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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January 8, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Islamist Groups Use Internet to Learn about Biological Weapons (IDF)
    Muhamad Nassar, a Hamas military operative whose job is to pass along to the Hamas information about the production of bombs, stayed for two weeks at the house of Walid el-Ara, who observed how Nassar surfed the different sites that include information about how to prepare explosive charges.
    Zaher Nassar, a Hamas military operative, asked Walid el-Ara to think how to carry out a biological terrorist attack. el-Ara began to search on the Internet for information related to biological weapons from the computer in his house and in an Internet cafe near the Islamic University of Gaza in order to provide the Hamas with such a weapon, but he did not find what he was looking for.

    See also Manual for Poisons and Chemical Gases Published on Hamas Website (IDF)
    A manual published on the official Hamas website, titled The Mujahadeen Poisons Handbook, details for terrorists how to prepare various homemade poisons, chemical poisons, poisonous gases, and other deadly materials for use in terrorist attacks against Israelis, Westerners, and anyone else who stands in the way of an Islamic Jihad.

Saddam Hussein will "Fight to the Death" Rather than Leave Iraq - Douglas Davis (Jerusalem Post)
    An intimate friend of Saddam's family for the past 15 years, recently granted asylum in Britain, said he sees no chance that either Saddam or his favored son, Qusai, will leave Iraq under any circumstances.
    Based on his knowledge of the family, he was convinced that there was "no chance" Saddam would voluntarily leave. "He will fight to the death. I have no doubt about that," he said.

    See also Arabs Ask Hussein to Go Quietly - Nicholas Blanford (Christian Science Monitor)
    A senior Saudi official visited Baghdad in secret last month to assess whether Mr. Hussein would be willing to step down and live in exile, according to Arab diplomatic sources, but among Arabs and diplomats who know the Iraqi leader, there is little optimism that the 11th-hour bid will succeed.
    "They are dreaming if they think this man will leave," says Abdullah Bishara, head of the Diplomatic Center for Strategic Studies in Kuwait. "He will bring down the walls like Samson."

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • London Anti-Terror Police Find Deadly Poison
    British anti-terrorist police are questioning six Algerian men after finding traces of the highly toxic poison ricin at an address in London. Tony Blair said the arrests showed the continued threat of international terrorism was "present and real and with us now and its potential is huge." Ricin is considered a potential biowarfare or bioterrorist agent and is on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's "B" list of agents - considered a moderate threat. Large quantities were reportedly found in caves in Afghanistan. (BBC)
        See also Al Qaeda Bioweaponry More Advanced than First Thought
    "Documents and equipment recovered from al Qaeda facilities in Afghanistan show that bin Laden has a more sophisticated biological weapons research program than previously discovered," says an unclassified report submitted by CIA Director George Tenet to Congress late last month. Traces of anthrax were found in labs in Afghanistan, U.S. officials have said. In addition, an Islamic extremist group with ties to al Qaeda in northern Iraq appears to have conducted some tests with ricin. (AP/Newsday)
  • Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal: Decision to Join War Depends on UN Proof
    Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal said Riyadh wanted to avoid conflict and would seek a peaceful outcome even if the UN sanctioned war. "If the United Nations asks Saudi Arabia to join, depending on the material breach that they show and depending on the proof that they show, Saudi Arabia will decide," Prince Saud said. "We are interested in peace and searching for a peaceful (solution) to this crisis and even if the United Nations decides on war, we want them to give us a last chance to exert efforts for peace," he said. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Weissglass: U.S. Aid Likely to be Faster than Usual - Ran Dagoni
    "Approval of the U.S. loan guarantees is likely to be faster than usual, thanks to the administration's great understanding of Israel's economic distress caused by the security situation and war against terrorism," Prime Minister's Bureau director Dov Weissglass said Tuesday. "The negotiations with the U.S. about Israel's aid request have opened well. We have no reason not to be optimistic," said Ministry of Finance director general Ohad Marani. An Israeli delegation presented Israel's request for $4 billion in direct aid and $8 billion in loan guarantees to the Bush administration officials this week. (Globes)
  • Fatah: Suicide Attacks are Acts of Self-Defense - Khaled Abu Toameh
    A group affiliated with Fatah on Tuesday vowed to continue carrying out suicide attacks in Israel and strongly criticized Palestinian officials who have condemned the double terrorist bombings in Tel Aviv. The group, Kataeb al-Awdah (Brigades of the Return), reportedly has several hundred members in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. A leaflet distributed in several Palestinian cities and villages said: "There is no difference between Labor and Likud. They are all murderers and thieves of land. No one can deny us the right to resist the occupation." "The martyrdom operations are being carried out in self-defense....The blood of the martyrs will drown all the defeatists." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Paris U. Boycott Raises French Furor - Sharon Sadeh
    French politicians, media, and academics have joined forces to denounce an attempted academic boycott of Israel, in response to a petition by the faculty of Paris 6 University demanding that the EU bar the country from research programs. Le Monde, Le Figaro, and La Liberation all published editorials on the importance of maintaining ties with Israel's academic institutions. French Education Minister Luc Ferry said the petition was "out of place," as the "universal dimensions" of higher education and scientific research require that these fields be kept out of politics. A letter signed by dozens of Nobel Prize winners protesting the university's decision is expected to be published in Le Monde and an Internet petition against the decision has so far collected 25,000 signatures, 6,000 of them from academics. (Ha'aretz)
  • 12 Pinoys Wounded in Israel Bombings
    Over a dozen Filipino workers were among the 100 people wounded in the worst Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel since August last year. Five of the Filipino victims were hospitalized, two of them in critical condition, Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas said. (Star/Philippine Headline News)
        See also Fearless Filipinos Keep Going to Israel (ABS-CBN News-Philippines)
  • Report: Turkish Tanks in Northern Iraq
    The Turkish daily Millyet published a photograph Monday of more than 30 Turkish tanks in the Barmati area, 40 kilometers inside northern Iraq, to prevent any leakage in the area in case of any American military action against Iraq. The paper said the Turkish army was positioned at three different points in order to block the flow of refugees and is prepared to go deeper into northern Iraq whenever it is necessary. (
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • After the Storm - Thomas L. Friedman
    In the end, 9/11 will have a much bigger impact on the Arab and Muslim worlds than it does on America. 9/11 has been a trauma for Arabs and Muslims as well - a shock to their systems that ranks with Napoleon's invasion of Egypt, the creation of Israel, and the 1967 defeat. Since 9/11, the Arab-Muslim world has passed through three basic stages: shock, denial and, finally, introspection. Will introspection lead to a Stage 4 - fundamental political and economic reform? The leaders understand that this is a storm they can't ride out, but they don't know how to change without losing the control they've enjoyed. This tension will be the drama of Arab-Muslim politics for the next decade. (New York Times)
  • Talking Points: Britain Decides Not to Pick a Fight with Israel

    While Prime Minister Blair privately asked that Israel reconsider its refusal to allow Arafat's representatives to attend a conference on Palestinian reform in London, publicly he supported Israel's right to defend itself and said nothing about their disagreement: "The terrorism inflicted upon innocent Israeli citizens is wicked and murderous and undoubtedly will bring strong action from the Israeli government. No democratic government could do otherwise."
        Read Prime Minister Blair's speech in full. (Prime Minister's Office)

    Analysis: - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)

    • When the inner security cabinet decided after Sunday's terror atrocity to prohibit Palestinian Authority officials from traveling to London for a meeting on PA reform, they knew full well the move would not only punish the Palestinians, but also start a fight with the British.
    • The decision was taken against the backdrop of an informal British embargo on necessary military parts. Then came British Ambassador Sherard Cowper-Coles's comment at a high-level conference in Berlin that "we can all think of times in history when the use of terrorism has been justified."
    • After this came the high profile, red-carpet reception London granted Syrian President Bashar Assad, which Jerusalem saw as giving legitimacy to one of the world's major supporters of terrorism. At the end of Assad's visit, Blair blindsided Sharon with his announcement of an international conference on PA reform, a conference Israel was neither invited to nor knew about in advance.
    • And if all that wasn't enough, Blair refused to meet Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in London last week, but did extend an invitation to Labor Party leader Amram Mitzna to come and visit. Mitzna and Blair are to meet on Friday. This is viewed not only as meddling in Israeli domestic politics, but also as a blatant attempt to give Mitzna an electoral boost.
    • But the decision to keep the Palestinians from going was not directed at the British. It was an attempt to send a strong message that business cannot continue as usual with terrorists killing Israelis by the dozen.
    • An element that gave Sharon the latitude to stand toe-to-toe with the British was the belief the Americans would not push too hard. And, indeed, that's what happened. The U.S. issued a statement supporting the British conference, and regretting that "events have led to this," but there was no blaming Israel for tripping up PA reform, no hint of pressure.
        See also Israeli Fury Over British "Arms Ban"
    Israel has accused Britain of imposing a covert arms embargo that could compromise its air defenses in a war against Iraq. Israel protests that Britain has delayed the export of key spare parts without which Israel may have to ground its fleet of Phantom fighter-bombers. (London Times)

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