Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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DAILY ALERT

August 9, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Palestinian/Al-Qaeda Links Uncovered in UK - Euan Stretch (Sunday Mirror-UK)
    Al-Qaeda's suspected UK chief Abu al-Hindi and four other men were arrested in London on Tuesday.
    Three of al-Hindi's flatmates in Willesden, North London, were Palestinian asylum seekers.
    One man had been ordered to train as a suicide bomber with the Islamic terror group Hamas.
    Another had got through the first interview stage for a job at Heathrow Airport.
    One of the men is a 19-year-old Palestinian who claims his father is a senior PLO official and friend of its leader Yasser Arafat.
    The official 9/11 report refers to al-Hindi as Issa al-Britani and claims he was sent to the U.S. in early 2001 to identify key Jewish and economic targets in New York.

    See also Terror Mastermind Lived Near Heathrow Airport - Daniel Foggo (Telegraph-UK)
    Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, 25, the al-Qaeda "communications chief" who is believed to have been coordinating a plot to bomb Heathrow, spent three weeks living near the airport late last year.
    Babar Ahmad, a British man arrested last week in a separate operation, has been named in the U.S. media as a relative of Khan.
    Ahmad, 30, was said in a hearing on Friday to have been in possession of U.S. navy battle plans and to have contact with a Muslim "traitor" currently serving on board a vessel.


More Israelis Killed, Hurt in Past 4 Years Than in Previous 53 - Gideon Alon (Ha'aretz)
    Over the last four years, Israel has suffered 11,356 casualties, compared to 4,319 terror-related casualties between November 1947, when the UN voted to establish Israel, and 2000, Shin Bet security service chief Avi Dichter told the cabinet Sunday.
    Dichter noted a sharp rise in the use of women and children in terror attacks, to 7.8% this year, up from 2.7% in 2001.
    The increase indicates that the terrorist organizations are having recruitment problems and are therefore turning to weaker, more easily influenced populations.
    Every day there are about 50 warnings of terror attacks.
    90% of recent Israeli fatalities have resulted from attacks by Fatah-Tanzim cells directed and trained by Hizballah.
    Since the start of the year, Palestinians have fired 168 Kassam rockets at Israel.


U.S. Warns Syria of Further Sanctions (AP/Ha'aretz)
    U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told the Lebanese Al Hayat-LBC satellite station Friday that the Bush administration is studying Damascus' response to sanctions imposed in May, and warned that stricter sanctions could follow.
    "We have the ability to go to stage two, which will be a more draconian sanctions regime," he said.
    The U.S. imposed trade sanctions on Syria because it was supporting terrorism, undermining coalition efforts to stabilize Iraq, and pursuing weapons of mass destruction.
    Armitage also urged Syria to withdraw its 20,000 troops from neighboring Lebanon


Key Links

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Al-Qaeda's Pre-Election Plot
    There can be little doubt that al-Qaeda is trying to strike the American homeland before Nov. 2. "We are in the midst of al-Qaeda efforts to attack the U.S. on a scale as big or larger than 9/11," says John Brennan, chief of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center. (Newsweek)
        See also Target: America
    Al-Qaeda operatives noted that it might be difficult to drive trucks or vans into the parking lot of the Prudential headquarters in Newark. Black limousines, however, could approach without much trouble. The report proposed acquiring a limo, gutting everything except the front seats, and presumably filling it with explosives. (TIME)
        See also below Commentary: What Do You Tell People About Terrorist Threats? (TIME)
  • Rice: Iran Must Not Be Allowed to Develop Nuclear Arms
    National security adviser Condoleezza Rice said Sunday that President Bush would "look at all the tools that are available to him" to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program. "There are very active efforts under way, for instance, to undermine the ability of the Iranians under the cover of civilian nuclear cooperation to get the components that would help them for nuclear weapons developments," Ms. Rice said. "You cannot allow the Iranians to develop a nuclear weapon," she said. "The international community has got to find a way to come together and to make certain that that does not happen." (New York Times)
        Senior administration and intelligence officials say they are seeking ways to step up unspecified covert actions intended "to disrupt or delay as long as we can" Iran's efforts to develop a nuclear weapon. (New York Times)
  • Faction Listens to Arafat Only When He Says What It Wants to Hear
    The Abu Rish Brigades, a Fatah offshoot largely confined to the central and southern Gaza Strip, spurred the wave of internal clashes when they abducted the Gaza police chief, Ghazi al-Jabali, on July 16 in protest at PA corruption. "We wanted to send a message to Arafat," group spokesman Abu Haron said.
        "Our aim is to liberate every piece of land in Palestine, including what is now called Israel," said Abu Haron. "Though we are part of Fatah, [Abu Rish Brigades' leader] Amar Sitta never listened to Fatah. He only listened to what God told him to do. We only hear from Fatah when they tell us to do the right thing. When we hear them say the wrong thing, we ignore it." (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Aqsa Martyrs Brigades Threatens PLO Leadership - Menahem Gantz and Jacky Hogi
    Sources in Fatah are threatening to remove Arafat and the leadership of the PA if they do not immediately implement widespread reforms to end corruption, according to a 20-page document dated July 15 and attributed to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The document requests the firing of all ministers and senior officials involved in corruption and demands the establishment of a truly democratic government.
        If these demands are not fulfilled, the leaders of the Brigades threaten that they will implement the reforms by force through an internal intifada. "The time of punishment has arrived. It is no longer possible to operate in the old way and to continue to rule," the document said. "It is necessary to weigh anew whether the PLO is still the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people." (Maariv-Hebrew; 8 Aug 04)
  • PA Police Won't Get Guns Until Shin Bet Screening - Herb Keinon and Margot Dudkevitch
    Israeli security officials said the PA police would be permitted to carry handguns only after a screening process carried out by the Shin Bet. Defense Minister Mofaz said only those who have no link to terrorism and have no previous security violations would be permitted to carry guns. "We will not allow them to carry 'hot' weapons in areas that can endanger the security of Israelis," he said. "This process will be carefully coordinated with IDF commanders and officers on the ground. If we see that the move is fruitless, we will reverse our decision. It will be totally unacceptable that these armed men obstruct operations carried out by the IDF in the West Bank," Mofaz added.
        Former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy said, "If we want to see law and order restored on the other side, I think we need to allow the PA police to carry arms." (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Foils Terror Attacks - Margot Dudkevitch
    IDF soldiers arrested four Hamas and Fatah Tanzim members near Tulkarm on Saturday. Behind a television unit in the living room, security forces uncovered 19 pipe bombs, gunpowder, IDF uniforms, and eight ammunition clips. The four planned shooting and bomb attacks on Israeli settlements as well as inside Israel. On Friday in Salfit near Ariel, security forces shot and killed Hamas fugitive Muhammad Balasneh, 29, and arrested Ibrahim Darnaji, 38, a high-ranking Fatah Tanzim fugitive. Darnaji, a member of the Palestinian General Intelligence, was responsible for numerous shooting attacks on the Trans-Samaria Highway and initiated many of the attacks carried out by Tanzim in the area. Balasneh was involved in bomb attacks in Barkan and on the Trans-Samaria Highway.
        On Friday, near Ramallah, a special IDF unit arrested Samah Barghouti, suspected of murdering Israeli truck driver Moshe Yohai in June. Also on Friday, soldiers in south Gaza spotted a group of Palestinians attempting to launch an anti-tank rocket. Soldiers opened fire and the rocket exploded, killing a Palestinian. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • What Do You Tell People About Terrorist Threats? - Jeffrey Kluger
    Publicizing security information not only gives targeted populations warning but could also cause the attackers - who may think intelligence officials are closer than they really are - to abandon their plans. The Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, doesn't generally publicize threats unless it has solid evidence of an impending strike. But whenever it put up new checkpoints to thwart the terrorists, radio stations would report the traffic snarls that ensued, and the government would be forced to acknowledge the terrorism threat. The Israelis noticed that this often prompted bombers to put off their journey or to make cell-phone calls to their handlers for traffic information, sometimes enabling the Shin Bet to trace a bomber's location and capture him. Now when Israelis have hard evidence that a bomber is on the way, they will often announce it. Officials say dozens of terrorist attacks have been prevented that way. (TIME)
  • Ma'ale Adumim is Israel - Editorial
    27,000 Israelis now live in Ma'ale Adumim and with current building, this number is projected to grow to 40,000 in three years. A new tunnel road under Mount Scopus connects it to Jerusalem by a ten-minute drive. For all purposes, the town is now the capital's main eastern suburb. Dismantling a thriving and integral town like Ma'ale Adumim is unthinkable under any circumstance. In the face of unbridled illegal building in the Arab neighborhoods of the capital, a vibrant and growing eastern suburb is in the Israeli national interest. The E1 plans to build a connecting neighborhood were drawn up in 1994 by Yitzhak Rabin's government. The logic of preventing Jerusalem being blocked off from the east by Arab neighborhoods is even more relevant today.
        In April, President Bush said that "in light of new realities on the ground including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." It should be made clear to the administration that Ma'ale Adumim is the most major of these "population centers," and should serve as a test case for Bush's words. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Europe Should Press Arafat - Editorial
    Israel's decision to let Palestinian police again carry pistols in the West Bank is a small positive step. Self-government and eventual creation of a Palestinian state are unthinkable until violence and corruption, particularly in Gaza, are quelled. EU nations that are supposed to be Washington's partners in the peace process, and that do deal with Arafat, should intensify their own reform pressures. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Observations:

    Arabs on the Verge of Democracy - Danielle Pletka (New York Times)

    • For the first time in half a century, democracy is the talk of the Arab world.
    • The initial reviews of President Bush's push for reform in the Middle East may have been harsh, yet in the last few months, the debate, once confined to emigre papers published in London or Paris, has suddenly bubbled up onto the pages of the state-controlled press in the Arab world.
    • Palestinian scholar Daoud Kuttab wrote in the London-based Arabic daily Al Hayat that "Arab democrats have failed to reach their goals through their own efforts" and should welcome support from outside "irrespective of the messenger."
    • Naguib Mahfouz, the Egyptian Nobel laureate, warned in Al Ahram, Egypt's main daily newspaper, that postponing reform would be "playing with fire."
    • While some in the U.S. continue to insist that Arab democracy is the fantasy of a discredited cabal in Washington, an effort to avoid what they assert should be America's only priority - resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - Arab intellectuals don't necessarily agree.

          The writer is vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

      For a contrasting view, see Double Blow to Mideast Democracy - Shibley Telhami
          The writer is a nonresident Senior Fellow of the Saban Center. (Saban Center for Middle East Policy-Brookings Institution)


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