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DAILY ALERT

Thursday,
July 12, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Peacekeeping with Hizbullah's Help - Nicholas Blanford (TIME)
    Some of the European contingents in the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon are now seeking the cooperation of the Iran-backed Hizbullah to help protect them from al-Qaeda-inspired militants.
    Since last month's bomb ambush that killed six Spanish and Colombian UNIFIL soldiers, there have been discreet contacts between some UNIFIL contingents and Hizbullah representatives, including at least one meeting involving Spanish UNIFIL officers.
    Furthermore, Hizbullah officials have met with Spanish diplomats in Beirut and the Madrid government is believed to have held talks with Iran, Hizbullah's patron, on the safety of its peacekeepers.
    At least one other European contingent enjoys regular direct contact with Hizbullah.

    See also Shi'ites in the Lebanese Army Are Helping Hizbullah - Eliel Shahar (Israel Army Radio-Hebrew)
    "Lebanese Army soldiers are assisting Hizbullah to introduce weapons into southern Lebanon," Israeli intelligence sources report.
    Some 40% of the Lebanese Army are Shi'ites who identify with Hizbullah and contribute to its strengthening, according to recent classified briefings in Jerusalem.
    UNIFIL forces have noted how Shi'ite soldiers of the Lebanese Army aid Hizbullah and they attribute this to family relationships between Hizbullah members and soldiers, and because many of them share a deep ideological tie.


Report: Arafat Died of AIDS (MEMRI)
    Ahmad Jibril, Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, told Al-Manar TV (Lebanon) on July 5, 2007:
    "When Abbas came to Damascus with his team, I asked them: 'What happened to the investigation into the death of [Arafat]?'"
    "They were silent, and then one of them said to me: 'To be honest, the French gave us the medical report, that stated that the cause of Arafat's death was AIDS.' I am not saying this, they did."


Palestinian "Collaborator" Found Dead in Hamas Prison - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Fadel Duhmush, 31, a Palestinian detained by Islamic Jihad members in Gaza last week on suspicion of "collaboration" with Israel, has been found dead in a Hamas-controlled prison, sources in Gaza City said Wednesday.
    A Palestinian journalist in Gaza City said, "I heard from people who saw the body that he had been brutally tortured in the Hamas prison."


Useful Reference:

The Second Lebanon War - One Year Later (Israel Foreign Ministry)
    Answers to 30 frequently asked questions.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Warns of Stronger Al-Qaeda - Spencer S. Hsu and Walter Pincus
    A threat assessment compiled by the National Counterterrorism Center, titled "Al-Qaeda Better Positioned to Strike the West," concludes that the group has significantly rebuilt itself despite concerted U.S. attempts to smash the network. While asserting that al-Qaeda is still considerably weaker than it was before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the report concludes that the group is stronger than it has been in years.
        The CIA's deputy director for intelligence, John A. Kringen, told a House committee Wednesday that al-Qaeda appears "to be fairly well settled into the safe haven in the ungoverned spaces of Pakistan." Thomas Fingar, deputy director of national intelligence for analysis, said, "sooner or later, you have to quit permitting them [al-Qaeda] to have a safe haven there," but warned that "there is some risk of turning a problem in northwest Pakistan into the problem of all of Pakistan." (Washington Post)
        See also Search for Bin Laden Continues - Bill Gertz
    Thomas Fingar, deputy director of national intelligence, told the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has eluded a global manhunt for years by hiding in tribal areas of Pakistan under the protection of local leaders. (Washington Times)
        See also The Return of Al-Qaeda - Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball (Newsweek)
  • Blair Seeks Broader Role in Mideast Peace - Guy Dinmore
    Tony Blair, the international community's new Middle East envoy, is seeking a broader peacemaking role than first envisaged by the U.S. State Department. Blair wants a mandate that would include a political role in peacemaking between Israel and the Palestinians, beyond the more narrowly focused terms of reference set out by the Quartet which focused on the practicalities of helping the Palestinians build the institutions needed for a future state. However, the State Department on Tuesday reacted cautiously to suggestions that Blair would take on a wider political role. (Financial Times-UK)
  • American Gets Prison for Lying About Hamas - Libby Sander
    Muhammad Salah, 54, a onetime grocer from suburban Chicago who was convicted of lying in a civil lawsuit about his ties to the militant Palestinian organization Hamas, was sentenced on Wednesday in Federal District Court to 21 months in prison. Salah was convicted of obstruction of justice for lying about his involvement with Hamas in a civil case brought by the family of an American teenager, David Boim, who was shot and killed in Israel by Hamas militants in 1996.
        Judge Amy J. St. Eve said, "It is important to promote respect for the law....You cannot lie in a courtroom." She also imposed a $25,000 fine, 100 hours of community service, and three years of probation. (New York Times)
  • Lebanon Army Shells Palestinian Camp - Nazih Siddiq
    Lebanese troops shelled the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon on Thursday after al-Qaeda-inspired militants killed two Lebanese soldiers. At least 207 people have been killed in eight weeks of fighting there. (Reuters)
  • Beverly Hills May Join Push for Iran Divestment - Tami Abdollah
    Beverly Hills' Iranian-born Mayor Jimmy Delshad has called for the city to eliminate its pension fund investments in foreign companies operating in Iran. The Beverly Hills proposal follows the Los Angeles City Council's passage of two related measures last month. Both efforts are meant to boost prospects for California's Divest Iran bill that passed the State Assembly unanimously last month. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Soldier Killed in Gaza Clash - Amos Harel
    An Israel Defense Forces soldier was killed and two were wounded Thursday morning when a bomb exploded near them in Bureij in the central Gaza Strip. An IDF spokeswoman said forces were operating in the area to "foil terrorist actions." (Ha'aretz)
  • UN Chief: Debate on Shaba Farms Ownership Premature - Barak Ravid
    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said Wednesday that the discussion of ownership of the Shaba Farms area on the Lebanese border is premature. He was responding to a Ha'aretz report that the UN had asked Israel to hand the land over to UN peacekeepers in Lebanon. UN officials later denied the report. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Deputy Chief: Summer War with Syria Not Likely - Amos Harel
    Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Kaplinsky said Wednesday, "We needn't expect a war with Syria this summer." He added, however, that "we cannot ignore what we are seeing: a growing Iranian involvement in promoting regional instability, Syrian involvement in the rearming of the Hizbullah following the war in Lebanon, and the preparatory measures being taken by the Syrian army." (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • One Year After the Lebanon War - Joshua Brilliant
    Hizbullah positions that were sometimes right across the border fence from Israel are no longer there. Instead, there are UN peacekeepers and Lebanese army posts. Yet Hizbullah is still there. Most southern Lebanese are Shiite-Muslims, like Hizbullah, and support that organization. In the past Israel waited until Hizbullah initiated a fight. Not any longer. Before the war there were border areas that soldiers did not enter in order to avoid friction with Hizbullah. The new operational concept provides that Israel would exercise its sovereignty up to the last inch of its territory. (UPI)
  • Militants Stir in Lebanese Outposts - Nicholas Blanford
    Both Lebanon and the UN say that the 16 militant outposts held by pro-Syrian Palestinian factions, which lie outside the 12 established Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, are being reinforced with personnel and weapons smuggled in from Syria. Some of the very Fatah al-Islam militants that the Lebanese forces have been battling in Nahr al-Bared are believed to have received training at Palestinian bases in the Bekaa Valley before deploying to north Lebanon. The factions that look to Syria for support include the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), Fatah Intifada, and As-Saiqa - all of which have headquarters in Damascus. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • No Progress in Mideast as Tactics Trump Strategy - Oakland Ross
    Self-rule among Palestinians has led to a form of governance based largely on corruption, cronyism and brute force, that tends to produce regimes that are neither representative nor stable. "We, the Palestinians, have failed," says Bassem Eid, general director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group. "I don't see a leader who can impose order upon the Palestinians." "In order to have a political party in Palestine, you need a militia," says Shlomo Avineri, former director-general of the Israeli foreign ministry. "The rules are coming out of the barrel of a gun." (Toronto Star)
  • Observations:

    Israeli Experts: Checkpoints Key to Airport Security - Avida Landau (Reuters)

    • Members of a suspected al-Qaeda cell drove largely unimpeded to their target in Glasgow, Scotland, on June 30 without having to stop for any security check. That could not have occurred at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport, the experts said. A checkpoint two km. from the main terminal screens vehicles and drivers well before they enter the airport. At the checkpoint, a series of speed bumps prevents vehicles from making a dash into the airport, and armed guards stop, greet and question all drivers, looking for suspicious behavior.
    • Experts said checkpoints must be used in combination with other measures to foil attacks. Eran Duvdevani, an anti-terror expert and former Israeli army colonel, said undercover guards inside the Ben-Gurion terminal were vital to its security. He said the high-profile presence of uniformed officers, as is common at British and U.S. airports, only gave gunmen a clear preliminary target and passengers a false sense of security. "When a terrorist comes to the airport to gather intelligence, he mustn't know where security is located, making it difficult to plan attacks," Duvdevani said.
    • Despite efforts by Israeli experts to advise authorities around the world on how to improve airport security, very few had adopted the methods Israel uses. "I was shocked to learn how little airports learned from our experience," Duvdevani said. "They still think that it won't happen to them, but in the end it will."


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