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Israel Confirms: Al-Qaeda Fired Katyusha Rockets at Northern Israel - Alex Fishman (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 1Jan06)
See also Al-Qaeda Terrorists Establishing Cells in West Bank - Felix Frish (Maariv-Hebrew, 1Jan06)
Israeli Security Officials Confirm: Rocket Fired at Israel from West Bank Last Month - Ronny Shaked (Ynet News)
Wanted Hamas Military Commander Returns to Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Palestinian armed groups ended a year-long truce with Israel Sunday in a move which could lead to new violence. Islamic Jihad marked the end of the truce, which it has barely observed, by firing rockets at Israel from Gaza. Hamas too officially ended its truce, but analysts say it is unlikely to make an immediate return to violence because it hopes to do well in elections at the end of the month. The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of Abbas's Fatah movement, also said it was ending the truce and claimed joint responsibility for the rocket attacks with Islamic Jihad. (Telegraph-UK)
Syria's former vice president Abdul Halim Khaddam told al-Arabiya television Friday that Syrian President Bashar Assad threatened former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in the months before Hariri's assassination and that the sophisticated operation to kill him could not have been carried out on the authority of only one agency. Khaddam's comments suggested the participation of senior Syrian officials in Hariri's slaying. (Washington Post)
See also Assad Accused - Zvi Bar'el
The accusation by former Syrian vice president Abdul Halim Khaddam against Syrian President Bashar Assad corroborated the suspicion by many in the Syrian regime that Khaddam had betrayed Assad. They say he was the one who told German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis about the regime's part in murdering Lebanon's former prime minister. Khaddam, one of the only Sunnis to reach a senior position, has been seeking revenge for five years for being pushed out of government by Bashar Assad. Khaddam was also a close friend of Rafiq Hariri. In November, following the suspicion that he gave Mehlis information, Khaddam's vast property was confiscated by the Syrian government. (Ha'aretz)
See also UN Team Seeks to Quiz Assad (CNN)
See also Syrian Parliament: Try Former VP for "High Treason"
The Syrian parliament has unanimously called for the trial of former vice president Abdul Halim Khaddam on charges of high treason. (AFP/Yahoo)
On Friday evening the kidnappers agreed to free British aid worker Kate Burton and her mother and father once the group had produced a video attacking Britain's role in the Middle East and threatening further kidnappings if the international community failed to put pressure on Israel. (Observer-UK)
See also Palestinian Gunmen Blow Up UN Club in Gaza City - Nidal al-Mughrabi
Masked gunmen stormed into a club for UN workers in Gaza City on Sunday, tied up the security guard, and struck him with gun butts. Then they set explosives in front of the bar, unrolled a detonator cable, and blew up the charges, ripping up the roof and shattering the windows. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Palestinians fired at least three Kassam rockets from Gaza at Israeli targets in the western Negev on Sunday. The rockets were fired from areas not targeted during the IDF's Operation Blue Skies aimed at curbing rocket fire at Israel. (Ynet News)
See also Airstrike on Rocket Cell Kills Two - Hanan Greenberg
The Israel Air Force launched missiles at Palestinian gunmen attempting to launch Kassam rockets at southern Israeli communities Saturday evening, killing two and injuring a third. The strike is part of Operation Blue Skies. (Ynet News)
In September 2005, after Israeli troops no longer maintained a presence between Egypt and Gaza, terror groups succeeded in smuggling vast quantities of explosives and weaponry into Gaza from Egypt, the Shin Bet security service reported. Over five tons of explosives, 200 anti-tank grenades, 350 anti-tank rockets, and a number of anti-aircraft missiles were among the arms smuggled from Egypt to terror groups in Gaza during September 12-18 alone. In many instances, members of the Palestinian security forces received bribes in order to "turn a blind eye" to the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, as terror groups continued to strengthen their capabilities in preparation for the renewal of violence, the security agency said.
The fact that anti-aircraft missiles have reached Gaza terror groups is cause for concern, having the potential of growing into a far more dangerous threat if the missiles reached terror groups in the West Bank, said the Shin Bet.
According to the Shin Bet, Palestinians launched 2,990 terror attacks against Israeli targets in 2005. Motivation among all the terror groups to attack Israel remains high, with the number of monthly terror alerts averaging 57. In 2005 security forces arrested 160 potential suicide bombers in the West Bank, 59 affiliated with Islamic Jihad, 29 with Hamas, 47 with Fatah Tanzim, 14 with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and 11 with other terror groups. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Shin Bet: Truce with Hamas Main Cause for Reduced Terror - Amos Harel
The Shin Bet reported Sunday that terrorist attacks claimed the lives of 45 Israelis in 2005, compared to 117 in 2004. In 2002, 450 Israelis were killed by terrorists. The fact that Hamas, in general, stopped engaging in terror activities changed the picture. The Islamic Jihad network in the West Bank upgraded its capability and was responsible for the murder of 23 Israelis in 2005, but during that time, Hamas scaled back its engagement in terror.
The security fence is no longer mentioned as the major factor in preventing suicide bombings, mainly because the terrorists have found ways to bypass it. The fence does make it harder for them, but the flawed inspection procedures at its checkpoints and the uncompleted sections enable suicide bombers to enter Israel. (Ha'aretz)
Mathias Eick, spokesman for the EU Election Observation Mission, said that 32 "long-term" election monitors are to fan out across the West Bank and Gaza on Monday, prior to the Jan. 25 PA elections. Another 128 "short-term" observers, as well as 30 members of the European Parliament, are slated to arrive just a few days before the elections. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Palestinian Gunmen Expel Election Monitors - Khaled Abu Toameh
On Saturday, a group of Palestinian gunmen stormed a hotel in Nablus and kicked out a number of foreign monitors who had arrived in the city to prepare for the vote. The gunmen, members of Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, said they were determined to foil the PA's plan to hold the elections next month. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
A senior official in Military Intelligence has warned that 2006 will see a number of escalations. "Escalation is expected in the north, due to Hizballah operations, from mistaken judgments of Bashar Assad, or maybe from the global Islamic Jihad operations; on the Iranian front, we could be heading for a crisis in March after Iran will renew its enrichment program; and on the Palestinian front - formally at least, the calm in the territories ended" Sunday, the source said. "In the short term, Military Intelligence's main message is that 2006 may take the form of escalation and deterioration."
The recent Katyusha attack on northern Israel, which was claimed by a jihad group identifying itself with al-Qaeda, presents an additional threat. "We are in the midst of a fundamental change, as the international jihad heads in the direction of the countries of the Levant, and especially Israel," said the source. "If, in the first four years of the intifada, the same global jihad was not supposed to deal with Israel, because of the massive involvement of local terrorism, the calm has created a vacuum, being filled by the global jihad itself. Israel has turned into a target for the international jihad, and threats take a number of forms - the firing of rockets or other weapons, or a mega-terrorist attack such as a strike on Jewish and Israeli centers around the world." (Ynet News)
When completed, the $24 million mosque being built by the Islamic Society of Boston will be the largest Muslim house of prayer in the northeastern U.S. But for more than two years, questions have been raised about just how committed the Islamic Society really is to moderation and interfaith understanding.
The society's original founder, Abdurahman Alamoudi, is now serving a 23-year prison term for his role in an assassination plot. The Treasury Department identified him as a fund-raiser for al-Qaeda, and he has publicly proclaimed his support for two notorious terrorist groups, Hamas and Hizballah. Yusef al-Qaradawi, who for several years was listed as a trustee, is a radical Islamist cleric who has endorsed suicide bombings and the killing of Americans in Iraq. Another Islamic Society trustee, Walid Fitaihi, is the author of writings that denounce Jews as ''murderers of the prophets." When Ahmed Mansour, an Egyptian-born Muslim scholar, examined the Islamic Society's library in 2003, he found books and videotapes promoting hostility toward the U.S. and insulting other religions. (Boston Globe)
Right Islam vs. Wrong Islam - Abdurrahman Wahid (Wall Street Journal)
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