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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August 20, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

U.S. Links Islamic Charities, Terrorist Funding - Douglas Farah (Washington Post)
    Islamic charities based in Northern Virginia and sponsored by the government of Saudi Arabia invested millions of dollars in a company suspected of funding al Qaeda and the Islamic Resistance Movement, the government alleged for the first time Tuesday.
    An affidavit made public in federal court in Virginia contends that the Muslim charities gave $3.7 million to BMI Inc., a private Islamic investment company in New Jersey that may have passed the money to terrorist groups, part of a $10 million endowment from unnamed donors in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia.
    "My investigation demonstrates that BMI and its affiliates may have transferred funds to or for terrorists," said David Kane of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the affidavit.
    One of BMI's chief investors was Saudi businessman Yasin Qadi, who the U.S. and UN named a "specially designated global terrorist" in October 2001 for his alleged support of both al Qaeda and Hamas.
    Another major BMI investor, according to court documents, was Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook.

Arafat's Problematic Role in Mofaz-Dahlan Talks - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
    After Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz reached an understanding with Palestinian Minister of Security Mohammed Dahlan over the evacuation of four Palestinian towns, Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland, the IDF's head of planning, was sent to negotiate the details with Gen. Haj Ismail - a personal representative of Arafat who heads the national security forces in the West Bank.
    Arafat is not interested in the implementation of the Dahlan-Mofaz deal and it is natural that Ismail would act in Arafat's interests to make the implementation difficult.
    Israel's having to negotiate with Ismail is evidence of Dahlan's weakness in the West Bank and Abbas's preference not to clash with Arafat.
    If Ismail is responsible for the monitoring of wanted men and the person who collects their arms, Israel will have accomplished nothing.
    The commitment must be Dahlan's and Abu Mazen's.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade Martyrs One of Its Own - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    One Palestinian was killed and another seriously injured in an armed confrontation between rival gangs in Nablus Tuesday, all members of Fatah's Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades.
    Witnesses said the two sides used pistols, automatic rifles, homemade bombs, and hand grenades.
    A local Fatah leader said, "The city is run by armed gangsters who are terrorizing innocent civilians. We are living in a jungle."
    Following the shootout in Nablus, armed gunmen from Balata kidnapped Naser al-Aloul, the brother of Nablus Governor Mahmoud al-Aloul.
    On Saturday, masked gunmen shot and killed Shuaib Shakshir in Nablus when he tried to prevent the gunmen from kidnapping his employer.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Palestinian Homicide Bomber Murders 20 Israelis on Jerusalem Bus
    A Palestinian suicide bomber killed 20 people, including 6 children, when he detonated an explosive packed with ball bearings Tuesday evening aboard a city bus crowded with families, many of them returning from Judaism's holiest site, the Western Wall. Israeli officials reacted to the bombing with fury and expressed frustration toward a peace plan they said was endangering their security. "Israel cannot be the perpetual testing ground for peace proposals that the Palestinians fail to implement," said Dore Gold, an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In a videotaped statement, the bomber - a Hamas militant from Hebron who served as an imam at one of the city's mosques - attributed the attack primarily to a local incident that took place in June before the ceasefire was declared. Fireworks burst over Hebron as Palestinians there celebrated the bombing. (New York Times)
        At least one of the dead was an American citizen. More than 110 were wounded in the attack, 40 of them children. (Ha'aretz)
  • In Jerusalem, A Scene "Like a Horror Movie"
    After loading ambulance after ambulance with bleeding children and other victims, paramedics and rescue workers piled more than 20 white plastic body bags - some containing only limbs and other body parts - on the grass in a traffic circle a few yards from the blackened bus. (Washington Post)
        See also Israel Shocked at Child Toll of Jerusalem Bus Bombing (AP/San Francisco Chronicle); "A Small Piece of Hell" (Guardian-UK)
  • "We Thought the Ceasefire Meant We Could Relax. How Wrong We Were."
    "We thought we could relax," said Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, leader of the ultra-Orthodox Zaka rescue organization. "We thought the ceasefire had put an end to all this. How wrong we were." As Mr. Meshi-Zahav's bloodstained team was sifting through the wreckage, they found three bodies huddled together. "When we lifted them off," he said, "we discovered a three-month-old baby underneath, alive and well." With so many dead and crippled, he hesitated to call it a miracle. "The victims were members of our religious community. We were rescuing people we knew, family and friends," he said. (Independent-UK)
        See also Lebanon Palestinians Give Sweets after Israel Attack (Reuters/MSNBC)
  • Blast Demolishes UN Headquarters in Iraq
    A suicide bomber drove a cement mixer full of explosives into the side of the UN compound in Baghdad Tuesday, killing 20 people and wounding at least 100. The compound was filled with hundreds of people responsible for an array of relief duties in Iraq. Among the dead was Sergio Vieira de Mello, 55, the UN secretary general's special representative in Iraq, and Rick Hooper, the UN's chief expert on Arab affairs. A World Bank official in Washington said five of its employees were missing. Also missing was Arthur Helton, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, who was scheduled to meet with Mr. Vieira de Mello at the time of the bombing. (New York Times)
        Iraq Blast Fits Pattern of Sabotage (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Terrorists Entering Iraq from Syria Join Saudi Mujahideen
    Iraq's U.S. administrator, Paul Bremer, said in remarks published on Tuesday that foreign terrorists were entering the country from Syria and that he hoped Damascus would cooperate more in stopping the flow. Saudi militants are among those believed to have infiltrated into Iraq in recent weeks, according to London-based Saudi dissident Saad al-Fagih, who cited what he said were Saudi security sources as saying that up to 3,000 militants may have fled to Iraq "to create a new front for jihad (holy war) there." Magnus Ranstorp, director of the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St Andrew's University in Scotland, said he had heard several weeks ago of a concern that there were ''so-called mujahideen heading to Iraq from Saudi Arabia,'' a process that had begun even before the May 12 bombings. (Reuters/MSNBC)
  • Iraq Becomes a Battleground in War on Infidels
    Muslim fundamentalists from throughout the Middle East are being drawn to Iraq for a protracted guerrilla war, senior military officials said Monday after a wave of weekend sabotage attacks. "Far from a new Vietnam, we appear to be heading for a new Afghanistan, Somalia, or Chechnya as the next battleground between Islam and the infidels," said one official in Washington. Resistance fighters speak of operating in cells of five or six members, of being recruited at religious gatherings, and of lying low until they receive a call to act. Their aim: to create a new Islamic state. Of particular concern to America is the attraction of Wahhabism, an austere form of Islam prevalent in Saudi Arabia, which is gaining a foothold in Iraq. Wahhabi mosques, funded by Saudi wealth, are becoming centers of opposition to America. In June, U.S. special forces arrested 15 Saudi Wahhabis and captured a huge supply of weapons and ammunition. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Iraq a "Magnet" for Al Qaeda (CNN)
  • Bush: Destroy Palestinian Terrorist Organizations
    President Bush said Tuesday, "The Palestinian Authority needs to continue to work with the United States and others who are interested in dismantling terrorist organizations and ask for the help necessary so they can go and do what they need to do, which is dismantle and destroy organizations which are interested in killing innocent lives in order to prevent a peace process from going forward." (White House)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • The Jerusalem Bombing and the Hudna - Amos Harel
    The optimism in Israeli public opinion in the wake of two months of relative quiet was no more than an illusion. Anyone who studied the warnings from the intelligence agencies knew the likelihood of a bombing of the sort that struck Jerusalem on Tuesday. Only last week, the Shin Bet reported on Islamic Jihad and Hamas activists in the West Bank who had gone back to plotting attacks meant for immediate implementation. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Failure of the Hudna - Ze'ev Schiff
    Tuesday's attack marks a personal failure for PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Mohammed Dahlan. At the end of last week, defense and political sources had expressed a slim, momentary hope that appeasing the PA would yield results. But the attack proves once more that the ceasefire is fake. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Terror in the Middle East - Editorial
    The bus bomb in Jerusalem is a reminder that a ceasefire can be at best a temporary aspiration, that the organizations dedicated to terror must be dismantled, as the road map insists. It is also a reminder that U.S. attention to the peace process cannot flag; progress is excruciatingly difficult, but without progress there is sure to be a slide back into war. (Washington Post)
  • Against All Flags - Editorial
    The bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad was not an attack on "imperial" American troops, but on the Third World-dominated, anti-Israeli, anti-Bush, anti-Iraq War United Nations. It is truly a declaration that the terrorists stand against all flags. (Washington Times)
  • Baghdad and Jerusalem - Editorial
    There are two simple lessons from the suicide bombings yesterday in Baghdad and Jerusalem: No one is safe and there is no turning back. Suicide terrorism is the plague of this century. It cannot be escaped, denied, or appeased. It must be defeated. So far, the terrorists have successfully played divide and conquer. They have first succeeded in convincing the world that terrorism against Israel, while condemnable, is somehow understandable, and that it can be addressed by delivering on supposed "root causes," such as the call for a Palestinian state. So long as the terrorists see that the world is afraid to take Israel's side against them, why should they stop? (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    The Refugee Curse - Daniel Pipes (New York Post)

    • How do Palestinian refugees differ from the other 135 million 20th-century refugees? In every other instance, refugees either resettled, returned home, or died. Their children - whether living in South Korea, Vietnam, Pakistan, Israel, Turkey, Germany, or America - then shed the refugee status and joined the mainstream.
    • The UN High Commission for Refugees defines "refugee" as someone who, "owing to a well-founded fear of being outside the country of his nationality." Cubans who flee the Castro regime are refugees, but not so their Florida-born children who lack Cuban nationality. Afghans who flee their homeland are refugees, but not their Iranian-born children.
    • The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), an organization set up uniquely for Palestinian refugees in 1949, defines Palestinian refugees differently from all other refugees and considers the children of just one Palestinian refugee parent to be refugees. The High Commission's definition causes refugee populations to vanish over time; UNRWA's causes them to expand without limit.
    • The High Commission definition would, according to a demographer, apply to about 200,000 of those 1948 refugees who remain living today, a total less than 5% of the 4.25 million refugees by the UNRWA definition. By international standards, those other 95% are not refugees at all and who never fled anywhere.
    • It's high time to help these generations of non-refugees escape refugee status so they can become citizens, assume self-responsibility, and build for the future. Best for them would be for UNRWA to close its doors and transfer its responsibilities to the UN High Commission, as called for by Rep. Tom Lantos. Other Western governments should join with Washington to solve the Palestinian refugee problem by withholding authorization for UNRWA when it next comes up for renewal in June 2005.

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