnon Regular
    Four Qassam rockets were launched from Gaza at the Negev town of Sderot Wednesday, the tenth such barrage the town has endured since Hamas began using the rockets in April 2001. A Palestinian source said the latest rockets had been launched from central Gaza rather than northern Gaza. According to Major General Moshe Karadi, commander of the police's Southern District, about 50 rockets and mortar shells have been fired at Sderot to date, with another five landing on neighboring towns. (Ha'aretz)
        Palestinian rockets fired at Israel last month fell short and hit a Palestinian-owned packing plant in the northern Gaza Strip, which caught fire and burned to the ground, leaving 30 Palestinians without work. (Israel Radio)
  • Court Says PA, Not Israel, Should Issue Gas Masks in Territories
    The High Court of Justice has rejected a petition from Physicians for Human Rights that the IDF supply gas masks to all Palestinians in the territories. Justices accepted the state's argument that the Palestinian Authority is responsible for protecting people in Areas A and B, which are under all or partial PA jurisdiction, reconfirming a similar ruling they made in response to a similar petition filed by the same group during a crisis with Iraq in 1998. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Shuttle Experiment Data Reached Earth, Scientists Say - Lior Kudner
    More than 80 percent of the results of the Israeli experiments conducted aboard the shuttle Columbia were relayed to Earth prior to the spacecraft's disintegration, according to a report published Tuesday by the Israel Space Agency. Researchers say the experiments yielded rare photographs of lightning formed at high altitudes and of dust movement in the Middle East region. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Yes-But Parade - William Safire
    Yes, Saddam Hussein is evil, a monster in power, but is it for us to assume the power to crush every cruel tyrant in the world? Yes, Saddam is probably working on germs and poison gases and maybe even nukes, but he hasn't used them lately. Yes, Iraqi weapons could someday obliterate New York, but what's the use of stopping them when North Korean missiles could even sooner take out Los Angeles? (New York Times)
  • Coming Ashore - Charles Krauthammer
    Iraq is about more than the terrible weapons. It is about reconstituting a terrorized society. A de-Saddamized Iraq with a decent government could revolutionize the region. The administration plans an 18-month occupation for a civil and political reconstruction unlike any since postwar Germany and Japan. If we succeed, the effect on the region would be enormous, encouraging democrats and modernizers - and threatening despots and troglodytes - in neighboring Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and beyond. (Time)
  • Israel's Second-Class Status at the UN - Anne Bayefsky
    Last week Israel's second-class status at the UN was again demonstrated by the defeat of the Israeli candidate for the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. This follows the defeat of the Israeli candidate for the UN Human Rights Committee in September 2002; the defeat of the Israeli candidate for the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in August 2002; and the defeat of the Israeli candidate for the UN Racial Discrimination Committee in January 2002. By contrast, Egypt has members on all six UN human rights treaty bodies.
        Israel was finally accepted into the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) in May 2000, but WEOG, driven by states such as France, refuses to admit Israel to its Geneva operations, meaning that Israel is the only UN member forced to sit out consultations on draft resolutions and UN Geneva-based business of all kinds. (National Post-Canada)
  • Observations:

    Israel Seeks Changes to "Road Map" - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)

    Prime Minister Sharon gave the job of drafting an Israeli response to the proposed "road map" for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement to a team headed by his bureau chief, attorney Dov Weisglass, who was instructed to write a draft in keeping with President Bush's June 24, 2002 speech. The Israeli document will be presented to the new government before it is given to the Americans. The corrections proposed by Israel include:

    • Security. Instead of the vague formulas of the road map, Israel details the security arrangements originally written into the Tenet and Zinni plans for a cease-fire, which were never implemented.
    • Reforms. Israel wants to expand and detail the demands for deep and comprehensive reforms on the Palestinian side, especially with regard to the authority granted to the Palestinian prime minister.
    • Sovereignty. According to the Israeli document, Palestine would be totally demilitarized; it would only be allowed to maintain a police force and domestic security forces, armed with light weapons; Israel will control all the entrances and exits and the air space above the state; Palestinians would be absolutely forbidden to form alliances with enemies of Israel.
    • Timing. Sharon wants to make clear that, at first, all the demands are on the Palestinian side, beginning with a cease-fire, leadership change, and comprehensive reforms, followed by Israel's steps. The Israeli document erases the demand in the road map that Israel's leadership announce an "end to violence and incitement" against the Palestinians.
    • Language. The Israeli version erases any mention of the Saudi Arabian peace initiative from the introduction, which names the Saudi initiative as one of the sources of authority, with equal status to Security Council resolutions and the interim agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.


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