Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with the Fairness Project
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 30, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Two Years of the Second Intifada: The Rising Role of Arafat's Fatah Forces - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)

    In the past two years, the Palestinians have sent 145 homicide bombers on terror attacks against Israelis: 52 from Hamas; 40 from Fatah, and 35 from Islamic Jihad, according to data compiled by the Shin Bet security service.
    In comparison, of the 61 homicide attackers between 1993 and September 2000, 41 were from Hamas and 20 were from Islamic Jihad.
    The attacker who blew up a bus in Tel Aviv on September 19 was the 206th such terrorist since 1993.

Al Qaeda's Links to Iraq - Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman (Newsweek)

    Two high-level al Qaeda detainees - Abu Zubaydah, bin Laden�s former operations chief, and his onetime deputy Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a fierce Libyan operative who was once the military commander of al Qaeda�s Khalden training camp in eastern Afghanistan - have separately described efforts by al Qaeda operatives to seek out Iraqi assistance in assembling chemical weapons.
    The case of Iraqi national Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, 37, also "connects with both Iraq and 9-11,� said one U.S. official. After September 11, a search of Shakir�s apartment in Doha, Qatar, yielded a treasure trove, including telephone records linking him to suspects in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and to a 1994 Manila plot to blow up a civilian airliner over the Pacific Ocean.
   U.S. officials found that Shakir had been present at a January 2000 al Qaeda �summit� in Malaysia attended by two of the 9-11 hijackers. Authorities believe the summit may have been a planning session for both the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole and 9-11.

Hussein Uses Doubles for Public Appearances - Hugh Williamson (Financial Times)

    Saddam Hussein uses at least three doubles to pose as him during public appearances, according to German forensic scientists at Homburg University in Saarland, Germany.
    In film clips taken since 1998, only the doubles have appeared, said Dieter Buhmann, a forensic pathologist.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • How Iran and Iraq Support Terror - Lesley Stahl (60 Minutes - CBS)
    Iraq and Iran are secretly financing and directing acts of terrorism against Israel, according to information found in captured PA files and gleaned from prisoner interrogations. Ido Hecht, a senior intelligence official, said Israel has captured members of a terrorist cell operating near Ben-Gurion Airport who admitted they were trained in Iraq in the use of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.
        Israelis also say the Palestinian Authority is earning kickbacks by illegally selling smuggled Iraqi oil, in order to buy weapons like those confiscated from the freighter Karine A last January, including two tons of C-4 plastic explosive. The weapons and explosives come from Iran.
        Additional documents show how Iran is helping to finance terrorist organizations operating inside Israel. "We have been interrogating hundreds, thousands of Palestinians since April of this year, and found some that were trained in Iran," said Col. Miri Eisen of the IDF.
        For additional background, see Arafat's Iraqi Connection (Jerusalem Issue Brief - JCPA)
  • Pentagon Seeks to Deter Iraqi Use of WMD
    U.S. officials believe Saddam Hussein has given field commanders conditional authority to fire chemical or biological weapons during a U.S. invasion. One administration source said the Iraqi president issued specific orders to use the weapons if the allies crossed a line 200 miles south of Baghdad. In response, the Pentagon is preparing a campaign aimed at deterring Iraqi officers from doing so. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the House Armed Services Committee, "Wise Iraqis will not obey orders to use WMD (weapons of mass destruction)." (Washington Post)
  • Iran Stalls Russian Demand to Account for Nuclear Fuel
    Some 600 Russian nuclear engineers are reportedly building a nuclear reactor for Iran, though Iran has yet to agree to return the plant's spent nuclear fuel - material that can be used to build nuclear bombs. Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control and an expert in tracking nuclear transactions, said: "If the Iranians keep the spent fuel and process it one step further, they would have enough plutonium for several nuclear weapons. If the fuel does not go back to Russia, it means Iran can take a big step down the road to get nuclear weapons." (New York Sun)
  • News Resources - Israel and Mideast:

  • Israel Redeploys at Arafat's HQ
    Following unanticipated U.S. pressure, a team of senior cabinet ministers decided Sunday morning to ease the siege at Arafat's Ramallah headquarters, imposed after a homicide bus bombing in Tel Aviv. Army Radio reported Monday that security officials believe most of the wanted men had escaped the compound after the IDF withdrew from the area.
        Minister Natan Sharansky explained to Israel Radio, "We did not assess the situation correctly, when we made the decision two weeks ago, the extent to which America had already begun the countdown to an attack on Iraq, that just during those days America would enter into confrontations with the UN and Europe, and would be unable to tolerate one more confrontation." (Ha'aretz)
  • Muqata Siege Strengthened Arafat?
    Fatah sources note that the relatively meager demonstrations in Palestinian cities on behalf of Arafat are as much a function of boredom and hatred for the closure and the IDF as they a product of the spontaneous desire to cheer the beleaguered Palestinian leader. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Temple Mount May Collapse During Ramadan Prayers
    At a secret meeting on Sunday, the prime minister heard reports of fears that the Temple Mount might collapse on hundreds of thousands of Muslim worshippers during Ramadan prayers. Due to unsupervised construction on the Temple Mount by the Muslim Waqf (religious authorities), an increasingly dangerous buckling of the southern wall now extends a meter beyond the surface. "If Israel decides to repair the wall without a prior agreement with the Waqf, this could lead to riots and bloodshed. But if the Temple Mount collapses on a crowd of Muslim worshippers, this would be ten times worse. We'll be held responsible, whatever we do," said one Israeli source. (Maariv)
        See also The Destruction of the Temple Mount Antiquities (Jerusalem Viewpoints - JCPA)
  • Abu Mazen Goes to Jordan After Death Threats - Khaled Abu Toameh
    An unprecedented power struggle has been raging among the top brass of the PA and Fatah over the past few months. Many senior PA officials have come out against Arafat for his refusal to relinquish some of his powers and agree to far-reaching reforms. PLO executive committee member Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is trying to muster support for a proposal according to which he would be appointed prime minister in a new PA cabinet, thus forcing Arafat to surrender many of his powers. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Terrorist Leader Escapes Death 4th Time
    Muhammad Def, the head of the military wing of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, suffered moderate injuries and lost an eye Thursday when a missile fired by an IDF helicopter struck his car, killing two of his accomplices. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Mistaken Timing, Not Strategy - Gerald M. Steinberg
    Over the past 18 months, following each terror atrocity, the Israeli cabinet has closed the noose tighter around Arafat and the PA leadership, holding them directly responsible for the attacks. Statesmanship is not only based on being able to make the right decisions, but also on knowing when to admit mistakes and limit the costs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Middle East Dictatorships Cannot Make Peace - Bernard Lewis
    The dictatorships that rule much of the Middle East today will not, indeed cannot, make peace, because they need conflict to justify their tyrannical oppression of their own people, and to deflect their peoples' anger against an external enemy. A peace settlement would deprive them of this valuable safety valve, leaving them to face the undeflected anger of their subjects, including those who live under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Arab "Street" Poses No Real Threat to U.S. - Robert Satloff
    No serious case can be made for counseling Israeli restraint based on the fear that "every U.S. embassy in the Middle East [would be] burned to the ground," as suggested by Sen. Joseph Biden. Since Iranians took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, attacks on our embassies in Arab and other Muslim countries have almost always been by small groups rather than wild mobs. Indeed, when gangs of angry, young men take to the streets in Arab countries, they are often acting with the acquiescence, consent, or even the encouragement of their governments. (Newsday)
  • Talking Points:

    Actions Required by a New Palestinian Leadership - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon

    • Arrest all the terrorists from all the organizations, investigate them and try them.
    • Dismantle all the terror organizations - Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Aksa Brigades, the Tanzim, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
    • Disarm and collect all illegal weaponry.
    • Engage in real operations to prevent terrorism. (In the past when we gave them information about terrorist cells about to carry out attacks, the PA would warn the cell members to hide).
    • An absolute end to incitement.
    • These were all agreed upon between Israel and the Americans, and we stand by these demands. (Jerusalem Post)

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