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 11, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

U.S. Bans Five Saudi Airline Pilots - Jeanne Meserve (CNN)
    The U.S. has banned five Saudi Arabian pilots from flying into or otherwise entering the country, a Bush administration official said Wednesday.
    The official said a check of multiple databases over the summer turned up information that indicated an association between the pilots and known al-Qaeda terrorists.

Closing In on bin Laden - Brian Ross and Jill Rackmill (ABC News)
    The hunt for Osama bin Laden has been narrowed to a 40-square-mile section of the Waziristan region in the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan, say senior U.S. officials.
    Taliban leader Mullah Omar is also believed to be hiding in northern Waziristan.
    At least eight people were murdered in the Pakistani town of Angoor Ada, in broad daylight, on the suspicion they were informing the U.S. of bin Laden's whereabouts, according to locals.
    See also New Bin Laden Video Shown on Al-Jazeera (FOX News)

Canadians in Secret Unit Hunt al-Qaeda Terrorists - Chris Wattie (National Post-Canada)
    The crew of the Coyote armored reconnaissance vehicle near Kabul is part of the Canadian ISTAR company, the eyes and ears of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
    The job of ISTAR is to find the terrorists and extremists who form a constant threat to the multinational force, and pinpoint their locations and activities.

Saudi Clerics Hit More Rights for Women (AP/Washington Post)
    Prominent Saudi clerics and academics warned Wednesday against calls for equality and increased rights for women, saying such efforts aim to make Muslim women more like "infidel" Western types.
    Efforts to give women greater rights are part of an anti-Islamic campaign spearheaded by the U.S., said 130 Saudi sheiks and academics in a statement.

    See also Barbie Deemed Threat to Saudi Morality (AP/Yahoo)
    Saudi Arabia's religious police have declared Barbie dolls a threat to morality, complaining that the revealing clothes of the "Jewish" toy - already banned in the kingdom - are offensive to Islam.
    Other banned items included Valentine's Day gifts and clothing with logos that include a cross.
    Women in Saudi Arabia must cover themselves from head to toe with a black cloak in public.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Bush Urges Crackdown on Palestinian Militants
    President Bush Wednesday called for an aggressive crackdown on Palestinian militant groups, saying the dismantlement of those groups is "probably the most important condition for peace to prevail." Bush's remarks suggested the administration will not publicly try to dissuade Israel from targeting groups or individuals responsible for a recent wave of suicide bombings. The job of the newly appointed Palestinian prime minister "is to consolidate power within his administration, to get the security forces under control - all security forces - and then to unleash those security forces against killers," Bush said.
        Administration officials are deeply frustrated by Arafat's ability to thwart gains in the U.S.-sanctioned peace process, even after the administration has cut off contact with Arafat and attempted to marginalize him. But they have also privately warned Israeli officials not to act on the growing sentiment in Israel to exile Arafat, believing that would unleash anger across the Arab world that would complicate U.S. efforts to stabilize Iraq. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. May Now Face al-Qaeda in Iraq
    From the heights of a border lookout post, U.S. soldiers use high-powered binoculars to scan Syrian fields for foreign fighters trying to sneak into Iraq. Occasionally, they fire warning shots over the heads of anyone illegally approaching the barbed wire fence separating the nations. U.S. commanders in the Iraqi border town of Al Qaim, barely a mile from Syria, say four foreign fighters who they believed had al-Qaeda training were captured in recent weeks. Immediately afterward, they say, attacks on U.S. forces declined and were less sophisticated - leaving them no doubt that foreign fighters have been attacking them. (CNN)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • IDF Troops Take Over Building Near Arafat's HQ - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    IDF soldiers in the West Bank city of Ramallah commandeered the PA Culture Ministry building, Palestinian sources told Israel Radio on Thursday. Israeli troops took over the top floor of the building, which overlooks Arafat's headquarters compound. "At this stage we are speaking of a message and a signal to the Palestinian Authority and Yasser Arafat," a military official said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Qurei Accepts Post of PM - Khaled Abu Toameh and Janine Zacharia
    On Wednesday, Ahmed Qurei met with Arafat and told him he had accepted the offer to serve as prime minister. Asked if he had relinquished his demand for U.S. and European guarantees of support as a prerequisite for taking the job, Qurei said he waived the conditions and accepted the job.
        Qurei said he would form an "emergency cabinet" of only six ministers (in addition to the prime minister), and he told Al-Jazeera that he intended to establish a "national security council" to oversee the PA security forces. According to well-informed sources in Ramallah, Minister of Security Muhammad Dahlan is expected to retain his post in the new cabinet, in addition to the newly created portfolio of deputy prime minister. Gen. Nasser Youssef, a former security chief and Arafat loyalist, has been offered the post of interior minister in charge of the security forces. Nabil Shaath, another Arafat loyalist, will retain his job as foreign minister.
        Meanwhile, many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip "celebrated" Tuesday's suicide attacks and called on Hamas to step up its terror campaign. In the streets of Gaza City, Palestinians handed out candies as a sign of rejoicing, as preachers in mosques praised the bombers through loudspeakers and urged young Palestinians to follow suit. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Weighs Support for Qurei - Ze'ev Schiff
    Israel will support a Palestinian Authority headed by Ahmed Qurei if it makes a serious effort to dismantle the terror infrastructure, brings all security organizations under its control, and is prepared to implement the road map peace plan. So long as the PA does not take these steps, Israel will continue its all-out war against Hamas leaders and terror operatives. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Leader Escapes IAF Missile Strike - Arieh O'Sullivan, Herb Keinon, and Etgar Lefkovitz
    IAF planes Wednesday leveled the Gaza City home of senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, wounding him and killing his son, another family member, and a bodyguard. Israeli officials said Zahar was a leading Hamas terrorist, responsible for perpetrating a large number of deadly terror attacks and involved in intensive and unrestrained incitement against Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Warns Palestinians: Stay Away from Terrorists - Felix Frisch
    The IDF has been sending a message to the Palestinian population in recent days: "Stay away from places where terrorists are present - we intend to strike them and you are liable to be harmed." The purpose of the information campaign is to hurt the motivation and morale of the terrorists and to strengthen Israel's humanitarian and ethical image among Palestinians and the international community. IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon said Wednesday, "terrorist leaders are purposely endangering the Palestinian civilian population, among whom they operate, in order to protect themselves." (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • What Iraqis Really Think - Karl Zinsmeister
    Working with Zogby International survey researchers, The American Enterprise magazine conducted the first scientific poll of the Iraqi public in August. The results show that the Iraqi public is more sensible, stable, and moderate than commonly portrayed, and that Iraq is not so fanatical, or resentful of the U.S., after all. Five out of 10 said democracy is Western and won't work in Iraq, 1 in 10 wasn't sure, and 4 out of 10 said democracy can work in Iraq. Only 33% want an Islamic government; a solid 60% say no. Except in the Sunni triangle, negative views of bin Laden are quite lopsided in all parts of the country. And those opinions were collected before Iraqi police announced it was al-Qaeda members who killed worshipers with a truck bomb in Najaf. When asked, "Should Baath Party leaders who committed crimes in the past be punished, or should past actions be put behind us?" a thoroughly unforgiving Iraqi public stated by 74% to 18% that Saddam's henchmen should be punished. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Still Waiting for an Accounting of Saudi Involvement in 9/11 - Stephen Schwartz
    On the second anniversary of the darkest day in recent American history, U.S. relations with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia remain clouded by an undeniable reality: the conspiracy to attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, as well as other probable targets, was a product of Saudi society. Al-Qaeda is a product of, an embodiment of, indeed the quintessential expression of Wahhabism, the state ideology of the Saudi kingdom. Saudi Arabia refuses to accept responsibility for its subjects' involvement in terrorism and has failed to participate as a trustworthy partner with the U.S. in the antiterror coalition. Two years later, our government faces the same urgent task it faced on September 12, 2001: we must obtain a full and transparent accounting of the involvement of Saudi subjects and institutions in the horrors of September 11th, no matter how high such involvement may reach in Saudi society. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • Observations:

    Gaining Support for Action on Iran's Nuclear Program - Patrick Clawson (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • Iran's current story is that it imported key parts for its centrifuges, blaming the presence of highly enriched (weapons-grade) uranium at the Natanz centrifuge plant on contaminated foreign (i.e., Pakistani) equipment.
    • But the story may be a cover-up: it is not clear that Iran could actually obtain key Pakistani nuclear equipment, given that Pakistani-Iranian relations have not been close and that Pakistan has many reasons to be cautious about exporting such material.
    • The true story may be the older Iranian account, according to which Iran developed the centrifuge technology on its own, using Pakistani blueprints.
    • This scenario would be at least as troubling, because the presence of highly enriched uranium would mean that Iran has already begun to enrich uranium up to weapons grade.

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