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 30, 2004

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info@prescon.org

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Upgrades Shihab-3 Missile - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
    The warhead of the Iranian Shihab-3 missile has been considerably upgraded, according to photographs published in Iranian newspapers of test launches three weeks ago.
    It is believed that the warhead is more durable and that the missile's range has been extended.


Nautilus Intercepts Mortar Shells in Mid-Flight - Ami Ettinger (Maariv International)
    The Nautilus, a joint American-Israeli weapons system, performed perfectly during a firing test last week in New Mexico, accurately intercepting and destroying mortar shells.
    The laser-guided tactical anti-missile and projectile system is designed to provide protection from artillery and mortar shells and short-range rockets such as the Katyusha and the Kassam.
    The system uses a tactical high energy laser that can pass through clouds and melt metal projectiles from afar.


Report: Israel Beats German Navy in Sub War Game - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
    Yediot Ahronot reported that an Israeli submarine engaged in a mock underwater battle with a German rival last week and won.
    The German-built, Dolphin-class, Israeli submarine "Tekuma" succeeded in tailing a German submarine at a safe distance without being detected.


220 More Illegal Palestinian Immigrants Land in Italy (Reuters/New York Times)
    A boatload of 241 migrants landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa on Sunday, the latest in a series of such landings.
    Of the men and boys found on board, 220 said they were Palestinians.


An Arab Idol is Crowned (New York Times)
    Libyan dental student Ayman al-Atar won the Super Star 2 singing competition organized by the Lebanese satellite station Al Mustaqbal, defeating Palestinian Ammar Hassan by 54% to 46%.
    See also Gaddafi Accused of Devious Tactics to Ensure "Pop Idol" Win for Libya - Inigo Gilmore (Telegraph-UK)
    Palestinians are enraged that Libyan leader Gaddafi backed a costly nationwide publicity campaign and arranged for free telephone calls for Libyans wishing to vote.
    Yet at the Salfit town hall on the West Bank, 25 computer stations were set up so that residents could bombard the television station with votes for Hassan.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel Denies Spying Allegations
    Israeli officials on Saturday denied allegations the country spied on the U.S. American law enforcement officials on Friday said the FBI is investigating whether a Pentagon analyst fed Israel secret material about White House deliberations on Iran. Israeli security officials said the U.S. and Israel cooperate closely on Iranian issues, making it unlikely they would need to resort to spying. (AP/Washington Post)
        No arrest in the case is believed to be imminent, in part because prosecutors have not yet clearly established whether Lawrence Franklin, a lower-level Pentagon policy analyst, broke the law. Moreover, Franklin appears to be an unlikely candidate for intelligence work. A defense official said Sunday that he had no impact on U.S. policy and few dealings with senior Pentagon officials, including the deputy defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz. Franklin, one of two Iran desk officers in the Pentagon's Near Eastern and South Asian Bureau, is one of about 1,500 people who work for the Pentagon's policy office, headed by Douglas Feith. (New York Times)
        Colleagues said they were stunned to hear Franklin was suspected of giving secret information to a foreign government. And foreign policy specialists said they were skeptical that the pro-Israel group under FBI scrutiny, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, would jeopardize its work with classified documents from a midlevel bureaucrat when it could find out almost anything it wanted to by calling top officials in the Bush administration. "The whole thing makes no sense to me," said Dennis Ross, special envoy on the Arab-Israeli peace process in the first Bush and Clinton administrations. (Washington Post)
        See also below Observations: Israeli Responses to the FBI's Espionage Investigation Leak - A Compendium (ICA/JCPA);
    AIPAC's Statement (AIPAC)
  • Plot to Bomb New York Subway Foiled
    Shahawar Matin Siraj, 21, a native of Pakistan, and James el-Shafay, 19, a U.S. citizen, were arrested Friday on suspicion of plotting to blow up a New York City subway station. The men's motive appeared to be "basically hatred for the system," said New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. (CNN)
        In tape-recorded conversations with an informant this month, both men can be heard repeatedly discussing plans to plant bombs on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and in subway stations, and el-Shafay had drawn a map of the bridges and police precincts on Staten Island. At one point Siraj declared he was "ready for jihad," and in another taped conversation, el-Shafay declared his hatred of "Zionists" and expressed "solidarity with the Palestinian people." One high-ranking police official said the men were representative of disenfranchised young Muslim men in the city who had become more radical by listening to sermons preaching jihad. (New York Times)
  • France Won't Meet Demand of Iraqi Kidnappers to End Ban on Head Scarves
    A day after a militant Islamic group holding two French journalists in Iraq demanded that France revoke a law banning Muslim head scarves in public schools, the French government vowed on Sunday not to compromise its national ideals. (New York Times)
  • Explosives Found in Both Crashed Russian Planes
    Explosives have been found in the second of two Russian jets which crashed simultaneously last week killing 90 people, investigators said Saturday. "Additional examination of the fragments of the Tu-134 aircraft which crashed Tuesday...has revealed traces of hexogen," an FSB security service spokesman said. Hexogen, also known as RDX, has been used in previous attacks blamed on Chechen militants. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Foils Suicide Attack in Western Negev - Amos Harel
    IDF forces Sunday shot dead a would-be suicide bomber in a western Negev community close to the Gaza Strip border. A Kalashnikov rifle, ammunition clips, hand grenades, and an explosive belt were found on the body.
        Jailed Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti's son Qassam, 19, was indicted last week by a military tribunal for shooting an Israeli Arab who was driving a car with Israeli license plates near Psagot in March 2002. (Ha'aretz)
  • Egypt Cools on Gaza Pullout Role - Amos Harel
    The defense establishment has been getting the impression that Egypt is considerably cooling in its willingness to play a role in the Israeli disengagement plan. A senior defense official described the Egyptian attitude as: "they simply went into reverse." (Ha'aretz)
  • Terrorist Pretended to be Cancer Patient - Amit Cohen
    Nabil Masri, a resident of the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza, regrets nothing. Equipped with a false permit saying he had prostate cancer, Masri sought medical treatment in Israel. His intention was to conduct a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. He admits that had he succeeded, hundreds of Palestinian patents would no longer receive permits for medical treatment in Israel. (Maariv-Hebrew, 30 Aug 04)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Pentagon Spy Flap Isn't Open-and-Shut Case - Laura King and Tyler Marshall
    Longtime observers of the intelligence scene note that the U.S. and Israel often share sensitive data, particularly when one has assets the other lacks. For example, the ranks of Israel's diplomatic and intelligence corps are honeycombed with native Arabic speakers, many of them Jews whose families emigrated from elsewhere in the Middle East. They are in many cases far better equipped than their relatively sparse U.S. counterparts to carry out sophisticated analyses of political and military developments in the region, and the fruits of such labors are routinely handed over to America. (Los Angeles Times)
  • The AIPAC Kerfuffle - Editorial
    Actually, this scandal does threaten U.S. national security in a different way: by emboldening those who believe that the entire post-9/11 American paradigm is a Jewish conspiracy imposed on the president, and who relish the prospect of a chill in the U.S.-Israeli relationship. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Ticking Bomb - Steve Forbes
    The news from Iran is grim. Tehran announced in July that it had resumed making the centrifuges needed to produce highly enriched uranium, a key ingredient for nuclear bombs. Through every avenue possible, we should make clear to Tehran that continued nuclearization will mean the U.S. will back any Israeli response to the hilt. Furthermore, we will strike, perhaps even before the Israelis do. For starters, we will embargo Iranian oil exports, crippling Iran's economy and its source of military funding. We should also forthrightly support Iranian democrats and opposition groups. (Forbes)
  • Observations:

    Israeli Responses to the FBI's Espionage Investigation Leak - A Compendium
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Israel's security establishment insists there is no Israeli involvement in allegations that a Pentagon analyst provided Israel with secret documents relating to White House deliberations over Iran - as reported by CBS News.
    • MK Danny Yatom (Labor), who served as head of the Mossad in the 1990s, disclosed on Israel Radio that there are rigid rules against any Israeli espionage activity on U.S. soil, particularly since the 1985 Pollard affair. Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee which oversees the Israeli intelligence services, said he was confident that Israel had not abandoned this more than twenty-year-old decision not to spy on the U.S.
    • Following a similar accusation in the late 1990s, CIA Director George Tenet found the charges baseless and wrote Israel a letter of apology.
    • The CIA, unlike other U.S. intelligence agencies, has political differences with Israel over the Arab-Israeli conflict. CIA relations with Israel have cooled lately over al-Qaeda operations in Africa and Israeli information about the hiding of Saddam Hussein's non-conventional weapons outside Iraq.
    • The background to these allegations is the domestic American debate over foreign policy, with the leak timed to embarrass President Bush on the eve of the Republican convention.

          See also AIPAC'S Statement
      Any allegation of criminal conduct by AIPAC or our employees is false and baseless. Neither AIPAC nor any of its employees has violated any laws or rules, nor has AIPAC or its employees ever received information they believed was secret or classified. AIPAC is cooperating fully with the governmental authorities. (AIPAC)


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