Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

December 16, 2003

To contact the Presidents Conference:
info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issue:

IDF Commando Unit Trained to Assassinate Saddam Hussein in 1992 (Ha'aretz)
    The IDF General Staff's elite special-operations force - Sayeret Matkal - trained in 1992 to assassinate Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in retaliation for Iraq's firing 39 Scud missiles at Israel during the 1991 Gulf war, Israeli media reported Tuesday.
    The attempt was called off after a training accident ended in the deaths of five soldiers.
    With the capture of Saddam, Israeli military censorship lifted its ban on publication of the full story.


"Iraq Had Nuclear Weapons Program" - Michel Zlotowski (Jerusalem Post)
    Saddam Hussein had a team of scientists working on a nuclear weapons program, according to Yonadam Kanna, the Assyrian Chaldean (Christian) representative of the temporary Iraqi government.
    "One nuclear engineer out of the team of 14 on this project is now on our side," he said Monday in Paris. "We know they were working on a nuclear weapon."


Saudi Terror Apologists Cancel Plans to Visit U.S. (WorldNetDaily)
    Two Saudi Arabian extremists, both supporters of bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror network, have canceled plans to visit the U.S. this month to speak at an Islamic conference in Houston. However, one will still make an appearance through a satellite television hookup from Saudi Arabia.
    Meanwhile, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) is asking the State Department to expel two Saudi diplomats scheduled to appear at the conference in order to hear Sheikh Abdallah Ibn Jebreen, the bin Laden-praising Wahhabi cleric.
    Ibn Jebreen issued at least two fatwas in support of the Taliban and encouraged young people to enlist in al-Qaeda. He issued another fatwa calling on Saudis to aid Iraqis fighting U.S. forces.


Israel Shipyards Readies Olympic Patrol Vessel - David Ratner (Ha'aretz)
    The Israel Shipyards have unveiled the first coastal guard vessel built for the Greek government to be used to boost security during the upcoming Olympic Games in Athens, one of three such vessels ordered by Greece.
    The vessels are identical to the Israeli Navy's Sa'ar 4 missile boats.


Key Links

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hussein Tells Interrogators He Didn't Direct Insurgency
    Saddam Hussein has denied playing any direct role in commanding Iraqi insurgents or in planning attacks after he went into hiding, and he said his government possessed no prohibited weapons, U.S. officials said Monday. A senior administration official said Hussein "has given no indication that he will be a helpful person in getting information." But, the official said, "that is what we expected." (New York Times)
  • Hussein Confidant Became Informant, Pointing the Way
    An informant, a senior officer in Hussein's elite Special Security Organization seized by U.S. forces during a raid in Baghdad Friday, led U.S. soldiers to a farm on the Tigris River. He pointed them to the very spot where Hussein was hiding in an underground chamber, according to soldiers involved in his capture. (Washington Post)
  • Al-Qaeda's Finances are Ample; Worldwide Failure to Enforce Sanctions Cited
    Governments around the world are not enforcing global sanctions designed to stem the flow of money to al-Qaeda and impede the business activity of the organization's financiers, allowing the terrorist network to retain formidable financial resources, according to U.S., European, and UN investigators. Several charities based in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan that were reportedly shut down by the governments there continue to operate freely. As a result, al-Qaeda continues to receive ample funding not only to carry out its own plots but also to finance affiliated terrorist groups and to seek new weapons.
        Several branches of the al Haramain Charitable Foundation, a Saudi Arabia-based organization that in the past raised as much as $30 million a year, remain active. Several offices of the organization were directly implicated in the financing of al-Qaeda, and in May the Saudi government announced that the charity had been required to suspend all activities outside Saudi Arabia. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Sharon Predicts Qurei Will Fall Within Six Months - Aluf Benn
    Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei's government will collapse within six months, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon predicted Monday, adding that the American administration shares this assessment. Sharon also criticized Qurei for "doing nothing against terrorism."
        Sharon has said in recent days that over the next few months, he will determine whether it is possible to make progress with Qurei on the road map peace plan. If this proves impossible, Israel will embark on a series of unilateral actions, including completion of the separation fence and a military redeployment in the territories that will also entail moving some isolated settlements. A senior government source stressed that annexation was not part of Sharon's plan, "which includes only security measures, not diplomatic ones." (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Assures U.S.: Nothing Decided on Unilateral Steps - Aluf Benn and Nathan Guttman
    Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney in talks Monday in Washington that Israel will not take any unilateral steps vis-a-vis the Palestinians without coordinating them in advance with the U.S. "This government is one whose coordination with the United States is full and complete," said Shalom. On the issue of the separation fence, Shalom told Rice, "The fence can be removed, but the loss of human lives cannot." He pointed out that in the past Israel moved fences on its borders with Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. (Ha'aretz)
  • Mofaz: Palestinian Suicide Bombers Still Trying to Strike Israel - Gideon Alon
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday that the apparent quiet in Israel was deceptive since the terrorist organizations were still trying to carry out attacks at the same level as before but that these were being successfully foiled. He said 26 attempted suicide bombings had been prevented since the last successful attack on Oct. 4, with many aimed at targets inside the "green line," he said. He also noted that al-Qaeda is trying to infiltrate the ranks of Saudi Arabia's armed forces and security services. (Ha'aretz)
  • Arrow Anti-Missile Test Succeeds - Amnon Barzilai
    In a test designed to examine the Arrow anti-ballistic missile's ability to intercept and destroy incoming missiles at high altitudes, the missile system successfully detected and obliterated a target missile Tuesday. (Ha'aretz)
  • Europeans to File Complaint for Misuse of Donations - Arnon Regular
    Representatives from Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Ireland, and the EU are set to file a criminal complaint with the PA against attorney Khader Shkirat, the former head of LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment. A complaint against Shkirat and dozens of managerial-level officials at LAW hints at a host of improprieties and suspicions of criminal wrongdoing and alleges that huge amounts of money were stolen from the organization. The complaint states that some $2.35 million were transferred to secret bank accounts in Israel and the territories, and apparently were used for purposes unrelated to the organization's declared mission. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Promoting Democracy in Syria - Options for U.S. Policy - Flynt Leverett and Farid Ghadry
    The most plausible alternative to the current Syrian regime would not be a democracy, but rather an Islamic state run by the Muslim Brotherhood. International support should be directed toward the very vigorous and courageous opposition cadres who are working for minority rights within Syria. In addition, restrictions should be lifted from the Bush administration's Middle East Partnership Initiative to allow money to flow to active nongovernmental organizations in Syria. The fact that 5% of the Syrian population controls the rest of the country is both a mathematical anomaly and a political tragedy. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Bush's Egyptian Challenge - Amir Oren
    "Two states for two nations" is a nice but unsatisfactory slogan, because in all of western Eretz Israel, from the Jordan to the Mediterranean, there is not enough room for the 10, 15, or 20 million Israelis and Palestinians who will be living here within a few years' time. The obvious direction for expansion is seemingly to the east, to the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan. Jordan may well become a Palestinian state one day, but that will happen by means of elections rather than battles. The chances of Jordan surviving as a monarchy are slim, but change may not necessarily occur in the near future because American-Israeli policy will safeguard the Hashemites from falling - security first and democracy afterward.
        The only natural expanse for the surplus Palestinian population is in northern Sinai. A new and comfortable Gaza Strip can be duplicated along this strip of coast, comparable in quality to the French and Italian Riviera. The difficulty lies in Egyptian sovereignty over Sinai. Egypt is 1,450,000 square kilometers in size, with the Egyptian coastline 2,450 kilometers long. Little would be detracted if Palestinians are settled along a small part of it, from where they can give the Egyptian economy a shot in the arm. The land could remain Egyptian and be leased to Palestine. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    The Growing Threat to Israel's Qualitative Military Edge - MK Dr. Yuval Steinitz
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Israel has no strategic depth and could face a situation in which its air superiority was jeopardized by guerrilla forces coming from neighboring countries just a short distance away, or even from the Palestinian Authority.
    • Since a number of hostile countries now possess long-range missiles, Israel must take into consideration the fact that all of its air bases are within range of enemy weapons.
    • The Egyptians see Hamas as a strategic asset, exactly like the Syrians and the Iranians see Hizballah in Lebanon. If the Egyptians are not doing everything in their capacity to prevent the smuggling of arms and explosives into Gaza, this is a kind of implicit, tacit support. Egypt apparently believes that if Israel and the Palestinians continue to bleed together, in the end this will weaken Israel and tilt the balance of forces against it.
    • The last decade has seen a very sharp rise in military expenditures in Egypt, though that country faces no challenges or threats to its territory from its neighbors. The indoctrination of new Egyptian officers focuses on preparation for a possible future war against Israel.

      The writer is Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.


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