Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
If your email program has difficulty viewing this page, see web version.


December 15, 2003

To contact the Presidents Conference:
[email protected]

In-Depth Issue:

Turkey Catches Istanbul Bombmaker (Reuters)
    Turkish police have arrested a man they believe built the four car bombs that killed 61 people in Istanbul last month in suicide attacks on British and Jewish targets, newspapers reported on Sunday.
    The man had been arrested while trying to cross from Turkey into Iran.
    The man told police that he had only made the four bombs used in November, something that may ease public fears that more bombings were planned.
    Ankara says the bombings were carried out by Turks.

    See also Al-Qaeda's New Strategy - Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball (Newsweek)
    The investigation into last month's devastating suicide bombings in Istanbul has uncovered compelling new evidence pointing to a highly sophisticated operation carried out by homegrown militants, but planned by al-Qaeda operatives who may have included Osama bin Laden deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.
    One of the key ringleaders of the operation, a previously obscure Islamic fighter named Azad Ekinci, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, left Turkey for Dubai 19 days before the attacks.
    Arrested suspect Yusaf Polat told police that the ringleaders of the attacks, Ekinci and another Turkish accomplice, Habib Aktas, had several meetings with al-Zawahiri, the fanatical Egyptian physician who merged his Islamic Jihad organization with al-Qaeda in the early 1990s and became bin Laden's second in command.
    Some U.S. officials say the Turkish bombing, represents the new face of international terror. Al-Qaeda operatives, perhaps inspired if not directed by leaders such as al-Zawahiri, essentially "piggyback" on the activities of local militants, providing training, skills, and financing that allows the indigenous groups to commit attacks that are more deadly and sophisticated than would otherwise be possible.

How the Chinese Helped Iraq Fight the U.S. - Con Coughlin (Telegraph-UK)
    Chinese military advisers played a key role in helping Saddam's air defenses withstand coalition air strikes in the months preceding Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to Iraqi Lt.-Col. al-Dabbagh, who said he worked with a number of Chinese air-defense specialists during 2002 and the early part of this year.
    "They arrived in the spring of 2002," said al-Dabbagh, who commanded an air defense unit in Iraq's western desert. "They were personally greeted by Saddam and seemed very happy to be in Iraq. A couple of them even grew moustaches and wore keffiyehs (Arab scarves)."
    The Chinese devised a sophisticated decoy device that forced missiles fired by allied warplanes to hit the wrong targets. "The American pilot would return home thinking he had hit three of our radar units, when in fact all he would have hit were three $25 decoys," said al-Dabbagh.

Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Captures Saddam Hussein
    "Don't shoot," the bearded, submissive man said to the soldiers. He was Saddam Hussein, hiding in a hole. (Newsweek)
        See also Betrayal by Clan Led to Hussein's Capture (New York Times)
        See also A Careful U.S. Plan to Dispel All Doubt on Hussein's Fate (New York Times)
  • Saddam Defiant and Unrepentant
    On Sunday, four new leaders of Iraq questioned the now captured leader about his tyrannical rule. Asked about the mass graves of tens of thousands of Iraqis, Hussein answered: "Ask their relatives. They were thieves, and they ran away from the battlefields with Iran and from the battlefields of Kuwait." Asked why he invaded Kuwait in 1990, he said Kuwait was rightfully a part of Iraq. Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi said Hussein also suggested that he was behind the recent wave of attacks against American soldiers in Iraq. (New York Times)
        See also Iraq Reaction: Joy Spreads from City Streets to Countryside (Washington Post)
  • Palestinians Mark "Black Day" of Saddam Capture
    Disbelief and gloom seized many Palestinians Sunday at news of Saddam Hussein's capture as Israel fired off a telegram of congratulations to Washington. The former Iraqi ruler was a hero to many Palestinians for his stand against Israel and its U.S. ally, as well as for helping families of Palestinians dead in an uprising. For Israel, he was a menace over the horizon who long bankrolled the enemy. (Reuters)
        See also Sadness at Feeble Display by a Hero to Palestine
    For some Palestinians, the television footage of their self-proclaimed benefactor submitting to a humiliating exam by his American captors was too painful to watch. Most were disappointed that Saddam went quietly into captivity, saying that the honorable thing would have been to commit suicide. (Herald-UK)
        See also Among Arabs, Embarrassment Over the Surrender of a Figure Who Once Defied the West
    "They wanted him to at least die fighting, not be caught lying down in some hole like a rat," said Mustapha Hamarneh, director of the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan. Many found it beyond belief that a man who had shot dead at least one cabinet minister, not to mention starting wars against Iran and Kuwait, had not so much as wounded a single American soldier. (New York Times)
  • Bush Signs Measure Imposing Sanctions on Syria
    President Bush signed legislation Friday calling for economic penalties against Syria for not doing enough to fight terrorism. The legislation says Syria has provided a haven for anti-Israel groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad and has pursued biological and chemical weapons. Syria must end its support of terrorists, terminate its 27-year military presence in Lebanon, stop efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles, and stop terrorists from entering Iraq. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also President Signs Syria Accountability Act (White House)
  • Israel to Make No Unilateral Peace Moves for Months
    Senior political sources in Jerusalem said Sunday that Prime Minister Sharon would take no unilateral action before a fresh attempt to save the "road map" plan, dampening suggestions he had written it off and might unveil imminent steps in a policy speech later this week. "He will be putting forth ideas on how to jump-start negotiations with the Palestinians and will say he will make unilateral moves only if all efforts to implement the road map are exhausted and failed," said a senior source close to Sharon. "He will not surprise the Americans and the Americans know that." (Reuters)
  • U.S. Urges Israel to "Make Life Better for Palestinians"
    In a State Department meeting with Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom on Friday, Secretary of State Colin Powell talked of the need for reciprocal steps while emphasizing what Israel could do on its own to "make life better for ordinary Palestinians," department spokesman Richard Boucher said. Powell spoke of increasing the number of work permits for Palestinians and creating jobs and trade opportunities.
        "All parties must fight off terror," President Bush said Friday. The Palestinians have to find new leadership, he said, and Israel must avoid decisions that hinder the chances of creating a Palestinian state. Bush said the peace process is "stalled" because former Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas was "shoved aside." He called for a Palestinian leadership that "believes in peace." (Washington Post)
  • Palestinians Fire Mortar Barrage at Jewish Towns in Gaza
    Palestinians fired a mortar barrage - 20 shells within a few hours - at Jewish towns in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, causing minor damage. Militants also fired seven anti-tank missiles. Sunday's barrage landed near the shopping area in Neve Dekalim, home to about 2,400 Israelis. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Pakistan's President Narrowly Escapes Assassin's Bomb
    Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf narrowly survived an assassination attempt Sunday when a large bomb detonated on a bridge 30 seconds after his motorcade had crossed. (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Will Send Evidence to Saddam Trial
    Justice Minister Yosef Lapid said Monday that if Saddam Hussein faces an international court on war crimes, Israel would send witnesses and evidence regarding the destruction and damage caused by the Scud missiles Saddam fired at Israel in the 1991 Gulf War. "The firing of missiles, without any provocation, at a country that had nothing to do with the war, is a war crime in every legal sense....This crime will not be simply wiped away," said Lapid. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas, Islamic Jihad Call on Iraqis to Continue the Fight
    After the arrest of Saddam Hussein, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have called for the Iraqi people to continue their fight against "the American occupation." (NewsFirstClass-Hebrew)
  • Hamas Vows More Attacks Inside Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas vowed over the weekend to resume suicide bombings inside Israel as tens of thousands of Palestinians rallied in support for the movement on its 16th anniversary. At a series of rallies in the Gaza Strip on Friday, Hamas leaders said the jihad against Israel would continue "until the liberation of all of Palestine." "Bodies of [Izz al-Din al-] Qassam men will continue to blow up in the depth of the Zionist entity," the group's top official, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, told a cheering crowd in Jabalya refugee camp. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Human Rights Lawyer Irwin Cotler Named Canadian Justice Minister - Melissa Radler
    Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin on Friday named human rights lawyer Irwin Cotler, 63, his justice minister and attorney-general. For Canadian Jews, Cotler's commitment to equal rights for all is a boon for a community that has experienced a recent surge in anti-Semitism, and has long worried about the government's commitment to Israel. The Ottawa Citizen called Cotler's appointment a "contrarian inspiration," writing that "Mr. Cotler actually believes in justice - has spent his whole life fighting for it." A Jewish Montrealer and law professor at McGill University first elected to Parliament in 1999, Cotler provided legal counsel for prisoners of conscience Nelson Mandela and Natan Sharansky. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Lessons from Nuremberg - George F. Will
    An Iraqi trial can build the authoritative record of Hussein's crimes. It also can give the new regime dignity. The long, dispiriting history of Holocaust denial would be a far worse plague had not the Nuremberg tribunal painstakingly rubbed the noses of various nations in what they did, or did too little to prevent. An unsparing presentation of Hussein's crimes would also usefully complicate the moral exhibitionism of some of America's critics. (Washington Post)
  • Assad is Speaking - Nir Boms and Erick Stakelbeck
    A new profile of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appeared to emerge from the Nov. 30 New York Times interview: Assad is a man of peace, more than willing to negotiate with Israel immediately and "without any Syrian conditions." Moreover, he expressed a desire to form closer ties with the U.S., with whom Syria shares "many common interests." Yet outside the pristine offices of the Times, Assad's rhetoric appears slightly less forthcoming. On October 15, Assad told the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat, "With this Israeli government in power, there will be no peace," and added, "the U.S. is in disagreement with countries in the world, and we are one of these countries." (InTheNationalInterest)
  • "Political Humanitarianism" and Medical NGOs
    An example of the impact of unhealthy dependence of international medical NGOs on their local partners can be seen in the role of the Union of Palestinian Relief Committees (UPMRC) and Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHR-I). Reading UPMRC's reports, one can easily mistake the NGO for an official organ of the PA. PHR-I's "international advocacy work" reveals a deliberate political agenda of delegitimizing the State of Israel masked in medical terms and international law and feeding off its false reputation as an impartial mainstream medical NGO. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) also demonstrates a clear political agenda. (NGO Monitor/ICA/JCPA)
  • Observations:

    Saddam Could be Offered a Deal - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)

    • Saddam Hussein could be offered a deal in which he would give his captors information on if and how he hid weapons of mass destruction and if he smuggled some of them into Syria. In exchange, he would face life imprisonment and not be executed for war crimes, senior Iraqis have hinted.
    • Even if the number of concealed weapons of mass destruction is not large, Saddam will certainly know who he appointed to take charge of the operation and in what area the weapons are being stored.
    • Kurds claimed that most of the information leading to Saddam's arrest had come from Kurds, who had organized their own intelligence network and for months had been trying to uncover Saddam's tracks.
    • The capture of Saddam will not mean an automatic, immediate end to guerrilla warfare and terror attacks against the coalition forces. The forces opposed to the Americans are mostly made up of former members of the Ba'ath movement, of Saddam's security and intelligence forces, and volunteers from Arab states, and have merely lost their "symbol" with Saddam's capture.
    • An Iraqi trial of Saddam would make internal reconciliation more difficult and could be seen as an American Iraqi-purifying trial. A special international war crimes trial, however, would have greater global resonance and would act as a deterrent against committing war crimes in the future.

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