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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November 24, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

UK Hunts al-Qaeda Cells Targeting Jews - Douglas Davis (Jerusalem Post)
    British security services are searching for two cells of al-Qaeda terrorists who are believed to be targeting synagogues, Jewish schools, and community centers, according to the London Sunday Times.
    The cells are believed to involve 10 terrorists from North Africa and Saudi Arabia.
    They are also understood to be studying commercial targets, including shopping centers and major banks in Britain.
    The warnings were raised by the director-general of Britain's MI5 intelligence agency, Eliza Manningham-Buller, who told the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee that al-Qaeda "sleepers" are conducting surveillance on potential targets.
    Manningham-Buller said many of the sleepers are so deeply integrated into the British Muslim community that they are almost impossible to detect, and some are British citizens.

Al-Qaeda Ordered Saudi Bombing "By Phone from Iran" (Reuters/Gulf News-Dubai)
    Al-Qaeda security chief Saif Al Adel orchestrated the bombing of a residential compound in Saudi Arabia earlier this month by satellite phone from Iran, the Saudi newspaper Okaz reported Sunday.
    The newspaper said Adel fled to Iran with 500 al-Qaeda members from Afghanistan in late 2001.

Saudis Said to Fund Syrian Occupation of Lebanon (Middle East Newsline)
    Saudi Arabia is said to be financing Syria's occupation of Lebanon and Syrian special forces have been prepared to help bolster the unreliable Saudi security forces, according to the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin.
    "Tested by near-continuous engagement in several Arab-Israeli wars, vigorous internal policing, and action in Lebanon, Syrian troops contrast sharply with the inexperienced and largely inefficient Saudi military."
    "This battle-hardened Arab-Muslim force is a low-premium insurance against a day that the Americans decide to leave the Saudis to defend themselves against external threat," said the report.

Arabs Streaming Inside Jerusalem's Fence - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Thousands of Jerusalem-area Arab families have moved in the past few weeks into Jerusalem neighborhoods expected to be included inside the security fence.
    Families who own large villas in the suburbs are searching for small apartments in neighborhoods inside Jerusalem.
    Shalom Goldstein, Arab Affairs advisor to Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, said the three-year terrorism campaign "has left us with no other choice" than to construct the security fence, noting that terrorism has claimed the lives of 170 city residents and another 1,400 people have been wounded.

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Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Bush: Abu Mazen's Departure "An Interesting Lesson"
    President Bush told the London-based Arab newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat during an interview on November 19: I believe that the Palestinians deserve a state. As a matter of fact, I'm the first United States President to stand up and call for that. And I believe it, and I mean it. But that state must be democratic in order for it to survive. And it needs leadership that will not steal money, that will not deal with terrorists, that will not continually dash the hopes of the Palestinian people. And I found such a leader, I thought, in Abu Mazen. He wanted to work on the security issue. He wanted to dismantle these terrorist organizations, which are destroying any chance for peace. And guess what happens to him - he gets shoved aside. And I thought it was an interesting lesson. We hope this new prime minister will stand up and do what is right, which is to work to dismantle the terrorist organizations, and put the institutions in place that are larger than the people - institutions which will survive the test of time, so Palestine can emerge as a peaceful, viable, democratic state. (White House)
  • EU Body Shelves Report on Anti-Semitism
    The European Union's racism watchdog has shelved a report on anti-Semitism because the study concluded Muslims and pro-Palestinian groups were behind many of the incidents it examined. The Vienna-based European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) decided in February not to publish the 112-page study, after clashing with its authors over their conclusions. Following a spate of anti-Semitic incidents in early 2002, the EUMC commissioned a report from the Centre for Research on Anti-Semitism at Berlin's Technical University. However, the centre's senior staff and management board objected to the researchers' definition of anti-Semitism, which included some anti-Israel acts. The focus on Muslim and pro-Palestinian perpetrators, meanwhile, was judged inflammatory. "Merely saying the perpetrators are French, Belgian or Dutch does no justice to the full picture," said one person familiar with the report. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Bank Data for Saudi Embassy Subpoenaed
    The FBI, in an unprecedented move that has strained relations with a close ally in the war on terrorism, has subpoenaed records for dozens of bank accounts belonging to the Saudi Embassy, part of an investigation into whether any of the hundreds of millions of dollars Riyadh spends in the U.S. each year end up in the hands of Muslim extremists, U.S. and Saudi officials said. The wide-ranging investigation into the $300 million a year the Saudi Embassy spends here was launched this summer, just as the U.S. and Saudi governments were hailing a new era of cooperation in the fight against Muslim terrorism. The subpoenas outraged Saudi officials, but questions remain about whether millions of dollars still flow from the oil-rich kingdom to radical causes. The subpoenas were issued several weeks after the May deportation of Fahad al Thumairy, who had worked for the Islamic and cultural affairs section of the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles since 1996. Thumairy's visa was revoked, and he was deported because of suspected ties to terrorists, according to officials from the Department of Homeland Security. (Washington Post)
  • Turkish Government Backing of Islamic Group Arouses Scrutiny After Blasts
    Of the four suspects named in the bombings that traumatized Istanbul, three hailed from Bingol, about 1,000 miles away in Turkey's eastern mountains. Notably religious, each of the suspects bore the markers of Islamic militancy familiar in biographies of suicide bombers, including travel to Pakistan for "religious training." One of the three had also traveled to Saudi Arabia. Until four years ago, Turkey had tacitly encouraged Islamic extremism in this region, judging it a useful tool in a sometimes dirty war against Kurdish separatists. A brutal religious underground group known as Hizballah (not related to Hizballah in Lebanon) received guns from government arsenals, and several thousand killings widely attributed to the group were officially ignored. The three men from Bingol accused in the bombings had all been detained on suspicion of membership in Hizballah, Turkish officials said. (Washington Post)
        See also Bomb Attacks Were Planned in Internet Cafe
    The four bombers are believed to have received weapons training in Pakistan and at al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. As many as 1,000 Turks have trained in Islamist terrorist camps in the past decade. Al-Qaeda operatives are believed to have made their way to Turkey to help design the bombs and fuses, picking the targets and planning the missions. They also taught the Turkish cells how to communicate via encrypted messages posted on the Internet. (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinians Murder Two Israeli Security Guards Near Jerusalem - Jonathan Lis and Arnon Regular
    Two Israeli security guards - Ilya Riger, 58, and Samer Af'an, 26 - were shot dead at a construction site along the route of the separation fence in eastern Jerusalem Saturday night. "The Jenin Martyrs' Brigades," which is affiliated with Fatah, claimed responsibility for the attack. (Ha'aretz)
  • Under U.S. Pressure, PA Plans Security Measures - Gideon Alon
    Palestinian officials said U.S. officials had handed the PA a list of steps it wants Palestinian security forces to take in accordance with the road map. "These include collecting illegal weapons, banning the show of power on streets, closing down tunnels used for smuggling on the Egyptian-Palestinian border, and searching houses to collect illegal arms," said a senior Palestinian official. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Under Pressure to Change, Saudis Debate Their Future - Neil MacFarquhar
    The struggle over the future of Saudi Arabia is on. The idea of reshaping the kingdom's religious and tribal form of monarchy remains tentative, more vague public discussion than concrete plan. Mansour al-Nogaidan, a former zealot turned reformer, was the first columnist to suggest publicly that the extreme lessons within the Wahhabi sect about shunning foreigners helped terrorists to justify their attacks. That column and subsequent ones created such an uproar that Mr. Nogaidan's writing was suspended for a couple of months, and this summer he found himself summoned by a conservative judge who he said sentenced him to 75 lashes. The sentence has not been carried out. Mr. Nogaidan and others believe that while the government has recognized the problem, it has not done enough to get at its roots. Conservative prayer leaders may be inveighing against extremism, for example, but they rarely single out Osama bin Laden or al-Qaeda by name. (New York Times)
  • Al-Qaeda's Mistake - Claude Salhani
    In selecting Turkey as their new battleground, al-Qaeda, or their Turkish affiliates, may have committed a monumental tactical mistake by picking a fight they may well regret. Unlike most Western European countries and the U.S., Turkey has a long history of dealing with homegrown terrorism and has always gone about it with a successful, though somewhat heavy, hand. And those tactics have yielded positive results. (Washington Times)
  • The BBC Meets Its Match - Manfred Gerstenfeld
    British lawyer Trevor Asserson's website,, contains three well-documented reports systematically demonstrating the BBC's anti-Israel bias. One typical example was when suicide bombers killed 26 Israeli civilians in Jerusalem and Haifa in December 2001. The BBC only used the word "terror" when describing Israel's retaliatory attacks on Palestinian targets. Asserson has also illustrated how the BBC goes to considerable lengths to "explain, excuse and lessen civilian deaths [in Iraq] at the hands of coalition troops while mitigating arguments are brushed aside or scorned if voiced at all where Israelis are concerned." President Bush's speech of June 24, 2002, was entitled on the White House website, "President Bush calls for new Palestinian leadership." Nineteen of the 28 paragraphs addressed Palestinian leadership and institutional reform; Israeli policy was criticized in two or three paragraphs. Yet the BBC was the only news body which presented the speech as criticizing Israelis and Palestinians equally. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Shin Bet: Security Fence Has Paid for Itself "With Interest" - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)

    • Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter told the cabinet Sunday that 14 suicide bombing attempts were foiled during the last six weeks, and the number of terror alerts has increased recently from some 30 per day to 50. Dichter said the relative quiet is a result of Israeli preventive actions.
    • Dichter said the security fence - of which 107 kilometers have been constructed - has already paid for itself "with interest." Because of the fence it is much more difficult to penetrate into Israel.
    • Dichter believes PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei when he says that he will not dismantle the terrorist infrastructure.
    • Dichter said that since the days of the Abbas government, Arafat has regained 100% control over the Palestinian security services.
    • Of the PA's $93 million monthly budget, Arafat's office receives some $8 million. By comparison, only $6 million a month goes to the PA's health system. This disproportion "cries out to the heavens," Dichter said.
    • He said some 300 people are employed by Arafat's office, and that the rest of the funds goes to Fatah in the territories, and helps ensure Arafat's control. Donor countries, such as the EU and Japan, contribute some $30 million a month to the PA, and some of this money, he said, goes to support Fatah.
    • According to Dichter, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are interested in reaching a new cease-fire agreement in order to rebuild their damaged infrastructure. Today 90% of their energy is being devoted to survival, and 10% to carrying out attacks, he estimated. "If there is a new hudna, this proportion will change."

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