Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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U.S. Department of Justice to Focus on Palestinian Terror - Uriel Heilman (Jerusalem Post)
PA Rejects Israeli Info on Gaza Installations - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)
Public Outcry in Nablus Against Use of Teenagers for Terrorist Missions
(Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center-Center for Special Studies)
Muslim Schools in Sweden Seek Funding from Saudi Fundamentalists - Andy Butterworth
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
A stream of fighters from Syria - most of them Syrians, but lately many of them Saudis - has sustained and replenished the hardest core of the Iraq insurgency, and supplied many of its suicide bombers. Nurtured by a militant interpretation of Islam, they insist they are fighting for their vision of their faith. Syrian smuggler Abu Ibrahim, who worked in Saudi Arabia for seven years, calls 9/11 "a great day. America was defeated."
In Saudi Arabia, Abu Ibrahim heard about Abu Qaqaa, a charismatic Syrian religious sheikh who preached a radical version of Islam in Aleppo. "We were Wahhabis. Abu Qaqaa was preaching what we believed in." Returning to Aleppo, he became Abu Qaqaa's right-hand man. Two weeks after the attacks in New York and at the Pentagon, his group celebrated in public with a "festival," featuring video of hand-to-hand combat and training montages of guerrillas leaping from high walls. They called it "the Festival of America the Wounded Wolf." By 2002 the anti-American festivals were running twice weekly. Jihad was being allowed into the open. Abu Ibrahim said Syrian security officials and presidential advisers attended festivals, one of which was called "The People of Sham [an ancient name for the region] Will Now Defeat the Jews and Kill Them All." Money poured in from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.
Abu Ibrahim credited Abu Musab Zarqawi with revitalizing the insurgency, especially since October, when he pledged fealty to Osama bin Laden. "Six months ago, Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden were different," he said. "Osama did not consider the killing of Shiites as legitimate. Zarqawi did that. Anyone - Christian, Jew, Sunni, Shiites - whoever cooperates with the Americans can be killed. It's a holy war." Recently, he said, his contacts in Iraq have said they were not in need of fighters, but money. He said he personally carried cash, provided by sympathetic Saudis, between Saudi Arabia and Syria. "Our brothers in Iraq are asking for Saudis," he said. "The Saudis go with enough money to support themselves and their Iraqi brothers." (Washington Post/Guardian-UK)
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, visiting the Middle East on Tuesday, said, "We are not dealing with Hamas leadership and won't deal with them until they have done two fundamental things, which is dropped their charter committing themselves to the destruction of Israel and given up violence as a legitimate tool." (Reuters)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad dashed reformers' hopes at a highly anticipated three-day Baath Party Congress Monday, steering clear of specifying any broad and imminent reforms that could help lower international pressure and appease rising domestic frustration. (Christian Science Monitor)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Two Palestinian and one Chinese workers were killed and five other Palestinian workers were injured Tuesday when a Kassam rocket slammed into a greenhouse in the Gush Katif settlement of Ganai Tal. Islamic Jihad and Hamas both claimed responsibility for the attack. A total of three Kassam rockets, five mortar shells, and five anti-tank missiles were fired at Gush Katif settlements and IDF outposts in Gaza on Tuesday. (Ynet News)
On Tuesday, Maruh Kamil, one of the most senior Islamic Jihad operatives in the Jenin area, was killed after he opened fire and threw a hand grenade at the IDF force that came to arrest him. An IDF officer was lightly wounded in the shooting. Kamil, 27, a resident of Kabatiya, was planning to carry out a suicide terror attack in the heart of Israel. Kamil had been imprisoned in the PA prison in Jericho for several months, then escaped in May 2004. Kamil maintained direct contact with Islamic Jihad headquarters abroad and was responsible for distributing funds and weaponry to terrorists in the northern West Bank and Jenin. He was personally responsible for directing Islamic Jihad terror attacks against Israeli targets. After the declaration of calm, Kamil personally carried out a shooting attack in April 2005 in the Jenin area, wounding an IDF soldier. (Israel Defense Forces)
Islamic Jihad has become the leading Palestinian terrorist threat as it has continued to disregard the ceasefire to which Hamas adheres. Israeli security sources said the group, which is strong in Samaria but also has cells in Judea, has the potential to disrupt the entire process with the Palestinians. The current assessment in the security establishment is that the terror threat today is at the same level as it was last year. Since the beginning of the so-called ceasefire, Islamic Jihad has been under orders from Damascus to renovate their terrorist infrastructure to prepare for "quality" attacks. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Jihad Leader: "Calm" is Over - Khaled Abu Toameh and Arieh O'Sullivan
The period of calm is over and the Palestinians should be prepared to resume their attacks on Israel, senior Gaza Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh said Tuesday. Islamic Jihad was one of the few Palestinian groups that had refused to accept the tahdiah (calm) agreement that was reached in Cairo in February. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
If the Palestinian electorate votes at the legislative council elections as it did in the local elections on May 5, Hamas could take 35-40% of the 132 seats. Indeed, if Fatah is unable to resolve its internal differences, and again fields two or more rival lists as happened in some municipalities, Hamas could achieve a landslide victory and take control of the Palestinian parliament. A key issue is the public's perception of corruption in the PA and Fatah, in contrast to the "clean hands" image of Hamas. Reform is crucial if the PA is to improve its standing with the public and shift Hamas's share of the vote back toward the 20% range that the movement would normally receive.
The PA must signal its determination to rebuild institutions that are capable of delivering on the commitments it makes to Israel and the international community, and of improving Palestinian social cohesion and political dialogue. Reform is an imperative, not a choice, for the PA and its partners in the international community. The writers are the principal authors of the ''Report of the Independent Task Force on Strengthening Palestinian Public Institutions'' published by the Council on Foreign Relations. (International Herald Tribune)
See also Scare of Hamas Leads to Delayed Elections - Joshua Brilliant
The prospect that the Islamic Hamas might win in Palestinian parliamentary elections seems to be the real reason PA leader Abbas postponed the vote. In recent local elections some 600,000 voters voted for lists associated with Hamas and only 250,000 voted for people associated with Fatah, noted Tel Aviv University professor Nissim Mishal. (UPI/Washington Times)
See also As Hamas Makes Gains, Will Abbas' Ruling Party Unravel? - Joshua Mitnick (Christian Science Monitor)
Iran is now no more than 12 to 48 months from acquiring a nuclear bomb, lacks for nothing technologically or materially to produce it, and seems dead set on securing an option to do so. Iran's continued insistence that it acquired its nuclear capabilities legally under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty would, if unchallenged, encourage its neighbors (including Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and Algeria) to develop nuclear options of their own.
With a nuclear weapons option acting as a deterrent to U.S. and allied action against it, Iran would likely lend greater support to terrorists operating against Israel, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Europe, and the U.S. The objective would be to elevate Iran as an equal to the U.S. and its allies on all matters connected to the Persian Gulf and related regions. The writer is executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center in Washington. (Policy Review-Hoover Institution)
Former IDF Chief of Staff: Complete Quiet Only If We Leave Tel Aviv
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