Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 24, 2003

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In-Depth Issue:

Hamas Plotted to Decapitate its Victims - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    The Shin Bet security service arrested 22 Hamas operatives in the Ramallah area last week, responsible for shooting attacks that killed 10 Israelis in two years.
    According to the confessions of some of the detained men, they were planning to kill members of an IDF patrol and cart away their bodies as bargaining chips.
    Concerned that the get-away car wouldn't have enough space for all the corpses, the Hamas men intended to decapitate some of the bodies.
    For more than six months, Hamas' military wing in Ramallah has been the driving force behind the organization in the West Bank.
    IDF anti-terror strikes against Hamas cells in the Hebron and Nablus regions left the Ramallah group, headed by Sheikh Ibrahim Hamad, in the lead position.

UN Satellites Eye Israeli Barrier - Alfred Hermida (BBC)
    The UN is using satellites to take images from space of Israel's controversial West Bank barrier.
    The images are being collected by the satellite agency, Unosat, for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

U.S. Jews Give $1.5M for Israel Philharmonic - Viva Sarah Press (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra returned to Israel this week after a three-week tour of Japan and the U.S. that raised more than $1.5 million.

Second Temple Period Artifacts Found in Jerusalem - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
    The remains of a mikva (ritual bath), various bronze and metallic utensils and coins, candles, and a stone oil-storage vessel decorated with shofarot (ram's horns) - all dating back 2,000 years to the Second Temple and Hasmonean periods - have been uncovered just outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City, the Antiquities Authority announced Tuesday.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Pentagon Broadening U.S. Air Patrols; Deploying Air Defenses
    Intelligence gathered by the U.S. government indicates that al-Qaeda terrorists have a keen interest in striking targets far from major cities, such as power plants, dams, and oil facilities in Alaska. The Pentagon said Tuesday it is broadening air patrols throughout the country, deploying surface-to-air missile systems in the Washington area, and considering locating more anti-aircraft systems in the New York City region.
        Officials say there also seems to be interest in targeting holiday events that draw large crowds, such as college and professional football games and New Year's celebrations and parades. Overseas, officials in Turkey said they fear terrorists might be preparing to organize attacks on American, Israeli, and other Western interests. (USA Today)
  • Britain on Terrorist Alert
    The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir John Stevens, Tuesday warned the public to be vigilant in the face of potential terrorist attacks from Islamic extremist groups such as al-Qaeda. Sir John said Britain's terrorist alert was raised last month "for good reasons." Sir John said he had no reservations about the detention of some terrorist suspects in the UK without trial. "I'm afraid those kind of powers, draconian as they appear to some, are absolutely necessary for what we are dealing with at the moment." (Telegraph-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Rocket Hits Home in Nisanit, Two Wounded - Arnon Regular, Amos Harel, and Jonathan Lis
    Moshe and Tina Nagaras were wounded on Tuesday after Palestinians fired a Qassam rocket at their home in Nisanit in Gaza. Hours later, another Qassam rocket fell on the Israeli town of Sderot in the Negev. Palestinians also fired four mortar shells at an Israeli village in Gaza. Earlier Tuesday, eight Palestinians were killed in Rafah during an IDF search for weapons-smuggling tunnels, where a military source said the troops faced an unusual amount of resistance. (Ha'aretz)
        See also IDF Activity in Rafah (IDF)
  • Eilat Terrorists Flee Back into Egypt - Margot Dudkevitch
    On Tuesday an Israeli motorist came under gunfire and grenade attack on the road approaching Eilat from the north. The terrorists' tracks were found near the Red Canyon about 15km west of Eilat. Following a day-long manhunt, police concluded that two terrorists infiltrated the area through the Egyptian border and then fled back over the border. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Mubarak Phones Sharon
    Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak Tuesday called Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and thanked him for productive meetings Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher had in Israel this week, and for the medical treatment of the minister after he was attacked at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Editor Praises Maher Attack - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based Palestinian daily Al-Quds al-Arabi, on Tuesday praised the Palestinians who threw shoes at Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher during his visit to the Aksa mosque. Atwan said the shoes "are a lesson to all the Arab leaders and their representatives, who...are listening only to the American administration and its humiliating demands for normalization with the Hebrew state." They were also "an expression of the position of all the Arab peoples towards their tyrannical, repressive, and corrupt regimes." "We wish the Palestinian officials, first and foremost Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, will draw conclusions from the incident and halt his efforts to meet with the Israeli prime minister." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Muslim Brotherhood Militancy in America: Student Journeys into Secret Circle of Extremism - Paul M. Barrett
    In 1994, Mustafa Saied, then a junior at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, was invited by a friend from the United Arab Emirates to join the Muslim Brotherhood and entered a secretive community that was slowly building a roster of young men committed to spreading fundamentalist Islam in the U.S. Saied underwent a conversion to a less orthodox form of Islam in 1998. Today, his story offers a rare inside look at an extremist movement that flourished in the U.S.
        In December 1994, Saied and his friends attended a conference in Chicago sponsored by the Muslim Arab Youth Association that attracted some 6,000 people, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. At one point, six or seven masked young men dressed as Hamas militants ran down the aisles, waving the organization's green flags and shouting, "Idhbaahal Yahood!" ("Slaughter the Jews!"). Saied recalls his own reaction was, "Cool." (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi Funding in France - Olivier Guitta
    The French Muslim community - estimated at between 5 and 8 million people - is totally indoctrinated and controlled by extremist organizations such as UOIF (Union des Organizations Islamiques de France), which is affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood, a notorious Islamist terrorist group founded in Egypt in 1927. These fanatics control most French mosques and get financial support from Saudi Arabia. The most vocal advocate of Wahhabism in France is Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss philosophy teacher and grandson of Hassan Al Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Islamists have the clear goal of transforming France into the first Islamist regime of the West. Their master plan is clearly formulated and being implemented every day. And it is no coincidence that the biggest wave of violent anti-Semitism in Europe is occurring in France. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • Maher's Humiliation - Editorial
    The entire world watched Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher humiliated, jostled, and pelted with shoes, until physically lifted off his feet and carried away from his frenzied attackers. His eyes betrayed vivid panic as he came face to face with the frightening aspect of Palestinian intransigence and extremism. Maher was attacked because he dared conduct talks with the leaders of the reviled Jewish state. If this is how Palestinians manhandle their boosters and comrades, what would they do to their Israeli enemies? What Maher met on the Temple Mount isn't the exception to the rule, it's only the tip of greater virulence. This extremism is born of unbridled incitement which Egypt regularly tolerates. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Reading Sharon's Mind - Daniel Pipes
    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced that the road map, a U.S. plan that envisions Israel and the Palestinians negotiating a settlement between them, has only a "few months" left to live. Yet his Disengagement Plan sent defeatist messages that Palestinian terrorism works. Even as violence and attempted violence against Israelis continues, it grants several key Palestinian demands: more land under PA control, removal of roadblocks in-place to protect Israeli lives, and dismantling some Jewish habitations in the West Bank and Gaza. In the words of Ziad Abu Amr, a Palestinian academic and politician, as radical Palestinians watch the debate in Israel unfold and note concessions being offered, "They don't think of it as a favor from Sharon's government, they see it as an outcome of their struggle." (New York Sun)
  • Observations:

    The Saudi Paradox - Michael Scott Doran (Foreign Affairs)

    • When an attack on a residential compound in Riyadh killed 17 people and wounded 122 in early November 2003, U.S. officials downplayed the significance of the incident for Saudi Arabian politics. "We have the utmost faith that the direction chosen for this nation by Crown Prince Abdullah, the political and economic reforms, will not be swayed by these horrible terrorists," said Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Richard Armitage.
    • But if any such faith existed, it was quite misplaced. Abdullah's reforms were already being curtailed, the retrenchment having begun in the wake of a similar attack six months earlier.
    • The Saudi state is a fragmented entity, divided between the fiefdoms of the royal family. Among the four or five most powerful princes, two stand out: Crown Prince Abdullah and his half-brother Prince Nayef, the interior minister. Relations between these two leaders are visibly tense. In the U.S., Abdullah cuts a higher profile. But at home in Saudi Arabia, Nayef, who controls the secret police, casts a longer and darker shadow.
    • The Saudi monarchy functions as the intermediary between two distinct political communities: a Westernized elite that looks to Europe and the U.S. as models of political development, and a Wahhabi religious establishment.
    • Abdullah tilts toward the liberal reformers and seeks a rapprochement with the U.S., whereas Nayef sides with the clerics and takes direction from an anti-American religious establishment that shares many goals with al-Qaeda.

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