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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February 13, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Special Operations Units Already in Iraq - Thomas E. Ricks (Washington Post)
    U.S. Special Operations troops are already operating in various parts of Iraq, hunting for weapons sites, establishing a communications network, and seeking potential defectors from Iraqi military units in what amounts to the initial ground phase of a war, U.S. defense officials said.
    Two Special Operations Task Forces with an undetermined number of personnel have been in and out of Iraq for well over a month, laying the groundwork for conventional U.S. forces that could quickly seize large portions of Iraq if President Bush gives a formal order to go to war.

Gaza Terrorist Planned to Bomb Hospital Helicopter Pad, Negev Tour Bus (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli security services Wednesday revealed the arrest of a Palestinian from southern Gaza with links to Arafat's Fatah movement, who planned to set off a bomb on a helicopter pad at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba and attack a tour bus in Mitzpe Ramon.
    Ala'ah Sheich Ale'id, 23, of Rafiah, is also accused of planning to attack IDF officers and civilians in the Bedouin Negev community of Rahat.

The Rafah Terror Tunnels - See Photos (IDF)
    Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, the IDF retained control of a thin strip of land (100 meters in width) dividing the southern tip of the Gaza Strip from the Egyptian Sinai peninsula.
    After 1993, the Palestinians constructed a complex network of tunnels underneath the Egypt-Israel border in the Rafah area of the southern Gaza Strip to smuggle weapons, cigarettes, drugs, and people from Egypt into Gaza.
    The Rafah tunnels are typically dug inside residential homes, and are concealed under bathrooms, living rooms, and bedrooms.
    Hosting and maintaining smuggling tunnels can often become a family business that provides a primary source of income.
    While smuggling prices vary according to location and item, to smuggle a person costs $1,000. Weapons come from Egypt, Iraq, Sudan, and Libya.

Useful Reference:

Historical Jerusalem Maps Now on Web
    Some 250 historical maps of Jerusalem are now on the Internet. (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Intelligence: Iraq Moves Scud Launchers
    U.S. intelligence sources have detected recent Iraqi military moves that include placement of Scud missile launch equipment next to mosques and the shipment of explosives into southern Iraq, possibly intended for oil fields. The move of launch equipment is another indicator that Iraq still has Scud missiles. (CNN)
  • Experts Confirm New Iraq Missile Exceeds UN Limit
    A panel of arms experts convened by UN weapons inspectors has confirmed that a missile Iraq has developed exceeds range limits set by the Security Council. (New York Times)
  • Philippine Terrorists Contacted Iraq Envoy after Blast
    A senior Iraqi diplomat was in contact with Muslim terrorists in the southern Philippines hours after they killed a U.S. soldier and injured another in a bombing in October, according to Philippine officials and intelligence sources. Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople said Iraqi diplomat Husham Hussein took a phone call from a member of the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, the terrorist group blamed for the bombing Oct. 2 outside a military base in the southern city of Zamboanga. (Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Israel Recalls Envoy Following Belgian Court Ruling on Sharon - Sharon Sadeh, Aluf Benn, and Amnon Barzilai
    Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday recalled Israel's ambassador to Belgium, Yehudi Kinar, after the Belgian Supreme Court ruled that Defense Ministry director-general Amos Yaron could be prosecuted for his involvement in the Sabra and Shatila massacres in 1982 in Beirut, when he was commander of the IDF forces in the Lebanese capital at the time. The court also ruled that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon can be put on trial for his alleged involvement in the affair, but only after he ceases to be prime minister, when he no longer has diplomatic immunity.
        Netanyahu said the Belgian court had made "a scandalous decision, which legitimizes terror and harms those who fight it. This turns the tables - when those who fight terror turn into the accused and the terrorists are victorious." (Ha'aretz)
  • Boobytrapped Rocket Found Aimed at Efrat
    Schoolchildren and other residents took cover in shelters Thursday morning in Efrat, south of Jerusalem, after IDF soldiers found a rocket in the nearby Arab village of Beit Fajjar aimed at their town. While further inspection of the rocket revealed no explosive warhead, a pipe bomb was found at the site, designed to harm soldiers examining the rocket. (Jerusalem Post/Yediot Ahronot)
  • Leaders of Central Asia, U.S. Jewry Issue Declaration towards Peace - David Landau and Lily Galili
    The leaders of the Muslim republics of central Asia called on Thursday for the creation of an international "forum for peace and stability." The leaders, conferring with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, included conference host Nursultan Nazarbaev, president of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan president Imomali Rahmonov, Kyrgystan President Askar Akayev, a senior representative of the Turkish government, and a senior aide to President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan.
        "This is the place to build a firewall between Islamic fundamentalism and moderate Islam," said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive director of the Conference of Presidents. "Many of these states have been encroached upon by Islamic fundamentalism operating out of Iran, Afghanistan, and even China," Hoenlein said. "There is a domino threat in the region. If one state falls, its neighbors could go too." (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Brother of "20th" Hijacker Moussaoui Blames Wahhabism for Brother's Extremist Militancy - Abd Samad Moussaoui
    Wahhabi leaders announce everywhere including on Al-Jazeera, a television station with a large Arab audience, that suicide committed during an attack or an assassination is not suicide. What is surprising is that those who have a voice, through the media, do not address the roots of the problem. Though they condemn attacks and assassinations, they do not denounce Wahhabi ideologists such as Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, ibn Baz, and Muslim Brotherhood ideologists. People of good will must be united in denouncing and ostracizing from society those who espouse the destructive ideology of these terrorist movements. [Excerpted from Zacarias, My Brother: The Making of a Terrorist] (New York Times)
  • Iran's Nuclear Program: Gathering Dust or Gaining Steam? - Michael Eisenstadt
    Russian officials recently announced that the first reactor at Bushehr (Unit I) may be completed this year. Although not ideally suited for the purpose, Bushehr could become a source of plutonium for weapons. For example, during a protracted crisis or war, Tehran could run the reactor at economically inefficient low fuel burn-up levels to produce weapons-grade plutonium or, alternately, separate reactor-grade plutonium from spent fuel awaiting reshipment to Russia. Although reactor-grade plutonium is not ideal for bombmaking (radioactivity makes it dangerous to work with, while its isotopic composition makes for an inefficient and unreliable weapon), the U.S. demonstrated the military utility of such plutonium in a 1962 underground nuclear explosive test. Iran could produce plutonium by 2005. Weaponization could take another six to twelve months. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Will Iraq's Liberation Help Free Iran Too? - Fouad Ajami
    For those who want to normalize Iran, the thunder of war against Iraq is the coming of a blessed rain. The "contagion effect" of a liberated Iraq will no doubt have a role to play in the fight for Iran's future. (Wall Street Journal)
  • A Wolf in Sheik's Clothing - Editorial
    The hate-filled screed against America was familiar but still sickening. We speak not of the world's most famous Saudi, Osama Bin Laden, but of the kingdom's supreme religious leader, Grand Mufti Sheik Abdul-Aziz bin Abdullah Al al-Sheik. The two must have the same speechwriter. In his sermon Monday, the Grand Mufti told the faithful that "the enemy has exposed its fangs and is fighting our religion and is doing its best to drive Muslims away from their religion." The enemy he refers to is the United States, also known as Saudi Arabia's chief protector and chief victim. This al-Sheik fellow is the top religious authority in Saudi Arabia, where the state and religion are one and the same. His forum this week was Islam's most important holiday, the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Hundreds of thousands were in attendance. Other Muslims around the world saw a live broadcast. (New York Daily News)
  • Observations:

    Bin Laden's Latest Tape - Clifford D. May (National Review)

    • All the Jihadist groups - bin Ladenists, Wahhabis, Baathists, Khomeinists, Arafatists - are united by at least four shared goals:
      1. Expanding the realm of Islamic rule, in particular throwing Christians, Jews, and other "infidels" out of the Middle East and any other land ever ruled by Muslims;
      2. Promoting the belief within the Muslim world that Islam is in a state of permanent conflict with other religions - and that this conflict can only be resolved by Islam's unambiguous victory;
      3. Insisting that all Muslims have a religious duty to wage Jihad to vanquish Islam's enemies;
      4. Persuading Muslims to oppose democracy, religious freedom, the rule of law, and other Free World values.
    • For a long time, many Middle East analysts have argued that doctrinal differences would prevent religious extremists like bin Laden from making common cause with ostensibly secular Muslims like Saddam Hussein. How, from a doctrinal standpoint, can bin Laden justify such alliances?
    • Michael Scott Doran, a Near Eastern studies scholar at Princeton, recently wrote that bin Laden has been promoting the idea that, "People of Islam should join forces and support each other to get rid of the main infidel" - even if that means that true believers will be forced to fight alongside Muslims of dubious piety.

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