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How U.S. Terrorist Hunters are Going After Al Qaeda - David E. Kaplan
America's frontline agents in the war on terror have hacked into foreign banks, used secret prisons overseas, and spent over $20 million bankrolling friendly Muslim intelligence services.
They have assassinated al Qaeda leaders, spirited prisoners to nations with brutal human-rights records, and amassed files equal to a thousand encyclopedias.
The CIA's interrogations of al Qaeda's top man in Southeast Asia revealed how the group used funds from the Saudi-based al Haramain Islamic Foundation. The Afghan offices of another Saudi outfit, al Wafa Humanitarian Organization, allegedly functioned as an al Qaeda subsidiary.
Al Qaeda's founding documents: scanned letters, records of meetings, photographs, and more - some of it in bin Laden's own handwriting - were found on a computer at the offices of the Benevolence International Foundation in Sarajevo, Bosnia, a multimillion-dollar Islamic fund with offices in nine countries.
Of special note was a handwritten list of names: 20 wealthy donors to the al Qaeda network, dating apparently from the late '80s.
The roster included some of Saudi Arabia's wealthiest men: three billionaire bankers, top industrialists, and a former government minister.
The CIA uses a special center at the remote al Jafr Prison in Jordan where it has shipped up to 100 al Qaeda suspects for initial interrogations. Jordanian interrogators are used not only at al Jafr but also at other U.S. detention centers.
Bin Laden declared war on the United States back in 1991. America waited too long to join the fray, and the battle is yet to be won.
Baghdad Chief "Betrayed Saddam" (AFP/London Times)
A Special Republican Guard chief, who is a cousin of Saddam Hussein, ordered forces not to defend Baghdad after making a deal with the U.S., according to the French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, citing an Iraqi source close to Saddam's former regime.
General Maher Sufian al-Tikriti left aboard a U.S. military transport aircraft bound for a U.S. base outside Iraq, along with a 20-strong entourage, on April 8 - the day before U.S. forces swept into Baghdad.
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Israel Takes Important Step Toward Peace, U.S. Says
The White House on Sunday welcomed the Israeli cabinet's acceptance of the road map for Middle East peace. "We look forward to working with all parties in the region to realize the vision of peace laid out by President Bush in his June 24 (2002) speech," White House spokesman Adam Levine said. "It's an important step forward." (Reuters)
See News Resources - Israel and Observations below for decisions, statements, and commentary.
U.S. Eyes Destabilizing Iran
The Bush administration, alarmed by intelligence suggesting that al Qaeda operatives in Iran had a role in the May 12 suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia, has suspended once-promising contacts with Iran and appears ready to embrace an aggressive policy of trying to destabilize the Iranian government, administration officials said.
Senior administration officials will meet Tuesday at the White House to discuss strategy, with Pentagon officials pressing hard for public and private actions that they believe could lead to the toppling of the government through a popular uprising.
European Allies Refuse to Cut Ties with Arafat
America's European allies Friday rejected a call from Secretary of State Colin Powell to sever ties with Yasser Arafat, even as U.S. officials accused him of "undercutting" his new prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas. One official noted that Mr. Abbas' press conference with Mr. Powell in the West Bank town of Jericho earlier this month was not broadcast on Palestinian television, which is controlled by Mr. Arafat. (Washington Times)
News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:
Israel Formally Approves the "Road Map"
The Israeli Cabinet approved the U.S.-backed road map
plan by a 12-7 vote, with 4 abstentions, marking the first time that an Israeli government has formally affirmed the Palestinians' right to statehood. The approval came only after the cabinet decided to append certain conditions to Israel's statement of support, primarily its reservation over the Palestinian right of return. Prime Minister Sharon said that the 14 reservations about the plan that Israel presented to the Americans constitute a "red line" that will be binding on future Israeli governments. The U.S. has promised to "fully and seriously" address these concerns.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said that despite his belief that the plan is dangerous and bad for Israel, he would be voting in favor of a complete range of understandings with the Americans. (Ha'aretz)
Text of Road Map (State Department)
Mofaz: Cabinet Road Map Nod Not Legally Binding
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told Army Radio on
Monday that in granting qualified approval to the road map peace plan, "We did not vote on an international agreement. In fact, this is not a legal document, there is no sort of commitment here, rather this is a declaration of diplomatic intentions." "In my view, this is a reality in which we are saying 'yes' to the process, even though the chances are not necessarily high - certainly not [in view of the] period of time that has transpired since the Abu Mazen government was established - but we are prepared to go into the process positively." (Ha'aretz)
Compliance for Condoleezza - Aluf Benn
The road map campaign illustrated once again how Sharon and the White House avoid head-on confrontations and prefer to reach understandings. From the Israeli perspective, the approval of the road map passes the ball to Abu Mazen: the political excuse is gone, and now he has no choice but to fight terrorism. (Ha'aretz)
Does the Vote Change Anything? - Herb Keinon
By saying they accept the road map, the Palestinians placed Israel in the unenviable position of road map hurdle.
By not endorsing the map, Sharon was cast as the obstacle. Never mind that terror continued apace. All Sunday's decision means is that for the time being Sharon has managed to shake a monkey off his back.
Likud Minister Natan Sharansky told the cabinet that Israel erred in not objecting at the very outset of the road map process that the plan was at odds with President Bush's vision. Diplomatic processes, once they are set in motion, often take on a life of their own. As momentum is gained, as the process picks up steam, it becomes all the more difficult to stand in its way. Sunday's cabinet meeting was a perfect example.
Mofaz: Israel May Agree to a Limited Ceasefire - Felix Frisch
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Israel may be forced to accept a ceasefire agreement being formulated between Abu Mazen and Hamas - for a limited number of weeks. Until recently, Israel's security forces strongly opposed any ceasefire, charging that it would enable the terror organizations to rebuild. Sharon told Abu Mazen at their meeting that Israel would agree to a ceasefire of 4-6 weeks. Mofaz emphasized that Israel would not allow a ceasefire agreement to become the basis for a long-term arrangement, and after a few weeks of ceasefire, Abu Mazen will have to show serious efforts in the fight against terror. He said Israel would be willing to accept a ceasefire as the beginning of a process. Mofaz added that Israel will not promise to refrain from activities within Palestinian territory.
Nine Israelis Hurt in Gaza Bus Attack - Margot Dudkevitch
Nine Israelis were wounded on Friday afternoon in a bomb attack on a bulletproof civilian bus near Netzarim in the northern Gaza Strip. Hamas claimed responsibility for the bus attack. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis
(Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Sharon, Trusting Bush - William Safire
Although 11 Israeli cabinet members voted no or abstained, 12 were willing to gamble on Sharon's trust in Bush. Sharon said in a Sunday midnight telephone interview,
"I'll see Abu Mazen again during the next few days and we'll continue to talk on how to act against terror. That's the important thing in the performance-based plan. That's the condition for progress between and within the phases. That Arafat controls most of the armed forces is a problem."
"Fourteen points we brought to the attention of the White House will be implemented together with the road map," Sharon said. "The U.S. said these are real concerns that will be addressed 'fully and seriously.' We attached those 14 points to our government's resolution, and that provided us with a certain feeling of security. That, and the friendship and deep strategic cooperation that exists between our two countries."
"I am willing to go far for a durable peace," said the Israeli leader, "but I will make no compromise on security. We are a very small country whose people are prepared to defend themselves by themselves. My historical responsibility is to preserve that capability." (New York Times)
Is the Saudi Kingdom Reformable? - Thomas L. Friedman
In the wake of the recent terrorist bombings in Riyadh, Saudi officials say they now understand that suicide terrorism in the name of Islam is as much a threat to them as it is to the open societies of the West. This time, they insist, they're going to crack down on their extremists. I hope so, but I fear we have a deeper problem with Saudi Arabia. I fear it is unreformable.
(New York Times)
Israel Accepts the Road Map: Decisions and Statements
- U.S. Acknowledges Israeli Concerns About U.S. Roadmap (State Department)
Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice issued the following statement on May 23, 2003:
"The roadmap was presented to the Government of Israel with a request from the President that it respond with contributions to this document to advance true peace. The United States Government received a response from the Government of Israel, explaining its significant concerns about the roadmap. The United States shares the view of the Government of Israel that these are real concerns, and will address them fully and seriously in the implementation of the roadmap to fulfill the President's vision of June 24, 2002."
- Powell: U.S. Not Planning on Making Changes to the Roadmap (State Department)
Secretary of State Colin Powell told a press conference in Paris on May 23: "We are not planning on making any changes to the roadmap....We had asked the parties to let us know if they had comments concerning the roadmap, and we have told the Israeli Government that we would take their comments into consideration and address them fully and seriously as we went forward in the implementation of the roadmap, but this does not require us to change the roadmap."
- Prime Minister's Statement Following the U.S. Statement (Prime Minister's Office)
On May 23, 2003, the Prime Minister's Office issued the following statement:
"In view of the recent statement of the U.S. regarding the Israeli comments on
the Roadmap, which shares the view of the Government of Israel that these
are real concerns and in view of the U.S. promise to address those concerns
fully and seriously in the implementation of the Roadmap to fulfill the
President's vision of 24 June 2002, we are prepared to accept the steps set out
in the Roadmap. I intend to submit this acceptance for the Government of
- Decision of the Israeli Cabinet (Israel Government Press Office/IMRA]
A. The Government of Israel, today (Sunday), 25 May 2003, considered
the Prime Minister's statement on the Roadmap, as well as Israel's comments
on its implementation. Following its deliberations, the Government, by a
majority vote, resolved:
Based on the 23 May 2003 statement of the United States Government, in which
the United States committed to fully and seriously address Israel's comments
to the Roadmap during the implementation phase, the Prime Minister announced
on 23 May 2003 that Israel has agreed to accept the steps set out in the
The Government of Israel affirms the Prime Minister's announcement, and
resolves that all of Israel's comments, as addressed in the Administration's
statement, will be implemented in full during the implementation phase of
A list of the comments forwarded by Israel for the review of the
Administration in the United States has been attached to this
decision. [see below]
B. The Government also resolved, concerning the issue of the
refugees, as follows:
The Government of Israel today accepted the steps set out in the Roadmap.
The Government of Israel expresses its hope that the political process that
will commence, in accordance with the 24 June 2002 speech of President Bush,
will bring security, peace, and reconciliation between Israel and the
The Government of Israel further clarifies that, both during and
subsequent to the political process, the resolution of the issue of the
refugees will not include their entry into or settlement within the State
See also Ministry of Foreign Affairs
* * *
Israel's 14 Comments on the Roadmap
Both at the commencement of and during the process, and as a condition to
its continuance, calm will be maintained. The Palestinians will dismantle
the existing security organizations and implement security reforms during
the course of which new organizations will be formed and act to combat
terror, violence, and incitement. These organizations will
engage in genuine prevention of terror and violence through arrests,
interrogations, prevention, and the enforcement of the legal groundwork for
investigations, prosecution, and punishment. In the first phase of the plan
and as a condition for progress to the second phase, the Palestinians will
complete the dismantling of terrorist organizations and their infrastructure, collection of all illegal weapons and
their transfer to a third party for the sake of being removed from the area
and destroyed, cessation of weapons smuggling and weapons production inside
the Palestinian Authority, activation of the full prevention apparatus, and
cessation of incitement. There will be no progress to the second phase
without the fulfillment of all above-mentioned conditions relating to the
war against terror. The security plans to be implemented are the Tenet and
- Full performance will be a condition for progress between phases and for
progress within phases. The first condition for progress will be the
complete cessation of terror, violence, and incitement. Progress between
phases will come only following the full implementation of the preceding
phase. Attention will be paid not to timelines, but to performance
- The emergence of a new and different leadership in the Palestinian
Authority within the framework of governmental reform. The formation of a
new leadership constitutes a condition for progress to the second phase of
the plan. In this framework, elections will be conducted for the Palestinian
Legislative Council following coordination with Israel.
- The Monitoring mechanism will be under American management. The chief
verification activity will concentrate upon the creation of another
Palestinian entity and progress in the civil reform process within the
Palestinian Authority. Verification will be performed exclusively on a
professional basis and per issue (economic, legal, financial) without the
existence of a combined or unified mechanism. Substantive decisions will
remain in the hands of both parties.
- The character of the provisional Palestinian state will be determined
through negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. The
provisional state will have provisional borders and certain aspects of
sovereignty, be fully demilitarized with no military forces, but only with
police and internal security forces of limited scope and armaments, be
without the authority to undertake defense alliances or military
cooperation, and Israeli control over the entry and exit of all persons and
cargo, as well as of its air space and electromagnetic spectrum.
- In connection to both the introductory statements and the final
settlement, declared references must be made to Israel's right to exist as a
Jewish state and to the waiver of any right of return for Palestinian
refugees to the State of Israel.
- End of the process will lead to the end of all claims and not only the
end of the conflict.
- The future settlement will be reached through agreement and direct
negotiations between the two parties, in accordance with the vision outlined
by President Bush in his 24 June address.
- There will be no involvement with issues pertaining to the final
settlement. Among issues not to be discussed: settlement in Judea, Samaria
and Gaza, the status of
the Palestinian Authority and its institutions in Jerusalem, and all other
matters whose substance relates to the final settlement.
- The removal of references other than 242 and 338. A settlement based
upon the Roadmap will be an autonomous settlement that derives its validity
therefrom. The only possible reference should be to Resolutions 242 and 338,
and then only as an outline for the conduct of future negotiations on a
- Promotion of the reform process in the Palestinian Authority: a
transitional Palestinian constitution will be composed, a Palestinian legal
infrastructure will be constructed, and cooperation with Israel in this field
will be renewed. In the economic sphere: international efforts to
rehabilitate the Palestinian economy will continue. In the financial sphere:
the American-Israeli-Palestinian agreement will be implemented in full as a
condition for the continued transfer of tax revenues.
- The deployment of IDF forces along the September 2000 lines will be
subject to the stipulation of Article 4 and will be carried
out in keeping with changes to be required by the nature of the new
circumstances and needs created thereby. Emphasis will be placed on the
division of responsibilities and civilian authority as in September 2000,
and not on the position of forces on the ground at that time.
- Subject to security conditions, Israel will work to restore Palestinian
life to normal: promote the economic situation, cultivation of commercial
connections, encouragement and assistance for the activities of recognized
humanitarian agencies. No reference will be made to the Bertini Report as
a binding source document within the framework of the humanitarian issue.
- Arab states will assist the process through the condemnation of
terrorist activity. No link will be established between the Palestinian
track and other tracks.
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