Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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DAILY ALERT

February 24, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Iraq Has Poison Bombs - Philip Sherwell and David Wastell (Telegraph-UK)
    Saddam Hussein's air force has developed a more sophisticated delivery and detonation system for chemical weapons than previously known to UN inspectors, according to a former senior Iraqi air force officer.
    "Ali" said that he was trained to handle binary-system bombs which mix lethal chemicals moments before detonation for maximum effect.
    Ali described in detail how the chemical bombs and sprays were fitted and operated, backing up his testimony with drawings and graphics.
    Said one former senior weapons inspector, "If what he says can be confirmed then this is a very big discovery. It would be proof that Iraq has continued with the development of a new type of weapon."
    The weapons were intended for the Iraqi air force's more modern jets, but an alternative delivery method was developed for slower planes such as Sukhoi-25s and for helicopters, Ali explained.
    "Saddam will never surrender these weapons. They are as much a part of his life as eating and drinking," said Ali.


Israel Uses Toy Plane Bomb to Kill Militants - Uzi Mahnaimi (London Times)
    Six Palestinian militants who died in an explosion in Gaza last week were the victims of a bomb concealed inside a toy aircraft, handed to them by an undercover Israeli agent and detonated from a passing helicopter or unmanned drone spy plane.
    The operation, which appears to have been masterminded by Shin Bet, was one of Israel's most audacious strikes against Hamas.
    Hamas leaders sought to employ a remote-controlled model aircraft, loaded with a powerful explosive, that could be flown past Israeli checkpoints and aimed at a military base.
    Such planes are sold in shops in Tel Aviv and Hamas turned to a Palestinian intermediary who had a special Israeli pass which he had been using for months to smuggle arms. However, their trusted arms dealer was also working for Shin Bet.
    When the final package arrived, a group of 10 men from Hamas gathered "to assemble the model aircraft and use it the same week against an important Israeli target," said a Hamas member in Gaza, identified only as Muin.
    Soon afterwards a bomb hidden in the model plane was detonated as the result of a signal sent by an Israeli aircraft overhead.


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Blix Orders Baghdad to Destroy Missiles - Maggie Farley
    Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix ordered Iraq on Friday to start destroying dozens of Al-Samoud 2 missiles, engines, and component parts by next Saturday. If Iraq refuses to comply, Blix is prepared to declare it in "material breach" of Security Council requirements - which could trigger military action. UN diplomats were skeptical that Iraq would destroy the weapons on the eve of a possible U.S.-led invasion. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Interview with Hans Blix
    Blix: Of course they have no credibility. If they had any, they certainly lost it in 1991. I don't see that they have acquired any credibility....There has to be solid evidence of everything, and if there is not evidence or you can't find it, I simply say sorry, I don't find any evidence and I cannot guarantee or recommend any confidence." (TIME)
  • Iraq Has Missiles on Kuwaiti Border
    Iraq has deployed missiles near its border with Kuwait to threaten British and U.S. troops massing in the Persian Gulf nation for a possible invasion of Iraq. The Frankfurter Allgemeine reported on Sunday that the missiles pose a grave threat to the allied troops and that they violate a 1994 UN resolution that forbids Iraq from threatening its neighbors. The Ababil-100 missiles reportedly have a range of 200 kilometers, which would violate other UN resolutions banning Iraq from having missiles with a range of more than 150 kilometers. (VOA News)
  • German Muslim's Radical Past was Paved by Saudis - David Crawford and Ian Johnson
    In a deposition that revealed rare details about how an Islamic extremist was recruited, a German man linked with last year's Djerba, Tunisia, synagogue bombing has told police how a respected Muslim leader in Germany sent him on a path of study that led him to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and friendship with an al Qaeda suicide bomber. Mr. Ganczarski, a convert to Islam, was offered a chance to study at a university in Medina, Saudi Arabia. His deposition provides a glimpse of how Saudi educational institutions and religious leaders helped recruit young Europeans to study its puritanical strain of Islam. (Wall Street Journal)
  • France's UN Stance Influenced by Iraqi Trade - Stephen Grey and Jon Ugoed-Thomas
    French businesses have become increasingly bold in their efforts to sell goods that American officials argue are banned under sanctions. Mobile laboratories, chemicals, and communications equipment are among the goods being peddled by the French in Iraq. A senior U.S. official last week warned, "We have a concern that there have been contracts, legal ones, that have supplied component parts (for the Iraqi military)." Documents naming thousands of companies that trade with Baghdad were leaked as France faces accusations that its conciliatory line towards Iraq is heavily influenced by its extensive business links to the country.
        The U.S.'s Livermore National Laboratory analyzed more than 6,000 oil-for-food contracts and warned of the military capability of many of the goods. One deal by a French company to supply laboratory equipment was described as offering Iraq a "significant direct application" for a weapons of mass destruction program. Its report said the most worrying contract was for pesticide offered for sale to Iraq by Jordan. According to the report, the pesticide had VX, a chemical warfare agent, as its backbone and was "only two or more steps" from being VX. (London Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Soldier Killed by Sniper in Gaza
    Sergeant Doron Lev, 19, from Holon, was shot in the back by a Palestinian sniper on Sunday morning at an army position in the southern Gaza Strip. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rockets Hit Sderot
    Three Qassam rockets landed Sunday in the Negev town of Sderot. One rocket landed in a commercial center just meters away from the town's municipality, but failed to explode. (Ha'aretz)
  • Cairo Talks Called Off as Palestinians Refuse to Stop Attacks - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Egypt's efforts to convince the Palestinians to stop terrorist attacks against Israel for one year suffered a major setback Sunday after most of the Palestinian factions refused to head for Cairo to discuss the initiative. A senior Palestinian official said the talks were postponed "indefinitely" because most of the factions rejected the Egyptian plan. (Jerusalem Post)
  • What on Earth Does Arafat Do All Day? - Danny Rubinstein
    He used to travel all over the world visiting ministers and counts, but for the past 15 months, the PA chairman has hardly left his room. In many respects, this is a voluntary detention. Arafat fears if he himself leaves the headquarters, the Israelis will exploit the opportunity, enter the compound, arrest the "most wanted," confiscate classified documents and Arafat's personal documents, and - who knows - perhaps they will even stay in the headquarters and stop him from returning. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Yes, Prime Minister - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Many Palestinians regard Arafat's announcement of his readiness to appoint a prime minister more as an attempt to appease the international community than as a sincere effort on his part to wipe out corruption. "Arafat has been living in isolation for more than a year and he's prepared to do almost anything to make a comeback. He also knows that without the support of the EU, especially the financial aid, the PA would cease to exist," said one Palestinian official.
        "Who needs a prime minister while Arafat is still around?" asks a Palestinian engineer in Nablus. "How can anyone seriously expect him to step aside and allow someone else to take over most of his authority? Even if we have a prime minister, he wouldn't be able to move an inch without Arafat's consent. Arafat is not an idiot and he will never allow anyone to undermine his power, at least not as long as he's alive." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Settling of Accounts Past Due - Fouad Ajami
    To listen to the lands of Araby, the crisis at hand is the result of America's rampaging power and its greed for Arab oil, its heedless bid for imperial hegemony. There can be no reasoning with this kind of willful self-pity. The mufti of Saudi Arabia, its highest judge, spoke recently to the throngs that had come from across the Islamic world for the annual pilgrimage. A dark conspiracy, the jurist said, encircles and stalks the world of Islam. "The Islamic nation is in the cross hairs, threatened by its enemies in its morals and values." (U.S. News)
  • Arik's Strategy - William Safire
    Arik's strategy is to carry the war to the enemy until such time as new Palestinian leadership is willing to carry the war to their common enemies. Sharon is convinced that Israel will not have a Palestinian ally in stopping the terror war as long as Arafat is in charge. In the absence of that needed ally, Israeli defense forces have been taking the battle into terror's hotbeds in Gaza and Nablus. The mission is to kill the leading killers while trying not to kill those they hide among. Israel surely does not want to occupy Gaza; it wants Gaza occupied by Palestinians capable of keeping the peace.
        Bush, after Saddam's war, should set aside any "road map" to appeasement in Arafat's war espoused by Putin, Chirac, Schroder, and the UN, now that he has seen their true colors. (New York Times)
  • The German-Iraqi Axis - R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.
    How is the German government going to explain how a plenitude of German companies supplied some of the ingredients of the Iraqi's weapons of mass destruction and in some instances assisted in making these grisly instruments of war. German intelligence has monitored scores of German firms supplying dual-purpose materials to Iraq. (TheAmericanProwler)
  • Fortress America - Matthew Brzezinski
    Until recently, the United States and countries like Israel occupied opposite ends of the security spectrum: one a confident and carefree superpower, seemingly untouchable, the other a tiny garrison state, surrounded by fortifications and barbed wire, fighting for its survival. But the security gap between the U.S. and places like Israel is narrowing. What keeps Israelis going about their daily lives - and what might help Americans do the same despite the fear of violence here - is the conspicuousness of the response and the minor sacrifices that have to be made every day. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Iran's Road to Nuclear Arms - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)

    • Iran revealed months ago that it had purchased a special gas from China that could be used to enrich uranium for the production of nuclear weapons.
    • Iranians who oppose the regime in Teheran held a press conference on Thursday with the backing of the U.S. administration at which they revealed that Iran has recently removed a great deal of equipment from facilities where nuclear energy is produced.
    • They named an additional nuclear installation where centrifuges are operated for uranium enrichment, at Abali, near the city of Isfahan. Several months ago, reports appeared of two other nuclear facilities whose existence was not known - one in Arak, about 150 km. south of Tehran, for producing heavy water; the second in Natnaz, 40 km. southeast of Kashan.
    • Experts note that Iran has no reason to enrich uranium using centrifuges unless it plans to manufacture nuclear weapons. Similarly, there is no cause for heavy water since the nuclear reactors in Bushar are based on light water.
    • The debate among the experts is not whether Iran intends to produce nuclear weapons but whether it has already crossed the point of no return in the process toward their production.


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