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DAILY ALERT

March 26, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

White House to Delay Syria Sanctions - Adam Entous (Reuters)
    The Bush administration has decided to delay new sanctions against Syria for backing anti-Israel militants until mid-April, citing concerns about rising tensions in the region, congressional sources said on Thursday.
    "The situation on the ground in the Middle East warrants that the announcement be postponed," said one congressional source briefed by the administration.


U.S. Poll: 44% Favor Yassin Killing - Eliel Shahar (Maarivenglish.com)
    An Israeli Foreign Ministry poll conducted in the U.S. found that 44% supported Sheikh Yassin's elimination.
    The figure rose to 58% when the Hamas leader's name was mentioned together with bin Laden.
    77% believed that Yassin's incitement to terror made him a legitimate target.


Hamas Invested in U.S. Real Estate - Jerry Seper (Washington Times)
    The terrorist organization Hamas invested millions of dollars during the past decade in real-estate projects nationwide, including in suburban Maryland, as part of a scheme to raise cash to fund acts of terrorism, records show.
    The investments - involving the construction of hundreds of new homes - were handled through BMI Inc., a defunct Secaucus, N.J., investment firm founded by Soliman S. Biheiri, an Egyptian and Hamas supporter, according to a newly released sentencing declaration by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
    In the declaration, ICE senior agent David Kane said Biheiri, sentenced in January to a year in prison on immigration violations, used the firm beginning in 1991 to raise "large amounts of money" through investments and as a front to route cash from more than 100 bogus Hamas charities and businesses, most of which operated in Virginia.
    According to the declaration, significant amounts of cash obtained in the real-estate ventures were used "in furtherance of Hamas terrorist operations."
    An Oxon Hill, Md., project known as Barnaby Knolls was referred to by ICE agents as "Hamas West."
    One of the principal BMI investors in the Oxon Hill project was Mousa Mohammad Abu Marzook, the self-proclaimed political leader of Hamas detained by U.S. authorities in 1995 on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities. He later was expelled to Jordan and then deported to Syria for his ties to Hamas.
    Marzook has been named by Israeli authorities on charges of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, and conspiracy in truck and bus bombings in Israel.


Israel Is Not Alone in Picking Off Its Enemies - Marcus Gee (Toronto Globe & Mail)
    Many of the countries now admonishing Israel have themselves targeted their worst enemies for death in time of war or in fighting terrorism.
    British security forces often hunted down agents of the IRA during their long years of struggle. 16 years ago this month, the elite Special Air Service anti-terrorism unit shot down three unarmed IRA agents in Gibraltar.
    During the Second World War, Germany shot down a plane it thought contained Winston Churchill, and the U.S. shot down the plane carrying Admiral Yamamoto, mastermind of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
    In November, 2002, the U.S. killed a senior al-Qaeda agent in Yemen using missiles fired by a Predator drone aircraft, a targeted killing if there ever was one.
    It is clear that the U.S. would kill bin Laden in a blink if it had the chance. It has tried in the past.


Imprisoned Bangladeshi Urged Ties with Israel - Ron Strom (WorldNetDaily)
    A Muslim journalist in Bangladesh has been imprisoned by the government since Nov. 29, 2003, for allegedly spying for Israel, while his supporters and family say his only "crime" is daring to advocate for more understanding between Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
    Throughout 2003, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, editor of the weekly entertainment magazine Blitz, published articles calling on Bangladesh to recognize Israel as well as condemning terrorism and what he sees as bias in the press against Israel and Jews.


Useful Reference:

Report: Children's & Teenagers' Participation in Terrorism (Israel Government Press Office/IMRA)
    Salah Shehadeh, former commander of the Hamas military wing (now deceased), told the "Islam On Line" Internet site that one must train the children well prior to perpetrating a terrorist attack and to recruit them to a special branch within the organization's military apparatus in order to instill the jihad culture.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Vetoes UN Resolution Condemning Israel for Hamas Killing
    The U.S. vetoed a Security Council resolution Thursday condemning Israel for killing Hamas leader Sheik Yassin because it did not denounce killings of Israelis by Hamas. Britain, Germany, and Romania abstained, while 11 countries were in favor of the resolution - China, France, Russia, Angola, Chile, Pakistan, Spain, Algeria, Benin, Brazil, and the Philippines. Dan Gillerman, the Israeli ambassador, asked the ambassador from Spain, where 200 people were killed in a terror attack two weeks ago: "If you knew before the bloody massacre of your citizens who was going to carry out this horrendous act, would you have stood still and let this happen?" (New York Times)
  • Palestinian Family Voices Furor with Militants Who Sent Their Son on Suicide Mission
    While many in the West Bank and Gaza Strip still strongly support suicide bombings as a weapon against Israel, they have become critical of the militants' choice of attackers. On Wednesday, 16-year-old Hussam Abdo was detained wearing an 18-pound suicide vest at an Israeli army checkpoint near Nablus. "We have to carry out serious attacks," said Sadia Abdel Rahman, 42. "This is not a children's game. This is an embarrassment."
        In an interview with Yediot Ahronot, Abdo said he wanted to go to paradise. "A river of honey, a river of wine and 72 virgins. Since I have been studying Quran I know about the sweet life that waits there," the boy said. "But when the soldiers stopped me, I didn't press the switch. I changed my mind. I didn't want to die anymore," he said. (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
        Asked whether she would have supported her son had he been older, the mother replied: "If he was over 18, that would have been possible, and I might even encourage him to do it." (Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Defense Experts: No Major Change in Hamas Tactics - Amos Harel
    Defense experts have concluded that despite the intention of Hamas and other organizations, there would be no dramatic change in the number or intensity of terror attacks. At one discussion, a Shin Bet representative suggested that Hamas has reached the limit of its capabilities at this point, meaning it undertakes the largest number of attacks it can. The IDF defines the wave of warnings about unprecedented retaliatory attacks by Hamas as "unnecessary panic."
        The IDF was surprised by the small number of demonstrations after Sheikh Yassin's death. The Hamas effort to declare a general strike failed to stir much interest and the strike was not evident in most of the West Bank cities. In recent weeks a number of officers have said that an escalation in Gaza would lead to a widescale operation there, along the lines of Defensive Shield, in order to weaken Hamas and enable elements in the PA, like Mohammed Dahlan, to take control over the territory after an Israeli withdrawal. (Ha'aretz)
  • Seaborne Attack on Gaza Settlement Foiled - Amir Buhbut
    IDF soldiers Thursday killed three Palestinian gunmen who landed from the Mediterranean at the Katif settlement bloc in the southern Gaza Strip. Frogmen's equipment was found near the Palestinians' bodies. (Maarivenglish.com)
  • Israeli Money Transfer to PA Uninterrupted - Zeev Klein
    Israel's transfer of tax revenues to the PA has not been delayed by recent security incidents. Israel transfers an average of NIS 150 million a month, or NIS 1.8 billion in annual terms, in tax revenues to the PA, after the settling of accounts. Israel has so far withheld NIS 850 million in PA tax revenues, under orders and guidelines from Israeli courts, to pay for debts by the PA and Palestinian businesses to Israeli companies. The withheld money is released on a case-by-case basis after detailed and specific approval by Israeli courts. (Globes)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Israel Targets Hamas Leader

  • Stop Hamas With a Vote - Khalil Shikaki
    Israel's exit from Gaza and parts of the West Bank holds the potential to reduce violence and bring about better Palestinian-Israeli relations. Holding Palestinian elections before the Israeli withdrawal would renew the legitimacy of the PA, providing it with the political will to project leadership at a time when its existence is at stake. Elections would provide Hamas and the nationalist warlords with the opportunity to translate their popularity into parliamentary seats. The integration of these forces into the political system would make it possible for the new government to enforce existing laws against vigilante violence and to collect illegal arms.
        The new elections would most likely strip the old guard of much of its power and give rise to young guard nationalists - a condition for rehabilitating the PA and weakening Islamist opposition. Polls conducted since the 1996 elections show that the new parliament would be shared by three forces: the mainstream Fatah nationalists are projected to win up to 40% of the seats (compared to the 75% they now hold); independent nationalists and moderate Islamists a quarter of the seats; and members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad the rest. The writer is director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. (New York Times)
  • Removing Yassin Changes Equation - Barry Rubin
    U.S. officials considered trying to kill bin Laden in Afghanistan but decided not to try, according to the televised hearings of the commission investigating 9/11. Does this suggest that refraining from killing terrorist leaders is perhaps not a good idea? How would Americans feel - knowing what they know now - if they were able to make this choice over again? Israel's killing Monday of Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin is a parallel situation.
        With Yassin dead, the only possible Islamist successor to Arafat is out of the picture. The prospects of Hamas seizing power after Arafat's death or Israel's withdrawal from Gaza have vanished. Hamas will be weaker without the sheikh, because it is a very fragmented organization; only its spiritual leader could hold it together. The ascendance of Abdel Aziz Rantisi as Hamas' new leader will not make it a tougher organization. The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Israel. (Baltimore Sun)
  • Targeted Killing - Ariel Cohen
    Yassin was responsible for the deaths of hundreds and lifelong maiming of thousands of Israeli women, children, and elderly. He set up brainwashing factories in mosques and schools to legitimize and enable murder of Jews whom he called "sons of monkeys and pigs," in preparation to total destruction of Israel. Glorifying him as a "spiritual leader" is like glorifying Joseph Goebbels as a "spiritual leader" of the Third Reich. While not perfect, robust antiterror operations will remain the most effective tools in a policymaker's arsenal when diplomacy and deterrence fail. In absence of effective nation-states able to control global radical Islamist terrorist networks, from Madrid to Gaza to the North Western Province in Pakistan, targeted killings are legitimate acts of national self-defense. The writer is a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. (Washington Times)
  • First Step in the Right Direction - Uri Dan
    Rantisi, Yassin's heir, hates Israel as much as Yassin did but he lacks Yassin's stature and authority. The faster and more systematically Israel forces Hamas to replace its leaders, the less effective the murderous organization will be. The IDF proved this, to a significant degree, in Judea and Samaria where the Al-Aksa Brigades are now commanded by bush league leaders and ordinary gangsters. The continued, systematic elimination of Yassin's deputies and potential heirs will not only lower the level of their leadership but also weaken their operations - from fundraising and building weapons through recruiting terrorists. Killing Yassin was a significant first step in the right direction. (Maarivenglish.com)
  • Blood Brothers of al-Qaeda - Saul Singer
    We can't get near the path to peace until we beat the jihad that prevents this conflict from becoming a negotiable one. Hamas must be destroyed because its raison d'etre is to destroy Israel. For peace to have a chance, as Bush observed in June 2002, the Palestinians must choose "new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror." Every place jihad is allowed to masquerade as a nationalist struggle, it should be unmasked, with the explicit purpose of endorsing total war against it. Total war means fighting to win, not to negotiate. Hamas, Hizballah, and Islamic Jihad may specialize in the "Palestine sector," but they are blood brothers of al-Qaeda and should be treated as such. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Attack on Hamas a Step Toward Peace - Austin Bay
    The broad historical and political context suggests Sharon and his government sense a rare strategic opportunity that can help snap the six-decade cycle of Israeli-Palestinian violence. Attacking Yassin indicates the Israelis have decided it's time to fight the Palestinian civil war against Hamas, the one Arafat declined. Hamas also faces a cash crunch. Palestinian terrorists no longer have Saddam Hussein as a backer. The Israelis bet the next generation of Palestinians, with terrorist cash gone and rejectionist guns removed, will look to democratic Iraq as a model - and then help create a resilient, just and fruitful Israeli-Palestinian peace. (Washington Times)
  • It's Not a Matter of Timing - Dov Goldstein
    Ahmed Yassin was bathed in the blood of Jewish babies. He deserved no other sentence but the sentence of death. The State of Israel would be shirking its responsibilities, confusing its identity, and heretical to the purpose of its existence if it did not settle its debt with this mass murderer. The claim of poor timing is a false refuge. In my opinion, to anyone who looks at the current reality - any time is right. (Maarivenglish.com)

    The Revival of Anti-Semitism:

  • Silencing Israel's Supporters - Hillel Halkin
    Attending an international conference on anti-Semitism in Montreal, I was appalled by the stories of what has been happening in Canada: a heavily anti-Israel press and media; synagogue burnings that have gone undealt with by the authorities; an atmosphere of fear in schools and on campuses that makes Jews, let alone gentiles, unwilling to express pro-Israel thoughts and feelings. French, English, Italian, or Canadian Jews are not in any real danger. As long as they don't wear a kippa in the street, avoid looking Jewish in the wrong neighborhoods, and keep a low profile on Israel, they're fine. (Jerusalem Post)
  • An Anti-Semitic Left Hook - Patrick Chisholm
    One finds pockets of anti-Semitism at anti-globalization rallies, and plenty of it at pro-Palestinian rallies. Palestinian hatred of Israelis, I suspect, is based on more than just land disputes and the policies of Israel. Much of it likely derives from envy. Jews as a whole are among the most able, hard-working, and intelligent people ever to inhabit the earth. Wherever they go they succeed. They turned Israel into an economic powerhouse for its size, and "made the desert bloom." Success breeds envy. Envy breeds hatred. Terrorism is the end result. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • After Everything, Jews Still Vilified - Rosie DiManno
    How do you like your anti-Semitism - genteel or frenzied? At the posh Toronto Rosedale Golf Club, as alleged in court, there existed - as late as 1996 - a tacit blackballing system that kept Jews beyond the front gates. More recently, persons unknown vandalized 13 Jewish-owned homes in York Region, scrawling anti-Semitic slurs and swastikas on houses while their occupants slept. Last year, 584 anti-Semitic incidents across Canada were reported to B'nai B'rith, a 27% increase from 2002. (Toronto Star)
  • The Longest Hatred - Editorial
    Despite the Jewish roots of Christianity, the painful fact is that many Christians through the centuries have twisted biblical texts as allowing - even encouraging - the sin of anti-Semitism. While some Christians heroically tried to protect Jewish neighbors during the Holocaust, too many willingly participated in the Nazi campaign of extermination - or simply looked the other way. Anti-Semitism and the violence that so often accompanies it are never legitimate responses to Israeli actions. The pope has called the Jews our "elder brothers." As the apostle Paul said in Romans 11, the fate of the church is bound up with the fate of the Jews. We need to stand against anti-Semitism in all its forms. (Christianity Today)

    War on Terror

  • The War on Terror is Not a Matter of Choice - Ralph Peters
    There is nothing we can do to satisfy religion-inspired terrorists. If we do not kill them, they will kill us. This is a war, not law enforcement. The struggle requires every tool in our national arsenal, from commandos to cops, from diplomacy to technology, from economic sanctions to preemptive war. The best defense is a strong offense. We cannot wait at home for terrorists to strike. Nothing will make us invulnerable. Our goal is to reduce our vulnerability to the lowest practical level - while balancing wisely between security and freedom. When the next attack occurs - as one eventually will - we must blame our enemies, not each other. Allies are valuable, but they are not indispensable. In the end, we must always do what is necessary, whether or not it is popular abroad. The Islamic world's problems are not our fault, and we are not to blame for terrorism. We cannot force other cultures to be successful, nor can we avoid their jealousy. (New York Post)
  • Saddam Was a Grave Threat - Robert J. Lieber
    We now hear the argument that since weapons of mass destruction (WMD) have not - so far - been found in Iraq, there has been a massive intelligence failure, and we never should have gone to war. But failure to find stockpiles does not mean the ultimate peril did not exist. Far more important were Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's history, capability and intent, and the serious and long-term threat he posed to a vital region, to America's allies and to our national security. First, Saddam had used WMD. Second, Saddam had possessed WMD. Third, Saddam had maintained the capability to produce WMD. Fourth, Saddam had the intent. (USA Today)

    Reform in the Arab World

  • Arabs Face Stark Choice: Reform or Ruin - Samia Nakhoul
    The Arab world, which failed to catch the wave of change that brought Latin America, eastern Europe and swathes of Asia into the democratic fold over three decades, now faces the choice of reform or ruin, analysts say. Arab leaders, however, long entrenched in power they owe to their armies and hordes of secret police, are nervous of change, saying the choice is between reform and stability. Arab leaders meeting at the annual Arab summit in Tunis on March 29-30 are scurrying to find a model of reform to counter Washington's new "Greater Middle East" initiative, which calls for free elections, empowerment of women, civil society, modernization, and fighting poverty. (Reuters)
        See also Gadhafi's Son: Bush Plan Should Be Backed - Maamoun Youssed (AP/Guardian-UK)
  • Saddam's Fall Unsettles Stagnant Region - Megan K. Stack
    One year after the campaign to oust Saddam, other regimes have lost their sense of invulnerability and appear uncertain of the new order. In autocratic regimes such as those in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, they say, discussion of change has become a tool of rulers - a way to ease U.S. pressure, discourage unrest and, above all, keep a firm grip on power.
        The House of Saud is battling an armed internal uprising, international pressure to reform its Islamic fundamentalist culture, and a clamor for democratization from political activists. The vast land that yielded Islam's prophet is also the birthplace of the modern jihad movement, fed during the Cold War by Saudi petrodollars, U.S. tax money, and the fiery preaching of the kingdom's conservative Wahhabi clerics. Asked about the number of men who rushed across Saudi Arabia's long border to fight the Americans, a Western diplomat said, "We're talking thousands, not hundreds." (Los Angeles Times)
  • The Limits of Reform
    If you thought that change was coming soon to Saudi Arabia, think again. Consider the six prominent Saudi liberals who have spent the past week in jail. These recalcitrants refused to pledge that they will stop pestering the country's rulers to reform. The minister of defense and second-in-line to the throne, Prince Sultan, this week dismissed any idea that the Shura Council, an appointed body that vets laws, might become an elected legislature, on the ground that illiterate people might be voted in. For his part, the chief mufti of the kingdom, Sheikh Abdel Aziz al-Sheikh, declared that liberals were as much of a danger as militant religious extremists. (Economist-UK)
  • Observations:

    Eliminating Yassin Was Legal - Lee A. Casey & David B. Rivkin Jr. (National Review)

    • Yassin may well have been a spiritual man, but he was no Francis of Assisi - he was the founder of Hamas. Hamas's stated goal is the destruction of the Israeli state and its replacement with an Islamic theocracy from the Jordan River to the Sea. It purposely targets civilians and has taken scores of innocent lives, including those of at least three Americans.
    • Because of its irregular organization and illegal tactics, Hamas members are in fact unprivileged or unlawful combatants. Under the traditional laws of war, based on centuries of state practice, such individuals are fully subject to attack, just like lawful combatants.
    • Leaving aside the Old World's growing consensus that the war on terror should be treated as a criminal law-enforcement matter - a recipe for disaster and defeat - most European states have accepted the 1977 Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions. Under one of Protocol I's provisions, irregular or guerilla fighters can arguably be attacked only when they are themselves attacking.
    • This absurd rule disadvantages the lawful armed forces of sovereign states (as it was designed to do), by giving the practitioners of asymmetric warfare incalculable advantages. Protocol I was relentlessly promoted by third-world governments - not a few of which had started out as guerilla movements - and was embraced (whether from guilt, fatigue, or absentmindedness) by the former imperialists of Western Europe.
    • Fortunately for the American people, Ronald Reagan was paying attention, and rejected Protocol I outright, making clear that the advantages it provided to irregular and unlawful combatants were entirely unacceptable to the U.S. Jerusalem also refused to ratify Protocol I.
    • Thus while European states may not be permitted to target a known terrorist in the context of an armed conflict, it remains entirely lawful for both Israel and the U.S. to do so.

      The writers served in the Justice Department during the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations.


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