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DAILY ALERT

October 7, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

New York Named in Terror Threat Against Subways - William K. Rashbaum (New York Times)
    New York City and federal officials said Thursday they had received information about a specific but unconfirmed terrorist threat to the city's transit system and that the police presence in the subways would be heightened in coming days.
    Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly did suggest that riders not bring backpacks, briefcases, baby carriages and luggage if they can do without them. Police officers were stepping up the random bag searches.
    Government officials said that in the last few days, a CIA-FBI operation in Iraq had taken two people there into custody in an effort to disrupt the plot.
    The officials said the plot appeared to involve a dozen or so people in an effort to plant explosives in the subway system around the middle of this month.

    See also Police Investigate New York Subway Terror Threat (ABC News)
    The New York Police Department and FBI are investigating a "credible" tip that 19 operatives have been deployed to the city to place bombs in the subway, but Department of Homeland Security sources said they were very doubtful the threat information is credible.
    The intelligence community developed information that the threat may have involved pharmacists from Iraq coming to New York for some kind of chemical attack targeting the subways.
    Three insurgents, one or more of whom are pharmacists, were arrested during a raid by a U.S. military and intelligence team, sources said, and one of those caught disclosed the threat.


Israel HighWay
- October 6, 2005

Issue of the Week:
    How Israel Responds When Disaster Strikes Around the World

Al-Qaeda's Search for New Fronts in Egypt and Sinai - Reuven Paz (PRISM/GLORIA-Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya)
    On September 25, 2005, a known al-Qaeda supporter, nicknamed Abu Muhammad al-Hilali, published a unique analysis on the Internet, combining it with instructions for Jihadi terrorist activity in Egypt, mainly the Sinai Peninsula.
    Attacks against the American enemy are the top priority; "the most important Jihadi target in this phase is attacks against tourists."
    In the second phase a struggle should be waged simultaneously against the Arab governments and the Jews.
    Al-Hilali offers the future strategy of the Jihad in Egypt, which includes: Targeting tourists by killing them or taking hostages.
    Targeting the movement of ships and attacking the main ports in both the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.
    Targeting the transfer of oil and gas to Israel.
    Targeting any foreign presence in Egypt, such as cultural centers, companies, and embassies.


Saddam's Revenge - From Syria - Joe Klein (TIME)
    The Baathists were active in courting the Sunni tribes in Iraq.
    Starting in November 2003, tribal sheiks and Baathist expatriates held a series of monthly meetings at the Cham Palace Hotel in Damascus. They were public events, supposedly meetings to express solidarity with the Iraqi opposition to the U.S. occupation.
    The January 2004 gathering was attended by Syrian President Bashar Assad.
    Behind the scenes, the meetings provided a convenient cover for leaders of the insurgency, including Muhammad Yunis al-Ahmed, the former Military Bureau director, to meet, plan, and distribute money.


U.S. Considering $2 Billion in Military Sales to Saudis (AFP/Beirut Daily Star)
    The Pentagon has notified the U.S. Congress of possible military sales to Saudi Arabia valued at more than $2 billion, if all options are exercised.
    The proposed sales include armored personnel carriers, command vehicles, water cannons, a variety of trucks, ambulances, ammunition, and assault rifles for the Saudi Arabian National Guard.
    Another proposed sale, valued around $401 million, was for a system that distributes information through data links to fighter aircraft.
    The third proposed sale, valued at up to $760 million, was for continued technical and logistical support for Saudi military aircraft, aircraft engines, and missiles.


"Sister Encouraged British Suicide Bomber" (Reuters)
    A teacher encouraged her brother to become one of Britain's first suicide bombers by taking part in an attack that killed three people in an Israeli nightclub, a London court was told on Thursday.
    Parveen Sharif, 37, is accused of encouraging her brother Omar Sharif to blow himself up with another Briton, Asif Hanif, in a Hamas-sponsored attack at Mike's Place club in Tel Aviv in April 2003.
    Prosecutor Jonathan Laidlaw told the court that Parveen, a primary school teacher, and her brother Zahid Sharif, 38, had been aware of Omar's intention to carry out the attack and failed to tell the authorities.
    Parveen, who believed her brother's reward would be a place in paradise for himself and his family, had actively encouraged him to go ahead with the bombing, the court heard.


Outspoken Israeli Imam Raises Fears of Jerusalem Jihad - Uzi Mahnaime (Sunday Times-UK)
    An Israeli-Arab religious leader who preaches holy war is attracting support from hundreds of people, fueling fears among Israel's security services that al-Qaeda is poised to establish a foothold in the country.
    Sheikh Nazem Abu Salim, 40, an Israeli citizen and imam at the most prominent mosque in Nazareth - Shihab al-Din - has called for jihad in an Islamic magazine he publishes.
    "The jihad should take place in Jerusalem," Nazem, a biochemistry graduate of Beersheba University, wrote in the magazine Ansar Allah.
    Nazem also distributes one of the most important books of the global jihad, Al-Taifa al-Mansura. Written in 1993, it directs Islamic fundamentalists to take over all Islamic communities.


No Dancing and No Gays If Hamas Gets Its Way - Stephen Farrell (Times-UK)
    A vision of an Islamic society that bans mixed dancing and sternly disapproves of homosexuality has been given by Mahmoud Zahar, the most senior leader of Hamas in Gaza.
    Secular Palestinians fear that Hamas will try to impose its ultraconservative vision on them.
    Its Gaza heartland has no cinemas or bars, yet the West Bank has a brewery and Ramallah restaurants serve wine.


Iraqi Girl to Be Treated in Israel - Nurit Paltar (Ynet News)
    A ten-year-old Iraqi girl will arrive in Israel in the coming week in order to undergo a complicated heart surgery in one of the country's hospitals.
    The operation is an initiative by the Save a Child's Heart organization.


Israel Will Revert to Standard Time on October 9 (Jerusalem Post)
    Daylight Savings Time in Israel will end between Saturday night, October 8, and Sunday morning, October 9.
    The U.S. ends Daylight Savings Time October 30.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush: 10 Terror Plots Foiled Since Sept. 11 - David E. Sanger
    President Bush on Thursday declared in a speech that the U.S. and its partners had disrupted 10 serious terror plots since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. (New York Times)
        See also below Observations: President Bush Discusses War on Terror (White House)
  • Bin Laden Deputy Envisions Jihad on New Fronts, War Against Israel - Robin Wright
    The U.S. has obtained a letter dated in early July from Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, to the leader of Iraq's insurgency, Abu Musab Zarqawi, that outlines a long-term strategic vision for a global jihad, with the next phase of the war to be taken into Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and, eventually, Israel. The letter also warns Zarqawi against alienating the Islamic world, and reprimands the Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda for beheading hostages and then distributing videotapes.
        The letter outlines a four-stage plan: First, expel American forces from Iraq. Second, establish a caliphate over as much of Iraq as possible. Third, extend the jihad to neighboring countries, with specific reference to Egypt and the Levant - a term that describes Syria and Lebanon. And finally, war against Israel. (Washington Post)
  • Palestinian Vigilante Killings on the Rise - Mohammed Daraghmeh
    The number of Palestinians slain in vigilante killings and other internal violence has nearly quadrupled in four years, from 43 in 2002 to 151 so far in 2005, according to statistics presented Thursday. A top security official said more Palestinians were killed in internal violence this year than by Israeli troops.
        Some Palestinian security commanders have become warlords, using the men under their command for personal gain or illegal enterprise, such as weapons deals or extortion. In many cases, policemen are moonlighting as gunmen in militias. The overlap is particularly pronounced in the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, which has ties to Fatah. Abbas' security chief, Interior Minister Nasser Yousef, argues he can't fight crime without a political decision to confront militants. "When Hamas keeps its military wing, then Fatah will say, we have the right to do the same," said Yousef's spokesman, Tawfiq Abu Khoussa. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Palestinian Investigative Committee: PA Has Done Nothing to Impose Order - Arnon Regular
    The committee's first recommendation - to oust Prime Minister Qurei's government - was adopted by a large majority of the Palestinian Legislative Council on Monday. (Ha'aretz)
  • Egypt: PA Vote Could Be Delayed If Hamas Breaks Truce - Ibrahim Barzak
    Egyptian mediators in Gaza have warned Hamas that Palestinian parliamentary elections set for Jan. 25 could be postponed if the Islamic militants don't abide by a truce, including a promise to keep their weapons at home, an official close to the talks said Thursday. Egypt is increasingly influential in chaotic Gaza, with both the PA and armed groups seeking its backing and good will. (AP/Washington Post)
  • God Told Me to Invade Iraq, Bush Tells Palestinian Authority Ministers
    President George W. Bush told Palestinian Authority ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq - and create a Palestinian state, a new BBC series reveals. In "Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs," Abu Mazen, Palestinian chairman, and Nabil Shaath, his foreign minister, describe their first meeting with President Bush in June 2003. Nabil Shaath says: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq." And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"
        Abu Mazen was at the same meeting and recounts how President Bush told him: "I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state." (BBC)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • After the First Round - Ze'ev Schiff
    If additional military confrontations develop in the Gaza Strip - and this appears likely - Israel will probably respond more harshly. With the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the time has come to put a stop to the contradictory situation where the Palestinians fire rockets from Gaza into Israel while Israel shows exaggerated sensitivity toward Palestinian factories that have been established by donor states in the Gaza Strip. If the Palestinian public wants aid from donors - including Israel - it has to pressure Hamas and the other extremist groups to stop the war. If the war continues, as Hamas desires, the donor states will have to leave the area, as has happened elsewhere. The choice lies with the Palestinian public and the Palestinian Authority. They must choose. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Regroups - Herb Keinon
    What was different about Israel's response to Hamas rocket fire into Sderot was not the firepower used, but that it was sustained, day in and day out for more than a week, without any significant protest from the world. If Hamas didn't understand that the rules had changed when the IDF left Gaza, the U.S. and Europe, at last, seemed to internalize that this was not the same old "cycle of violence." As a result, the skies over the western Negev have been quiet for a few days, quiet enough for Sharon to reschedule a meeting with Abbas that was cancelled on October 2 as violence from Gaza surged.
        The arrest of more than 400 suspects - including 200 Hamas activists, among them leading Hamas military and political figures - is widely believed in Jerusalem to have "moved Hamas." According to assessments in Jerusalem, the sustained IDF pressure threatened to weaken the operational infrastructure Hamas has tried so hard to rebuild. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel: Franklin's Trial Won't Affect Us - Nathan Guttman
    Israeli diplomatic sources said Thursday that Naor Gilon, the former political officer at the Israeli Embassy in Washington who was in contact with convicted Pentagon analyst Lawrence Franklin, had no idea that the information he got from Franklin was classified. "We are not responsible for what is said to us by American officials," said a diplomatic source. "Even if an American official did something he was not authorized to do, we had no way of knowing that." Mark Regev, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that "the Israel Embassy staff in Washington conduct themselves in a completely professional manner in accordance with all international conventions, and no one serious has made any allegations to the contrary." Court documentation showed that Israel was not accused of any wrongdoing. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Protests EU Meeting with Hizballah Minister in Lebanon - Herb Keinon
    Israel expects consistency in the EU's stand on terrorism if it wants to increase its involvement here, Foreign Ministry director-general Ron Prosor told EU representatives Thursday in protest against a meeting of EU ambassadors with a Hizballah minister in Lebanon. Prosor said that these types of meetings send the "wrong message" regarding the war on terror, and repeated Israel's call that the EU place Hizballah on its list of terror organizations. In contrast to the Europeans, diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said that in recent days the Americans have signaled Israel that they will have no contact with representatives of Hizballah. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The AIPAC Lobbyists Case: Trouble for Journalists - Eli Lake
    A prosecution of this kind is unprecedented. Far from alleging the two AIPAC officials were foreign agents, U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty is contending that the lobbyists are legally no different than the government officials they lobbied, holding Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman to the same rules for protecting secrets as Defense Department analyst Lawrence Franklin or any other bureaucrat with a security clearance.
        But if it's illegal for Rosen and Weissman to seek and receive "classified information," then many investigative journalists are also criminals - not to mention former government officials who write for scholarly journals or the scores of men and women who petition the federal government on defense and foreign policy. In fact, the leaking of classified information is routine in Washington, where such data is traded as a kind of currency. And, while most administrations have tried to crack down on leaks, they have almost always shied away from going after those who receive them - until now.
        The prosecution of Rosen and Weissman threatens to have a chilling effect - not on the ability of foreign agents to influence U.S. policy, but on the ability of the American public to understand it. "If there is a conviction in this case, anyone who talks to anyone in government could be liable if he discusses the substance of the conversation with any foreign national or a reporter," says Morris Amitay, a former executive director of AIPAC. (New Republic, 10Oct05)
  • What Israel Has to Do - Hirsh Goodman
    The now tiresome refrain is that it's up to Israel to help Abu Mazen and the PA in its fight with Hamas, that Israel should release prisoners, ease things up at roadblocks, provide employment, encourage economic growth, and take down its security barrier in the West Bank. All those gestures would be fine if they would have made even the slightest difference to the ability of the PA to gain the upper hand in containing those who still want to destroy Israel. Unfortunately, easing things at roadblocks and releasing prisoners cannot redeem Abu Mazen's PA; in a nutshell, the current leadership has proved to be not only disappointing but useless.
        Israel should recommit itself to the road map, its willingness to recognize an independent Palestinian state, as Prime Minister Sharon has, and hope that a Palestinian leadership emerges that can accept the challenge and deliver. In the meantime, Hamas should be pulverized and punished. (Jerusalem Report)
  • Syria: It's All Over, But It Could Be Messy - Volker Perthes
    Bashar Assad's regime in Syria has reached its end phase, even if it manages to hang on to power for months or years. This is so almost irrespective of what the UN prosecutor will say in his report about the alleged role of Syria in the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon. Assad's regime has lost the confidence and support of many of Syria's people and elites. Its mismanagement of Lebanon led to a humiliating withdrawal and opened Syria to an international investigation that deeply infringes upon its sovereignty. Assad has misread major regional and international developments, thereby isolating Syria internationally, and has failed to deliver any political reform. (International Herald Tribune)
        See also Assad State of Affairs - Arab Nationalism Dies in Syria - Lee Smith
    Ordinary Syrians fear what they believe is an imminent U.S. attack. Many Syrians see the sectarian violence in Iraq, and they are fearful the same might happen to them. The ruling Alawites cloaked themselves in Arab nationalism to disguise the fact that a minority sect some Sunnis consider heretical is running the country. With the UN report on the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri due to be released October 25, it's hard to see how the Assad family can entirely escape a day of reckoning.
        "Even Saddam had a larger base of support than the Syrian regime," says Farid al-Khazen, a first-term deputy in the Lebanese parliament and a professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. "Syria - a state that derives its sense of well-being from repression, fear, and hatred - is hardly ready for a peaceful democratic transition. There is nothing left of civil society."
        Washington may hope there is some plausible alternative to the Assads, but none is in evidence - not a secular, democratic opposition, not a reform movement in exile, not moderate Islamists. (Not even Islamist extremists, whose organizational capacity the regime has invariably exaggerated for its own purposes.) Thus, the regime has effectively booby-trapped Syria, and if it falls it is quite likely Syrians will shed each other's blood. (Weekly Standard)
        See also Syria Growing More Isolated - Donna Abu-Nasr (AP/San Jose Mercury News)

    Weekend Features

  • Islamist Way or No Way - Mark Steyn
    Bassam Tibi, a Muslim professor at Gottingen University in Germany, said a few months after September 11, "Both sides should acknowledge candidly that although they might use identical terms, these mean different things to each of them. The word 'peace,' for example, implies to a Muslim the extension of the Dar al-Islam - or House of Islam - to the entire world. This is completely different from the Enlightenment concept of eternal peace that dominates Western thought. Only when the entire world is a Dar al-Islam will it be a Dar a-Salam, or House of Peace." That's why they blew up Bali in 2002, and last weekend, and why they'll keep blowing it up. It's not about Bush or Blair or Iraq or Palestine. It's about a world where everything other than Islamism lies in ruins. (The Australian)
  • Are Arabs Anti-American? - Amir Taheri
    Are Arabs the most anti-American people on earth? America is by far the largest pole of attraction for Arab foreign investment. The most conservative estimates put the value of Arab assets in the U.S. at over $4.5 trillion. The U.S. is also one of the top three trading partners of virtually all Arab states. America has been the No. 1 foreign tourist destination for Arabs since the 1980s, and has remained so despite restrictions imposed on Arab visitors after 9/11. Arabs of all political sensibilities also love to send their children to study in America. And when it comes to seeking medical treatment, no country competes with the U.S. in attracting well-heeled Arabs.
        It is possible to spend a holiday in most Arab capitals without moving out of the orbit of American-franchised hotels, restaurants, tourist services, and banks. More than 70% of what's broadcast on Arab TV stations is U.S.-made. Sixteen of the 21 member states of the Arab League host some U.S. military presence. (New York Post)
  • What Drives Suicide Bombers? - Steven Gutkin
    As the pace of suicide attacks increases in the Middle East and beyond, a surprising profile is emerging of those willing to take their own lives: Many are young, middle class, and educated. Many of today's suicide bombers, especially in Iraq and the Palestinian territories, come from societies where many people condone the action, making it easier to execute. Recent studies have debunked some common misperceptions about suicide bombers: that most are poor, that they're in it for personal revenge, that they're crazy and uneducated. Nearly four-fifths of all suicide attacks in the last 35 years have happened since 9/11, according to the RAND Center for Terrorism Risk Management. And 80% of those have been carried out by radical Islamic groups. (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • Israel in the Australian Media - Tzvi Fleischer
    The Australian media focuses disproportionately on Israel and particularly on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The bias in this coverage derives partly from trends imported from international sources. However, there are domestic influences within the Australian media that exacerbate the problem. Beyond bias, certain themes emerging in the Australian media are examples of the "new anti-Semitism." These include the alleged financial and media power of the Jewish lobby; an extreme demonization of Israel and extravagant assertions about the supposed worldwide effects of its policy toward the Palestinians; conspiracy theories about American Jewish neoconservatives; and a tendency to claim that anti-Semitism is a response to Jewish behavior and attitudes. (Jewish Political Studies Review)
  • Observations:

    President Bush Discusses War on Terror (White House)

    Speaking Thursday at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, President Bush said:

    • The images and experience of September the 11th are unique for Americans. Yet the evil of that morning has reappeared on other days, in other places - in Mombasa, and Casablanca, and Riyadh, and Jakarta, and Istanbul, and Madrid, and Beslan, and Taba, and Netanya, and Baghdad, and elsewhere.
    • Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it's called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism and subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against Christians and Jews and Hindus - and also against Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics.
    • We know the vision of the radicals because they've openly stated it - in videos, and audiotapes, and letters, and declarations, and websites.
      • First, these extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace, and stand in the way of their ambitions.
      • Second, the militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments. Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, and Jordan for potential takeover.
      • Third, the militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. With greater economic and military and political power, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people, and to blackmail our government into isolation.
    • The influence of Islamic radicalism is also magnified by helpers and enablers. They have been sheltered by authoritarian regimes, allies of convenience like Syria and Iran, that share the goal of hurting America and moderate Muslim governments, and use terrorist propaganda to blame their own failures on the West and America, and on the Jews. These radicals depend on front operations, such as corrupted charities, which direct money to terrorist activity. The militants are aided, as well, by elements of the Arab news media that incite hatred and anti-Semitism, that feed conspiracy theories and speak of a so-called American "war on Islam."
    • Over the years these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence - the Israeli presence on the West Bank, or the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, or the defeat of the Taliban, or the Crusades of a thousand years ago. In fact, we're not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We're facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of the killers - and no concession, bribe, or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder.
    • Overall, the United States and our partners have disrupted at least ten serious al-Qaeda terrorist plots since September the 11th, including three al-Qaeda plots to attack inside the United States. We've stopped at least five more al-Qaeda efforts to case targets in the United States, or infiltrate operatives into our country. Because of this steady progress, the enemy is wounded - but the enemy is still capable of global operations. Our commitment is clear:
      • We will not relent until the organized international terror networks are exposed and broken, and their leaders held to account for their acts of murder.
      • Second, we're determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes, and to their terrorist allies who would use them without hesitation.
      • Third, we're determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes. State sponsors like Syria and Iran have a long history of collaboration with terrorists, and they deserve no patience from the victims of terror. The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them, because they're equally as guilty of murder. Any government that chooses to be an ally of terror has also chosen to be an enemy of civilization. And the civilized world must hold those regimes to account.


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