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DAILY ALERT

June 4, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Report: Arafat Won't Surrender Security Forces - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Arafat has no intention to cede control over the PA security forces, a senior PA official in Ramallah said Thursday.
    Another PA official said Arafat was willing to appoint one of his loyalists as Interior Minister, but with limited powers over security forces.

    See also Rajoub: Egypt Did Not Ask Arafat to Cede Powers - Ihab Jabari and Bassem Shehadi (Jerusalem Times-Palestinian)
    Jibril Rajoub, Arafat's national security advisor, denied news reports that Egypt demanded Arafat cede his powers to Prime Minister Qurei and accept a symbolic role.
    "Egypt did not issue an ultimatum to President Arafat and is not trying to limit his powers," Rajoub said.


French Chief of Staff: U.S. Had Bin Laden Within Reach (AP/Newsday)
    U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan had Osama bin Laden "within reach" on at least two occasions, but he slipped away, French chief of staff Gen. Henri Bentegeat said Wednesday.

    See also Where's Osama? - Ahmed Rashid (Australian Financial Review)
    Some 70% of the original al-Qaeda leadership is now captured or dead, and bin Laden, unable to use the electronic communications that would reveal his location, is in no position to run day-to-day operations or direct the many organizations linked to al-Qaeda throughout the world - in 68 countries, according to Tenet's testimony to the September 11 commission.
    However, bin Laden remains the spiritual guru and strategic guide for many thousands of Muslim militants around the world; every time he demonstrates that he is alive and can still make a forceful presentation on tape, he can be assured of more recruits to his cause of global jihad.


U.S. Training New Iraqi Force to Battle Guerrillas - Jeffrey Gettleman (New York Times)
    American military advisers are forming an all-Iraqi counterinsurgency force and training it in guerrilla tactics.
    The Iraqi National Task Force is the most ambitious effort yet to fight the uprising using Iraqis, and it already has 1,000 soldiers, with plans to grow to 7,000.
    It is being created as a response to the refusal of a group of regular Iraqi soldiers to face insurgents in Falluja two months ago.
    That breakdown culminated in a tense standoff on an airfield with eight American marines surrounded by an angry group of 200 armed Iraqis who refused to board helicopters.
    "I personally made the mistake with the Falluja incident," said Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, the senior military adviser in charge of training Iraqi security forces. "We tried to send the Iraqi Army into Falluja before they were ready, and they pushed back."
    Col. Shafeen Abdul Majid, a steely eyed Kurdish fighter, said the key to fighting the resistance was "making your soldiers understand they are fighting for Iraq, not against it."

    See also Volunteers Flood Iraqi Recruiting Stations (U.S. Defense Department)
    Iraqi Armed Forces recruiting centers continue to be flooded with thousands of eager Iraqi volunteers as the Office of Security Transition prepares to transfer control of the stations to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense on June 25.
    While in February less than 500 soldiers volunteered for duty, April saw more than 2,000 applicants.


Ambulances for Terrorists? - Michelle Malkin (Washington Times)
    The UN and Red Cross have been providing cover for terrorists - literally. And American taxpayers are footing some of the bill.
    Last week, an Israeli television station aired footage of armed Arab terrorists in southern Gaza using an ambulance owned and operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) (see video).
    Since 1950, the U.S. has provided UNRWA with $2.5 billion in taxpayer subsidies - about one-third of the relief agency's total budget.
    Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, recently documented how "buildings and warehouses under UNRWA supervision are allegedly being used as storage areas for Palestinian ammunition and counterfeit currency factories."
    Not one more American dime should go to fund the bloody self-righteousness of the world's most generous terrorist relief organization.


Survey: Palestinians Want Democracy Like Israel's (Israel21c)
    Palestinians in the territories view Israeli democracy as the preferred model for a regime that they would like to see applied in the future Palestinian state, according to a survey released at a conference in Jerusalem this week.
    The Palestinians rank Israeli democracy before Western democracies such as the U.S., France, Germany, and others, according to surveys held by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah.


Israeli Farmers Help Former Palestinian Workers - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    Many farmers in the Eshkol regional council, near Gaza, are worried about their Palestinian laborers.
    Dozens of employers in southern Israel who were accustomed - at times over decades - to life together with a Palestinian worker or foreman from Gaza, support them with money on a monthly basis, to help them through the bad times.
    In the pre-intifada years, about 10,000 Palestinian laborers used to work in the area of the Eshkol regional council, on hundreds of farms, in every settlement in the region.


Israeli Exports to Arab Countries on the Rise - Tal Muscal (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel has a new trading partner, Iraq. It sold $2 million worth of defense and consumer goods to the U.S. Army stationed there in the first quarter of 2004, the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute reported Thursday.
    Based on its quarterly survey, exports to Arab countries rose 78% in the first quarter to $38 million.
    Some $3m. worth of exports were also sold to Arab states, through third-party companies, usually in Europe.
    Most of the increase was in exports to Jordan and Egypt.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Turkey Seizes Weapons Shipment to Egypt
    Turkish customs authorities at the port of Ambarli, 20 miles from Istanbul, seized a radio-controlled missile and launcher as well as a number of other rockets and warheads from a ship headed for Egypt from Ukraine, said Kursad Tuzmen, the minister in charge of foreign trade and customs. Tuzmen said the ship from Ukraine had unloaded containers, labeled "spare parts," and another ship was scheduled to carry the cargo to Egypt. When the crew of the second ship arrived at customs, they began asking about an "armaments shipment" they had to transport to Egypt. (AP/Washington Post)
  • U.S. Pays Egypt Compensation for "Regional Unrest"
    The U.S. on Thursday signed an agreement to give Egypt $300 million to compensate it for "regional unrest" stemming from last year's war in Iraq. U.S. Ambassador to Egypt David Welch said the grant also rewards Egypt for promised and realized reforms in trade, fiscal, and monetary policy. Egyptian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Faiza Abu el-Naga said the two countries were close to a further agreement whereby the U.S. will provide Egypt with $2 billion in loan guarantees. (Reuters)
  • Powell Calls for Reformed Palestinian Leadership
    Secretary of State Powell said Wednesday: "We are committed to creating a Palestinian state that will have reformed, responsible leadership, a state that will be contiguous, coherent, that lives in peace with the State of Israel. We know that this has to be accomplished by the two sides talking to one another, negotiating with each other, especially on those final status issues. The United States cannot impose a solution. Neither can anyone else. We can work for a solution, and that's what we're trying to do now."
        "Prime Minister Sharon has put forward an interesting plan that would remove settlements, all 21 settlements from Gaza, and begin the removal of settlements from the West Bank, beginning with four settlements. I think this is a good start, and I hope that the Palestinians will realize the opportunity that exists here and begin to prepare themselves, their political leadership, and their security forces to take responsibility for Gaza."
        "Arafat, frankly, has been a problem. He has been a hindrance. He has not taken advantage of the opportunities presented to him. We've made it clear. That's why I said earlier we need reformed Palestinian leadership." (State Department)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Prime Minister Fires Two Opponents of Gaza Withdrawal to Assure Cabinet Approval - Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon fired National Union ministers Avigdor Lieberman and Benny Elon on Friday to ensure the revised disengagement plan passes in the cabinet Sunday. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Asks Israel to Delay Completion of Jerusalem Security Fence - Aluf Benn and Nathan Guttman
    U.S. Ambassador Dan Kurtzer met this week with Baruch Spiegel, appointed by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz to handle talks on promises made to the U.S. Diplomatic sources said Kurtzer asked Israel to delay completion of the security fence surrounding Jerusalem so as not to aggravate conditions for the Palestinians. (Ha'aretz)
  • Is Israel Winning the War on Suicide Bombers? - Arieh O'Sullivan
    Every night, soldiers and Shin Bet agents round up suspected Palestinian terrorists and fugitives in the West Bank in a quiet but effective crushing of terrorism. Intelligence from interrogations of detained Palestinians is key to thwarting attacks. There were three major suicide bombings inside Israel in the first five months of 2004 that killed 28 and wounded 120 people. In comparison, in the first six months of last year, six suicide bombings killed 54 people and wounded over 300. In 2003, there was a total of 23 suicide bombings that killed over 180 people.
        Security officials say they have successfully intercepted and prevented 60 suicide attacks so far this year. Most of these were planned by Tanzim terrorists and not Hamas. The main factor in the decline of Hamas's capability is the killing and capture of their leadership. Only one senior West Bank Hamas figure, Ibrahim Hamad who is the commander in the Ramallah area, is still at large. Others have fled and are believed to be in Syria. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Security Fence Brings Stability to Jenin - Matthew Gutman
    According to Hader Abu Sheikh, an official of the Palestinian Legislative Council, "there is 70% more nightlife in Jenin than a year ago." "We are talking about the resumption of traditional Palestinian nightlife," explains Abu Sheikh. "Weddings, men sitting in cafes late at night, women visiting each other....The point is, people are no longer confined to their houses at night, because Israel has left the city." According to the IDF, the security fence relieves the army of the necessity to regularly patrol the city.
        "There are positive business indicators, as people are starting to think of capital and investment and commerce again," said Ziad Mifleh, director-general of the Jenin Chamber of Commerce. Even Palestinian Legislative Council member Sakhri Turkuman, a Fatah official, concedes that the security fence has "created some stability in Jenin." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Jaffee Center Public Opinion Poll on Prime Minister's Unilateral Disengagement
    According to a Jaffee Center survey conducted in January-February 2004, a clear majority of the Israeli Jewish population - 56% - support the intentions of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to disengage the country from the Palestinians. The support, however, drops to 50% when the plan is not associated specifically with the prime minister and when it is contingent on dismantling of settlements. Withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is favored by a similar percentage: 50% of the public feels that it is imperative to evacuate the settlements in Gaza immediately and to withdraw unilaterally from the area.
        In comparison, support for an agreement with the Palestinians along the lines of the Geneva initiative is quite limited. Regarding "the Geneva plan in the framework of which Israel would return to the 1967 lines with reciprocal border modifications," 76% reject the plan while 24% support the proposal. (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies - Tel Aviv University)
  • A "Quick-Fix" Mentality Makes Matters Worse - Barry Rubin
    Why is it wrong to demand "plans" that will "solve" the region's problems? Because the "quick-fix" mentality has repeatedly worsened and confused the region's situation. Before the Oslo process, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was seen along familiar lines: external aggression and subversive terrorism trying to destroy an existing state, Israel. But Israel, Jews around the world, and the U.S. explained throughout the 1990s that the Palestinians simply wanted their own state and an end to occupation, and if offered, this would make peace.
        Since it was inconceivable that anyone would reject such benefits, the world concluded that the true bad guys were not really making the offer. Paradoxically, Israel's approach of taking risks and offering concessions for peace ended by transforming the paradigm into the equally familiar one of an evil occupying force brutally suppressing a people that simply wanted self-determination. The issue was no longer seen as extremist aggressors ruthlessly trying to destroy a smaller victim, but as imperialists and colonialists greedily trying to oppress others. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Enemies Within - Editorial
    A serious anti-terror strategy must start at the source. Funded from dubious sources in the Middle East and North Africa, mosques nurtured Muhammed Atta and friends in Hamburg, as well as other cells in Spain and Britain. Muslim prayer leaders, or imams, who preach a hateful version of Islam gave these men shelter, and helped recruit others. France has arrested and expelled a handful of suspect clerics. Britain, Italy, and Germany have followed suit. After its own tragic wake-up call, Spain applied a rarely invoked immigration law to deport terror suspects. The French are keeping an eye on 30 extremist mosques, out of about 1,500. British police acted on an 11-count U.S. indictment that charges the former preacher at London's Finsbury Park mosque with aiding al-Qaeda.
        The signs of a crackdown on rogue clerics are logical, and overdue. Governments must resolutely move against suspected terrorists who show no shame in hiding behind the cloak of the religion they are so busily perverting. The lax approach of the past merely increased the danger to Western societies, and their values. (Wall Street Journal-Europe, 2 June 04)

    Terrorism in Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi Officials Reinforce Crown Prince Abdullah's Accusation that Zionists Are Behind Terror Attacks in Saudi Arabia
    At the Saudi embassy in Washington on June 2, 2004, Adel Al-Jubeir, foreign affairs adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, was asked: "Crown Prince Abdullah, after the Yunbu attack, said that the Zionist elements were behind the attacks inside the kingdom. And U.S. Ambassador Oberwetter asked for a clarification with Prince Saud. He was told that the Saudis had evidence that radical Zionist elements were financing or may be financing some London-based dissidents who he believed are fomenting the attacks. Can you share with us what radical Zionist elements the Crown Prince and Prince Saud were referring to?"
        Al-Jubeir: "The individuals in the U.S. who have been very critical of Saudi Arabia, who have called Saudi Arabia the axis of evil or the kernel of evil, who have called for the dismemberment of Saudi Arabia, who have been in touch with Saudis in order to foment problems in Saudi Arabia, who have called for regime change in Saudi Arabia, who have called for the dismemberment of Saudi Arabia, that objective is not much different from Osama bin Laden's objective."
        On May 6, Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef Abd Al-'Aziz told the Yemenite weekly September 26 that blaming al-Qaeda for attacks in Saudi Arabia does not contradict the words of Crown Prince Abdullah that the Zionists are behind these operations, because Israel and Zionism are behind al-Qaeda, which is responsible for all attacks in Arab countries. (MEMRI)
        See also below Observations: Reality Check on Saudi Arabia - Mark Steyn (Spectator-UK)
  • Al-Qaeda's Small Victories Add Up - Anthony H. Cordesman
    Al-Qaeda carried out its most successful attack since 9/11 last weekend, and much of that success was a result of the American reaction. The American Embassy in Riyadh decided to forget about American investment and trade by calling for all Americans to leave the country. Is it any wonder oil prices soared this week - if the Americans are going to cut and run whenever things get messy, why should oil traders have any faith in the continued supply?
        We know that by the time of the 9/11 attacks, some 70,000 to 100,000 young men had been through some form of Islamist training camp, and that al-Qaeda had affiliates or some kind of tie to movements in more than 60 countries. It seems that the administration's neoconservatives have given up their dream of a broader Middle East initiative, which is a welcome sign of maturity. But this doesn't mean it is time to go on the defensive. The writer is a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (New York Times)
  • Saudi Holds Cards to Islam's Future - Anthony Ham
    Iraq may capture the headlines on a daily basis, but it is in Saudi Arabia that the future relationship between Islam and the West will be decided. The May 30 terrorist attacks on expatriates in the kingdom were merely the latest shots in the struggle for supremacy in the land of Islam's birth. Despite initial doubts about his reformist credentials, Crown Prince Abdullah is the moderate face of Saudi dynastic rule. Sitting at the same table on the Council of Ministers is Prince Nayef, Abdullah's half-brother and Saudi Arabia's Interior Minister for almost three decades. Prince Nayef has cultivated strong ties to fundamentalist clerics, even to al-Qaeda.
        With al-Qaeda has come a stark choice for those who would wield power within the Saudi royal family: prove themselves the worthy inheritors of the militant Wahhabi legacy or seek an alternative source of legitimacy. If the reformers can find the answers and prevail, al-Qaeda will remain on the margins of power in the Islamic world. If the reformers lose, it is not inconceivable that al-Qaeda will acquire its first state. (The Age-Australia)
  • Preying on Saudi Arabia - Jim Hoagland
    After nearly a decade of aiming its heaviest blows at distinctly American targets, al-Qaeda is operating closer to home. Its two most important terrorist attacks in May were on foreign workers at Saudi oil installations, in Yanbu and then Khobar. Those atrocities followed two bloody suicide bombings in the kingdom last year, as well as other skirmishes there, and al-Qaeda-style attacks in Morocco, Turkey, and Spain. But this is the kind of attack that al-Qaeda passed up when its branches were clearly under the control of bin Laden and his most influential adviser, Ayman Zawahiri.
        The terrorists now strike inside Saudi Arabia, even though the U.S. military presence they used to justify their first attacks has been withdrawn. They have not finished in Europe, either. (Washington Post)
  • Life and Death in Saudi Arabia - John V. Whitbeck
    The ultimate security problem facing Saudi Arabia today may be finding a way to make life more attractive than death for young Saudi Arabian men. For frustrated young men facing thwarted lives without pleasure or hope, a spectacular death can seem a magical escape. The preferred ways to seek martyrdom are currently to die fighting for the "liberation" of Palestine or Iraq. A respected, gray-bearded Saudi Arabian friend has been approached in mosques by children as young as 10 seeking his help to infiltrate them into Iraq so that they can die fighting the Americans. There is every reason to expect that attacks like those in Khobar will increase in frequency, carried out by young men fired by rage, hate, and a yearning for a better life in another world. (International Herald Tribune)
  • Fighting Radical Islam - Edward I. Koch
    Last week in Saudi Arabia, terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda took more than 50 foreigners captive at one of the major foreign worker compounds in Khobar. Before Saudi commandos could counterattack, 22 of the hostages were killed, of which nine had their throats cut when they tried to escape. The favorite method of killing infidels - Christians, called "Crusaders" by the terrorists, and Jews - is apparently by ritual throat-slitting. That was done in Pakistan to Danny Pearl and in Iraq to Nicholas Berg, both of whom were videotaped having their throats slit by their killers for worldwide distribution. Where is the worldwide condemnation of these latest killings by the political and religious leaders of Muslim countries? Where are the UN resolutions sponsored by France and Germany condemning what occurred? Can you imagine the denunciations from world leaders if the U.S., Britain, or Israel perpetrated acts even half as savage? (NewsMax.com)

    Weekend Features:

  • "Every War with Fascism is Our Business" - Marek Edelman
    Marek Edelman is the last surviving military leader of the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943. He recently spoke to Polish television TVN24, and the interview was republished in the Polish weekly Przekroj.
    Q: There are people who say the war in Iraq is not our business.
    Edelman: And whose business is it? Every war with fascism is our business. In 1939 there were also many people who said that the war in Poland was not their war, and what happened? If only we'd intervened militarily after Hitler re-entered Rhineland we probably would not have had the war and the Holocaust.
    Q: Many people don't understand why the Americans have to go to the other side of the world and fight over Iraq now.
    Edelman: And why did they go to Europe then? Who defeated Hitler and saved Europe from fascism? The French? No, the Americans did....If we will keep closing our eyes to evil, then that evil will defeat us tomorrow.
    Q: But the Spanish withdrew their troops from Iraq after the terrorist attack in Madrid.
    Edelman: So what? Do you seriously think that it will save them from further attacks? No. The weak just get punched in the head. Pacifism lost a long time ago....Those who say that you don't have to fight for freedom, don't understand what fascism is. I do. (Chrenkoff-Australia)
  • Book Review: The Missing Link - Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda - Matthew A. Levitt
    In The Connection: How al-Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein has Endangered America, Stephen F. Hayes argues that Hussein's ties to al-Qaeda presented a pressing threat that was not an interruption of but a critical component of the war on terror. Hayes skillfully weaves old information with new revelations, meetings between senior Iraqi and al-Qaeda envoys and Hussein's connections to the Kurdish al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Islam. Connecting the dots, one finds a disturbing outline of the former Iraqi regime's links to terrorists, but the picture still reveals no smoking gun. (Washington Post)
  • Major Anti-Semitic Motifs in Arab Cartoons - Interview with Joel Kotek
    The main recurrent motif in Arab cartoons concerning Israel is "the devilish Jew," conveying the idea that Jews behave like Nazis, kill children, and love blood. The similarity with themes promulgated by the Nazis is evident. Many Arab cartoons praise suicide bombing or call for murder. The collective image of the Jews thus projected lays the groundwork for a possible genocide. Palestinian cartoonists often place emphasis on the anti-Semitic accusation of "ritual murder" of children. To dehumanize Jews, Arab cartoonists often depict them as malevolent creatures: spiders, vampires, or octopuses. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Reality Check on Saudi Arabia - Mark Steyn (Spectator-UK)

    • The urbane Westernized Saudi princes in the Savile Row suits who get put up on CNN to assure America that the situation's totally under control cannot deliver. Although Prince Bandar, the Washington ambassador, is careful not to say anything too goofy in the U.S. media, back home his dad, Prince Sultan, and his uncles sound nuttier by the day.
    • In November 2002, Prince Nayef insisted that no Saudis were involved in 9/11 and that, in fact, the Jews "are behind these events." Nayef sides with the anti-American Wahhabi clerics and this was his way of explaining why he wasn't going to crack down on Islamist terrorists, as they clearly have nothing to do with Islamist terrorism.
    • Prince Nayef's half-brother and rival, Crown Prince Abdullah, on the other hand, is the famously pro-American liberal reformer. Last month, when terrorists killed various American, British and Australian expats in Yanbu, Abdullah went on state television and said, "I am 95% sure that Zionism is behind the attacks." With pro-American liberal reformers like that, who needs anti-American clerical reactionaries?
    • Right now, which would you bet on? That Crown Prince Abdullah, Prince Sultan, Prince Nayef and co's brilliant strategy of denying that there's a problem, buying off the terrorists, letting them escape, and saying they're all Zionists will be able to reform their failing state or at least hold the lid on? Or that the current spate of attacks will increase and intensify, driving out Westerners, destabilizing the oil markets, undermining the economy, and gradually, remorselessly conscripting more and more of the population into al-Qaeda's ranks?
    • Given that it's the Saudi government that funds all the madrasahs that form the ideological backbone of Islamist terrorism, is there any point in pretending that the House of Saud and al-Qaeda are on opposite sides rather than twin manifestations of the same problem? The West backs the Saudi regime as a bulwark against local destabilization, in return for which they underwrite destabilization of the West across the entire planet.


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