Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 6, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Has a Top Iranian General Defected? - Hoda Osman and Christopher Isham (ABC News)
    A respected analyst with sources in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard says Gen. Ali Reza Asgari has defected and is now in a European country with his entire family, where he is cooperating with the U.S.
    "This is a fatal blow to Iranian intelligence," said the source, explaining that Asgari knows sensitive information about Iran's nuclear and military projects.
    Asgari arrived in Istanbul from Damascus on Feb. 7 but failed to show up at his hotel.
    Asgari's years with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Iranian defense ministry would make him an invaluable source of information.
    He was reportedly based in Lebanon in the 1990s and was in charge of ties with Hizbullah.

Iranian Women Arrested in Protests Outside Court - Nazila Fathi (New York Times)
    Iranian authorities arrested 33 women on Sunday after protests outside a court where five of them were being tried for leading a campaign to gain more legal rights for women.
    The five were put on trial after they organized a demonstration for women's rights last June, charged with endangering national security, agitating against the government, and taking part in illegal gatherings.

Council on American Islamic Relations Donating Carter's Anti-Israel Book to U.S. Libraries (LittleGreenFootballs)
    The Council on American Islamic Relations is sending free copies of Jimmy Carter's anti-Israel book to library administrators throughout the U.S.

Palestinians Pull Folk Tales From Schools - Mohammed Daraghmeh and Dalia Nammari (AP/San Francisco Chronicle)
    The Hamas-run PA Education Ministry has ordered an anthology of Palestinian folk tales pulled from school libraries, reportedly over mild sexual innuendo, the most direct attempt by the Islamic militants to impose their beliefs on Palestinian society.
    The book ban angered and worried many Palestinians, who have feared that Hamas would remake the Palestinian territories according to its hard-line interpretation of Islam.
    "If we don't stand up to the Islamists now, they won't stop confiscating books, songs and folklore," said West Bank novelist Zakariya Mohammed.

Islamic Jihad Terrorist Blows Himself Up in Gaza (Maan News-PA)
    Muhammad Liddawi, 24, of the Islamic Jihad-affiliated Al-Quds Brigades, died on Monday while trying to manufacture an explosive device in Nuseirat in Gaza.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israel: Iran Is Training Hamas - Steven Erlanger
    Yuval Diskin, the chief of the Israeli internal security service, said Monday that the Islamic movement Hamas had sent dozens of men from Gaza to Iran for military training. "We know that Hamas has started to dispatch people to Iran, tens, and a promise of hundreds....I see this as the strategic danger, more than any weapons smuggled into Gaza." Diskin also said that Fatah is continuing to fragment under weak leadership from Mahmoud Abbas, and would lose another election, if it were held now, to Hamas. "Fatah is disintegrated and nearly destroyed, with no strong leadership."
        Hamas, part of the larger Muslim Brotherhood, would never change its fundamental beliefs, he said, and he contended that Hamas' offer of a long-term truce was intended to allow the movement to consolidate its control over the Palestinians and to mask a buildup of military armaments and power that would eventually be aimed at Israel. (New York Times)
  • School Linked to Hamas Gets U.S. Cash - Joel Mowbray
    Millions of dollars in U.S. foreign aid have been given in the past several years to two Palestinian universities - one of them controlled by Hamas - that have participated in the advocacy, support, or glorification of terrorism. USAID provided more than $140,000 in assistance to the Hamas-controlled Islamic University in Gaza - including scholarships to 49 students - and continues to fund multimillion-dollar programs through American Near East Refugee Aid for the school. USAID also gave $2.3 million in aid last year to Al-Quds University, which has student groups affiliated with designated terrorist organizations on campus and last month held a weeklong celebration of the man credited with designing and building the first suicide belts more than a decade ago. (Washington Times)
  • Terrorists Take Recruitment Efforts Online - Scott Pelley
    "The Internet is the single most important venue for the radicalization of Islamic youth," says Army Brig.-Gen. John Custer, head of intelligence at Central Command, responsible for Iraq and Afghanistan. "I see 16, 17-year-olds who have been indoctrinated on the Internet turn up on the battlefield. We capture them, we kill them every day in Iraq, in Afghanistan," he says. "You start off with a site that looks like current news in Iraq. With a single click, you're at an active jihad attack site. The real meat of the jihad website, Jihad Internet. Beheadings, bombings, and blood. You can see humvees blown up. You can see American bodies dragged through the street....Next link will take you to a motivational site, where mortar operatives, suicide bombers, are pictured in heaven....Another click and you're at a site where you can download scripted talking points that validate you have religious justification for mass murder." Custer says anyone watching the sites could actually believe the U.S. is on the run. (60 Minutes-CBS News)
        See also 60 Minutes Video on the Use of the Internet to Recruit Jihadists (Little Green Footballs)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Clashes Break Out in Gaza, Despite Mecca Deal - Ali Waked
    Members of the Popular Resistance Committees, a group affiliated with Hamas, opened fire Monday at the car of Muhammad Youssef, a senior police official, who escaped unharmed. In another incident, a gun battle broke out when Hamas and Fatah loyalists argued over who had control of a training compound in Gaza City. (Ynet News)
  • Unity Government Divides Hamas - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA Interior Minister Said Siam and Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri are said to be strongly opposed to the Mecca agreement reached last month between Fatah and Hamas, and have moved to Syria in protest, Fatah legislator Jamal Tirawi said Monday. PA Prime Minister "Haniyeh is not able to make decisive decisions because of the opposition he is facing from top Hamas leaders and activists, who don't want the partnership with Fatah," said one source. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets toward Ashkelon Tuesday morning. One rocket caused slight damage to a building south of the city. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Lebanon War Triggered Baby Boom in Israel
    The summer 2006 Lebanon war triggered a baby boom in Israel, according to a report on Channel 10 television Monday. According to health maintenance organization statistics, the number of women currently in advanced stages of pregnancy was 35% higher than a year ago. (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Putin's Middle East Visit: Russia Is Back - Ariel Cohen
    Vladimir Putin's visit to Saudi Arabia on Feb. 11 was the first ever for any Russian or Soviet leader. Putin also visited U.S. allies Jordan and Qatar. Coming from Munich, where Putin delivered his most bellicose anti-American speech, he further delineated a Russian Middle Eastern policy at odds with Washington's in an interview with Al-Jazeera. Also during his visit to the Saudi capital, Putin stunned the world with an offer to sell Saudi Arabia "peaceful" nuclear reactors. In addition, he offered 150 T-90 tanks and other weapons. King Abdullah I of Saudi Arabia bestowed the King Faisal Award on Putin, calling him "a statesman, a man of peace, a man of justice."
        Russia is following the Soviet model of opposing first the British and then the U.S. presence in the Middle East by playing to anti-Western sentiment in the "street" and among the elites. Russia is using weapons and nuclear reactors the way imperial Germany used railroads - to bolster influence and to undermine the dominant power in the Middle East. The writer is a Senior Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. (Heritage Foundation)
  • The Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701 (Lebanon Cease-Fire) - Six Months Later
    An examination of the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701 six months after its passage shows that the Lebanese army and UNIFIL have not enforced its essential provisions. South Lebanon has not become a demilitarized zone free of terrorist organizations and their weapons, Hizbullah was not disarmed, the process of rehabilitating its military strength continues, and an effective embargo on smuggling arms from Syria to Lebanon has not been imposed. The quiet prevailing in south Lebanon since the war ended is to a great extent a function of Hizbullah's focus on rehabilitating its military strength. As the rehabilitation process continues and Hizbullah's confidence increases, so will its willingness to continue disregarding the implementation of Resolution 1701. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
  • Observations:

    President Bush and the Qods Force Controversy: Lessons Learned - Dan Diker
    (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • President Bush, Defense Secretary Gates, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Pace have not been willing to say that the U.S. has specific intelligence indicating that Qods Force operations in Iraq have been approved by the Iranian leadership. The debate over the nature of the Qods Force and its links to the Iranian leadership may benefit from an analysis of Israel's experience battling the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) Qods Force and Iranian proxies like Hizbullah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, whether in Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank, or elsewhere.
    • Senior Israeli military and intelligence officials have with a high degree of certainty linked Iran's senior leadership with direct involvement over the past fifteen years in Qods Force operations against Israel. The Qods Force carries out these types of military operations across the Middle East, to export the revolution and establish an "Iranian Shiite crescent" through which Iran could assert regional hegemony.
    • Khomeini's strategy was to set up a separate military command structure linked tightly to the new Islamic leadership in Iran, whose loyalty to the revolution would not be in doubt. The IRGC came to be entrusted with operating the regime's most sensitive forces and weapon systems, including weapons of mass destruction, Iran's ballistic missile program, and its foreign insurgency operations. Since Ahmadinejad's 2005 electoral victory, he has appointed former IRGC officers to the most important senior positions in the Iranian government, further tightening the relationship between the IRGC, its foreign operations units, and the Iranian government.
    • The IDF identified a Qods Force presence in southern Lebanon during the second Lebanon war in the area of Baalbek, where there has been an IRGC presence since it established the Hizbullah there in 1982. During the war, up to 250 Qods Force trainers were in Lebanon assisting Hizbullah units.
    • Since the second Lebanon war, Iran has increased its direct support for Hamas, pledging $250 million in Oct. 2006, including $100 million to pay PA government salaries for six months. Hamas and Islamic Jihad members have been shuttled to Iran for training at IRGC camps. The Qods Force has also reportedly set up training camps in Gaza.

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