Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with Access/Middle East
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

March 24, 2003

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info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issue:

Al Qaeda Near Biological, Chemical Arms Production (Washington Post )
    Al Qaeda leaders have reached at least the threshold of biological and chemical weapons production, according to documents and computers seized during the capture of Khalid Sheik Mohammed in Pakistan.
    Al Qaeda's top hierarchy completed plans and obtained the materials required to manufacture two biological toxins - botulinum and salmonella - and the chemical poison cyanide.
    They are also close to a feasible production plan for anthrax, a far more lethal weapon.


Saddam Photos, Iraqi Flags Top Sellers in Gaza (AP/Ha'aretz)
    In the Gaza Strip, Saddam sells. Palestinians crammed shops to buy Iraqi flags, glossy pictures of Saddam Hussein, T-shirts, and American flags to set ablaze at a fervent demonstration against the U.S.-led strike in Iraq.
    See also Arafat's Aksa Martyrs' Brigades Calls on Muslims to Attack Americans and British - Khalid Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)

Hamas Urges Iraqis to Make Suicide Attacks - James Bennet (New York Times)
    As Muslim preachers in the Gaza Strip inveighed against war in Iraq as a war on Islam, leaders of the Palestinian group Hamas urged Iraqis to use suicide as a weapon against invading troops.
    Hamas leader Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi said the Iraqis should conduct "martyrdom operations, using explosive belts against the American and British soldiers."


UK Jewish Soldiers in Gulf Erase Religion from Dog-Tags - Sharon Sadeh (Ha'aretz)
    The British Army has allowed its Jewish soldiers involved in the war in Iraq to erase mention of their religion on their dog-tags, fearing they would be executed if they were captured.
    There are some 15 Jewish soldiers among the 45,000 British fighters currently in action.


Useful Reference:

Prayer for the Safety of American Soldiers

    The RCA and the OU have circulated a special prayer to be said in synagogues during Shabbat services in support of Allied armed services courageously waging the battle against the scourge of global terrorism.


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Finds Suspected Iraq Chemical Plant
    U.S. troops have found a suspected chemical factory in Iraq, a discovery first reported in the Jerusalem Post, which has a reporter traveling with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also U.S. Troops Capture Chemical Plant - Caroline Glick
    About 30 Iraqi troops, including a general, surrendered Sunday to U.S. forces at a huge installation apparently used to produce chemical weapons in An Najaf, some 150 kilometers south of Baghdad. U.S. officials have since confirmed that the site is indeed a suspected chemical weapons factory. The huge 100-acre complex is surrounded by an electrical fence and the Iraqis tried to camouflage the facility by swathing it in sand-cast walls to make it look like the surrounding desert.
        The U.S. battlefield success was tempered by pictures shown on Arab television of bodies in U.S. uniforms and of prisoners being interviewed who were said to be Americans. Also, British officials confirmed that a Royal Air Force Tornado aircraft was shot down accidentally Sunday by U.S. Patriot missile near the Kuwaiti-Iraq border while returning from a mission. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Allied Troops Bear Down on Baghdad
    A special "weapons of mass destruction exploitation team" was dispatched to a captured chemical plant in An Najaf, about 100 miles south of Baghdad, where vats of unidentified chemicals were found. David Kay, a former UN chief weapons inspector, said Iraq had never declared the plant to the UN. (NBC News)
  • Allies and Iraqis Battle on 2 Fronts; 20 Americans Dead or Missing, 50 Hurt
    The main force of the allied army - the Army's Third Infantry Division and the First Marine Expeditionary Force - raced toward Baghdad. Lt. Gen. John Abizaid, deputy commander of forces in the region, said in one incident, Iraqi troops raised a white flag to surrender only to attack their approaching captors with artillery fire. In another, he said, a group of civilians made motions to surrender and then opened fire when American marines came forward. (New York Times)
         See also Eyes on Capital, U.S. Troops Flow Past the South (New York Times)
  • Desert Scoured for Hidden Scuds
    Special forces units are scouring wasteland wadis in western Iraq in search of mobile Scud launchers possibly concealed within a labyrinth of deep gulches. Iraqis are devilishly good at camouflage and deception. It's believed missile batteries, both Scuds and Al-Hussein surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 800 kilometers, are situated beneath ramshackle or abandoned farm buildings near villages, as well as wedged into desert crevices. It's unclear whether coalition forces have secured all five airfields in the region and their cluster of military installations. It's further feared guided drones capable of delivering chemical and biological payloads are hidden in caves. (Toronto Star)
  • Oil Prices Fall as Allied Forces Secure Iraqi Fields
    U.S. and British forces took control of critical oil fields and terminal facilities in Iraq's southern tip, while other military units attacked Iraq forces near the country's second major oil region in Kirkuk, 200 miles north of Baghdad. Responding to advances by U.S.-led columns, oil prices fell to the lowest level in four months, prompting some analysts to predict that lower gasoline prices would soon follow. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Military Employs Israeli Technology
    After decades of U.S. military aid and defense cooperation, the U.S. military is permeated by technology developed in Israel from the Army's Hunter drones to the targeting systems on the U.S. Marines' Harrier jets to the fuel tanks on its F-15 fighters. (AP/ABC News)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Israel Remains On Alert - Gideon Alon
    The Israel Defense Forces is not expected to lower the level of alert in the next 24 hours, despite reports of the progress made by American forces in western Iraq, the region from which any missiles aimed at Israel would have to be launched. The Israeli public is still being instructed to carry gas masks with them at all times. A senior defense source noted that the Americans are making "very substantial" efforts in western Iraq to locate any Iraqi missiles or launchers that could be used against Israel. However, he added, even if the Americans were to step up their special forces activity in this region, they would not necessarily achieve total control over western Iraq, which is what would be needed for Israel to cancel its alert.
        Responding to an Iraqi television broadcast that displayed what it claimed was an Israeli missile fired from an American plane, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Israel Military Industries (IMI) has supplied the American fleet with decoy missiles, which are used to confuse antiaircraft guns. (Ha'aretz)
  • Defense Ministry Wants to Move Security Fence Eastward - Aluf Benn
    The defense establishment has recommended moving the separation fence eastward to include some 40,000 Jewish residents of major West Bank settlements, as well as some 3,000 Palestinians on the western, Israeli side of the fence. The new fence would run east of the towns of Kedumim, Immanuel, and Ariel in Samaria. The fence planners intend to get as many Jews and as few Palestinians as possible into the western side. The Defense Ministry is also planning an eastern fence, separating Palestinian population concentrations in the West Bank from the Jordan Valley. Senior defense sources said the fence will not determine the political border. (Ha'aretz)
  • Government Cancels Its Share of Birthright Program Funding - Lily Galili
    As part of its new economic program, the Israel government has decided to cancel its share of funding in the Birthright program, which since 1999 has enabled some 40,000 Jewish students aged 18 to 24, mostly from the U.S., to visit Israel for the first time. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Post-War Terror Threat - Michael Ledeen
    According to the Italian newspaper il Foglio, Iraq and Syria signed a joint agreement on nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons in Damascus on Jan. 17. As a sign of good will, Saddam sent Bashar Assad some samples: three CDs with mathematical formulae dealing with nuclear explosions; three test tubes loaded with anthrax and botulinum spores; and detailed analyses of tests carried out with these poisons on human subjects in Iraqi prisons. The secret agreement also provided for the transfer of Iraqi scientists and technicians to Syria. Three microbiologists and a small group of technicians, along with their families, entered Syria in the second half of February, and a top nuclear physicist and members of his team crossed the border early in March. In addition, much of Saddam's supply of weapons of mass destruction was moved to Syria for hiding and safekeeping over the past few months. (New York Post)
  • Lessons from the Bombing of Baghdad, 1991 - Lawrence Freedman
    It has become an article of faith in the U.S. Air Force that a well-designed air campaign can undermine an enemy state. Yet attacking buildings proved essentially irrelevant. The sources of the Iraqi regime's power lay in its networks of patronage and terror. In 1991, the Iraqis evacuated the relevant buildings of anything important, including key personnel, and moved into buildings normally used for more innocent pursuits. Saddam's well-developed survival instincts had him moving around the residential suburbs of Baghdad during the Allied bombing. Many of those who have done Saddam's bidding in the past will be looking anxiously for the right moment to jump ship. It would be best if they were to do so when coalition forces are close at hand. This would ensure that no power vacuum develops, public order can be maintained, and basic human needs met. (Independent-UK)
  • The Worldwide Jihad Myth - Victor Davis Hanson
    Midwesterners, westerners, and southerners - not eastern neoconservative Jews - are running this government. And they are going to war not for Israel, but because, like all Americans, they don't like allowing the safety of their beloved country to be contingent on the promises of assassins like Saddam Hussein. The recent slaughter of 200,000 Balkans under the noses of the EU simply ends all discussion about the moral authority of that undemocratic body. That leaves us with the UN. No one in Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Haiti, or Afghanistan was saved by the courage of the UN. (National Review)
  • Observations:

    Palestinians, Israelis, Americans View Road Map

      Palestinians Embrace Road Map - Danny Rubinstein (Ha'aretz)
    • From the political discussions Arafat is conducting, the Palestinian leadership has fallen in love with the road map, which promises an end to the negotiations by 2005, when the Palestinian state is established. The Palestinian position is that now it is necessary to set a precise timeline for implementation of the plan as is, without changes and corrections as demanded by the Israeli government.
    • Most Palestinian commentators hope the Americans become entangled after the war, resulting in a diplomatic failure. The Palestinian media reports broadly and angrily about the arrogance and patronization of the American leadership.

      Road Map Put Off Until After Iraq War - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)

    • The U.S. has reached a secret understanding with Palestinian prime minister-designate Abu Mazen to put off the formal presentation of the "road map" until the new Palestinian cabinet is sworn in and possibly until after the war in Iraq.
    • The Americans also expect Abu Mazen to include in the cabinet Jibril Rajoub and Mohammed Dahlan, the former heads of preventive security in the West Bank and Gaza respectively.
    • A senior Jerusalem source said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reached an agreement with the White House enabling Israel to present its comments and reservations to the road map.

      CIA Sets Up Department to Implement Road Map - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)

    • CIA Director George Tenet prepared a cease-fire plan two years ago, never implemented, which has evolved into the security core of the road map. Tenet visited Israel two and a half weeks ago for meetings with PM Ariel Sharon and the heads of the intelligence community.
    • According to the American plan, the U.S. will head the supervising mechanism of the road map's implementation, helped by the other members of the Quartet and other elements, a possible hint of direct British involvement.


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