Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 23, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Israel May Be Next Al-Qaeda Battleground - Steven Gutkin (AP/Washington Post)
    Signs are mounting that al-Qaeda terrorists are setting their sights on Israel and the Palestinian territories as their next jihad battleground.
    Al-Qaeda's inroads are still preliminary, but officials fear a doomsday scenario if it takes root.
    Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon have established contacts with al-Qaeda followers linked to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to two Israeli officials.
    See also Al-Qaeda, Zarqawi, and Israel: Is There a New Jihadi Threat Destabilizing the Eastern Front? - Dore Gold and Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi (JCPA)

Islamist Terrorist Sought to Buy "Dirty Bomb" - Nicola Woolcock (Times-UK)
    An Islamist terrorist accused of planning attacks on targets in Britain was involved in a plot to buy a "dirty bomb" from the Russian mafia, the Old Bailey court was told Wednesday.
    Salahuddin Amin was said to have been entrusted by senior figures in a terror cell in Pakistan to act as a go-between in their planned purchase of the radioactive device.
    Among the cell's intended targets were the Bluewater shopping center in Kent, the national electricity grid, synagogues, and a nightclub in central London, the court was told.

U.S. Plans New Bases in the Middle East - William M. Arkin (Washington Post)
    The U.S. military has developed a ten-year plan for "deep storage" of munitions and equipment in at least six countries in the Middle East and Central Asia to prepare for regional war contingencies.
    The plans, revealed in March 2006 contracting documents, call for continued storage in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman, as well as the establishment of two new storage hubs, one in a classified Middle Eastern country "west" of Saudi Arabia ("Site 23") and the other in a yet to be decided "central Asian state."
    Despite impressive physical facilities in Saudi Arabia, freedom of action from Saudi bases has always been a sticking point between the U.S. and the Saudis.

Wahhabi Groups and Islamization of Turkey Threaten the Security of Bulgaria (Focus News-Bulgaria)
    Alex Alexiev, adviser on national security with the Pentagon and the CIA, and a Vice President for Research with the Center for Security Policy, said in an interview:
    "Bulgarian Muslims, like those of the rest of the Balkans and Russia, are syncretic and of Sufi origin, and have always been very moderate."
    "Recently, however, there are two trends that give me reason to be very concerned. First, there is the increasing presence in Bulgaria of radical Wahhabi groups like Al-Waqf al-Islami."
    "Secondly, and much more importantly right now, is the disturbing trend of the rapid Islamization of Turkey under the government of Erdogan."
    "What we have in Turkey today is a wholesale assault by Erdogan's regime on the secular traditions of Turkish society as established by Mustafa Kemal."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hamas Defies Abbas, Calls Special Session of Parliament to Approve Cabinet - Mark Lavie
    The militant Islamic group Hamas moved closer to controlling the Palestinian government Wednesday, calling a special session of parliament to approve its new Cabinet despite objections from PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas over its refusal to recognize Israel. Abbas plans to state his complaints but in the end will give his blessing to the new Hamas governing team, an official said. Incoming Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh is forming a cabinet with 24 Hamas activists after no other party agreed to join. Incoming Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar said the debate over Hamas' governing program was over. "Nobody can make demands on us at this moment," he said. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also Islamic Jihad Backs Hamas Over Refusal to Recognize Israel
    Palestinian Islamic Jihad pledged its support Wednesday for the Hamas government's refusal to recognize Israel, saying such a move was a red line that cannot be crossed. "We reject the pressure and international provocation against Hamas to force it to recognize the Zionist state of Israel, recognize the humiliating agreements, and abandon the resistance," said Islamic Jihad leader Khader Habib. (IRIB-Iran)
  • U.S. Asks Japan to Stop Iran Oil Development - Elaine Lies
    The U.S. has informally asked Japan to suspend its plans to develop an Iranian oil field as part of world efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, the Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun said on Thursday. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick and Undersecretary of State Robert Joseph have asked Japan to at least temporarily suspend its plans to develop Iran's Azadegan oil field. Last week, Japan's largest refiner, Nippon Oil Corp., said it would cut its imports of Iranian crude due to rising risks associated with that country. (Reuters)
  • Israel Biggest Mideast Investor in U.S.
    Israel is the largest Middle Eastern investor in the U.S. According to the State Department, which published foreign investor rankings Wednesday, Israel was first from the Middle East, with $4.1 billion, followed by Kuwait, with $1.2 billion. (JTA)
  • Harvard Removes Logo from Controversial Paper - Alex Safian
    A controversial research report, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," by Harvard professor Stephen Walt and University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer, no longer sports the Harvard or Kennedy School of Government logos on the version available from the Harvard website. A new, much more prominent disclaimer on the front page reads: "The two authors of this Working Paper are solely responsible for the views expressed in it." (CAMERA)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Terrorists Killed Placing Bomb Near Gaza Fence - Hanan Greenberg
    IDF forces Thursday killed at least two Islamic Jihad terrorists as they were attempting to place a bomb along the security fence in central Gaza, north of the Kissufim crossing. Since the IDF pullout from Gaza, terrorists have been continuously trying to place bombs along the fence. (Ynet News)
  • Another Palestinian Suicide Bombing Foiled - Efrat Weiss
    On Wednesday, a special IDF unit detained a Palestinian in Ramallah who planned to carry out a suicide attack, along with two people who assisted him. The would-be bomber belongs to a Fatah Tanzim cell in Nablus and was arrested en route to Jerusalem, where he was supposed to receive the explosive belt. At this time, defense officials are dealing with 13 concrete warnings about plans to carry out terror attacks. (Ynet News)
  • Preventing Suicide Bombing Attacks - Yaakov Katz
    Israeli security officials admitted Wednesday that it was almost impossible to hermetically seal off the West Bank to prevent infiltrations by suicide bombers. While Tuesday's suicide attack was thwarted along the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway, the fact that the bomber succeeded in entering Israel has many in the defense establishment losing sleep. The bombers, officials said, need to be stopped in their beds at home. The IDF is stepping up operations in the territories with an emphasis on "terror capitals" such as Jenin and Nablus - the Islamic Jihad's main stomping ground. The goal is to keep terror to a minimum and to prevent the transfer of information from Gaza to the West Bank related to the production of Kassam rockets. (Jerusalem Post)
  • German FM: "Hamas Win Complicates Matters" - Hillary Leila Kreiger
    Since the election of Hamas to the PA government, the situation "has become more difficult" from a diplomatic perspective, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Wednesday. He reiterated Germany's "decisive" commitment to the three principles articulated by the Quartet and required of Hamas - a cessation of violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements between Israel and the PA - as a condition for EU aid to the PA. He said that Germany acknowledges the Hamas victory had made the prospect of a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more distant. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Women at War with the Mullahs - Christopher Goodwin
    Dr. Wafa Sultan, who was brought up as a Muslim in Syria, denounced the teachings and practice of Islam as "barbaric" and "medieval" on Al-Jazeera, the Arabic television network. Sultan was previously known only to a few for her writings on ("The Critic"), an Arab-American website. In 1979, when she was a student at university, she witnessed armed members of the Muslim Brotherhood shoot one of her teachers. "They filled his body with bullets as they shouted 'Allahu akbar! (God is great)'." She says they killed him even though he had nothing to do with politics. "This was the turning point of my life."
        She began to reread the Koran closely, gradually coming to the conclusion that the violence and oppression of most Muslim governments and some of those fighting against them stemmed directly from the teachings of Islam. She noticed that "there are too many verses in the Koran which say you must kill those who are non-Muslim; you must kill those who don't believe in Allah and his messenger. I started to ask: is this right? Is this human? All our problems in the Islamic world, I strongly believe, are the natural outcome of these teachings. Go open any book in any class in any school in any Islamic country and read it. You will see what kind of teachings we have: Islam tells its followers that every non-Muslim is your enemy." (Sunday Times-UK)
  • Was Syria Right to Hail Hamas Victory? - Ibrahim Hamidi
    Syria is now surrounded by Islamic regimes or groups that have used elections to gain power. To the north, Turkey's Justice and Development Party rules democratically. To the east, the Shiite coalition in Iraq has come to power through elections. Further east, Iran is ruled by Islamists who came to power during the 1979 revolution. To the west, in Lebanon, Hizballah has proven its legitimacy in elections. To the south, in the Palestinian territories, Hamas has a parliamentary majority. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood scored well in parliamentary elections last year - an experience Jordan may replicate in elections tentatively scheduled for next year. Syria, which is ruled by a secular socialist and nationalist party, therefore looks increasingly isolated in an "Islamized" environment.
        The Hamas victory will inspire Syrians to become more involved in Islamic political movements. Lest we forget, Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose Syrian branch is banned. Hamas' victory could tempt Palestinians in Syria (with a refugee population of some 450,000) to join Islamist groups. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • The West Must Refuse Aid to Palestinians - David Warren
    At some point, the Arabs must learn that there are horrible consequences to horrible acts. They must learn that the only way forward, out of violence and ruin, is to rid themselves of the fanatics who prey upon their vitals. In the Palestinian territories, no sincere "peace advocate" can stand, publicly, and expect to live. He will be immediately arrested as an "Israeli agent," and a painful, humiliating, public death will follow within hours. Hundreds have been lynched in this way. That is the reality. We cannot negotiate with it, we can only try to find the way to overcome it, that is least costly in human lives and suffering. Subsidizing the enemy doesn't work, nor appeasement in any subtler form. (Ottawa Citizen)
  • Observations:

    Hamas Unlikely to Moderate - Interview with Matthew Levitt by Bernard Gwertzman (Council on Foreign Relations)

      Terrorism expert Matthew Levitt is deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Treasury Department.

    • "Being the government, I don't think, is going to moderate Hamas in the least. And the reason for that is they have a model they have already articulated that they intend to follow, which is the model of Hizballah in the north."
    • "Months before the election, Hamas announced it was going to be setting up a standing militia, the Qassam Brigade; it would not take the place of, but would sit parallel to, existing terrorist wings."
    • "Abbas al-Sayyid is the convicted mastermind of the Passover bombing of the Park Hotel in Netanya....[He told me:] 'I as a Muslim cannot cede any part of what I believe to be an Islamic endowment - all of Israel, presently Israel - to the Jews or anybody else. If I were to agree to a temporary truce, that would be exactly what it is, temporary.'"
    • "Al-Sayyid said 'temporary' can mean a generation or two, but he added: 'If I were to subscribe to one of these long-term ceasefires, don't think that I would not continue to train my son, who would enable his son to eventually consider the struggle, the fight, to regain all of this Islamic endowment that is now Israel.'"

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