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 30, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

U.S. Islamic Leader Charged Over Links to Libya - Douglas Farah and John Mintz (Washington Post)
    One of the country's leading Islamic activists, a chief architect of the Pentagon's Muslim chaplain program, was charged Monday with illegally accepting money from Libya for his efforts to persuade the U.S. to lift sanctions against that nation.
    Abdurahman al-Amoudi, who as leader of the American Muslim Council met frequently with senior Clinton and Bush administration officials, was arrested Sunday, six weeks after he allegedly attempted to smuggle hundreds of thousands of dollars into Syria. U.S. officials said the final destination of the money is under investigation.
    Al-Amoudi was stopped by British authorities in London on Aug. 16, as he prepared to board a flight to Damascus, and officials found "34 bundles of sequentially numbered $100 bills" in his suitcase.
    Al-Amoudi told British authorities that the money, which was confiscated because it had not been declared, had been delivered to his hotel room by an unidentified Libyan.
    U.S. officials said al-Amoudi did not try to recover the money. Instead, he flew first to Lebanon, then to Syria and Yemen, back to Syria, and on to Egypt and Libya before returning to the U.S.
    Agents for the Department of Homeland Security alleged that al-Amoudi received $340,000 from Libyan officials as part of a longstanding relationship with that government.
    Ali Khan, formerly AMC's treasurer, said al-Amoudi brought in large sums of money from Saudi Arabia for his organization.
    At an Oct. 28, 2000, rally in Washington, al-Amoudi proclaimed, "We are all followers of Hamas," and praised Hizballah.

    See also Recruiting Muslims in the U.S. Military - Mark Hosenball, Michael Isikoff and Andrew Murr (Newsweek)
    The Pentagon is re-examining its military-chaplain program after officials confirmed that Islamic clerics assigned to minister to suspected terrorists detained in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were certified by two religious groups that are under investigation by the Justice Department.
    Capt. James Yee, recently arrested in Florida after a tour of duty at Guantanamo, was certified as a Muslim imam by the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences - a group whose offices were raided last year by federal agents investigating a web of companies and charities in northern Virginia suspected of ties to terrorist financing.
    The Army said Yee's religious credentials were also endorsed by the American Muslim Council's Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Office; the council's cofounder Abdurahman al-Amoudi has been under scrutiny in the same probe.
    FBI agents in Chicago first became alarmed five years ago that terrorist suspects were compiling lists of Muslims in the U.S. military for possible recruitment, but a proposal to investigate the issue then was rejected by FBI headquarters, apparently because of concerns over riling religious sensitivities.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Dahlan: Palestinians Worse Off After 3-Year Uprising
    Former PA security chief Mohammed Dahlan said Monday that the uprising against Israel has left Palestinians worse off than they were when the violence began three years ago. He also said, "We did not understand 9/11 in a correct and fundamental way that would have allowed us to help the national interest of our people, to bring back the international legitimacy of our [Palestinian] Authority." Dahlan received vocal support from the Bush administration as he and Abbas tried to rein in the militant groups through negotiations. But when Abbas resigned, in large part over disputes with Arafat over security issues, Dahlan was effectively sidelined. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Forces Watch Syria for Insurgents
    U.S. soldiers - using sophisticated night vision equipment in their tanks and in a helicopter hovering out of earshot behind them - saw the dozen would-be infiltrators immediately as they started to cross from Syria into Iraq. Two volleys from an American M1A2 tank - warning shots - was all it took to send the men scurrying back. Guarding against cross-border infiltrators from Syria has become a high priority in the battle against insurgents who are attacking American forces daily.
        "If you give me a mission to stop everyone from coming into Iraq, it's probably unrealistic," said Col. David A. Teeples, commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which monitors the Syrian border. "But if you tell me to stop the flow of weapons, foreign fighters, or high-value targets (wanted Iraqis)...I'll probably do that." (AP/Washington Post)
  • Powell Tells Arab-Americans of Hopes to Develop Mideast
    Secretary of State Powell, speaking Monday in Detroit at an economic conference of leaders from the Middle East and hundreds of American and Arab-American executives, said, "I come to help you build a new Middle East." Powell said the U.S. "was committed to supporting Arab efforts at reform and development." But he added: "We cannot do it alone. We need partners in the region and in the international community." (New York Times)
        See also Powell: Unreformed Mideast a Threat to World Peace (AP/Miami Herald)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Sharon: Security Fence to be East of Ariel - Zvi Zrahiya
    The separation fence between Israel and the West Bank will be built east of Ariel, Prime Minister Sharon told the Likud Knesset faction Monday. He said that the cabinet will formally approve the fence's route at its meeting Wednesday. "The separation fence will be built east of Ariel and east of Kedumim," Sharon said. "If we reach a point where the matter once again creates a dispute, we will sit with the Americans again."
        Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the meeting, "Ariel, Kfar Sava, and Ra'anana are one and the same," comparing Ariel to two other bedroom communities of Tel Aviv. "This route brings 40,000 Israelis and 4,000 Palestinians" inside the fence. He added that an agreement had been reached with the Americans whereby construction of a fence east of Ariel would begin in conjunction with work on other segments of the fence. However, the fence east of Ariel will apparently not initially be connected to the main separation fence. Mofaz said, "If I thought that the conflict would end in another year, I would say that we don't need the fence. But the conflict is protracted, and any agreement is years away. There will be no significant breakthrough unless Arafat leaves the region." (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Arabs Arrested for Murder of Soldier - Uri Ash
    Three Israeli Arab residents of Kafr Kana, arrested in August for the July 21 kidnap and murder of Corp. Oleg Shaichat, will be indicted Tuesday in Nazareth Magistrate's Court. One of the indicted men reconstructed the murder shortly after his August arrest, demonstrating how he and his accomplices kidnapped Shaichat while he was waiting for a ride, dragged him into an olive grove, shot him with his own rifle, and then buried him. He was found a week later by a retired Bedouin tracker. (Ha'aretz)
  • Fatah in Uproar over Pro-Dahlan Demos in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Fatah leaders in the West Bank Monday called on Arafat to investigate demonstrations in the Gaza Strip during which protesters burned effigies of senior Fatah officials. Upon learning that former security minister Muhammad Dahlan had been excluded from the new cabinet of Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala), thousands of demonstrators marched in the city of Khan Yunis and other places over the past three days in support of Dahlan. Fatah leaders accuse Dahlan of trying to stage a coup d'etat. Dahlan has called for elections for the Fatah central council, which were last held 14 years ago. A Dahlan supporter said the current struggle in Fatah is between the "old guard," veteran Fatah officials who returned with Arafat from Tunis, and the majority of activists who grew up in the territories and played a major role in the first and second intifadas against Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Al-Quds U. Spared Fence - Arieh O'Sullivan
    Defense Ministry Director-General Amos Yaron agreed in a meeting with Al-Quds University President Sari Nusseibeh Monday that the security fence in Jerusalem would not pass through the middle of the campus as originally planned. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Palestinians Must Face Up to Hamas, Arafat - Secretary of State Colin Powell
    As long as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad can just sit back and make their own judgment as to whether they think things are going well or not and decide whenever they wish to that they're going to blow up another bus full of children and bring the whole thing to a halt again - until the Palestinians take on that challenge and say to them "No, enough of that. This is no longer an acceptable way to achieve our political objectives. We will never get a Palestinian state as long as we try to do it by blowing up innocent people. We're blowing up the dreams of our own people." And until the Palestinian leadership takes on that challenge, we can have conferences, we can have plans, we can have proposals, we can have timelines, but it will be very difficult to go forward.
        We painfully came to the conclusion that Chairman Arafat was not a partner for peace. The Israelis had come to that conclusion some time ago. President Clinton came to that conclusion at the very end of his administration. The last day of his administration he called me about Yasser Arafat and how a great deal had been put before him and he didn't take it. I went into the Muqata'a and I sat there across from him when he had a machine gun on his desk and told him that you've got to change or I'm not going to be able to deal with you. He didn't change. Arafat is still seen by the Palestinian people as their leader. But the Palestinian people have to start looking at what that leadership has gotten them. It's not gotten them one day closer to the Palestinian state. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Syria and the New Axis of Evil - Editorial
    In recent testimony before the House International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton made it clear that President Bashar Assad's Ba'athist dictatorship is well on its way to attaining pariah status with the Bush administration - an unenviable position to be in, as his Ba'athist neighbor Saddam Hussein found out six months ago. Bolton listed Syria, along with North Korea, Iran, and Libya, among "rogue states" that pose "threats to our national security." Bolton said that Washington is determined to "roll back" and "ultimately eliminate such weapons from the arsenals of rogue states and ensure that the terrorist groups they sponsor do not acquire weapons of mass destruction."
        Unlike U.S. policy toward Iraq, there is strong, bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for legislation to penalize Syrian misbehavior. Indeed, 272 House members and 75 senators have supported legislation to impose a sweeping set of economic sanctions to force Damascus to dramatically change its behavior. Should the administration eventually decide it is necessary to take decisive action against Assad's regime, it will begin with a surprisingly bipartisan, strong level of support in Congress. (Washington Times)
  • Blood, Money, and Education - Arnold Roth
    Chris Patten, the EU's Commissioner for External Relations, plays a central role in the provision of EU financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. When a small contingent of Israelis traveled to Brussels - each of whom had experienced the loss of a family member by terrorism in the past two years - Mr. Patten declined to meet us. We met his deputy instead. I referred him to evidence uncovered by Israeli forces in 2002 showing that the PA's top managers skim money off the payroll and that secret bank accounts are a routine part of corruption in the PA. My concerns were misplaced, he said, since all payments made via Mr. Patten's office to the PA are closely supervised by the International Monetary Fund. Immediately after our meeting, I checked the record and learned that some months before, the IMF had published a report denying this. The IMF report confirmed budgetary abuse by the PA. (Wall Street Journal Europe; 28Sep03)
  • Observations:

    The Battle of Ariel - Moshe Arens (Ha'aretz)

    • The city of Ariel, with its 18,000 inhabitants and the College of Judea and Samaria, with its student body of 7,000, are as much in need of protection against Palestinian suicide bombers as are the residents of Kfar Sava or Hadera.
    • The Palestinians have only themselves to blame for the fence. Each and every murder by a Palestinian suicide terrorist contributed to the government's decision to build that fence.
    • It may very well be that the fence's location will affect negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, when and if they take place. But the protection of Israel's citizens at this time must take priority over such considerations. Leaving the residents of Israel unprotected is not an option that Israel's friends should urge on the Israeli government.
    • If the location of the fence remains a source of disagreement between Israel and the U.S., this is an issue on which Israel should not give in. If we disagree on a matter that is of vital importance to the U.S., it is Israel that should defer to American wishes. But if it is a matter of vital interest to Israel, it is the U.S. that should defer to Israel's position. With few exceptions, that has been the tradition of U.S.-Israeli relations in past years, and that is how it should continue.

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