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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August 19, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Arafat Taps Phones of Abu Mazen's Ministers (Itim/Maariv-Hebrew)
    A senior PA officer appointed by Mohammed Dahlan reported that Arafat and his men listen in on the phone conversations of members of Mahmoud Abbas's government and security officials appointed by Dahlan, via the Palestinian cellular phone company.
    In response, government officials change their phone numbers frequently or even use Israel-based phone companies.

Report: PA Fakes Foiling Attacks to Please America (IMRA)
    According to a classified report prepared by security sources for the Israeli government, the Palestinians are staging the foiling of attacks in order to please the Americans, Israel Radio reported Tuesday.
    The report notes that in several instances the Palestinians staged the discovery of explosives belts before television cameras.

Emissaries for Saudi Arabia Ask Israel for Evidence on Hamas Funding - Eliel Shahar (Maariv-Hebrew)
    Emissaries for Saudi Arabia have sent initial signals to Israel through the Israeli Embassy in Washington requesting evidence connecting Saudi government or business sources with the transfer of funds to Hamas, in order to act on this matter.
    A senior diplomatic source in Jerusalem said, "The Saudis decided to approach Israel out of a feeling that this will help repair their standing in the U.S....[but] the connections between Saudi Arabia and Islamist sources are too deep and won't be easy to break."

Saudi Arabia Arrests Saudi Security Officer Among Militants (Reuters/Gulf News-UAE)
    According to the Saudi daily al-Jazirah, among the 10 Saudi militants arrested near the southern town of Jizan was a Saudi security officer.

UAE Closes Arab Think-Tank (Al-Bawaba-Jordan)
    The UAE is closing down the Abu Dhabi-based Zayed International Center for Coordination and Follow-Up, a think-tank that Israel and Jewish bodies accused of promoting anti-Americanism and "anti-Semitism."
    While the center has hosted such speakers as Al Gore and James Baker, it has also published claims that the 9/11 attacks were a U.S. plot and has hosted a Saudi professor who alleged Jews used human blood to prepare "holiday pastries."

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Saudis in Iraq "Preparing for a Holy War"
    Increasing numbers of Saudi Arabian Islamists are crossing the border into Iraq in preparation for a jihad, or holy war, against U.S. and UK forces, security and Islamist sources have warned. Saudis who have gone to Iraq have established links with sympathetic Iraqis in the northern area between Baghdad, Mosul, and Tikrit, where they have hidden in safe-houses, a Saudi Islamist source said on Monday. (Financial Times-UK)
        See also Saudi-Based Al-Qaeda Helps Saddam Loyalists
    Al-Qaeda terrorists who infiltrated Iraq from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have formed a deadly alliance with former intelligence agents of Saddam Hussein to fight their common enemy - U.S. forces. The alliance is known as Jaish Mohammed. In the past four months it has smuggled millions of dollars, weapons, and hundreds of Arab fighters across the desert border with Saudi Arabia. Influenced by Wahhabism and headed by a senior Saudi al-Qaeda officer, it represents a new battle force in the holy war against the U.S. (The Australian)
        See also Al-Qaeda Tape Urges Faithful to Fight in Iraq
    An audiotape, purportedly from an al-Qaeda militant, calls on Muslims around the world to travel to Iraq and fight the U.S.-led occupation. The speaker on the tape, aired Monday on Al-Arabiyah television, claimed to be Abdur Rahman al-Najdi, a Saudi-born militant sought by the U.S. (AP/MSNBC)
        See also Who is Taking Credit for Attacks on the U.S. Army in Western Iraq? Al-Jama'a al-Salafiya al-Mujahida - Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/JCPA)
  • Human Rights Defender in Lebanon Now an Imprisoned Defendant
    Muhammad Mugraby, 64, a prominent Lebanese human rights lawyer and activist who is among the few who have dared to defend Lebanese citizens imprisoned in Syria, was arrested last week in Beirut on the charge of "impersonating a lawyer." Mugraby documented the disappearance and detention of Lebanese citizens in Syria in a report for Human Rights Watch titled "An Alliance Beyond the Law." Lebanese citizens have disappeared - some apparently seized from their homes - detained by Syrians or Lebanese authorities under Syrian pressure because of their opposition to the Syrian presence in Lebanon. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • The PA Plan to Neutralize Terrorists - Janine Zacharia
    One potential sticking point in the plan to hand over security control of additional West Bank cities to the PA has been how Palestinians will deal with fugitives Israel says have been involved in terrorist attacks. A PA official said the wanted men would remain in the cities where the PA takes control under its supervision, and in return Israel will not target them. Another PA source said they would be limited to certain security zones in the cities and would have to hand in their weapons to the PA. He did not rule out that the PA would pay them monthly allowances as an incentive to refrain from carrying out attacks. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Report: Few Actual Reforms in PA - Aluf Benn
    Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has done very little to promote reforms in the Palestinian Authority since taking office, according to a report prepared by government agencies responsible for assessing events in the PA. The main obstacle to reform is Arafat, who has fought the ouster of his loyalists from managerial positions. Abbas has shied away from a confrontation with Arafat and has advanced reforms only in response to external pressure, mainly from the U.S. The report said that some Palestinian ministers have tried to reform their own bailiwicks, but did not receive political backing from Abbas. While the Palestinian public favors reform, it is not pressing the issue, being more concerned with the difficult economic situation. (Ha'aretz)
  • More Pressure on Assad Needed - Janine Zacharia and Arieh O'Sullivan
    The IDF believes Assad is misjudging the situation and ignoring the warnings that Israel is passing on to him. One senior IDF officer said Monday that Assad "sees (Hizballah leader Hassan) Nasrallah as a leader who vanquished Israel and chased it out of Lebanon. He doesn't see Hizballah just as a proxy but a significant arm of his capable of putting pressure on Israel." According to military sources, Assad instructed that 220 mm rockets made in Syria be transferred to Hizballah. IDF intelligence believes that Assad is not being led by those around him but is leading and is quite stable in his regime, seeing himself as a leader of Arab nationalism. Assad hopes that the U.S. will become bogged down in a guerrilla war in Iraq. "This is why Assad doesn't feel pressured by U.S. pressures and messages," said a military source. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Stop Demolishing Illegal Arab Houses in Jerusalem, Says U.S. - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Diplomats from the U.S. consulate met recently with Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski to express their concern over demolitions of illegal Arab houses in Jerusalem. A senior municipality official responded, "What we are doing is enforcing the law. In many cases, we have received complaints from Arab neighbors against the illegal construction." "Moreover, there is a phenomenon of land robbery in the Arab neighborhoods, where local gangs are taking control over empty lands and building on them illegally." Another top municipality official expressed outrage at the intervention of U.S. diplomats in an "internal" Israeli affair. "What would the Americans say if we told them not to enforce the law against offenders in Washington?" asked one official. "The illegal building in the Arab neighborhoods has become a major problem for the Arabs themselves, who are putting pressure on us to take action." (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The Global Epidemic of Illegal Building and Demolitions: Implications for Jerusalem - Justus Reid Weiner (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Capture of Hambali - Yoram Schweitzer
    Even the neutralization of al-Qaeda and the arrest or elimination of senior leaders like Hambali or even bin Laden himself will not mean an end to international terrorism. A comprehensive and coordinated effort is required to force a drastic change in the patterns of behavior of traditional state sponsors of terrorism, especially Iran and Syria, as well as of those termed "failed states" because of their refusal to act against terrorist organizations using the territory of those states as if it were their own. States like Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Somalia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, and others have largely "failed" to exercise their sovereignty, assert their authority, and deny the use of their territory to terrorists not because of an inability to do so but rather because of unwillingness to do so for political reasons. (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies)
  • Well-Heeled Saddam Has Global Stash - Jay Bushinsky
    Saddam Hussein is a multibillionaire whose worldwide financial grid trades in gold, diamonds, and drugs, and has links to important Russian and U.S. companies, according to Nicolas Giannakopoulos, head of the Organized Crime Observatory (OCO), a Geneva-based investigative group. Saddam's funds have been deposited in Swiss banks and also in banks and off-shore companies in Liechtenstein, Panama, and the Bahamas. Giannakopoulos said Switzerland was chosen as the hub of Saddam's network because "the Swiss didn't ask questions; they just let his agents do whatever they wanted to do." (Washington Times)
  • Idi Amin Felt at Home with the Saudis - Stephen Pollard
    How fitting that Idi Amin, the butcher of Uganda, should have spent the last years of his life in Saudi Arabia. The evidence of Saudi involvement in terror is long-standing, overwhelming, and sickening. As David Aufhauser, the general counsel for the U.S. Treasury Department, put it in testimony to Congress in June, Saudi Arabia is the "epicenter" of funding for terrorism in general and al-Qaeda in particular. (London Times)
  • Observations:

    All Talk and No Dialogue - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)

    • Seven weeks have gone by since the agreement on the cease-fire between Israel and the PA, and it's clear that the truce does not in fact exist. The terror attacks in Israel are continuing.
    • The leading trio - Abu Mazen, Minister of State for Security Affairs Mohammed Dahlan, and Finance Minister Salam Fayyad - is incapable of enforcing the hudna even on the armed groups within its own movement, the Fatah. These forces can be called Tanzim, or Al Aqsa Brigades, but in fact these are gangs that can be bought for money and this is being done now by Iranian emissaries.
    • In the direct war against terror, which Israel sees as the most important thing, Abu Mazen and Dahlan have remained in the realm of talk. Many fine words and promises, and negligible implementation. This is also the increasing feeling among the Americans.

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