Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

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July 31, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

U.S. Satellites Hunt Iraqi Biological Weapons Labs - Joby Warrick (Washington Post)

    U.S. intelligence analysts have been closely examining satellite images of the west bank of the Tigris River in Baghdad for signs of a laboratory rumored to exist there. Called Tahhaddy, or "Challenge," the lab is purported to have 85 employees and a top-secret mission: making biological weapons for Iraq's military.
    Defectors and Iraqi exiles tell of underground test chambers, heavy security, and a viral strain code-named "Blue Nile," which sounds suspiciously like the Ebola virus.
    Intelligence analysts agree that Iraq has a reservoir of knowledge, technology, and equipment to create weapons of mass destruction. Iraq still has a residual arsenal from the 1991 Persian Gulf War, including stocks of chemical agents and possibly biological weapons that were hidden from the UN during seven years of inspections.
    In addition to a mosaic of defector stories, the evidence that Iraq is actively rebuilding its arsenal involves intriguing intelligence data, including satellite images showing new construction in bombed-out industrial parks where weapons were once made, and documented attempts by Iraq to purchase specialized equipment and supplies.
    In 1995 - four years after the start of inspections - the defection of Saddam Hussein's son-in-law, Hussein Kamal, the program's chief, led inspectors to find secret laboratories producing lethal bacteria by the ton.
    "UNSCOM didn't destroy everything," said Richard Spertzel, a retired Army biological warfare expert who oversaw the dismantling of Iraq's bioweapons program. "Iraq still has enough equipment, material, people, and know-how to make biological weapons." He concludes that Iraq can now produce biological weapons without any help from abroad, which it could not have done a decade ago.

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News Resources - USA and Europe:

  • Rumsfeld: International Inspections of Iraq Ineffective
    Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said on Tuesday that Iraq now has mobile biological-weapons laboratories that would be very difficult to bomb. Even if Iraq ultimately agreed to allow international inspectors back into the country, Saddam Hussein has taken such steps to conceal his weapons program that inspections would be ineffective, Rumsfeld said. Many of the sites are buried deep underground, and weapons are produced in factories that also make legitimate commercial products, he added. (New York Times)
  • A Righteous Gentile and Her Jewish Family
    Vanda Skuratovich, 76, of Minsk, Belarus, is a devout Catholic. She proudly unveils a poster-size family photograph of 64 Jews. "This is my family," says Skuratovich. The smiling faces are descendants of four Jews whom she rescued during the vicious Nazi occupation of Belarus in 1941. (JTA)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:

  • 60 Warnings of Future Terrorist Attacks
    General Security Services head Avi Dichter told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday that the damage caused to Israel by Hamas leader Salah Shehada equaled the damage Osama bin Laden caused America on September 11. Dichter revealed that since the end of Operation Defensive Shield in May, the security services have apprehended 138 potential homicide bombers. Sixty warnings of planned homicide bombings have been received, he told the committee. (Yediot Ahronot/Ha'aretz)
  • Arafat Micro-Managed Terror Operations
    According to documents seized during Operation Defensive Shield, as far back as 1997, Arafat had begun to transfer men, weapons, and funds from the official security organizations to Tanzim cells designed to attack Israel. Arafat approved, with his signature, all expenditures for military needs over $250, and all support for fugitives and martyrs. The entire organizational memory of the PA, containing its deepest secrets, has fallen into Israeli hands. (IMRA/Yediot Ahronot)
  • Palestinians Block Israeli Transfer of Funds
    Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad has refused the transfer of 70 million shekels from Israel for humanitarian purposes. Jerusalem had requested that the funds not be given to the Palestinian police or put in the account of the Palestinian Authority, and to receive a report regarding their distribution. Israeli officials said, "Israel has already dropped its condition that the funds be transferred only through an administration that will supervise their use, and it is not prepared to make additional concessions." (Yediot Ahronot)
  • U.S. to Reduce Sinai Observer Force
    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wants to see the American mission in the Sinai end in order to free up badly needed troops for other U.S.-led military missions. Rumsfeld is intent on removing the vast majority of the 900 American peacekeepers and leaving behind a symbolic headquarters. "He wants to kill it entirely, but will settle for a massive reduction," one U.S. official said. Egypt and Israel both oppose any change in the status quo. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Regime Change in Iran? - Reuel Marc Gerecht
    The Iranian parliament passes anti-American, anti-"hegemon" declarations; the "moderates" and the "hard-liners" organize street demonstrations to prove to America and, more important, to themselves, that they cannot be intimidated. They know, even if the Near East Bureau at the State Department does not, that the Iranian people overwhelmingly view clerical rule as fundamentally illegitimate. (Weekly Standard)
  • The Shame of Egypt - Editorial
    The anti-democratic behavior of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt is an embarrassment to Washington and an affront to his own people. The latest example is Monday's re-sentencing of Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a sociologist and human rights activist, to seven years in prison for his efforts to register voters, monitor elections, and report attacks on Egypt's Coptic Christians. (New York Times)
  • Homicide Bombers See Logic in Their Actions - Benedict Carey
    "You hear people say that these are all desperate people, or poor people whose families need the money," said Rohan Gunaratna, a terrorism specialist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. "This is nonsense." Most have fallen under the influence of an extreme group, experts say. Like a cult, the group demands absolute obedience and promises immortality to the most devoted. Members of the group come to value its survival above their own and become willing, even eager, to sacrifice their lives for a greater cause. (Los Angeles Times)
  • The Jihad Online - James S. Robbins
    The Critical Infrastructure Protection Board (CIPB), established last October to coordinate public and private infrastructure-security programs in the U.S., reports that browsers from the Mideast are probing American electric, water, and energy systems, and seem especially interested in gaining access to nuclear-power plants. (National Review)
  • Palestine 101 - Sylvana Foa
    Who really owns the land encompassing what is now Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority? The Canaanites established the Land of Canaan around 2000 B.C., but there are no Canaanites left. Abraham, the Father of the Jews and a figure revered by Islam, led a band of Hebrews from Mesopotamia and began the conquest of Canaan in 1741 B.C. (Village Voice)
  • Talking Points:

    New U.S. UN Stance Changes the Debate on Israel

    Last Friday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte said the United States would only seriously consider Security Council resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that:

    • Condemn terrorism and incitement
    • Explicitly denounce Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aksa Brigade
    • Call for all parties to pursue a negotiated settlement
    • Recognize that Israeli withdrawal to pre-intifada lines is connected to the improvement of the security situation
    "This is an attempt to eliminate one-sided Security Council resolutions," a U.S. official said. "We would not be willing to entertain a text unless those elements - and not one or two of them, but all of those elements - are included," said the U.S. official.

    Speaking last week to Hadassah, Ambassador Negroponte said: An "increasing number of countries" are "wary of supporting resolutions that are out of touch with the reality of the conflict." "My job is conveying to the UN membership that the United States' unshakable commitment to Israel can help straighten a crooked course for everyone."

    "At long last, there will be a sense of fair treatment and no double standards," said Mortimer Zuckerman, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. (JTA)

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