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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September 10, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Al-Qaeda Tried to Recruit Saudi Pilots for Attack on Israel - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Al-Qaeda tried to recruit Saudi air force pilots for a suicide attack on Israel similar to the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday.
    Ya'alon said this information came from the U.S. interrogation of arrested al-Qaeda members.
    Ya'alon said al-Qaeda had planned to use either a civilian plane or one of the F-15 jets belonging to the Saudi air force.
    In light of these plans, the deployment of F-15s at Saudi Arabia's Tabuk base, relatively close to the Gulf of Eilat, is "worrying," he said.
    Ya'alon also noted that Othman Yunis, the Palestinian Tanzim operative who planned last month's suicide bombing in Rosh Ha'ayin and was recently arrested by Israel, told his interrogators that he received money and instructions from both the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in Lebanon and Fatah operatives based in Arafat's Ramallah compound.

Muslim Missionary: How a Diplomat From Saudi Arabia Spread His Faith - David Crawford (Wall Street Journal-10 Sept 03)
    As head of the Islamic affairs department at the Saudi Embassy in Berlin, Muhammad Fakihi was responsible for explaining Saudi religious views and assisting Muslims in need.
    Fakihi frequented a Berlin mosque favored by members of the now notorious Hamburg cell that helped mount the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and he channeled more than $1 million to the mosque.
    He told his superiors in Saudi Arabia that his ultimate goal was to turn Berlin into an Islamic proselytizing center for Eastern Europe.
    German officials believe he met in 2003 with a Tunisian man under investigation for possessing bomb-making materials and a handbook for brewing poisons.
    Fakihi has since left Germany and returned to Riyadh.

British Muslims Commemorate "Magnificent 19" of Sept 11 - Sean O'Neill (Telegraph-UK)
    The extremist Islamic group al-Muhajiroun is organizing four rallies across Britain this week to commemorate what it calls "The Magnificent 19" hijackers who carried out the September 11 atrocities.
    Posters and stickers advertising the events have appeared in inner-city areas with large Muslim populations.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • In 2 Bombings, Arab Attackers Kill 15 in Israel
    Two Palestinian suicide bombers killed at least 15 people and wounded over 70 in separate attacks Tuesday, striking a popular cafe in Jerusalem's German Colony and a bus stop crowded with soldiers at Tzrifin southeast of Tel Aviv. (New York Times)
        The Tzrifin blast took place close to the entrance of Assaf Harofeh Hospital. Police said the bomber, a 19-year-old Palestinian from Rantis, near Ramallah, wore civilian clothes, got out of a car at the bus stop, and almost immediately blew himself up, killing 8 soldiers. In Jerusalem, eyewitnesses said the terrorist tried to get into a pizza restaurant but was rebuffed by a security guard, so he went into Cafe Hillel next door. There he was spotted by security guard Alon Mizrachi, 22, and some customers who began struggling with him to shove him out of the restaurant when he blew up. Mizrachi was among those killed. (Ha'aretz)
        IDF authorities have traced both attacks to the Hamas network in Ramallah. (Ha'aretz)
  • State: Deal with Arafat? "Been There, Done That"
    State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Tuesday, "The imperative on the Palestinian side of getting a handle on their security situation...ending the activities of groups that have supported terrorism, remains as strong as before....Any Palestinian prime minister...needs to have the commitment, the authority, and the resources to do that."
        "We have not bothered to talk to Mr. Arafat because our previous efforts to work directly with him didn't produce anything....We were making progress without dealing with Arafat. When we were dealing with Arafat, we weren't making progress. That is the objective fact the President talked about on June 24th of last year, that we had a failed leadership that wasn't leading us anywhere. That's been tried. Been there, done that. Road don't lead nowhere." (State Department)
  • U.S. Refuses to Pressure Israel on Arafat
    The Bush administration refused Tuesday to pressure Israel or to ease up on Yasser Arafat even if that meant blocking Ahmed Qurei from taking over as the new Palestinian prime minister. Offering no new plans and maintaining a minimum level of diplomacy, the administration is leaving it to the Palestinians to sort out a power structure that so far inevitably leads back to the blacklisted Arafat. (AP/Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Palestinians Murder U.S.-Born Hospital Emergency Room Director Dr. David Appelbaum
    Dr. David Appelbaum, 50, director of the emergency department at Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, was one of seven people killed in a suicide bombing at Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem. Dr. Appelbaum had gone out for coffee with his daughter Nava, 20, who was also killed in the blast, to celebrate the last night before her wedding. Dr. Appelbaum immigrated to Israel over 20 years ago from Cleveland, Ohio, and had served as medical director of Magen David Adom in Jerusalem. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also Head of Shaare Zedek ER Killed in Jerusalem Blast - Nadav Shragai (Ha'aretz); Former Cleveland Doctor Among Blast Victims (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)
  • Sharon Cuts Short India Trip in Wake of Bombings - Aluf Benn
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon cut short his visit to India to return home early Thursday, his spokesman said Wednesday. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Kills Dispatcher of Bomber Who Murdered 22 on Jerusalem Bus - Margot Dudkevitch
    The senior Hamas commander in Hebron, Ahmed Bader, who dispatched the suicide bomber who blew up a No. 2 Jerusalem bus three weeks ago murdering 22 people, was killed by security forces Tuesday. IDF officers said the Hamas infrastructure in the city was responsible for the deaths of scores of Israelis, and Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon said the cell was planning to perpetrate an attack in the coming days. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Scrutiny for Saudi Airlift - Editorial
    A largely unnoticed federal operation to help some 140 Saudi citizens, including members of Osama bin Laden's family, flee the U.S. by private plane immediately following the Sept. 11 terror attacks deserves further scrutiny now. The question is whether the FBI let any witnesses or participants in the Sept. 11 horror slip through its fingers. Despite the restrictions on U.S. airspace in the chaotic aftermath of the attacks, an aircraft chartered by the Saudi government was allowed to fly to some 10 U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Houston, and Boston to gather selected Saudi nationals and return them home, ostensibly to protect them from misdirected retribution. An article in the current Vanity Fair quotes the former head of counterterrorism for the FBI, Dale Watson, as saying the fleeing Saudis "were not subject to serious interviews or interrogations.'' (Boston Herald)
  • The Falseness of Anti-Americanism - Fouad Ajami
    The frenzy with which radical Islamists battle against deportation orders from U.S. soil - dreading the prospect of returning to Amman and Beirut and Cairo - reveals the lie of anti-Americanism that blows through Muslim lands. To come bearing modernism to those who want it but who rail against it at the same time - that is the American burden. With modernism come the Jews. They have been its bearers and beneficiaries, and they have paid dearly for it. Today the Jews have a singular role in U.S. public life and culture, and anti-Americanism is tethered to anti-Semitism. The U.S. need not worry about hearts and minds in foreign lands. If Muslims truly believe that their long winter of decline is the fault of the U.S., no campaign of public diplomacy shall deliver them from that incoherence. (Foreign Policy)
  • Wahhabism: Toxic Faith? - David Van Biema
    The version of Islam that Mohammed ibn Abd Wahhab conceived in the 1740s is now the state religion of Saudi Arabia. In the 1980s, when the Saudi regime sought to deflect its homegrown militants from domestic agitation by sending them off to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, it midwifed a radical mutation of Wahhabism that believes the time for jihad against infidels and the neocolonialist West is now. French writer and Islam expert Gilles Kepel says the Saudis until the late 1990s relied on a trio of aging clerics with conservative credibility to keep the young in check. But all three have since died, and the remaining government-sanctioned religious establishment holds little sway with the most hard-core believers. (TIME)
  • Observations:

    Mofaz: Israel May Boycott Abu Ala as "Arafat Lackey" - Gideon Alon (Ha'aretz)

    • Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday that "we will not cooperate with an Arafat lackey. We expect an independent government that is not umbilically tied to Arafat, which will dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, continue to implement reforms, and end incitement against Israel."
    • General Yossi Kuperwasser, head of Military Intelligence's research division, told the committee that Ahmed Qurei [Abu Ala] accepts Arafat's leadership absolutely. "If Abu Ala establishes a government under the conditions being demanded of him, speaking with him will be like [speaking with] Arafat."
    • Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's political department, also said that Qurei is in Arafat's shadow and has no intention of either fighting terror or implementing reforms.
    • Mofaz also told the committee that recent events had made it clear that the Islamic terrorist organizations are stronger than the Palestinian government, and in light of this, Israel has adopted a new policy.
      • First, since the PA will not act against the terrorist organizations, Israel will wage all-out war against them, including continual attacks on their leaders as well as their operatives.
      • Second, though Israel remains committed to President Bush's peace plan, the diplomatic process will be frozen until the PA begins a real war on terror.

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