Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

in association with Access/Middle East
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
If your email program has difficulty viewing this page, see web version.


October 3, 2003

To contact the Presidents Conference:
[email protected]

In-Depth Issue:

Qaeda Ties to Pilgrim GIs - Niles Lathem (New York Post)
    The Pentagon is investigating a trip by 100 Muslim members of the U.S. armed forces for a pilgrimage to Mecca that was paid for by a Saudi charity accused of financing al-Qaeda.
    The so-called "Hajj Tour" in March 2001 for Muslim servicemen and chaplains was organized by the Muslim World League, a major charity group financed in part by the Saudi royal family and which is dedicated to the spread of Wahhabism, the extreme form of Islam embraced by Osama bin Laden.
    Government sources say that even though the Pentagon originally approved the trip, it is now being looked at as part of the overall investigation into the spy scandal at Guantanamo.
    Probers want to determine whether the trip was part of a process in which some Muslim chaplains and U.S. servicemen may have been indoctrinated into Wahhabism - and possibly recruited as spies for al-Qaeda.
    The Virginia offices of the group that helped arrange the tour were raided in March 2002 as part of a Treasury Department probe into terror financing.

    See also Has U.S. Military Been Infiltrated? - Faye Bowers (Christian Science Monitor)
    Three government employees who worked at Guantanamo have been detained on suspicion of espionage.
    "The good news is that we have found these people," says Robert Pfaltzgraff, an international-security expert at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. "The bad news is that there may be others."
    The Pentagon is reviewing its process for obtaining outside translators and the process of certifying Muslim chaplains, as well as clergy representing all other religions.

Who, and What, Does al-Amoudi Know? - Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball (Newsweek)
    In a secretly recorded conversation, recently arrested Abdurahman al-Amoudi, president of the American Muslim Foundation, discussed the attacks by al-Qaeda in 1998 on two U.S. embassies in Africa:
    "What is the result you achieve in destroying an embassy in an African country? I prefer to hit a Zionist target in America or Europe....I prefer, honestly, like what happened in Argentina....The Jewish Community Center. It is a worthy operation."
    The reference was apparently to the July 18, 1994, car-bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 86 people.

Iranian Hackers Attack Israel Electric Corp. - Galit Yamini (Ha'aretz)
    Iranian hackers have attempted to break into the Israel Electric Corporation's computers and disrupt the power supply in Israel several times in recent months.
    The Iranians sent viruses and attempted to overload the servers in what is known as a "denial of service" attack.
    The Israel Electric Corp. managed to identify the hacking attempts and foiled them without any damage to the power systems.
    The Shin Bet traced some of the hackers and virus senders to computers in large universities in Iran.

Palestinians Campaign for Lebanon Property (al Jazeera-Qatar)
    A petition calling to amend a law forbidding Palestinians from owning real estate in Lebanon has collected thousands of signatures in the 12 Palestinian refugee camps in the country, said Suhail Natur of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) on Thursday.
    The current legislation forbids the acquisition of property in Lebanon by all non-Lebanese people "who do not possess citizenship issued by a state recognized by" Beirut.
    For economic and demographic reasons, Beirut refuses permanent residency to Palestinian refugees, fearing it will upset the country's sectarian balance further towards Muslims.

Saddam "Seen" Six Days Ago - Michael Howard (Guardian-UK)
    Saddam Hussein was reportedly seen in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk six days ago and is moving in increasingly smaller circles in order to evade capture, said Jalal Talabani, a leading member of Iraq's governing council.
    "Saddam has good relations with those Arabs whom he brought to Kirkuk to ethnically cleanse the city of Kurds and Turkomens," Talabani said.
    He said capturing Saddam was crucial and that Kurds had already assisted in the capture of several of the figures on the U.S. 55 most-wanted list, including Taher Yassin Ramadan, the former Iraqi vice-president; Sultan Hashem, the former defense minister; and Uday and Qusay Hussein.
    Kurdish security officials had also been involved in the capture of many important lower ranking Ba'ath party officials, as well as a number of suspected Islamic terrorists.

Israel's "Bomb Squad Pigs" - David Chazan (BBC)
    In Israel, a new weapon is being tested to try to foil bomb attacks - pigs which sniff out explosives.
    Geva Zion, a former Israeli army dog trainer, believes it may be easier to train pigs than sniffer dogs. "The pigs work and understand very quickly, maybe half of the time of the dogs....Pigs like to dig."
    Because of religious taboos, Zion knows it is going to be a challenge convincing Israelis to employ sniffer pigs. "In Israel we say if you don't eat the pigs there's no problem."
    Zion says he also hopes to market the pigs' services to countries plagued by leftover mines in Africa and the Balkans.

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

Daily Alert will not appear on
Monday, October 6 - Yom Kippur

News Resources - North America and Europe:

  • Saddam Had Much to Hide, Say Experts
    The report from the Iraqi Survey Group (ISG) Thursday made clear that Saddam Hussein had much to hide, even if David Kay and his 1,200-strong team had so far unearthed relatively little. The 13-page report detailed elaborate efforts by members of Saddam�s regime to destroy evidence, disperse material, and intimidate or even attack the searchers. Concealment continued even after the war ended. Some experts on weapons of mass destruction had fled Iraq. Facilities had been systematically looted. Files had been burnt and computer hard-drives destroyed. Another problem was the small size of the materials being sought. (London Times)
        See also Statement by David Kay on the Activities of the Iraq Survey Group
    What have we found and what have we not found in the first 3 months of our work? We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the UN during the inspections that began in late 2002. (CIA)
        See also Evidence of Weapons Program Discovered
    ISG teams discovered clandestine laboratories and found live botulinum toxin - which could be used to make biological weapons - at an Iraqi scientist's home. Plans were discovered for missiles capable of flying up to 1,000 km (625 miles) - well beyond the 150 km range limit (93 miles) set by the UN. There were also alleged contacts with North Korea to obtain missile technology. Kay said additional information was beginning to corroborate reports of human testing activities using chemical and biological substances. Kay said Iraqi scientists and former government officials had told investigators Saddam Hussein "remained firmly committed to acquiring nuclear weapons." (BBC)
  • U.S. Says 220 Foreign Fighters from Syria and Saudi Arabia Captured - No Nationwide Resistance Directed by Saddam
    The commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, said Thursday that resistance to U.S.-led occupation forces has grown more deadly and that the casualty rate would continue for as long as American troops are there. Sanchez said an influx of guerrillas from Syria and Iran had changed the nature of resistance. U.S. military officials have previously said that about 220 foreign fighters from Syria and Saudi Arabia are in custody. "We believe there is, in fact, a foreign fighter element. There is a terrorist element focused on the coalition and international community in general and the Iraqi people to try to disrupt the progress being made," he said. He said there were no indications that former president Saddam Hussein or officials from his government were organizing a national resistance. (Washington Post)
  • Syria Feeling U.S. Pressure Over Iraq
    The American civil administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, told reporters last week that most foreign fighters are entering Iraq via "ratlines" from Syria. He added that of 248 non-Iraqi fighters being held in Iraq, 123 are Syrian. The Bush administration is now trying to determine if Syria is engaged in espionage against America following the arrests of U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ahmad I. al-Halabi, a Syrian-born supply clerk, and Army Capt. Yousef Yee, a Muslim chaplain who learned Arabic and studied Islam in Syria a decade ago. (AP/Washington Post)
        See also No Syria Link Seen in Spy Case
    Despite U.S. charges implicating Syria in the Guantanamo Bay spy case, the State Department has no information about Syrian government involvement, senior State Department officials said Wednesday. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Kuwait Foils Smuggling of Chemicals, Bio Warheads from Iraq
    Kuwaiti security authorities have foiled an attempt to smuggle $60 million worth of chemical weapons and biological warheads from Iraq to an unnamed European country, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Siyassah said on Wednesday. The paper said Interior Minister Sheik Nawwaf Al Ahmed Al Sabah would hand over the smuggled weapons to an FBI agent at a news conference, but did not say when. (AP/Hindustan Times-India)
  • PA Jails Palestinian over Transfer of Property to Israelis
    A Palestinian has been jailed in Bethlehem by the Palestinian Authority over his alleged role as a middleman in the transfer of property in the town to Jewish ownership. The property in question, a row of dilapidated lock-up shops in a virtual no-man's land that abuts the Jewish shrine of Rachel's Tomb, has little intrinsic value. However, Nikola Arja may be charged with being "in touch with the enemy for illegal purposes" and "partition of property for annexation to a foreign country." (Financial Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:

  • Powell "Concerned" about Settlements; New Tenders Issued - Nathan Guttman
    Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Thursday the U.S. has "concerns" about settlement activities after Israel unveiled plans to build more homes in West Bank settlements. Powell's relatively mild comments reflected Washington's unhappiness with Israel's continued settlement building in the West Bank but its reluctance to criticize an ally in public. Israel issued tenders this week for the 600 new housing units near Jerusalem - 530 in Betar Illit (pop. 20,200) and 50 in Ma'aleh Adumim (26,500) - and 24 more in Ariel (16,300), and 100 new units in Efrat (6,800). (Ha'aretz/Central Bureau of Statistics)
  • Israeli Decision on Fence Coordinated with U.S. - Aluf Benn
    Sharon's bureau chief, Dov Weisglass, was quick to update White House National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice Thursday on the details of the government decision regarding the route of the separation fence between Israel and the West Bank. The Americans did not make any comments. The plan was coordinated with them in advance.
        Israel is not worried about American pressure. The U.S. is stepping back from involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even the Europeans agree now with Israel and the U.S. that there is not much chance of progress as long as Arafat is still in power. (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Launches Crackdown on Israeli Collaborators
    The Palestinian Authority has launched another crackdown on suspected collaborators with Israel. PA sources said security agencies have arrested dozens of suspected collaborators over the last two weeks in the wake of a series of Israeli attacks on Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives. The agencies were ordered to stop what was termed the increasing cooperation by Palestinians with Israel's military and intelligence agencies. The Palestinian detainees were accused of being in cellular and other contact with Israeli security agents and gathering information on Hamas leaders. (Middle East Newsline)
  • Israel: We'll Give Qurei a Chance - Herb Keinon and Khaled Abu Toameh
    Israel will deal with PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei despite his links to Arafat if Qurei demonstrates a genuine willingness to fight terrorism, a senior security official told Western diplomatic officials recently. The official said Israel learned a number of lessons from its dealings with Abbas, and that this time the PA prime minister will have to demonstrate real action against the terrorist organizations before meriting an Israeli embrace. One sign of a seriousness to tackle terrorism, the security official said, will be if Qurei takes authority for the various Palestinian security forces out of Arafat's hands and unifies them under one command. "As long as Arafat controls 80-90% of the security forces, there is no indication of any interest in rooting out terrorism," the official said.
        Qurei, unlike Abbas, is not viewed by the Palestinians as a U.S. or Israeli puppet, and his loyalty to Arafat may paradoxically give him greater maneuverability room than Abbas had. Qurei is considered by both Israeli and foreign diplomatic officials to be a much more seasoned politician than Abbas, with more experience in forging alliances and mobilizing a consensus around decisions. While the U.S. is not expected to publicly embrace Qurei as it did Abbas, talks between U.S. officials and Qurei are taking place, with two such meetings held this week. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Qurei's Challenges - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Ahmed Qurei, the 66-year-old longtime associate of Yasser Arafat, has suffered a series of heart attacks in recent years and his health remains shaky. One of Qurei's top aides commented this week: "This is a high-stress job for someone who needs to relax and take it easy."
        Ironically, the biggest challenge Qurei faces is not from Israel or Hamas, but from the ruling Fatah organization and disgruntled officials vying for positions in the new cabinet. Yet unlike Abbas, Qurei does not have Arafat breathing down his neck, letting Arafat and the Fatah leadership decide who joins the cabinet, unlike Abbas who insisted on picking his own ministers. Qurei has made it clear he has no intention of ordering a massive crackdown on Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or other radical groups responsible for the continued violence. Even if he wanted to take such measures, it's not certain that the security forces would listen to him. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Denies Report Mossad Cell Captured - Arieh O'Sullivan
    "Completely false," is how a senior official in the Prime Minister's Office described a report that a Mossad cell had been captured in an unnamed Arab country, as reported by Hamas politburo member Muhammad Nazzal on Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Ring-Fencing Security - Editorial
    In the end, the Palestinian leadership has only itself to blame for the fence. Had there been the necessary moves to curb terrorism and stop the infiltration of suicide bombers, the Israelis would not have undertaken such a hugely costly barrier. In that Arafat thwarted the attempt by Mahmoud Abbas to confront Hamas, he made the extension of the fence inevitable. The new Palestinian prime minister must take the initiative against terrorism if he is not to see his country irrevocably split. (London Times)
  • Our Instant Experts - Charles Krauthammer
    On the reconstruction of Iraq, everybody knows exactly how it should have been done. One major mistake was disbanding the Iraqi army, though at the time, it seemed the right thing to do. Keeping Hussein's army risked a future Baathist return to power. For the long-run health of the new Iraq, it made eminent sense to abolish the army and start over. Yet the challenge in the short run is putting down Sunni Triangle resistance. Had we retained the old army, we might have had ready-made military units suitable at least for guarding stationary targets such as oil pipelines. Moreover, dissolution of the Baathist army released a large population of unemployed, disgruntled, and weapons-trained young men, some undoubtedly shooting at our troops.
        The undramatic story is that Iraq is producing more than 1.6 million barrels a day, more than three-quarters of 2002 production levels. Last week OPEC unexpectedly cut its production quotas - boosting oil prices and rattling world markets - because it sees Iraqi oil production coming on line and seriously threatening world prices. (Washington Post)
  • Stopping Iran's Atomic Quest - Editorial
    This is no time for the international community to dither over which approach is most likely to persuade Iran to give up its quest for an atomic bomb. The Western powers must do all they can - together - to make it clear to the ayatollahs that they will not be permitted to build or possess nuclear weapons. And if the West cannot present a united front, then the Americans - again - will have to take the lonely lead. In a prominent national sermon in December, 2001, former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani declared that the day "the world of Islam comes to possess [nuclear] weapons" will be "the arrogance will come to a dead end." He added that a bomb used against Israel "would leave nothing on the ground" and would rid the world of much "extraneous matter." The major Western nations must not be timid about following Israel's lead in destroying Iraq's Osirac reactor in 1981 before it could come on line and produce raw material for bombs. Special forces missions and surgical air strikes may be needed. Iran must be stopped, soon. (National Post-Canada)
  • The Long Shadow of Israel - Lt. Gen. Vinay Shankar (Ret.)
    India's emerging dependence on Israel for armaments is, unlike the past, a dependence of choice, for almost all our requirements could have been met from alternative sources. However, the Israelis brought more to the table than just commerce; they perhaps also brought a commitment to our security concerns. Israel has the highest ratio of engineers to population in the world. Similarly, its investment in R&D as a percentage of its GDP is not matched by any other country. Each year its people-to-patents ratio is well above the others. Through cooperation and strategic linkages with Israel, the benefits that India can derive are considerable. Israel is a small country but it has the potential to prop us so that the hardly visible shadow of India becomes clearly discernible in the Asian region. (Asian Age-India)

    Weekend Features:

  • A Jew In Baghdad - 1st Lt. Jonathan D. Zagdanski, U.S. Army
    I served as an infantry platoon leader of 26 men during nearly 6 months of combat operations in Iraq, part of the 3rd Infantry Division, the unit that led the invasion into Iraq and captured Baghdad. While patrolling the streets of Baghdad, I often got involved in political conversations with secular, educated, and "moderate" Iraqis about the war against Iraq, Israel, the Jews, and America. To my surprise, most of them held wildly irrational beliefs about the world. For example, most would swear that Ariel Sharon pressured a reluctant President Bush to go to war against Iraq, and that the CIA put Saddam Hussein, a CIA agent, in power to allow U.S. forces to take Iraqi oil and impoverish Iraq. Finally, they were convinced that the CIA is controlled by the Mossad and that powerful Zionists dominate Washington, D.C.
        We are not at war against terrorism; we are at war against an ideology, one that believes that by destroying the enemy - the Jew, the State of Israel, and the "Great Satan" America - past Arab pride and glory would be restored. In the 1930s, millions of Germans believed that by obliterating the Jews and conquering non-Arian nations, Germany would attain unsurpassed glory and freedom.
        Every American and every Jew is under attack in some shape or form. We must fight back, and every one of us has the ability to contribute to the war effort. One does not need to join the U.S. Army. We can fight with our computers, our telephone, our money, our time, and our voice. (
  • Jewish Soldiers in Iraq Celebrate Holidays in Saddam�s Former Palace - Joe Berkofsky
    More than 100 Jewish members of the U.S. forces stationed in Iraq attended the High Holiday services at the former Iraqi dictator's Baghdad compound. Then the group performed the customary tashlich ceremony outside the palace, casting pieces of bread representing sins into a private lake once owned by the Iraqi dictator's sons, Uday and Qusay. There are an estimated 500 Jews among the 130,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait. There were also services for Jewish service personnel in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, which drew some 50 people, and two services in Kuwait, where U.S. forces also are stationed.
        Kayitz Finley, 21, a marine corporal from Los Angeles home on 30 days' leave, is the son of ex-Marine Rabbi Mordecai Finley of Congregation Ohr HaTorah in Los Angeles. The young Finley said generally Iraqis welcomed the U.S. forces, and he made a point of telling many of them he was a Jew who "put my life on the line to free their country." Typically, he said, that declaration met a "sour" reception, with many Iraqis blanching and walking away or asking him to leave a house where he had been welcomed moments before. (JTA)
  • Israel's Bouncers Tackle Suicide Bombers - Larry Derfner
    Private security guards have become Israel's new army. Growing in number to about 45,000, they are now a fixture of daily life - eyeballing, scanning, and searching people at shopping centers, supermarkets, restaurants, and schools. Putting their bodies between terrorists and their targets, they have been affectionately dubbed "the bulletproof vest of the nation." But six have been killed and four seriously wounded in terrorist attacks over the past three years. (Sunday Times-UK)
  • Observations:

    Fighting Anti-Semitism at Harvard - Rachel Fish (New York Jewish Week)

    • I helped organize a group of Harvard students who spoke out against hate speech in the Middle East and, thanks to the support of the community, our efforts resulted in shutting down an Arab League think tank that distributes hate speech against Americans and Jews.
    • The Harvard Divinity School - my school - had accepted a $2.5 million endowment from Sheik Zayed, ruler of the United Arab Emirates. Zayed funds a UAE think tank of the Arab League called the Zayed Center that disseminates anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism throughout the Islamic world. Just as Harvard would refuse funds from a Ku Klux Klan financier, the university should also reject the hate money of the sheik. After an aggressive media campaign brought the issue to the mainstream media, and after thousands signed a Web-based petition, the UAE president shut down the Zayed Center.
    • There are several important lessons here. The first is that hate funded by Arab leaders or anyone else can and must be countered. This is a victory for people of conscience of all faiths and backgrounds. We should never ignore, rationalize, or underestimate hate speech.
    • The second lesson is that many people shrink from these battles. It's sad and a little frightening to experience the indifference toward Jewish concerns and Jewish students that so many Harvard professors and the dean of the divinity school exhibited. Ultimately, a willingness to stand up and speak up can make a difference. We won the battle through persistent campaigning, good research, and community support.
    • It is unfortunate that the responsibility to wage a campaign against the Zayed Center's hate speech should have fallen on a small group of divinity school students, but it did. American moral leaders and human rights groups should live up to their own standards. There can be no free pass for incitement of hatred and genocide. Hatred is a weapon of mass destruction.
    • A few weeks ago, Sheik Zayed explained that once it came to his attention that the center had "engaged in a discourse that starkly contradicted the principles of interfaith tolerance, directives were issued for the immediate closure of the center." I hope other Arab leaders will follow his example and understand that demonizing Americans and Jews is unacceptable and intolerable.

    To subscribe to the Daily Alert, click here to send a blank email message.
    To unsubscribe, click here to send a blank email message.