Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with Access/Middle East
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 7, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Coalition Officials Fear Wahhabi Infiltration of Iraq - Martin Bentham (Telegraph-UK)
    Saddam's taped call to arms, which was received with enthusiasm by diehard loyalists among Iraq's Sunni Muslims, has strengthened coalition officials' concerns.
    They fear that Wahhabis, members of the Saudi-based extremist orthodox Islamic sect that inspired Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, have infiltrated Iraq and are encouraging the deadly attacks on American forces.
    Senior military officers and Western diplomats said last week that money is being sent from Saudi Arabia to Iraqi mosques to fund Wahhabism.
    The influx of foreign preachers and funds is greatest in Baghdad, and in Sunni-dominated towns such as Ramadi and nearby Fallujah.
    Concern about the Wahhabis deepened after a recent raid by American forces in the northern city of Mosul on houses of suspected associates of Abu Ammash, a Wahhabi extremist group.
    Four Kalashnikovs, a pistol, a hand grenade, and an artillery round were also seized, as well as Baath party documents and a Republican Guard uniform, reinforcing fears that some Wahhabis may be forming an anti-American alliance with Saddam loyalists.

Al Qaeda Said to Have Migrated to Iran - Aamir Latif (Washington Times)
    Pakistan's intelligence community believes that the operational base of al Qaeda has shifted to Iran from Pakistan after the arrest of the network's military operations chief, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed on Feb. 28 - with some 250 al Qaeda and Taliban fugitives hiding in Iran.
    Saif Al-Adel, an Egyptian national who has been appointed the military chief of al Qaeda after the arrest of Mohammed, is hiding in the Iranian city of Zahedan, which borders with Pakistan, Pakistani intelligence officials say. Until the arrest of Mohammed, Al-Adel had been in Pakistan's tribal belt, near Quetta, where he was busy recruiting fighters.
    Other leaders include Osama bin Laden's eldest son, Saad bin Laden; Yaaz bin Sifat, a top ranking al Qaeda planner; Abu Mohammad al-Masri; and various former ministers of Afghanistan's ousted Taliban government. A former mayor of Kabul during the Taliban regime, Mohammed Islam Haani, was arrested recently by Afghan troops while trying to cross into Iran.
    Intelligence officials believe the departure of Al-Adel and others is partly a result of Pakistan's massive hunt for them in a remote area of Baluchistan province, which abuts both Afghanistan and Iran.

Seven Pakistani Businessmen Visit Israel - Nusrat Javeed (Jang-Pakistan)
    At least seven businessmen from Pakistan discreetly visited Israel in the last week of June after attending the World Economic Forum in Jordan.
    On a Pakistani passport, you can travel to "all countries except Israel." Yet some people have been occasionally slipping into that country in the name of visiting some historic sites, also considered "holy" by Muslims. A few would hunt for business and trade prospects through third countries.
    Pakistani columnist Ikram Sehgal admits to having come across many Israelis at seminars and conferences who "do not have the horns they are supposed to have, in fact one finds them very logical and correct."
    "What stops us from having dialogue and commerce the way we have with Taiwan?" wonders the columnist. He then reveals that he savored the "rare privilege of praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque."

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Three G.I.s Killed in Iraq Capital
    Three American soldiers were killed on Sunday and Monday in Baghdad amid growing signs of guerrilla resistance to American forces. Two were shot in encounters with gunman and the third was killed when an explosive device struck his vehicle. On Saturday, 7 Iraqi police recruits were killed and more than 70 people wounded when an explosive device was detonated during the graduation of the first class of the new American-trained Iraqi police force. (New York Times)
        See also Iraqis Fear Hussein is Plotting to Return
    Graffiti extolling former president Saddam Hussein went up a few nights ago throughout Baghdad's Adhamiyah neighborhood. The wall of a girls' school promised that "Saddam the hero will be back." The side of a shop proclaimed that "Saddam is still our leader." Although residents eagerly painted over slogans praising Hussein in the days after his government fell, they said no one dared to remove the latest messages. Many Iraqis have become increasingly spooked that the former dictator and his loyalists are plotting a return to power. (Washington Post)
        See also Saddam Tape Praises Attacks on American Troops
    A tape recording was released Friday purporting to be the voice of Saddam Hussein praising hit-and-run attacks on American forces in Iraq and calling on Iraqis to support those resisting the occupation. (Telegraph-UK)
  • New U.S. Focus on Details in Mideast Plan
    A senior U.S. official said that more pressure on Israel to stop construction of the fence is certain in coming weeks. "We will be back on this issue if things don't improve," said an administration official. The exchange between Ms. Rice and Mr. Sharon on the fence shows, administration officials say, a decision to direct pressure from both the White House and the State Department. American, European, and Middle Eastern diplomats all say that the American pressure has been cautious so far, and will have to become more assertive in coming weeks. The next test, they say, will be over the administration's willingness to take further steps: stopping installation of the barrier fence, pulling back more forces in the West Bank, and dismantling, or at least freezing, settlements there and in Gaza. (New York Times)
  • Palestinian Gunmen Murder "Collaborator" in Ramallah Courthouse
    Palestinian masked gunmen stormed Ramallah's Palestinian National Authority courthouse Sunday and shot dead 35-year-old Youssef Shelbaya who was being prosecuted for collaborating with Israel, according to Palestinian sources. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the military wing of Fatah, claimed responsibility for the killing. (UPI/Washington Times)
  • Turkey Says U.S. Has Agreed to Free 11 Soldiers
    A senior Turkish official said Sunday that American forces in Iraq had agreed to release 11 Turkish soldiers, even as American officials accused the soldiers of plotting to kill an American-backed Iraqi official. The detention of Turkish soldiers by American forces in Iraq occurred on Friday when the Americans raided a compound held by members of the Turkish special forces in Sulaimaniya in northern Iraq. Turkey has been sending troops into northern Iraq since the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf war to pursue Kurdish guerrillas. A senior Defense Department official said the soldiers were "acting on intelligence about possible illicit activities that were being planned against municipal officials in the region." A senior American military official said the plot appeared to be aimed at the governor of Kirkuk. Since the fall of Hussein's government, Turkish soldiers have been acting in support of the Turkomans in the region. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Hamas Still Making Qassam Rockets - Uzi Benziman
    Hamas continues to manufacture Qassam rockets under cover of the cease-fire, senior intelligence officials revealed Sunday. A week into the cease-fire, the IDF believes all the armed groups have now accepted it. As a result, the army has not initiated military operations even in areas that have not yet been turned over to the PA. The IDF is only acting against marginal Palestinian groups that have yet to join the cease-fire, a few dozen armed men in total. (Haaretz)
        See also Hamas Accelerating Qassam Production - Ben Caspit and Amir Rappaport
    According to IDF Intelligence, Hamas is exploiting the hudna and accelerating production of Qassam rockets. (Maariv-Hebrew]
  • Mofaz Meets Dahlan in Jerusalem - Amos Harel
    Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Palestinian Security Minister Mohammed Dahlan met Sunday in Jerusalem. After the meeting, Mofaz said he sees "a certain decline" in the number of alerts about Palestinian attacks and a similar decline in incitement in Palestinian media. According to Mofaz, both sides want to keep the process going. He promised that Israel would continue "confidence-building measures," but said it would be a gradual process, dependent on Palestinian fulfillment of their commitments. "I want to give the process a chance. I will make every effort to make the process progress, without endangering the security of the citizens of Israel," said Mofaz. He said Israel would not be handing over more Palestinian cities to the PA's security forces until there is more evidence of what he called Palestinian combat against the terrorist infrastructure.
        Most of the terror alerts refer to plans by local cells of armed Fatah operatives in the northern West Bank - in Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarm and Kalkilya. Israel Sunday allowed 1,500 workers and 1,500 merchants from the Bethlehem area into Israel for work and commerce. (Ha'aretz)
  • Gaza Strip Terrorist Coalition Joins Cease-Fire - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Popular Resistance Committees in the Gaza Strip announced Sunday that it has joined the cease-fire. The PFLP, the second largest faction of the PLO, has said, despite its opposition to the cease-fire, it would refrain from carrying out attacks that would jeopardize the truce. Palestinian security forces published advertisements in Palestinian newspapers Sunday warning against the painting of graffiti on walls and urged residents to help the police in removing the graffiti. The police also warned Palestinians against shooting into the air during weddings, a practice that in the past resulted in the tragic deaths of several people. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Terror Groups Fire at PA Forces - Khaled Abu Toameh
    On Friday, three members of the PA security forces were wounded by a gunman from the Popular Resistance Committees in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza. The leader of the Aksa Brigades in the northern West Bank, Zakariya al-Zubaidi, declared that his group has never accepted the cease-fire and would continue to launch terrorist attacks against Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • How Will the PA Dismantle Terror Groups? - Ben Caspit
    American emissary John Wolf is diligently building a mechanism for the collection of weapons. It will be called "registration" - for the imposition of law and order. Whoever wants to sell his Kalachnikov is welcome - he will receive a good price. Whoever does not will be invited to PA offices to have his weapon's serial number recorded. At the same time, efforts will be made to recruit the gun owner into the security services. In this way, say the Palestinians, we will dry up the swamps of terror, slowly but surely. Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad has begun paying the salaries of Dahlan's security forces directly to the bank instead of through cash payments. Salaries will be 15% higher since Fayyad has cancelled the intifada tax and improved the dollar-linked exchange rate. Abbas has failed to take control of the Palestinian Broadcasting Authority, which Arafat sees as his "personal weapon" necessary to his survival, but Abbas is establishing an independent satellite channel. The Americans are planning to send hundreds of millions of dollars into the territories, to dry up Hamas' Dawa charity system and replace it with enlightened Western democratic money. (Maariv-Hebrew; July 4, 2003)
  • Israel's Enemies Don't Share Its Ideals - Paul Jackson
    Today, fully 55 years after Israel regained its statehood, the nation is still under the same kind of siege as it was when David Ben-Gurion declared its independence. That the Israelis want peace is undeniable. That many Palestinian leaders and many Arab leaders do not want to see Israel survive is also undeniable. Why the world doesn't see these two equations - one positive, one negative - and assess them fairly is beyond explanation. The so-called occupied lands were captured by Israel solely as a result of wars and invasions instigated by Arab nations. Now, if a nation ruthlessly invades another nation and then is forced back by its courageous defenders, should the aggressor escape scot-free? Surely it has to pay a penalty, if only as a deterrence against another attack. These slivers of land now rightfully belong to Israel. From David Ben-Gurion to Yitzhak Rabin to Benjamin Netanyahu to Ariel Sharon, Israelis have continuously struggled for peace. If only Israel's enemies had the same ideals. (Calgary Sun)
  • Observations:  

    Israeli Cabinet Approves Prisoner Release (Jerusalem Post)

    • After its first vote ended in a 10-10 tie, the Israeli Cabinet voted 13-8 Sunday to approve the release of several hundred Palestinian prisoners.
    • One Israeli official said that those released will not "have blood on their hands;" will be those the Shin Bet believes do not constitute a danger to Israel's security; and are not members of rejectionist groups. The official said there may be some on the list who carried out terrorist attacks before the 1993 Oslo accords and have served "long sentences."
    • Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein ordered Sharon to publicize the list of prisoners to be released 48 hours before they are set free in order to allow the families of terror victims time to appeal the decision. Rubinstein also said the government should weigh very carefully whether to release prisoners who have been released before, only to have been arrested again.
    • In 1993 the government issued a blanket amnesty for many of the 415 terrorists expelled to southern Lebanon. These former prisoners returned to the West Bank and Gaza armed with expertise after apprenticeships in Hizballah camps on using weapons, rigging bombs, and the art of propaganda. Then in 1995-1997 Israel released about 1,100 prisoners, many of whom reestablished their connections to terrorist groups. (Jerusalem Post)
    • All professional assessments which were submitted to Prime Minister Sharon indicated that releasing prisoners is likely to significantly contribute to the strengthening of Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen, with whom we are negotiating. A strong Palestinian administration will be able to act more effectively against terror.
    • Prime Minister Sharon said that the recommendations to release prisoners would not apply to prisoners with blood on their hands, murderers, those who have attacked Israelis and foreign nationals, or to those who have dispatched them. Similarly, the release recommendations will not apply to those who are currently on trial. (Cabinet Secretariat/IMRA)

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