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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December 30, 2002

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In-Depth Issue:

Profile of a Terrorist - Hala Jaber (London Times)

    Jamal Abu Samhadana, 39, is founder of the Popular Resistance Committees, a Gaza militia blamed by Israel for a long series of attacks on settlers and soldiers including the destruction of three tanks by landmines in separate incidents in which seven men died.
    He is known to followers as "the Chef" because of his enthusiasm for making bombs with a variety of ingredients.
    Earlier this year he blew off part of his right arm while firing a rocket-propelled grenade at a Jewish settlement. A team of French surgeons from Medecins Sans Frontieres performed a 10-hour operation to save the injured arm.
    He regrets his organization's failure to carry out suicide attacks on civilian targets in Israel, saying it is too difficult to penetrate the Israeli security cordon around the Gaza Strip.
    Abu Samhadana received three years’ training in urban warfare and explosives techniques in East Germany in the 1980s and spent the 1991 Gulf War in Iraq, returning to Gaza in 1994 with Arafat.

Quicker Iraq Air War Predicted - Stephen J. Hedges and Michael Martinez (Chicago Tribune)

    Many of the pilots who would lead the bombing campaign have been patrolling the northern and southern no-fly zones and they know Iraqi skies. They know the workings of Iraqi anti-aircraft batteries, radar, and missile installations.
    "We've been here 12 years," said U.S. Navy Capt. Mark Fox, a fighter pilot and commander of the air wing aboard the aircraft carrier USS Constellation in the Persian Gulf. "Anyone who is a tactical aviator in the Navy has had experience in flying over Iraq."
    However, Michael Russell Rip, a Michigan State University professor and a co-author of The Precision Revolution, cautions that the new generation of precision-guided weapons are not effective against mobile targets: "We tried to do this in Afghanistan: people tried to provide the coordinates of vehicles that were moving, but it was completely hopeless."
    Rip further warns: "They've figured out behaviorally where our weaknesses are. We don't target mosques, schools, hospitals, and that's where they're going to go. They'll use any human shield they can find. They could very easily blow up a mosque themselves, get Al Jazeera [Arab television] to show it on TV, and the Arab world will go ballistic."

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Military Forces Ordered to Gulf
    U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has signed a deployment order to send "significant" ground forces, combat aircraft, and logistics support to the Persian Gulf, a move that marks the beginning of a final buildup for a possible war against Iraq, senior defense officials said. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Sources: Saudi Arabia to Allow U.S. Use of Bases
    Saudi Arabia has told American military officials that the kingdom would make its airspace, air bases, and an important operations center available to the U.S. in the event of war with Iraq, senior military officials say. With their modern facilities, excellent communications, abundant fuel and supplies, and proximity to Iraq, the Saudi bases are among the most attractive to American commanders, who will be allowed to run an air war against Iraq from a sophisticated command center at Prince Sultan Air Base outside Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's capital, the same command post that ran the air campaign in Afghanistan.
        Allied refueling, reconnaissance, surveillance, and cargo planes will be allowed to fly from Saudi bases, using Saudi airspace on the way to missions in or near Iraq. U.S. officials are expressing confidence that the Saudis will ultimately allow attack missions to be flown from their soil. Saudi officials over the past two months have quietly permitted American warplanes based in the kingdom to bomb targets in southern Iraq in response to Iraqi violations of the no-flight zone. (New York Times)
        For a contrasting view, see Saudi Sources: Kingdom Will Not Join War
    Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal told a press conference on Dec. 25, "Obviously, we will not take part in military actions." Prince Saud said that allowing U.S. and British aircraft operating from Prince Sultan Air Base to enforce a "no-fly" zone over southern Iraq "does not mean the Kingdom will attack Iraq or will allow striking Iraq from its territories." (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • Arabs Blamed for Chechen Bomb Carnage
    At least 55 people were killed and 123 wounded when two suicide bombers blew up a truck and a jeep filled with TNT at the headquarters of Chechnya's pro-Russian administration in Grozny last Friday. Russian officials blamed a radical Muslim for the attack, Abu Al Walid, 35, an Arab field commander in the Chechen rebel leadership. A radical Wahhabi - a follower of the Muslim sect that dominates worship in Saudi Arabia - Al Walid is believed to be a Saudi and to have fought the Russians in Afghanistan. Al Walid was deputy to a Saudi-born Islamic militant called Khattab, who commanded all Arab volunteers fighting in Chechnya. Khattab was assassinated with a poisoned letter last spring by the Federal Security Service (FSB), the former KGB. (London Times)
  • Three American Doctors Killed in Yemen
    Three American doctors were shot to death at a missionary hospital by an unidentified gunman in the city of Ibb, 120 miles south of the capital San'a, in Yemen on Monday, security officials said. (AP/Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Four Yeshiva Students Murdered in Otniel - Amos Harel
    Four students from the Hesder Yeshiva at Otniel, south of Hebron, were murdered Friday night by Palestinian terrorists. Ten other Israelis, including six soldiers, were wounded in the attack. Two Islamic Jihad terrorists wearing IDF uniforms and carrying M-16 rifles and ammunition cut through a fence to enter the area. At the time, dozens of yeshiva students were waiting for the Friday night Shabbat meal. The two terrorists began to spray the building with bullets from the outside, and one entered the kitchen next to the dining hall. Four unarmed yeshiva students working in the kitchen at the time were shot at close range: St.-Sgt. Noam Apter, 22, from Shilo, Gavriel Hoter, 17, from Alonei Habashan, Tvi Zeiman, 18, from Reut, and Pvt. Yehuda Bamberger, 20, from Karnei Shomron. The terrorist then tried to enter the dining hall, but a locked door prevented an even more devastating attack. The terrorist fired through the door, wounding five people. Members of an infantry unit located at Otniel were quick to arrive at the scene and killed the terrorists.
        Security sources said those responsible for the Otniel attack were part of the same Hebron cell that was behind the November 15 strike at Hebron's "worshipers' path," in which 12 Israeli soldiers and security men were killed. Friday's two assailants studied with the three perpetrators of the mid-November attack at the same polytechnic college in Hebron. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Redeploying to Protect Israeli Settlements - Amos Harel
    Officials at the IDF's Central Command say the three previous infiltrations into the West Bank settlements of Adura, Karmei Tzur, and Elon Moreh, as well as the ambush in Hebron, also took place on a Friday night. The IDF is formulating the construction of "special security zones" around the settlements: placing additional fences and building observation points inside a 300-meter stretch outside the settlements. Ever since the infiltrations began a year ago, many army company and regiment outposts have been physically moved to locations inside the settlements, allowing the swift response of the Lavie regiment in Otniel. The IDF says that 21 infiltration attempts into settlements have been foiled in the past month. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Attacks on Communities on Weekends and Holidays (IMRA/IDF)
  • Jerusalem Car Bombing Fails - Etgar Lefkovits and Jenny Hazan
    A car bomb which exploded in Jerusalem at 12:45 a.m. early Saturday morning near a packed downtown bar in the capital's Russian Compound caused no injuries. The suspect, who was lightly burned on his hands and face by the blast, told security officials that he wanted to be a martyr. The suspect knew the area well from his former job in one of the local pubs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Who Finances the Fanatics? - Mortimer B. Zuckerman
    On Nov. 20, 1979, 500 fundamentalists seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the holiest site of Islam, and took 6,000 pilgrims hostage. The siege was a devastating blow to the House of Saud, mocking their role as guardian of Islam's holy places. They understood the deep attachment of their people to their puritanical variant of Islam, Wahhabism. Their response? Co-opt the ideology of the Wahhabists and give Wahhabi clerics more control over the social, economic, and educational life of the kingdom. Even worse, the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs was given billions of dollars to export Wahhabism to the Muslim world. The Saudis must realize that President Bush sees 9/11 as a wake-up call. They will truly regret it if they get into the cross hairs of America. (U.S. News)
  • No Exceptions - Editorial
    As the Bush administration steps up its rhetoric about the need for a democratic transformation in the Middle East, it has yet to match its groundbreaking rhetoric with its actions. With concerted effort and cooperation from allies, a rapid transformation of Iraq and the Palestinian Authority probably is achievable. But if it is possible in those nations, free elections and free speech ought to be possible soon in Jordan and Egypt, too. The administration should be preparing not only to depose its enemies, but also to demand hard decisions by its friends. (Washington Post)
  • The Return of Hizballah - Eyal Zisser
    Hizballah has established its own "Hizballahland," a territory in south Lebanon over which it has complete control. It has a rocket arsenal that covers the entire north of Israel, presenting a more direct and immediate threat to the Israeli civilian population than that of some neighboring Arab states. Syria, which once had an important say in the activities of the organization, has been brushed aside, with Iran now in charge. Indeed, when the April 2002 crisis between Israel and Hizballah subsided thanks to Hizballah's own decision to suspend the offensive it had launched against Israel, the restraining influence appears to have been Iran, not Syria. (Middle East Quarterly)
  • Talking Points:

    A Window of Opportunity at the White House - Amir Oren (Ha'aretz)

    • In recent days, and without any prior coordination, IDF commanders in the various branches have all spoken in favor of a military initiative by Israel, to be conducted in tandem with the American campaign in Iraq, designed to eradicate the threat posed by Hizballah's weapons.
    • In their view, Israel should not have to endure a situation of prolonged exposure to the threat of thousands of missiles and rockets whose range covers the northern half of the country. According to these officers, a concentrated operation focused on Hizballah is necessary - and not one that is a repeat of previous operations in which the flight of the refugees (and the fighters) northward was damaging for Israel and allowed Hizballah to recoup.
    • The objective of a new operation, say its advocates, must be to free Israel and Lebanon from the military grip of Hizballah, and to implement the final clause in the Taif agreement, which calls for the disarming of all the militias in Lebanon, restoration of full sovereignty to the Lebanese government, and the installation of Lebanese army troops on the border with Israel.
    • Even those who propound such an operation are not complacent about it. Six hundred Hizballah fighters spread out in five sectors will no doubt prove to be a bitter enemy, say Israeli officers who are Lebanon veterans.
    • Even those who see a "window of opportunity" for such military actions are well aware that this window is situated in the wall of the White House.

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