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 31, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Scud Threat to Israel Remains (TIME)
    The U.S. has what it considers credible intelligence that some Scuds have eluded detection in western Iraq, within striking distance of Israel.
    "We're not out of the woods yet," said a senior U.S. intelligence official. Saddam may have "a Scud or two that he's saving for the right moment."


Israel Quietly Playing Key Spy Role - Kenneth R. Bazinet and Thomas M. DeFrank (New York Daily News)
    From a spy satellite orbiting overhead to clandestine operations in western Iraq, Israel is a strong ally in the U.S.-led war against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
    Israel's sophisticated Amos 4 satellite routinely beams data to U.S. intelligence, and Israeli agents in Baghdad have provided extremely sensitive intelligence, sources said.
    Israel has been particularly aggressive in the desert of western Iraq, where an Israeli commando force, in tandem with U.S. and Australian special forces, has run covert operations hunting for Scud missile launch sites.
    An Arab intelligence official with details of the mission said the Israelis went in when satellite technology failed.


Hussein's Enforcers At Work - David Ignatius (Washington Post)
    Last Tuesday, Sheik Rahim, the head of a major Shiite tribe in Basra, was brought before Ali Hassan Majid, the man Hussein designated as military commander of southern Iraq.
    Majid, dubbed "Chemical Ali" because of his role in chemical attacks against Iraqi Kurds during the 1980s, demanded to know whether Sheik Rahim had ordered his tribe to defend the regime.
    When the tribal leader equivocated, he was killed.
    The same day in Basra, seven members of the Baath Party militia - who act as enforcers of party orders - were shot and killed by Baath Party "execution units" because they had failed to prevent Iraqi army soldiers from fleeing attacks by British troops.
    Last week, 51 soldiers were executed in Kirkuk because they were thought to have been in touch with members of the Iraqi opposition, sources said.


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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Powell Warns Iran and Syria
    Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking at AIPAC's 44th annual policy conference, demanded on Sunday that Iran halt its quest for weapons of mass destruction and that Syria cease supporting terrorism. Powell said Iran must stop its support of terrorism against Israel and "must stop its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and the ability to produce them." Following up on an accusation last week by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that Syria is allowing war material to flow into Iraq, Powell said "Syria faces a critical choice" - whether to "continue its direct support for terrorism in the dying days" of the Iraqi government. (AP/Washington Post)
        Text of Powell's AIPAC Speech (State Department)
        See also U.S. Rethinking Policy toward Syria
    The U.S. administration is unhappy about Syria's refusal to close down the Damascus offices of radical Palestinian groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad and end its support for Hizballah. Another sign that the U.S.'s position toward Syria might be changing are the recent comments by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell about the presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon, which he described as occupation forces. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Growing Indications of Iraqi Chemical Weapons
    Iraqi troops have been spotted between U.S. and Iraqi lines wearing full chemical outfits, hoods, gloves and boots, U.S. officials said. This gear would allow them to survive on a battlefield where chemical weapons were employed. Some were also seen unloading 50-gallon drums off trucks. Separately, U.S. intelligence has determined that Iraqi troops are carrying antidotes for chemical attacks. (AP/CBS News)
        See also Iraq's "Mrs. Anthrax" Sits with Saddam
    The appearance of Baghdad's reputed germ warfare expert, Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, on Iraqi television on Thursday sitting three seats away from Saddam sent a chill down collective spines in Washington and London. (London Times)
        See also Troops Uncover Sarin Gas Testers
    A stash of Iraqi training equipment for nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare was discovered by British troops in an Iraqi ordnance facility south of Basra Sunday, including a Geiger counter, nerve gas simulators, gas masks, and protective suits. One of the chemicals found was marked both in Russian and English with the name sarin, one of the most sinister and dangerous nerve agents. (London Times)
  • Gen. Franks: Coalition Progress "Remarkable"
    U.S. Army Gen. Tommy Franks said Sunday in Qatar that "large and capable ground forces [are] within 60 miles of Baghdad on multiple fronts." Franks noted that the coalition has secured the southern oil fields, saving those resources for the Iraqi people. Coalition forces are now staging air operations from Iraqi airfields. "The entire Iraqi coastline is secured, and the ports stand as a gateway for humanitarian assistance for the Iraqi people," he said. The Iraqi people are beginning to cooperate with coalition forces. Iraqi civilians are working with coalition forces in Nasiriyah to point out the regime death squads, Franks said.
        Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke noted that Saddam Hussein's terrorist attacks against U.S. and coalition troops have had no operational effect. After a little more than a week of fighting, U.S. and coalition troops have taken control of big chunks of Iraq. (American Forces Press Service)
  • Iraq Says 4,000 More Suicide Bombers on the Way
    An Iraqi military spokesman said 4,000 volunteers from 23 Arab countries stand ready to carry out suicide attacks against U.S. forces, after a suicide bombing on Saturday killed four American soldiers. (New York Times)
        See also Fatah Sending Suicide Bombers to Iraq
    Col. Munir Maqdah, one of the top commanders of the Fatah movement in Lebanon, said his men were already in Baghdad, prepared to launch suicide attacks. Fatah is the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Palestinian sources said the Fatah volunteers entered Iraq through Syria. Maqdah told the Nazareth-based A-Sennarah weekly that Fatah has decided to "strike at American interests all over the world." (Jerusalem Post)
  • KSM Confirms Al Qaeda Plans to Attack U.S. Gas Stations and Bridges
    Captured al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed has surprised CIA interrogators with his willingness to spill the details of terror plots in the U.S. Mohammed has confirmed that al Qaeda had specific plans to attack gas stations and suspension bridges in the Washington, D.C., and New York City areas. But more important, he has revealed much about the terror group's methods - and he has named names. (Newsweek)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Netanya Bombing Wounds 58 - Roni Singer and Haim Shadmi
    Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for Sunday's suicide bombing close to the London Cafe in Netanya in which 58 people were wounded, calling it "a gift" to the Iraqi people. An IDF soldier was seriously wounded in the attack when he successfully prevented the suicide bomber from entering the cafe. (Ha'aretz)
  • Cabinet Briefed on Iraq, Palestinians - Herb Keinon
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Israeli cabinet Sunday that despite the coalition forces' efforts to locate Scud launchers in western Iraq, the regime's ability to fire missiles at Israel still exists. Mofaz praised the coalition forces in western Iraq, especially Australian commandos, for exhibiting a great deal of devotion in looking for the missile launchers. Israel will cancel its state of alert only after it has received concrete information that coalition forces have succeeded in destroying the regime of Saddam Hussein and has clear-cut proof that Iraq no longer has the capability to launch missiles.
        Head of Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi told the cabinet to expect significant developments in Baghdad in the next few days. Regarding the Palestinian situation, Ze'evi said that although both newly appointed PA prime minister Abu Mazen and Muhammad Dahlan appear sincere in wanting to move away from armed conflict, Arafat is trying to scuttle them at every turn. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Ready to Talk When Terror Ends
    Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Saturday that Israel is ready to open negotiations with the Palestinians immediately after Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen shows he has control on the ground and prevents terror activities. Shalom also said Israel is prepared to send humanitarian aid "to relieve the situation of the Iraqi people." Shalom is in the U.S. this week for talks with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Offers to Send Iraq Humanitarian Aid (Los Angeles Times)
  • U.S.: Aid Conditional on No Phalcon Sale to India - Dror Marom
    The Bush administration has informed Israeli officials in Washington that it opposes Israel's selling three Phalcon AWACS planes to India. Reports from Washington claim that the administration informed Israel that the $1 billion special military grant was contingent on canceling the Phalcon deal with India, which is worth almost $1 billion. In 1999, under pressure from President Bill Clinton, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak cancelled a deal to sell four Phalcon planes to China. (Globes)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • How France Blocked the U.S. in Ankara - Michael Ledeen
    The Turkish government fully expected that the parliament would approve its proposal that America be given the use of Turkish air bases in the Iraqi war. Contrary to expectations, the opposition, responding to orders from party leaders, voted unanimously against the government's position. The French and German governments informed the Turkish opposition parties that if they voted to help the Coalition war effort, Turkey would be locked out of Europe for a generation. One can describe this behavior on the part of our erstwhile Old Europe allies only as a deliberate act of sabotage against America in time of war. (New York Sun)
  • Learning Not to Love Saddam - Paul Berman
    Last September, a group of 32 Iraqi exiles met in Britain under the auspices of the State Department to compose a document they would title "Report on the Transition to Democracy in Iraq." The report recommends that, after the fall of the Baathists, Iraq ought to undergo a process similar to the de-Nazification of Germany after World War II - a process of "de-Baathification." The de-Nazification campaign imposed reforms on German education and culture. The old Nazi textbooks were withdrawn, and new ones were written. Germany's political culture was given a new shape and texture. (New York Times)
  • The Escalating Palestinian Rhetoric toward the U.S. - Eric Leskly
    Historically, Palestinian militant groups maintained that their conflict with Israel did not translate into hostility against the United States. In the months leading up to the current U.S.-led war in Iraq, leaders of Hamas and Hizballah have issued a chilling series of statements calling for holy war against American targets in and beyond the Middle East. (National Review)
  • Observations:

    How the West Armed Saddam Hussein - Gary Milhollin and Kelly Motz (Wall Street Journal)

    • Will Coalition troops find caches of poison gas, or even be hit by it on the battlefield? If so, German and French companies will be mainly to blame.
    • In the 1980s, the German firm Karl Kolb and the French firm Protec combined to furnish millions of dollars worth of sensitive equipment to six separate plants for making mustard gas and nerve agents, with a capacity of hundreds of tons of nerve agents per year.
    • Iraq admits that in the 1980s it bought more than 3,000 chemical-ready aerial bombs from Spain, more than 8,000 chemical-ready artillery shells from Italy and Spain, and more than 12,000 chemical-ready rocket warheads from Italy and Egypt. Most of these munitions remain unaccounted for.
    • There are also some Scud-type missiles left over from the first Gulf War. Our friends the Russians sold Iraq 819 of these missiles, but the Iraqis soon discovered they didn't fly far enough. Their range had to be increased. The Germans were only too happy to provide what was needed to make the missiles more lethal.
    • And anthrax? Botulinum? Most of the strains to make these deadly agents came from an outfit in Maryland - the American Type Culture Collection. France's Pasteur Institute also sold some.


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