Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Don't Return Drones to China, U.S. Tells Israel - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)
See also Israeli Drones Patrol Mexican Border - Arieh O'Sullivan (Jerusalem Post)
U.S. Bans Hizballah's Al-Manar TV Network for Backing Terror - John Mintz (Washington Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
A powerful explosion killed at least 24 people, including as many as 19 American service members, and wounded 57 when it ripped through the mess tent of a large American military base in Mosul, Iraq, during lunchtime on Tuesday. (New York Times)
See also French Journalists Freed in Iraq, Held Four Months (New York Times)
Normally a neglected backwater, Syria's frontier region has found itself a simmering frontline in Iraq's bloody conflict and subject to unusual international scrutiny. Last week, Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan said that "terrorism in Iraq is orchestrated by Iranian intelligence, Syrian intelligence, and Saddam loyalists." Iraqi border posts are routinely attacked by insurgents. Many of the positions have been abandoned by their Iraqi defenders and burned down.
Normally jammed with long lines of goods, taxis, and cars, the desolate Abu Qamal border crossing beside Hari was closed six weeks ago. Colonel Ali Shammar, the Syrian customs officer in charge of the border crossing, pointed at the sprawling American base marked by watch towers and protected by a wall of earth-filled caissons. A huge American flag ripples gently in the steady breeze. The American base regularly comes under mortar and rocket fire from Iraqi rebels. U.S. soldiers often respond by sweeping the area with machine gun fire, including the Syrian side of the border. (Beirut Daily Star)
It is a mistake to paint al-Zarqawi as the ultimate leader of the Iraqi insurgency because there are so many small groups of militants that might agree with al-Zarqawi ideologically but that may not necessarily take orders from him. Kurdish officials say the insurgency found renewed strength in northern Iraq in May, after the Baath Party held a meeting in the Syrian town of Hasaka. The party reorganized itself, expelling more than half the membership, or anyone who had dealings with the U.S., the Iraqi government, or even humanitarian aid groups.
The new Baath leaders are Mohammad Younis al-Ahmad and Ibrahim Sabawi, Hussein's half-brother and the former head of Iraq's general security directorate. The new leadership found support in Mosul, which had been an important base for Hussein's military and security apparatus, providing more than a third of all Iraqi officers. "The insurgents are using the infrastructure of the old Iraqi army," said Sadi Ahmed Pire, in charge of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan's security operations in Mosul. (Newsday)
The FBI's investigation of AIPAC did not go into high gear until more than a year after the Pentagon's top Iran analyst allegedly passed foreign policy strategy information to two AIPAC officials on June 26, 2003. The investigation only intensified in July 2004, when the FBI allegedly directed the same analyst, Larry Franklin, to conduct a sting operation against AIPAC officials, providing them with purportedly classified information to pass on to Israel, according to sources close to the investigation. The chronology is important because it suggests that that first meeting produced insufficient grounds for the FBI to pursue a case against AIPAC.
The probe appears to have intensified only after the FBI monitored a call between Franklin and reporters at CBS News in May 2004, in which he allegedly disclosed information about aggressive Iranian policy in Iraq. Someone who knows him explained, "Franklin spoke to CBS reporters in an effort to ring an alarm" about White House indifference to a looming threat. After the call, the FBI's counterintelligence division, headed by David Szady, confronted Franklin, who, threatened with charges of espionage and decades of imprisonment, was deployed to set up a sting against AIPAC.
Franklin had been under increased scrutiny since disclosure of a secret meeting in December 2001 with former Iranian spy and arms merchant Manucher Ghorbanifar, who was on a CIA "burn list" of individuals who could not be contacted, according to informed intelligence community sources. During June, July, and August, Franklin, apparently being directed by the FBI, made a series of calls to prominent personalities. (JTA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Ariela Fahima, a 39-year-old mother of four, was murdered in Moshav Nehousha near the border with the West Bank on Tuesday in a terrorist attack, Israel Radio reported Wednesday. She had been stabbed in the neck and her body was found at the entrance to her home by her 10-year-old daughter. (Ha'aretz)
Farms and settlements in the region have been suffering from an unprecedented wave of thefts. Border Police have said this is because the Palestinians are "stocking up the warehouses" before the security fence is completed. (Jerusalem Post)
British Prime Minister Blair arrived in Jerusalem Tuesday from Iraq, and will meet Wednesday with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. The focus of Blair's visit is his initiative for a conference in London at the end of February to strengthen the new Palestinian leadership. Israeli Prime Minister Sharon said Tuesday that Israel will support the conference but will not attend. "Since the initiative is meant to deal with the relationship between the Palestinians and the donor countries, there is no point to us attending, because it will transform the conference into something political. The goal is to encourage the new leadership to impose law and order, back to normal life and a war on terror, and our presence won't help and could hurt," Sharon said. (Ha'aretz)
The Fatah leadership is concerned that it may lose ground to Hamas in elections scheduled for Thursday in 26 Palestinian municipalities in the West Bank. Inroads by Hamas on the local level are expected to impact seriously on the elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council in the summer of 2005. The IDF will allow 1,000 Palestinian policemen to bear arms in some West Bank towns in preparation for the elections, Israel Radio said Wednesday. (Ha'aretz)
On Tuesday Israel's Internal Security Service revealed that it detained Jordanian national Mohammad Abu-Juyad on Aug. 25, who was recruited to Fatah and operated by Hizballah. Abu-Juyad, trained in Syria, planned to set up terror cells on the West Bank and among Israeli Arabs, and carry out attacks on Israel Railways' trains in Nahariya, target Israeli facilities in Jordan, and kidnap IDF soldiers. Abu-Juyad arrived in Tulkarm in the West Bank in June 2004 under the pretext of a family visit. (Maariv International)
The Palestinian Authority has prepared a plan to take control over the areas in the Gaza Strip which will be evacuated by Israel in the frame of the disengagement plan, PA Minister of Housing Abdel Rahman Hamad said Monday. The lands will be declared "public property" so as to prevent local gangs and warlords from laying their hands on them. He confirmed that the PA would prefer to see all the settlements destroyed before the withdrawal. He said Saudi Arabia and the UAE have agreed to finance the construction of more than 1,500 new houses in the area. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
As Palestinians prepare to choose a successor to Arafat, people across the West Bank and Gaza are talking more openly about the damage wrought by their insurrection and the little they have to show for the deaths of more than 3,000 Palestinians (and 1,000 Israelis). Politically, Palestinians appear to be much further from their goal of an independent state in all of the West Bank and Gaza than they were four years ago. Economically, the average Palestinian wage has dropped by one-third during the years of fighting, according to the World Bank.
In the Palestinian towns, where much of the fighting has taken place, frustration with the intifada is acute. Muawad Karmi, a political activist and municipal worker in Tulkarm, says Palestinians have simply been defeated by a better-armed adversary. "It's obvious that a majority of Palestinians now just want to have some quiet," he says. "We've lost our martyrs for nothing." (Newsweek)
While critics of American foreign policy frequently argue that the terrorism inflicted by al-Qaeda is a result of flawed American policy towards Israel, al-Qaeda spokesmen, including bin Laden's deputy, Ayman Zawahri, in his book, The Cavaliers under the Prophet's Banner, make it clear that the U.S. has been targeted mainly because it is seen as al-Qaeda's leading rival. Al-Qaeda views the U.S. as an infidel anti-Islamic power against which Muslims are enjoined to wage war without compromise. Israel does figure prominently in al-Qaeda's propaganda because it represents "world Jewry" and, together with its American ally, forms what is defined as the "Judeo-Crusader" alliance. (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies-Tel Aviv University)
See also Empirical Hubris: How "Anonymous" Disguises the Real Threat to the West and Damages the CIA - Jeff Helmreich (ICA/JCPA)
Follow the Money - Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed (Al-Sharq al-Awsat-UK/Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies-Israel)
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