Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

June 8, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Western Airliners May Be al-Qaeda Target (AP/Denver Post)
    A statement bearing al-Qaeda's name on an Islamist website known for posting messages from militants warned Monday that Western airliners will be the terror group's target.
    The statement warned "all that is affiliated with these crusaders - from compounds, bases and means of transport - especially Western and American airliners, will be direct targets of our next operations, with God's help."


Mofaz: 18 Would-be Suicide Bombers Caught in May - Amir Buhbut and Marwan Athamna (Maariv International)
    Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Monday that 18 would-be suicide bombers were arrested on their way to perpetrating attacks in Israel during May.


Italian Police Arrest Man Linked to Madrid Bombs (Reuters/New York Times)
    Italian police in Milan have arrested a man known as "Mohamed the Egyptian,'' who is suspected of playing a leading role in train bombings in Madrid that killed 191 people in March, Italian media reported on Tuesday.
    The man is thought to be the head of a Moroccan radical Islamist cell.


U.S. Extends War on Islamic Terror to Sahara Desert - Damien Mcelroy (Telegraph-UK)
    America has launched a secret war against Islamic terrorists across the southern Sahara after it discovered that a group linked to al-Qaeda bought heavy weapons using the proceeds of a ransom deal with the German government.
    The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat has spent about £4 million, which it received in return for releasing 17 European tourists kidnapped last year, on surface-to-air missiles, heavy machine-guns, and mortars.
    Major Sarah Kerwin of the U.S. Army's European Command, which is responsible for north and west Africa, said: "There are clear indications that Muslim extremists from the Middle East and Afghanistan have moved into these massive open spaces."
    American special forces are being deployed discreetly in the region - which covers eight countries - to train, advise, and equip pro-U.S. government troops.


Three States for One People - Danny Rubinstein (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli commentators have frequently remarked that implementing the Palestinian right of return would realize a concept of three states for one people - the Palestinian people - instead of two states for two peoples.
    The three states are Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza, and the State of Israel - all three of which would have a Palestinian majority.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel and Egypt Confer on Gaza Pullout Plan
    President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt met with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom on Monday in Cairo, their third meeting in the past six months. Both men expressed support for a plan to increase Egypt's security presence along its border with Gaza, and to send the Egyptian police into Gaza to help train their Palestinian counterparts. Israel has expressed concern that Gaza could descend into chaos after an Israeli withdrawal, and wants Egypt's help to prevent a power vacuum. (New York Times)
  • Mideast Mediators Draft Gaza "Action Plan"
    The Middle East "Quartet" mediating group of major powers has prepared a draft "action plan" for Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, including proposals on overhauling Palestinian security forces and providing financial backing. The document calls for giving the Palestinian prime minister - rather than Arafat - the "authority and structures" to direct and implement political and economic reforms in Gaza. Under the plan, the PA would receive budget support from a World Bank trust fund "upon accomplishment of key reform benchmarks." (Reuters)
  • Iraq and Middle East at Center of Economic Summit
    Prior to a three-day international summit meeting of advanced industrial nations at Sea Island, Ga., the U.S. administration has rewritten parts of the statement the Group of 8 will issue on plans for encouraging democracy throughout the Middle East in order to win support from Arab countries, and added language calling for a new effort to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict. (New York Times)
  • Al-Qaeda Continues to Siphon Islamic Charities
    Al-Qaeda has siphoned millions of dollars from Islamic charities that help poor Muslims in Africa and Asia, and U.S. and Saudi government efforts to cut the flow have largely failed, Western diplomats and former charity workers say. Donations to the Saudi Arabian-based al-Haramain Foundation to support Islamic preachers ended up in the pockets of a suspect in the November 2002 bombing of an Israeli hotel in Kenya, said a Western diplomat. A U.S. intelligence official said investigators believe al-Haramain is using new names in Kenya, having simply shifted its funds to fresh bank accounts. A recent visitor to al-Haramain's Nairobi office was shooed away by a security guard who said it was closed, although there were parked cars in the driveway and dozens of pairs of shoes outside the front door. (AP/Guardian-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Air Force Responds to Rocket Fire from Lebanon - Uri Ash
    Israel Air Force planes fired two missiles at abandoned positions of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), led by Ahmed Jibril, at Naameh, 20 kilometers south of Beirut, on Monday in response to earlier rocket fire into Israeli territorial waters. Earlier in the day, 107-millimeter rockets were fired by a Palestinian organization from Lebanon and landed near a Dabur Israeli naval vessel patrolling Israeli territorial waters in the Mediterranean. "This is a signal to the Lebanese government," Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said. "There is a government in Lebanon and it is responsible for what goes on in its territory." (Ha'aretz)
  • Poll: Israelis View Force Used in Rafah as "Appropriate" - Ephraim Yaar and Tamar Hermann
    According to the latest Peace Index survey, conducted May 31-June 2, 2004, by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research of Tel Aviv University, a majority of Israelis feel national and personal security is similar to last year or better. 51% thought the force the IDF used against the Palestinians in the Rafah operation was appropriate, 20% thought it was insufficient, and 17% thought it excessive. 65% expressed support for the idea of unilateral separation, and 67% said they believe Sharon intends to carry out the disengagement plan he has presented, including evacuation of Gaza settlements. Today, 50% of Israelis define themselves as right, 21% as center, and 18% as left (11% don't choose). (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Bush-Sharon Relationship - Glenn Kessler
    Sharon works hard to stay in Bush's favor and "sees as his signal achievement that he has avoided crossed wires with Bush," said David Makovsky, an analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "The question of his credibility is important for Sharon."
        The two men carefully plot their formal meetings. Administration officials, however, recall one unscripted exchange between the two men. Bush had called Sharon a "man of peace" in 2002. During a meeting months later, when the Israeli leader began to say he was a "man of peace and security," Bush pounced. "I know you are a man of security," Bush said. "I want you to work harder on the peace part." Then Bush added: "I said you were a man of peace. I want you to know I took immense crap for that." (Washington Post)
  • Female Suicide Bombers: The Worst Exploitation - Hillel Newman
    As Israel implements more effective security measures to protect its citizens, terrorist groups are searching for new strategies to get close to their victims. One of the most disturbing tactics is the recruitment of female suicide bombers. The use of emotional blackmail, coercion, and physical force to compel young women to kill both themselves and innocent civilians is an appalling violation of the most basic rights of freedom, equality, and life itself. Sadly, Israel is the only country in the Middle East where a girl can grow up to be anything she chooses. We do not see Israeli women blowing themselves up because they are valued by their society and taught that they can do more by living than by dying. Until the PA and Arab states sanctify life over hatred and offer their women fundamental human rights, the senseless deaths will continue. The writer is Israel's consul to New England. (Boston Globe)
        See also Female Desire and Islamic Trauma - Daniel Pipes (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Wahhabi Threat To Islam - Mona Eltahawy
    It is long past time for Muslims to question the Wahhabi ideology that is pulling the rug out from under Saudi life, for it is that same ideology that has been involved in militant movements throughout the Muslim world for years. I lived in Saudi Arabia for six years in the 1980s and know how all-pervasive Wahhabism is. It was there in posters that lined the corridors of my women-only university showing how a "good Muslim woman" should dress - in black from head to toe - and it made sure that gender apartheid kept those same good Muslim women in the back two rows of the bus. It was there in shopping malls patrolled by morality police ready to arrest shopkeepers who didn't close their stores for prayer time and it was there in the grim Friday evening news tally of the day's public beheadings. (Washington Post)
        See also Pressure Builds on Wahhabis as Key Pillar of Saudi Rule - David B. Ottaway
    The single most important pillar supporting the ruling Saud family, the Wahhabis, are under siege at a time when the Sauds need them more than ever to bolster their rule against Islamic radicals. (Washington Post)
  • Washington Will Prop Up the House of Saud - For Now - Mai Yamani
    In the face of mounting violence and international pressure, the House of Saud has sunk into terminal denial and paralysis. Convinced that their enemies are all around them, they are nevertheless unable to locate them. While the princes have insisted reforms are in progress, they continue to fling reformists themselves into jail. High-level analysts insist the Saudi security forces which guard the oil installations are infiltrated by extremists. With continuing violence in Iraq, Washington's priority is to prevent Saudi Arabia descending into similar anarchy, even if it means propping up a regime it no longer likes or trusts. The writer is an associate fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. (Guardian-UK)
        See also Why Terrorists Are Targeting Islam's Holiest Land
    Most analysts believe that, with a hard core of anything from 500 to 2,000 activists, in a country of 25m inhabitants (and an estimated 600 languishing in jail), the Saudi jihadis do not pose an immediate threat to the Saudi state. (Economist-UK)
  • Observations:

    The Koran and the Jews - Interview with Prof. Khaleel Mohammed (FrontpageMagazine)

    • The Qur'an in Chapter 5:20-21 states quite clearly: Moses said to his people: O my people! Remember the bounty of God upon you when He bestowed prophets upon you, and made you kings and gave you that which had not been given to anyone before you amongst the nations. O my people! Enter the Holy Land which God has written for you.
    • From a faith-based point of view: If God has "written" Israel for the people of Moses, who can change this?
    • When the Muslims entered that land in the seventh century, they were well aware of its rightful owners.
    • The medieval exegetes of Qur'an - without any exception known to me - recognized Israel as belonging to the Jews, their birthright given to them.
    • The idea that Israel does not belong to the Jews is a modern one, probably based on the Mideast rejection of European colonialism, etc., but certainly not having anything to do with the Qur'an.

        See also Moderate Islam Should Not be Ignored - Ilan Benjamin and Tammi Rossman-Benjamin
    Khaleel Mohammed, an assistant professor of religion at San Diego State University, explained his view that the Qur'an itself emphasizes religious tolerance of Jews and their God-given right to the Land of Israel. (Santa Cruz Sentinel)


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