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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October 1, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Venezuela Emerging as Potential Hub of Terrorism - Linda Robinson (U.S. News)
    Venezuela is emerging as a potential hub of terrorism in the Western Hemisphere, providing assistance to Islamic radicals from the Middle East and other terrorists, say senior U.S. military and intelligence officials.
    Middle Eastern terrorist groups are operating support cells in Venezuela and thousands of Venezuelan identity documents are being distributed to foreigners from Middle Eastern nations, including Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, and Lebanon.
    Latin America's Arab communities are also becoming centers for terrorist sympathizers.
    A Venezuelan analyst who recently visited Margarita Island, a free zone on the north coast of Venezuela run largely by Arab merchants from Lebanon and Iran, described the Venezuelan-Arab Friendship Association as a "fortress" with armed guards outside.
    Support "cells" for the groups Hamas, Hizballah, and Islamiyya al Gammat are active on Margarita, according to Gen. James Hill, the head of the U.S. Southern Command.

The Men Who Shot Uday Hussein in 1996 - Peter Ford (Christian Science Monitor)
    As Salman Sharif gave the order to open fire, he was certain he was going to die himself. You did not try to assassinate Uday Hussein, the former Iraqi president's elder son and heir-apparent, at point blank range and expect to get away with it.
    But after months of careful planning, the four-man hit squad drawn from a shadowy resistance group was determined to go ahead.
    As Uday Hussein drove his golden Porsche slowly up a busy street in one of Baghdad's smartest districts, just after dark on Dec. 12, 1996, two gunmen responded to Sharif's command with a hail of bullets from their AK-47 rifles.
    "We were sure we had killed him," Sharif recalls. "We fired 50 rounds into that car."
    In fact, he discovered later, Uday had been hit 17 times but survived.
    Still, the unprecedented assassination attempt on a member of the ruling Baath Party's inner circle sent an important message. "We showed that the Islamic resistance could reach any target at any time," Sharif says.

Jordan to Train Iraqi Police Force - Jack Fairweather (Telegraph-UK)
    Jordan announced Monday that it would train 30,000 Iraqi police and troops, the first such pledge of aid from an Arab country in support of the American-led reconstruction effort in Iraq.
    Jordan will train a third of the 90,000-strong forces preparing for action in post-war Iraq. "Soon we will receive the first batch of 3,000," said King Abdullah II.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • U.S. Eyes Israeli Aid Penalties
    William Burns, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, said Tuesday that Israel's settlement activities and the security fence are impediments to implementing President Bush's vision of a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel by 2005. But on Capitol Hill, lawmakers criticized the administration's position on the security fence. "The fence is a completely defensive measure. Israel should be applauded for it," said Sen. Charles Schumer, New York Democrat. Rep. Steve Israel, also a New York Democrat, said the administration is "absolutely inconsistent." "Fifteen of the 19 hijackers [on September 11] were from Saudi Arabia. Nobody is talking about withholding aid to the Saudis. Why Israel? It's really the only democratic friend we have in the Middle East." (Washington Times)
  • U.S. Muslim Activist Charged with Funding Terrorists
    A leading U.S. Muslim activist charged this week with illegally accepting money from Libya to influence U.S. policy also funded terrorists in the U.S. and abroad, U.S. prosecutors alleged Tuesday. Authorities alleged in court documents that the $340,000 Abdurahman al-Amoudi was carrying when he was detained in London in August en route to Syria "was intended for delivery in Damascus to one or more of the terrorists or terrorist organizations active in Syria." Federal agents also said that a chapter of an organization founded and led by al-Amoudi gave money to two Portland, Ore., men accused of being part of a group that supported al-Qaeda. Al-Amoudi, 51, founded the American Muslim Foundation and the American Muslim Council, two of the most prominent and influential Muslim activist organizations in the U.S. (Washington Post)
  • Third Guantanamo Staff Arrest
    A translator who works at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay Tuesday became the third man to be arrested in a widening espionage scandal at the top-security prison camp. Ahmed Mehalba, a civilian translator, was arrested by FBI agents in Boston, carrying CD-Roms and documents allegedly containing classified information on detainees at the camp. He had just arrived from Cairo. (London Times)
  • Hamas Holding Back to Protect Arafat
    Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin said last week that his group is not interested in a truce deal that incoming Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei wants to negotiate with Israel. Hamas also confirmed for the first time that it has held off retaliating for recent strikes against its members because of Israel's threat to boot - and even kill - Arafat. "Hamas doesn't want to have a black historical score that it was the reason for expelling Arafat," a member said. (New York Daily News)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Cabinet to Okay Ariel Fence "Gap" - Aluf Benn
    The Israeli cabinet will vote Wednesday on the route of the central section of the separation fence between Israel and the West Bank, which includes the Ariel salient - a segment jutting some 12 miles inside the West Bank to the east of Ariel and Kedumim. However, this section of the fence will not yet be connected to the main fence near the "green line." In another eight months or so, the government will discuss the issue again with the American administration, after which it will decide whether to fill in the gap.
        The fence will put a conclusive end to dreams of annexing the West Bank by creating the first physical barrier between it and Israel. Yet it will also realize the long-standing Israeli dream of widening the country's "narrow waist." (Ha'aretz/Reuters))
  • Three of Noam Leibowitz's Killers Arrested - Arieh O'Sullivan
    Security sources said Tuesday that Shin Bet agents aided by IDF troops captured three members of the Islamic Jihad cell which carried out the murderous attack on the Trans-Israel highway on June 17 that killed Noam Leibovitch, a seven-year-old Israeli girl. A terrorist sneaked through a culvert under the security wall and riddled the family car and another vehicle with automatic gunfire, seriously wounding Noam's younger sister and lightly wounding her elder brother and grandfather. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Elected to UN Committee - Melissa Radler
    At a UN General Assembly meeting on Monday, Tal Becker, who serves as legal advisor to Israel's UN mission, was elected by consensus to serve as one of three vice chairmen on the Assembly's Sixth Committee, which deals with legal affairs. Becker's candidacy was put forward last spring by the UN's Western European and Others Group (WEOG), after Israel was finally admitted into WEOG in 2000. Over the past year, Israel has been elected to the General Assembly Working Group on Disarmament, the UN Environmental Program, and UN-HABITAT (UN Human Settlement Program). (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Arafat Barrier - William Safire
    By unleashing and sustaining suicide bombers against Israeli civilians, Yasser Arafat outfoxed himself: the Palestinian boss has given substance to the Israeli dream and UN promise of "defensible borders." Two-fifths of the barrier against terrorist infiltration is already built. Its purpose is to remove the extremist Palestinians' threat of suicide attacks from what was once called the peace process. All along, Sharon will insist that the fence is a security device, not a political border. That gives future Israeli governments opportunity to improve territorial defenses if a Palestinian partner does not soon emerge. When that peacemaker does emerge, he or she will find the defensible-border issue already settled - thanks to Yasser Arafat. (New York Times)
        See also Defensible Borders for Israel - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • What Exactly Does Israel Have on Yasser Arafat? - Eli Kazhdan
    As of late September 2003, according to the head of Israeli military intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Zeevi-Farkash, orders for terrorist attacks were actually coming directly from Arafat's headquarters. As early as 1997, Arafat authorized Hamas and Islamic Jihad attacks. Arafat finances suicide bombings; he has paid operatives, while his office has funded explosive materials, manufactured locally or imported from abroad. Arafat actually commands the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which has taken a leading role in shooting incidents and bombing attacks against Israeli civilians. According to Palestinian sources, as the mastermind of the second Palestinian intifada, his influence over the scope and timing of the violence is extensive and even decisive. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/JCPA)
  • The Syrian-French Connection - Nir Boms
    While the media is busy focusing on the troubling story of the two American soldiers detained at Guantanamo Bay for alleged espionage, both of whom had Syrian connections, another Syria story has passed them by. Nizar Nayouf, a Syrian journalist and human rights activist, was detained last week by French police in Paris. Nayouf’s only crime is that he opposes the regime in Damascus, a regime that the French government wishes to appease. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • Feeding at the Saudi Trough - Joel Mowbray
    In researching my new book, Dangerous Diplomacy, I discovered that Saudi cash has created a circle of sympathizers and both direct and indirect lobbyists - which is precisely the intended effect. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., was quoted in the Washington Post as having said, “If the reputation then builds that the Saudis take care of friends when they leave office, you’d be surprised how much better friends you have who are just coming into office.” (
  • Observations:

    International Military Intervention: A Detour on the Road to Israeli-Palestinian Peace - Robert Satloff (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • In recent months, a wide array of interested parties has called for consideration of international intervention to impose calm between Israel and the Palestinians. These include UN secretary-general Kofi Annan; two influential Republican senators, Armed Services Committee chairman John Warner and Foreign Relations Committee chairman Richard Lugar; French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin; and Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Sha'ath. Moreover, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and NATO secretary-general Lord Robertson have both raised the possibility that NATO itself might consider sending alliance troops to the West Bank and Gaza.
    • The key ingredient for a successful peace effort is not an international intervention force (IIF) - regardless of how robust its presence or how broad its mandate - but rather the willingness of each side to honor its commitments to prevent violence. Deployments of international forces in the Arab-Israeli arena have succeeded only when the two parties themselves have been strongly and actively committed to implementing their own previously reached peace agreement.
    • Given the experience of recent interventions around the globe, a deployment to the Israeli-Palestinian arena would require sufficient resources and a strong enough mandate to pursue rejectionist militants for an indefinite period; even so, it is unlikely that such intervention would resolve the "final status" political issues at the heart of the conflict or redress the intercommunal hostility that has worsened considerably in recent years.
    • In a purely military sense, there is little reason to believe that an IIF would do an appreciably better job than the IDF at fighting terrorism or ensuring security.
    • The deployment of an IIF would almost surely delay the day when peace itself would become possible. Such intervention would imply that outside parties could be goaded into shouldering the responsibilities that Palestinians themselves must assume as a prerequisite for peace.

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