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DAILY ALERT

June 11, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Terror Suspect in Italy Linked to More Plots - Elaine Sciolino (New York Times)
    The suspected ringleader of the Madrid train bombings who was arrested Tuesday in Italy - Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, a former Egyptian Army explosives expert - has taken credit for orchestrating the attacks, according to intercepts of his conversations monitored by Italy's anti-terrorism unit.
    In a conversation on May 26, Ahmed said, "The Madrid attack was my project, and those who died as martyrs were my dearest friends."
    He added that it took him two and a half years to plan the operation.
    In the same conversation, after lamenting the fact that a female operative involved in plans for some sort of chemical attack against American interests had been "discovered," he added, "There are other women."
    He also said, "If they toss a stick, they destroy an entire American neighborhood."
    Ahmed also said four suicide bombers "ready for martyrdom" would be leaving within the next month for Syria on their way to Iraq.


Saddam's Victims Warn of "Enemies"
- I-wei J. Chang (Washington Times)
    Torture victims of Saddam Hussein are warning the U.S. that their former tormentors are seeking new positions in Iraq by working with authorities in the U.S.-led occupation, according to Salah Zinad and four other torture victims who spoke at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research on Tuesday.
    The torturers have changed their identifications and addresses to avoid detection, said journalist Basim Al Fadhly.


Iraqi Christians Flee Islamic Republic - Ken Joseph Jr. (WorldNetDaily)
    With the failure to receive even one position on the Executive Council and only one ministry post - the Ministry of Emigration - the Christians of Iraq are voting with their feet.
    "We have been flooded with parishioners desperate to leave the country, and as they cannot get an exit permit without a baptismal certificate from the church, we have been swamped with requests," says Amir, a deacon at a local church. "Our community is being decimated."
    Most of the Christians in Iraq are Assyrians - the people of Nineveh (present-day Mosul) - the city to which God sent the biblical Jonah, and they still speak Aramaic.
    "Our women are accosted on the street and intimidated to start dressing according to Islamic tradition. Our businesses are being burned, and the constant harassment is because of the attitude of appeasement toward Muslims," says one priest.


New Iraqi Leader Helped CIA - Joel Brinkley (New York Times)
    Iyad Allawi, now the designated prime minister of Iraq, ran an exile organization intent on deposing Saddam Hussein that sent agents into Baghdad in the early 1990s to plant bombs and sabotage government facilities under the direction of the CIA, several former intelligence officials say.


Court Rules Pollard Can Continue Appeal - Anne Gearan (AP/Guardian-UK)
    A federal appeals court has allowed convicted spy Jonathan Pollard another chance to fight his life prison term for selling secrets to Israel.
    A three-judge panel will hear arguments in the case, probably later this year.


Palestinians "Helped Settlements" (BBC News)
    A Palestinian parliamentary inquiry has found that four Palestinian companies sold cement to Israeli firms building Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
    The Palestinian firms reportedly sent 420,000 tons of cement, imported from Egypt, to Israel.


Saddam's Earless Victims Find Hope - Luke Baker (Reuters)
    An estimated 3,500 Iraqi soldiers had the whole or part of their ears cut off following a 1994 edict by Saddam Hussein, in an effort to clamp down on increasing army desertion.
    A group of Iraqi surgeons, backed by the Health Ministry, have now announced that they would perform free reconstructive surgery on victims of Saddam's 1994 mutilation spree.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • G8: Quartet Back in Middle East by End of Month
    The G8, at their annual meeting in the Georgia resort of Sea Island, said it welcomed Israeli plans to withdraw from all Gaza settlements and from parts of the West Bank, and that the emphasis now should be on the "roadmap" for Middle East peace being mediated by the Quartet. "The G8 countries will join with others in the international community, led by the Quartet, to restore momentum on the Roadmap, to enhance humanitarian and economic conditions among the Palestinian people, and to build democratic, transparent, and accountable Palestinian institutions," the G8 said. "The G8 calls upon the Quartet to meet in the region before the end of this month, engage with Israeli and Palestinian representatives, and set out its plans."
        The G8 statement also said it welcomed plans by the PA to hold municipal elections by the end of the summer and would help to make sure they were fair and transparent. (Reuters)
  • UN Sees Signs of Massive Iran Nuke Plans
    The UN nuclear watchdog has found indications Iran wanted to equip thousands of uranium enrichment centrifuges, enough to produce bomb-grade material for several warheads per year, diplomats say. The U.S. is certain to treat this revelation as further proof that Iran's nuclear program is a front for developing an atom bomb.
        At a closed-door meeting on Iran, a senior inspector from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told the agency's governing board a private Iranian company had expressed interest in "tens of thousands" of magnets for advanced P-2 centrifuges from a European intermediary, said a diplomat who attended. Diplomats also said the IAEA has found multiple levels of enriched uranium on centrifuges, which could indicate that Iran has been enriching uranium itself to levels close to what is useable in an atomic bomb. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Awaits Syrian Actions, Not Just Words
    State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said Thursday: "We have repeatedly and continuously said to the Syrians that they need to adjust to the new circumstances in the region, they need to take more responsibility in terms of supporting the aspirations of the Iraqi people to create a democratic, peaceful, and independent state; they need to support those aspirations by better protecting their borders, keeping foreign terrorists from crossing, returning money from the old regime to the Iraqi people, and in a variety of other ways. And so if Syria were to change its behavior on those points, we would be happy to see that."
        "If you do look back at the last few months, you've seen a number of statements from the Syrian leadership about wanting to pursue peace....We would certainly welcome any real willingness to move forward on peace with Israel and peace in the region, but again, made clear that it's hard to reconcile those kind of statements with the support for violent groups that are trying to kill the dreams of the Palestinians and undermine any hopes for peace....We want to see something from Syria other than the periodic statements." (State Department)
  • Palestinians in Texas Charged with Aiding Hamas
    On Monday the trial opened of five Palestinian brothers in Texas who prosecutors say aided the militant Palestinian group Hamas and illegally sold computer equipment to Syria and Libya, nations the U.S. considers supporters of terrorism. Prosecutors are preparing a second trial of the Elashi brothers as well, alleging that they sent money to Hamas or to senior Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzook. U.S. attorneys said the brothers are also linked to a Muslim charity called the Holy Land Foundation, which was shut down by the U.S. government three months after 9/11, saying it was being used to send money to terrorists. (Reuters)
  • UN Crews Halt West Bank Reconstruction
    The UN suspended a construction project in Jenin after Palestinian gunmen threatened crews rebuilding houses, a UN official said Thursday. Five Palestinians barged into the UN office in Jenin on Tuesday and opened fire with M-16 and Kalashnikov assault rifles, said Fahri Turkman, a Palestinian lawmaker. It was the third such attack on UN personnel in the past six months. Many residents are complaining that their new houses are not big enough, said Sami Mshasha of UNRWA. At least nine alleyways have been widened to ensure that new homes lining them are not damaged by Israeli armored vehicles in the future, a UN worker said. But Mshasha denied this, saying roads were widened to improve the quality of life in the cramped camp by allowing for two-way traffic and sidewalks. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also New Jenin Homes Better Designed - Gideon Levy
    The homes are being rebuilt by UNRWA with a $29 million grant from the United Arab Emirates. Construction of 100 housing units has been completed, and 70 families have returned to their homes, which are better designed than the previous buildings. In addition, UNRWA moved 100 families to a new area on the outskirts of the camp where new houses were built for them. About 100 families in the camp managed to get contributions from Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Each family that lost its home received $25,000, which they used to refurbish the interior and add furniture and equipment of a higher standard than previously seen. (Ha'aretz)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Five Suicide Bombings Thwarted in June - Margot Dudkevitch
    Five suicide bombings have been thwarted since the beginning of the month, and 60 since the beginning of the year, security officials said Thursday. Seven bombs were detonated near security forces in the Gaza Strip, and scores of shooting attacks at communities and IDF positions and patrols occurred during the week. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Three Hamas Terrorists Nabbed near Ramallah - Margot Dudkevitch
    Three Hamas fugitives arrested Thursday near the West Bank city of Ramallah included Ramzi Barash, who was involved in the murder of Gadi Rajwan at the Atarot industrial zone in February 2002. Barash personally checked out the site of the attack and secured the entry of the terrorists into Rajwan's office. Also arrested was Islam Abu Hamid, who perpetrated shooting attacks on behalf of Hamas in the Ramallah area. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Terrorist Detained at Own Wedding (Maariv International)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Gaza in the Balance - Graham Usher
    Israel and Egypt share a common concern not to allow a disengaged Gaza to become a Hamas-land on their borders. Egypt has agreed to send 200 military experts to Gaza and the West Bank to shape the PA's mutinous security outfits into some kind of police force. One hundred guards will also be moved up to seal Egypt's porous border with Gaza, seen by Israelis as an entry port for Palestinian arms. But it is not just about Israel's security. "Tunnels have two ends," said one Egyptian security official.
        Mubarak has also asked Arafat - again - to consolidate the PA's 12 police and intelligence forces into three and place them under the command of an "empowered" prime minister or interior minister. The Palestinian leader has given a "positive response, in principle," though with a wink that it won't be carried out in practice.
        On Tuesday, the National and Islamic Forces - a coalition of all the Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Arafat's Fatah movement - issued a statement condemning the disengagement plan as a "deception and fraud." Hamas, too, is quietly warning Egypt not to send its military experts anytime soon. The Islamists' current strategy is to escalate the armed resistance in Gaza so that Israel's disengagement is viewed as no less a flight than was its South Lebanon precursor. (Al-Ahram - Egypt)
        See also Israel Urges Allies in D.C. to Ease Criticism of Cairo - Ori Nir
    Eager to protect Israel's budding security relationship with Egypt, Israeli officials are urging Jewish activists in Washington to stop pushing for American political action against Cairo. (Forward)
  • Democracy is the Bottom Line in the Middle East - Editorial
    The centerpiece of the G8 summit that ended Thursday was George W. Bush's plan for political and economic reform in the Middle East. Outlined in his State of the Union address in January, it began life as the Greater Middle East Initiative, but had metamorphosed by the summit into the Partnership for Progress and a Common Future with the Region of the Broader Middle East and North Africa. The statement by the leaders of the rich industrialized countries on Wednesday acknowledged that successful reform should not and could not be imposed from outside, and that support for it should go hand in hand with the search for a settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute.
        The grandiose vision of a Middle East transformed by the democratic example of Iraq has faded. Nevertheless, Mr. Bush is right to maintain his push for political and economic liberalization in a region stagnating under autocracy and state control. Iraq will obviously be the key test of the President's vision for the Middle East. But current difficulties there do not invalidate his belief that peoples of the region should have the chance democratically to determine their own future. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Saudis Must Stop Blaming Others - Youssef M. Ibrahim
    In an extraordinary article published in the Saudi Arabic daily Al Watan, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a pillar of the Saudi royal family who has served for 21 years as his country's ambassador to Washington, bluntly described Arab and Muslim efforts to combat religious teachings which foster hatred as "feeble." He charged that those who kill so-called "infidels" in the name of Islam have been getting their twisted orientation from leaders at the very top of the Saudi and other Muslim religious establishments. "It has nothing to do with America or Israel or the Christians or Jews," Bandar wrote. "So let us stop these meaningless justifications for what those criminals are doing and let us stop blaming others while the problem comes from within us."
        A few days ago, the emir of Qatar said that internal reforms in every Arab and Muslim country are imperative and cannot wait for the resolution of external conflicts in Israel, Iraq, or anywhere else. (UPI/Washington Times)
  • The Black-Red Alliance in Europe - Amir Taheri
    In this month's election for a new European Parliament, voters in France and Britain are being offered common lists of Islamist and leftist candidates. Similar Marxist-Islamist alliances have been formed in Belgium and Germany. In Britain, the new Marxist-Islamist alliance is the offspring of the anti-war coalition set up two years ago to prevent the liberation of Iraq. Of the coalition's 33-member steering committee, 18 come from various hard left groups: communists, Trotskyites, Maoists, and Castroists. Three others belong to the radical wing of the Labor party. There are also eight radical Islamists. The remaining four are leftist ecologists known as Watermelons (Green outside, red inside). The chairman of the coalition is Andrew Murray, leader of the British Communist Party. Co-chair is Muhammad Asalm Ijaz of the London Council of Mosques.
        The New Statesman, the organ of the British moderate left, calls the new Islamist-Marxist alliance "Saddam's Own Party." Many of the groups involved in the alliance had been financed for years by Saddam through his so-called Cultural Relations Office in London. (Jerusalem Post)

    Weekend Features:

  • Anti-Semitism and Terrorism on the Internet: New Threats - Interview with Rabbi Abraham Cooper
    The Internet activities of terrorists and their supporters include commanding, coordinating, and controlling terrorist operations from far away; disseminating propaganda; and raising money, as well as recruiting young people to the Islamist culture of death. The Internet is cheap, difficult to monitor, and knows no borders. The Web enables minor local players in hate movements to become global operators. The Simon Wiesenthal Center is currently monitoring 4,000 problematic sites worldwide. The Internet is speeding up the connections of the Jews' enemies. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Book Review: The Status of Arab Women - Jamie Glazov
    Burned Alive: A Victim of the Law of Men is the first account of the practice of honor killings given by a survivor, a Palestinian woman from the West Bank. Baby girls are also often disposed of in many parts of the Arab world. The author, "Souad," recalls her mother suffocating nine of her own baby daughters, twice right in front of her eyes. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • An Aria for Allah - Lee Landor
    She might be female, she might be Muslim, but that doesn't seem to have stopped soprano Enas Massalha from becoming the first Israeli Arab Muslim woman to perform with the Israel Opera. During her studies at the Rubin Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem, Massalha, who grew up in the Israeli Arab village of Daburiya near Nazareth, realized she wanted to be part of the opera world. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Security, Peace, and Israel's Strategy of Disengagement
    - Maj. Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • Arafat's policy is to avoid reaching a peace agreement with Israel. This policy is based on four pillars: first, promoting a diplomatic "peace process" because the process itself is something that most everyone supports; second, retaining the terrorism option; third, sustaining the notion that Palestinian victimhood is so terrible that it requires the attention of the entire international community; and fourth, biding time until Palestinians constitute a large majority in the historic land of Palestine.
    • If all of these efforts are pursued simultaneously, then - in Arafat's view - the State of Israel will not survive.
    • Hizballah has succeeded in transforming itself into an organization with substantial military capacity, including 12,000 rockets in reach of approximately half of Israel. This situation - developed by a Lebanese organization after Israel was certified to have ended its occupation of Lebanese territory - poses a real military threat to the existence of the state.
    • Is there any reason to believe that the situation will differ in the West Bank and Gaza after an Israeli withdrawal? Will Hamas not follow in Hizballah's path? Will the Palestinian Authority behave differently than the government of Lebanon?
    • Can one seriously conclude that the extreme poverty in Egypt, the utter lack of human rights in Saudi Arabia, or the many other fundamental problems holding back development in Arab societies are the result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
    • Much more likely, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict provides an easy excuse not to address these problems and to divert pressure from within those societies onto an outside problem.

      General Eiland is Israel's national security advisor.


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