Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

May 27, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

The Perils of American Micro-management - Ben Caspit (Maariv-Hebrew, 25 May 04)
    Prior to becoming Head of Central Command at the end of 2002, Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky served as military secretary to Prime Minister Sharon.
    During a meeting with an American delegation, the U.S. requested the removal of an IDF checkpoint and, despite its concerns, the prime minister's office agreed.
    A few hours later a suicide bomber passed through the abandoned checkpoint and committed an attack that resulted in many casualties.
    At the next meeting with the Americans, Uri Shani, then the prime minister's bureau chief, and Kaplinsky explained how the attack happened.
    Kaplinsky was asked, "Are you accusing us here of responsibility for this attack in which people were killed?"
    Kaplinsky pounded on the table and said: "Yes. That's exactly what I'm accusing you of."


Palestinian Terrorists Exploit UN Vehicles (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center/Center for Special Studies)
    Reuters has a video cassette of pictures taken during the Israeli army operation in the Zeitun quarter of Gaza City on May 11, 2004.
    It shows armed Palestinians using UNRWA ambulances to transport terrorists and possibly also remains of fallen Israeli soldiers.
    See also Photo of Armed Palestinians Using UN Ambulance (IDF)


Waking Up to the Terror Threat in Thailand - John R. Bradley (Straits Times-Singapore)
    In the heart of Thailand's troubled deep south, where a Muslim separatist uprising has so far this year left more than 200 dead, is the brand new, multimillion-dollar campus of Yala Islamic College.
    The president, Dr. Ismail Lutfi, is a graduate of a hardline Wahhabi institution, Riyadh's Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University.
    Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Thamarak Isarangura has said the Thai government believes there are military training sites in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Egypt where Thai Muslim separatists are trained to execute terror attacks back home.
    The Saudi Arabia-based International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) remains the largest donor to Islamic causes in southern Thailand.
    One senior Thai government official in Pattani said he was aware of the first signs of "ethnic cleansing" (his words) in Narathiwat, one of the south's Muslim-majority provinces, where some Thai Buddhist families have been told to leave under the threat of violence.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Ashcroft: al-Qaeda Planning Attack in U.S.
    Attorney General John Ashcroft said Wednesday, "Credible intelligence from multiple sources indicates that al-Qaeda plans to attempt an attack on the United States in the next few months. This disturbing intelligence indicates al-Qaeda's specific intention to hit the United States hard."
        The FBI has released the names of seven individuals accused of links to al-Qaeda, including a U.S. convert to Islam, a Pakistani woman known as an al-Qaeda operative who studied in the U.S., and two Africans indicted in the 1998 terrorist bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. "They all pose a clear and present danger to America. They all should be considered armed and dangerous," said Ashcroft. (VOA News)
        See also U.S. Official: Nonconventional Attacks Possible
    One U.S. official said there is a danger that the next major attack will involve chemical, biological, or radiological weapons. "A WMD attack remains on the table for the bad guys," the official said, in reference to weapons of mass destruction. (Washington Times)
        See also Al-Qaeda Has 18,000 Militants Ready to Strike
    Al-Qaeda has more than 18,000 militants ready to strike, the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said Tuesday. "Al-Qaeda remains a viable and effective network of networks," it said. IISS said 2,000 al-Qaeda members and more than half of the group's 30 leaders had been killed or captured, and that the 1,000 al-Qaeda militants in Iraq were a minute fraction of its potential strength. The IISS said the Madrid train bombings in March suggested al-Qaeda had now fully reconstituted and had set its sights firmly on the U.S. and its closest allies in Europe. (Reuters/Yahoo)
  • Hamas Developed Gaza Terrorist Infrastructure with Egyptian Help
    Hamas never could have developed such a strong terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip without the help of Egypt, Dr. Yuval Steinitz, head of Israel's Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said Tuesday. "Until now the Egyptian policy enabled Israelis and Palestinians to bleed together. They did almost nothing to prevent smuggling into Gaza," said Steinitz. "They actually enabled Hamas to transfer [weapons and make Gaza] a strategic and logistical base." Steinitz compared Egypt's relationship to Hamas to that of Syria and Hizballah, where Syria enables and provides for Hizballah to continue to operate in southern Lebanon. (CNSNews)
  • Indian Defense Minister: Indo-Israel Defense Ties to Continue
    India’s close defense ties with Israel could continue, Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Wednesday. Asked about India’s ties with Israel, he said: “Running a coalition government is a problem....But whatever is for the safety and security of the country will be done." (Statesman-India)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Ambulance Network Smuggled PA Officers to Israel - Jonathan Lis
    Israeli police have uncovered a network that smuggled PA officers, including members of Arafat's elite Force 17 personal protection unit, into Israel in fake ambulances, and may also have smuggled terrorists into Israel using the same method. Police recently arrested an Arab with Israeli citizenship suspected of posing as an ambulance driver and illegally bringing into Israel dozens of Palestinians disguised as sick patients. The "patients" were hooked up to medical devices inside the ambulances and presented forged documents at Israeli checkpoints. Police recently raided a warehouse near Jerusalem in which commercial vehicles were transformed into ambulances. (Ha'aretz)
  • Survey: Terrorism Fails to Break Israeli Morale - David Rudge
    Nearly four years of terrorism have failed to break the morale or undermine the resilience of the Israeli public, according to a survey by the University of Haifa's National Security Studies Center. The level of patriotism among Jews remains very high, with 87% saying in April that they love and are proud of their country. Some 88% of Israeli Jews said they viewed Israel as their home and had no intention of leaving. According to the head of the center, Prof. Gabriel Ben-Dor, these findings show that despite the fear and anxiety over the terror threat, the vast majority of the Jewish public is extremely patriotic, and the aim of the terrorists in trying to undermine morale and force people to leave has not succeeded.
        The survey also showed that a relatively large minority of Israeli Arab Muslims, some 37%, said they love and are proud of Israel, while 68% said they would never consider leaving the country. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • New Evidence of a Link between Iraq and al-Qaeda - Editorial
    The name Ahmed Hikmat Shakir, listed with the rank of Lt.-Col., appears on three captured rosters of officers in Saddam Fedayeen, the elite paramilitary group run by Saddam's son Uday and entrusted with doing much of the regime's dirty work. If Shakir was an officer in the Fedayeen, it would establish a direct link between Iraq and the al-Qaeda operatives who planned 9/11. Shakir was present at the January 2000 al-Qaeda "summit" in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at which the 9/11 attacks were planned. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Assad's Terror Network - Editorial
    U.S. officials are investigating reports that the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad is playing a major role in fomenting the terrorist insurgency in Iraq. Assad's government has collaborated with the terrorist network run by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, responsible for coordinating many of the suicide bombings and other attacks in Iraq over the past year. It is difficult to believe that Syria will be allowed to continue this behavior indefinitely without a much more forceful response from the U.S. (Washington Times)
  • The Struggle of Palestinian Journalists for Freedom of the Press - Dan Diker
    More than a dozen Palestinian reporters have been attacked since September 2003. The three major PLO-controlled dailies - Al Quds, Al Hayam, and Al Hayat al Jadeeda - are Palestinian versions of the Soviet-era Pravda. Since Israel's Operation Defensive Shield in March 2002 that reduced Arafat's control in West Bank cities, Palestinian journalists and reformers have become more outspoken. However, direct criticism of Arafat in the local press is not tolerated and there is widespread self-censorship by most Palestinian journalists. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Selective Use of International Law: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Other NGOs on Israel's Rafah Operation
    In both the case of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the demonization of Israeli policy, without including the context of the Israeli actions, highlights the continued political exploitation of the rhetoric of human rights and the terminology of international law. It is also consistent with the active role of these groups at the 2001 Durban conference, and in other cases since then.
        In the case of Gaza, as before, the NGOs fail to offer realistic alternatives to respond to the intelligence information regarding a shipment of Katyusha rockets and shoulder-launched missiles being prepared on the Egyptian side for smuggling into the tunnels. Should Israel tolerate the shipment of weapons to terrorist groups that are used to kill innocent Israeli civilians as well as Israeli soldiers? If so, HRW and Amnesty would be denying Israelis the most basic of human rights - the right to life. (NGO Monitor)
  • Observations:

    Planning for Gaza in a Post-Disengagement Environment - Gerald M. Steinberg (Jerusalem Post)

    • The IDF incursion in Gaza was designed to strengthen the IDF's ability to defend the strategic Philadelphia Route along the border with Egypt and to prevent the smuggling of explosives and weapons into Gaza, including Strella shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles.
    • A wider patrol road protected by a ditch plus other obstacles, and removal of structures used by Palestinians to hide tunnels or for attacks against Israeli forces, should significantly improve ongoing security.
    • Policy-makers responsible for the disengagement process briefly flirted with the idea that an international force, along with Egypt, would assume responsibility for preventing smuggling of weapons into Gaza. However, international involvement is a recipe for abandoning all pretense at serious security limits.
    • The international force pledged by the UN and the EU, under French leadership, to disarm Hizballah after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon exactly four years ago, vanished into thin air.
    • Ultimately, only an immediate Israeli presence on land, sea, and air can intercept and deter Palestinian efforts to obtain long-range weapons in Gaza.

      The writer is director of the program on conflict management and negotiation at Bar-Ilan University.

    Today's issue of the Daily Alert was prepared in Israel on Isru Chag.


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