Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 15, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

German Insight on Iran's Ongoing Support for Terrorism - Dan Darling (Weekly Standard)
    A recent article in the German political magazine Cicero, titled "How Dangerous is Iran?" focuses on Iran's long-standing support for international terrorism.
    A member of the Jordanian intelligence agency GID is quoted as saying, "Ahmadinejad can and will use the terrorist card every time as extortion against the West."
    "If Europe does not accommodate Iran in the dispute over the mullahs' nuclear program, they will threaten terrorism against British soldiers in Iraq and French interests in Lebanon."
    The author was able to look at a list of the holy killers who have found safe refuge in Iran.
    The list reads like the Who's Who of global jihad, with close to 25 high-ranking leadership cadres of al-Qaeda - planners, organizers, and ideologues of the jihad from Egypt, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, North Africa, and Europe.
    At the top in the al-Qaeda hierarchy: three of bin Laden's sons - Saad, Mohammad, and Othman.
    They live in secure housing of the Revolutionary Guards in and around Tehran.

Iran's Effort to Conquer Space - Yiftah S. Shapir (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies-Tel Aviv University)
    Iranian spokesmen say their satellites are designed to locate and monitor natural resources and perform other, similar missions, but Israeli and American sources have emphasized the military dimension of the Iranian space program.
    Israeli media have portrayed the Iranian satellites as spy satellites, meant to collect visual intelligence data.
    Development continues on the Shehab-4, which is intended to be Iran's first SLV (Space Launch Vehicle).

Saudi Teacher to be Lashed for Praising Jews (Reuters)
    A court in Saudi Arabia sentenced secondary school teacher Mohammad al-Harbia to 40 months in jail and 750 lashes after he discussed the Bible and praised Jews, Al-Madina newspaper said on Sunday.

Bali Bomber Blows Himself Up in Ambush - Daniel McGrory (Times-UK)
    A British-educated bombmaker believed to have masterminded both Bali bombings blew himself up on Nov. 9 when an anti-terrorist unit surrounded his hideout in Indonesia.
    Azahari bin Husin, 43, a former student at Reading University, was named as the bombmaker behind the 2002 suicide attacks on tourist bars in Bali.
    He was linked to the bombings in Jakarta in 2003, the Australian embassy last year, and last month's suicide bombings in Bali.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Egypt Derails Middle East Initiative - Robin Wright
    An international conference in Bahrain intended to advance democracy in the Middle East ended Saturday without a formal declaration, eliciting expressions of disappointment from U.S. officials, who considered the conference a key part of President Bush's regional democracy initiative. In a surprise move, Egypt derailed the Forum for the Future by demanding that Arab governments be given significant control over which pro-democracy groups would receive aid from a new fund. The U.S. delegation expressed disappointment with Egypt, which receives roughly $2 billion in U.S. military and economic assistance annually. "Obviously, we're not pleased," said a senior State Department official. (Washington Post)
  • 174-Member Delegation from Pakistan in Israel
    Carrying complete official and political blessings, a 174-member Pakistani delegation led by Maulana Ajmal Qadri reached Tel Aviv on Saturday. The delegation is believed to be comprised of religious scholars, businessmen and some officials. Qadri, chief of a Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam faction, said early this month that unofficial trade between Pakistan and Israel via Jordan stands at $1 billion a year and Islamabad should officially allow trade with the Jewish state. Qadri told reporters that he had paid several visits to Israel via Jordan over the last 15 years in his capacity as vice president of a London-based Arab NGO.
        We should not abandon our link with Baitul Maqdas (Jerusalem) and we should visit Israel to see it, he said. Pakistan has begun trade and opened bus links with India and a similar arrangement could be made with Israel. (Pakistan Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel and PA Clinch Deal on Gaza-Egypt Border - Aluf Benn, Arnon Regular, and Akiva Eldar
    Israeli and Palestinian officials have clinched a long-awaited deal on the manning of the Gaza-Egypt border crossing, Secretary of State Rice said Tuesday in Jerusalem. Rice had postponed her departure from the region Monday in order to finalize the details. Under the deal, the border would tentatively open November 25, and construction of a Gaza seaport would begin. Palestinians would be able to travel between the West Bank and Gaza in bus convoys through Israel.
        At the Rafah crossing there will be a communications center with videos filming people crossing the Egypt-Gaza border. The videos will be monitored by Israeli officials, and European observers will have the final decision in the event of a dispute over passage for persons Israel deems suspicious and the PA believes should be allowed to cross. (Ha'aretz)
        See also IDF Intelligence Warns of Security Threats at Gaza-Egypt Border - Hanan Greenberg
    As an agreement on opening up the Gaza-Egypt border crossing seems imminent, a senior IDF Intelligence officer says that there are warnings and threats to Israel's security from the current arrangement. "With all due respect to the Egyptians and the Palestinians, we can only trust ourselves. Even if there are some Europeans monitoring the place - he won't jump on a terrorist the minute he crosses and arrest him there. He won't even know who the terrorist is," he said.
        "Now the Rafah Crossing is turning into a dangerous point....The problem exists on both sides, both from the possibility of traffic of terrorists who left Gaza with an intention to enter Judea or Samaria, or Israel, to carry out attacks, and there are also suspicions that there will be infiltration attempts from Egypt into the Strip," the officer said. "A large quantity of arms is being piled up in Sinai in El-Arish. There are whole stockpiles there that are waiting to be smuggled into Gaza. Unfortunately, the Egyptians are not in control there," he said. (Ynet News)
  • Sharon, Rice Discuss Hamas Election Participation
    Prime Minister Sharon met Monday with U.S Secretary of State Rice in Jerusalem. Sharon emphasized that Hamas's participation in the [Palestinian] elections would be a serious mistake because the participation of an armed terrorist organization would only weaken Abu Mazen: "Hamas's participation could lead to the end of the Roadmap, if there is a situation in which an armed terrorist organization is a political partner in the Palestinian administration....We will not help those who murder Jews even if they participate in the elections. Nowhere in the world would they be allowed to participate in elections. Even according to the Oslo accords, they were not allowed to participate in elections." Only if Hamas disarms and annuls its covenant, which calls for the destruction of Israel, would Israel accept Hamas's participation in them.
        Rice said she believes that after the PA elections, it will be easier to compel Hamas to disarm because the pressure will come from the entire international community. She said she respects the Israeli position and added that if Abbas does not disarm Hamas, he would lose both American and international support. Rice said the U.S. would never hold contacts with Hamas or Islamic Jihad even if they are in the administration, adding that the U.S. would never countenance a situation in which terrorist organizations that remain armed take part in the Palestinian administration. (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Palestinians Continue Rocket Fire at Israel - Shmulik Haddad
    Palestinian terrorists fired a Kassam rocket Monday at the southern Israeli community of Nativ Ha'asara, which damaged some of the community's greenhouses. (Ynet News)
        See also Two Palestinian Rockets Hit Sderot Area
    Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired two Kassam rockets near the southern Israeli city of Sderot Monday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Deadly "Stability" - Ralph Peters
    Bashar Assad and his family mafia murdered Lebanon's prime minister. Then, forced to withdraw Syrian troops, they began a bombing campaign to destabilize a country that voted for freedom. The Assad regime harbors die-hards from Saddam's murder machine and vigorously supports the Sunni-Arab insurgency in western Iraq. Assad & Co. turn a blind eye to the use of Syrian territory to launch international Islamist terrorists into Iraq. Syria's Baathist thugs continue to support terrorists who attack Israeli civilians and who are determined to prevent the rise of a rule-of-law state among Palestinians.
        The collapse of the Assad regime would destabilize the Middle East? Exactly which stability are we talking about? We shouldn't fear the end of Assad's regime. It's pure good news. (New York Post)
  • The Senate Holds a Hearing on the Saudi Arabia Accountability Act - Stephen Schwartz
    Last week, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing, titled "Saudi Arabia: Friend or Foe in the War on Terror?" in order to air expert comment on the Saudi Arabia Accountability Act of 2005. The hearing examined a Freedom House report titled "Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques," issued last January. Daniel Glaser, Treasury deputy assistant secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, allowed that the Saudis had shut down terror-financing charities inside their territory but let these operations continue their work abroad.
        At the most fundamental level, the Saudi response to terrorism remains weak. A five-part study of the emergence of terrorism and extremism in the kingdom, published in October in the daily Al-Riyad and released by the U.S. government's Foreign Broadcast Information Service, is notable for its curiously opaque language. Islamist extremism is described as a "dubious ideology" of a "misguided faction," not as murderous terrorism. The study argues that this problem "can only be remedied by discussion and advice." (Weekly Standard)
  • Observations:

    Iran's New Revolutionary Guards Regime: Anti-Americanism, Oil, and Rising International Tension - Mordechai Abir
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • Since becoming Iran's president in August, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who served in the ranks of the Revolutionary Guards during the 1980-1988 war with Iraq, has appointed fellow Revolutionary Guards members to the most key positions in his cabinet and administration, including his foreign and defense ministers.
    • The "revolutionary factions" have in recent months conducted a major purge of the military, security apparatus, civil service, state-owned corporations, and media. Iran's armed forces are now controlled by senior commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards.
    • Within the Revolutionary Guards, there is an elite "Qods (Jerusalem) Force" responsible for military operations (including terrorism) beyond the boundaries of Iran. Ahmadinejad was a senior commander in the Qods Force. According to Al Sharq Al-Awsat, elements of the Qods Force have led operations against coalition forces in Iraq; other sources even contend that the Qods Force provided logistical support to the Zarqawi network in the past.
    • Iran's oil production, which in the days of the Shah reached 6 million bpd, has declined to about 3.9 million bpd. Crude exports have fallen by 22 percent since May to 2.13 million bpd in September. Yet the windfall Iran has enjoyed from the sale of its oil has turned the country's budget deficit into a surplus, enabling Iran to adopt a harder-line position concerning its nuclear projects and its relations with the West.
    • Ahmadinejad used the substantial windfall from the sale of Iran's oil to accelerate and expand the 2005-2006 five-year program for defense spending. While he did not initiate the plan to double the military budget in five years, he greatly expedited it so that it will be completed well before the 2010 target.

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