Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Mobile Phone Calls Failed to Trigger London Blasts (AFX/Forbes)
Report: Al-Qaeda Planning Terror "Spectacular" in U.S. This Summer - Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz, and Richard Esposito (ABC News)
Saudi Clerics Urge Palestinians to Maintain Jihad Against Israel (Reuters)
Palestinian Journalist Seeks Asylum in Norway - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Iranian operatives helped plan a January raid in Karbala in which five American soldiers were killed, an American military spokesman in Iraq said Monday. Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner said that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has used operatives from the Lebanese Hizbullah as a "proxy" to train and arm Shiite militants in Iraq. American military officials have long asserted that the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, has trained and equipped Shiite militants in Iraq. But they had previously stopped short of making a case that the Quds Force may have been directly involved in planning attacks.
Gen. Bergner said that interrogations of Qais Khazali, a Shiite militant who oversaw Iranian-supported cells in Iraq and who was captured several months ago, showed that Iran's Quds force helped plan the operation. Similar information was obtained following the capture of a senior Hizbullah operative, Ali Musa Daqduq, Gen. Bergner said. "Our intelligence reveals that the senior leadership in Iran is aware of this activity," he added. (New York Times)
See also U.S. Sees Iran-Hizbullah Link in Iraq - Tina Susman and Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times)
See also The Quds Force: Lessons Learned - Dan Diker (ICA/JCPA)
Yemen said seven Spanish tourists and two Yemenis were killed in a suspected al-Qaeda suicide car bomb attack on their convoy in the province of Marib on Monday. The tourists were accompanied by Yemeni security personnel when the suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into their convoy as they left the Queen of Sheba Temple. Security sources said the attack followed an al-Qaeda statement last week demanding the release of some of its members jailed in Yemen. (Reuters)
The protests over fuel rationing, the most open sign of discontent with Ahmadinejad's rule since he took office in 2005, were accompanied by a stream of text-messaged jokes. "On the orders of President Ahmadinejad," read one, "those who are short of petrol can have a ride on the 17 million donkeys who voted for him."
"I voted for Ahmadinejad because I thought he represented a new way of doing things," said Samid Jalali, a grocer whose shop is a minute's stroll from Ahmadinejad's house. "But I am not satisfied with the way things are going. Inflation is much worse now: a tin of cooking oil has gone from $6 to $9 in just three months." Inflation has soared to 40%. Ahmadinejad's critics predict that his downfall may lie in the discontent of his ordinary working-class constituents, rather than the reformist efforts of Teheran's educated, pro-Western middle class. (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
See also Iran Exposes Its Weak Spot - Editorial (USA Today)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Fatah's commander in Lebanon, Sultan Abu al-Aynain, told Asharq al-Awsat that 23 Saudi nationals, out of a total of 43 Saudis fighting alongside Fatah al-Islam, have been killed in the fighting inside Nahr al-Bared and have been buried in a mass grave inside the camp. One Saudi fighter surrendered. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
After Israel transferred $118 million to the PA on Sunday, PA officials said Monday they will pay all workers their first full wages in 17 months, excluding those who report directly to Hamas. Some 23,000 workers hired by Hamas after it won 2006 elections will be excluded. Members of the Fatah-dominated security services in Gaza have been asked to stay at home as a condition for receiving their salaries. Among those excluded are nearly 6,000 members of Hamas' Executive Force. The PA's monthly wage bill for nearly 140,000 employees totals $120 million. (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
Hamas militiamen on Monday detained a number of Palestinians who were involved in the kidnapping of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston in Gaza more than three months ago. One of the detainees, Ahmed Mathloum, better known as Khattab al-Makdissi, served as a spokesman for a group calling itself the Army of Islam, headed by Mumtaz Dughmush. In response, members of the Army of Islam kidnapped 10 Hamas university students. (Jerusalem Post)
The Shin Bet security service and Jerusalem police recently arrested 11 Hamas operatives on suspicion of running Hamas facilities in eastern Jerusalem and for recruiting young people under the guise of religious and social activities, the Shin Bet announced Monday. The suspects, 10 of whom have Israeli identity cards, were planning to have the recruited youths carry out terror activities and set up groups that would later become terror cells. The Shin Bet confiscated about NIS 400,000 Hamas received from the movement's branches abroad. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Could Hamas members in Gaza join ranks with the global jihadist movement led by al-Qaeda? There is merit to this question, given the recent Hamas takeover of the territory and al-Qaeda's call for Muslims around the world to finance and arm Hamas. The interpersonal relationships between Hamas and al-Qaeda members present a significant danger. Although, as an organization, Hamas is not about to join al-Qaeda, individual Hamas members could. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Investigators from the U.S. Department of Justice examining BAE Systems' compliance with anti-corruption laws in its arms dealings with Saudi Arabia will find themselves scrutinizing a deal that was used, with the help of the British government, as a secret tool of Saudi foreign policy. The agreement, originally signed in 1985 to pay for the Saudi purchase of British Tornado jets, was employed to distribute Saudi oil revenues outside the country's official budget. "It was a way of Saudis paying money to Saudis," said one person involved in the deal.
The mechanism was also used to buy arms from Egypt for the Mujahideen fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan and paid for clandestine purchases of Russian arms to oust Libyan troops from Chad. Over nearly two decades, tens of billions of dollars were directed through it.
A 2006 biography of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to Washington and now national security adviser to King Abdullah, describes the arrangement as one that "circumvented the bureaucracy." This included the U.S. Congress, whose original objections to the proposed purchase of F-15 fighters led the Saudis to turn to the UK. British flexibility and discretion suited the Saudis after their difficulties with the U.S. Congress. (Financial Times-UK)
In the vicious battle at Nahr el-Bared, the enfeebled, poorly motivated troops of Lebanon, one of the most dysfunctional states on Earth, have imposed their will against a group of heaven-bound martyrs. If the Lebanese army can stand up to the terrorists, anybody can. (Los Angeles Times)
Tony Blair's Challenges as Middle East Envoy - Dennis Ross (New Republic)
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