Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 7, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Islamic Jihad Planned Mass Casualty Attack Using Cyanide Gas - Meir Suissa (Col Hazman-Hebrew; 4 June 04)
    Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorists were planning to launch an nonconventional attack against Israel using cyanide gas, according to an indictment filed last week in the Samaria military court against Anas Hatnawi, 27, an Islamic Jihad member from Jenin.
    Hatnawi sought to recruit suicide terrorists, and was particularly interested in locating chemicals, especially cyanide.
    His terrorist cell received its orders from Islamic Jihad headquarters in Syria.

Palestinian Suicide Bombing in Jerusalem Thwarted (Ha'aretz/IDF)
    Security forces operating north of Ramallah arrested a Tanzim cell that intended to carry out a suicide bombing in the Jerusalem area, Israel Radio reported Sunday.
    The would-be suicide bomber from Nablus arrived Thursday at the Kalandia checkpoint north of Jerusalem, but when his explosive device failed to detonate, he returned to Ramallah.
    The cell members hid the device outside an UNRWA school in the village of Silwad, and they were apprehended on Saturday.
    The eight-member cell received assistance from Hizballah and Iran.

Did al-Qaeda Trainee Warn FBI before 9/11? - Lisa Myers and Jim Popkin (NBC News)
    More than a year before 9/11, a Pakistani-British man told the FBI that he had been trained by bin Laden's followers to hijack airplanes and was now in America to carry out an attack.
    The FBI questioned him for weeks, but then let him go home.
    Niaz Khan was recruited in Manchester, England, in March 2000, was trained by al-Qaeda in Lahore, Pakistan, to hijack passenger planes, and was then sent to the U.S.
    Khan said he and 30 other men were taught hijacking basics, including how to smuggle guns and other weapons through airport security, techniques to overpower passengers and crew, and how to get into a cockpit.
    A former FBI official says Newark agents believed Khan, who passed two FBI polygraphs, but word came from headquarters saying, "return him to London and forget about it."

Jordan Demands PA Apologize for Scathing Report - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Jordan is demanding that the Palestinian Authority apologize for accusing the kingdom of mistreating Palestinian refugees.
    According to the Jordanian newspaper Sheehan, an internal report prepared recently by the PA pointed out that conditions of Palestinian refugees living in Jordan were the worst in the world.
    It said the findings of the report have enraged the Jordanian government, which is now demanding an official apology from the PA.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Thousands of Iranians Sign Up for Suicide Attacks on Israel and U.S. Forces in Iraq
    Thousands of Iranians have signed up for suicide attacks on Israel, U.S.-led forces in Iraq, and British author Salman Rushdie, a recruiting group in Tehran said on Saturday. "Some 10,000 people have registered their names to carry out martyrdom operations on our defined targets," said Mohammad Ali Samadi, a spokesman for the Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign. (Reuters)
  • Jewish Teen Stabbed in Paris
    A Jewish teenager was stabbed in the chest Friday by a man crying "Allahu Akbar'' ("God is great") in Epinay-sur-Seine, north of Paris. Last Sunday, the 17-year-old son of a rabbi was attacked by a group of young men as he was about to enter his home in suburban Paris. (AP/Guardian-UK)
  • Palestinians Turn on Tunnel Men Drawing Israeli Raids
    Running guns and contraband through tunnels into Rafah refugee camp from nearby Egypt was once both profitable and patriotic in Palestinian eyes. But communal support for the smugglers has cooled as Israeli forces have razed more and more parts of Rafah said to be hiding tunnels. "Many people now oppose our work. I know of cases where people have noticed others digging a tunnel and they have assaulted them," said Mustafa, a veteran Rafah tunnel builder. Many residents are privately urging tunnel builders to cease, threatening them and their families if they do not. (Reuters)
        See also Underground with the Israeli Army
    The Israeli Army has faced more attacks in the last year along the narrow eight-mile Philadelphia route than it did in 18 years in southern Lebanon. According to the commanding officer of the southern Gaza zone, Col. Pinhas Zuaretz, the price of ammunition in Gaza has gone up 10 times, proving the success of Israeli operations to choke off the smuggling of ammunition and weapons via underground tunnels from Egypt. Col. Zuaretz said the tunnels allowed terrorist Palestinians to get ammunition to blow up an American convoy in the northern part of the Gaza strip, "so the fact that we can stop the supply of ammunition and weapons is good not only for the Israelis but for all the world." (BBC)
  • Gunmen in Saudi Arabia Attack Western Journalists, Killing One
    An Irish cameraman was shot dead and a British journalist was wounded Sunday when gunmen opened fire on them as they filmed in an Islamist militant area of Riyadh. (Reuters/New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Cabinet Approves Revised Gaza Pullout Plan - Aluf Benn, Gideon Alon, and Nathan Guttman
    On Sunday the Israel government passed Prime Minister Sharon's revised disengagement plan by a vote of 14-7, but decisions on the dismantling of settlements will require further cabinet approval. The approved plan states: "The State of Israel will evacuate settlements in the Gaza Strip...and with the completion of the move by the end of 2005 in the areas that are to be evacuated in the land area of the Gaza Strip there will be no permanent Israeli military presence." (Ha'aretz)
        According to a senior cabinet official, the government approved the principle of evacuating the 21 Gaza settlements and four more in northern Samaria. It just put off voting on the implementation of this decision for another six or nine months, depending on how long it takes to draw up the necessary legislation dealing with compensation, resettlement, and other connected issues.
        After the meeting, Prime Minister Sharon said: "The government of Israel has approved the disengagement plan that I submitted, sending a clear message to the people of Israel, our Palestinian neighbors, and to the entire world that Israel is taking its future into its own hands....It is a resolution that is good for Israel's security, its international standing, its economy, and the demography of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel." "During the past three and a half years, the terrorist organizations have tried to break the spirit of the people of Israel. They did not succeed. The Jewish people cannot be broken. We will never break." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Barghouti Sentenced to Five Life Terms for Murders - Zvi Harel and Assaf Bergerfreund
    Tel Aviv District Court on Sunday sentenced Palestinian Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti to five consecutive life sentences and 40 additional years in prison for involvement in the murder of Yula Hen, shot dead at a Givat Ze'ev gas station in January 2002, and of a Greek Orthodox priest near Ma'aleh Adumim in June 2002. Barghouti was also convicted of direct responsibility for the murders of Yosef Havi, Elyahu Dahan, and police officer Selim Barichat in the shooting attack against the Sea Food Market restaurant in Tel Aviv in March 2002.
        Barghouti was also held responsible for the attempt by suicide bombers to detonate an explosives laden vehicle at the Malcha Mall in Jerusalem. The attempt failed and the two would-be suicide bombers died when their vehicle exploded prematurely. The three-judge panel said Barghouti provided his associates with funds and military supplies, even when he was told that attacks were scheduled to take place inside Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Rockets Fired from Lebanon at Israeli Naval Vessel in North
    Rockets were fired Monday from Lebanon at an Israeli naval vessel patrolling in Israeli territorial waters. No injuries or damage were reported. Army officials claim that the rockets were not fired by Hizballah. (IDF/Jerusalem Post)
  • Egypt Eyes Wider Role in Gaza - Yoav Stern
    Officials in Cairo stress that the Egyptian army has no intention of taking responsibility for security in Gaza. However, in 10 days' time, some 200 Egyptian experts are scheduled to arrive in the area to deal with security issues, as well as agriculture, public administration, and other fields. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Why We Have to Say We're Sorry - Stuart A. Cohen
    Obviously, Israel must continue to employ whatever force is required to uproot the evil of Palestinian terrorism and destroy the gang of criminals who are its perpetrators and instigators. At the same time, however, Israel's own interests mandate that even while we punish the guilty, we also feel and express remorse whenever IDF actions harm Palestinian noncombatants.
        That conclusion is not only mandated by Judaism's heritage of moral sensitivity; it also reflects two utilitarian considerations. First, only a disastrously narrow-minded view of the world can disregard the policies and interests of Israel's principal strategic partners: the U.S., Turkey, and India. If the only friends we have expect us to openly apologize for "collateral damage," then that's what we shall do. The second reason is that we need to do so in order to remind ourselves that, notwithstanding the horrors of the struggle forced upon us, we can and shall retain our commitment to humanitarian norms of behavior. The writer is professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, and senior research fellow at the BESA Center. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Militants Strike at Saudis' Weakest Point - Mark Hollingsworth
    Saudi police and militants fought a running gun battle in the Red Sea port of Jeddah Saturday. The recent violence shows that al-Qaeda is now carefully targeting oil firms and Westerners. "Although Saudi Arabia has more than 80 active oil and natural gas fields and a thousand working wells, half its proven oil reserves are contained in only eight fields," said Robert Baer, who served for 21 years with the CIA's Directorate of Operations in the Middle East. "Confidential scenarios have suggested that if terrorists were simultaneously to hit only a few sensitive points from these eight fields, they could effectively put the Saudis out of the oil business for about two years." (Independent-UK)
        See also Slashing the West's Oil Arteries - Ian Mather
    According to al-Qaeda, oil "feeds the artery of the life of the Crusader nation." It is two years since al-Qaeda issued its chilling statement of intent. In October 2002 when it badly holed a French supertanker off the coast of Yemen, it declared war on the oil supplies of the West and the U.S. in particular, which it regards as a modern Crusader invading Muslim lands.
        "By hitting oil targets overseas, terrorists can hit us here at home, achieving the same destabilizing effect as an attack on American soil," says Gal Luft, executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in Washington. (Scotland on Sunday)
  • The Saudis Fight Terror, But Not Those Who Wage It - Neil MacFarquhar
    The Saudi government still remains overly cautious in confronting its home-grown radicals, Saudi analysts and even a few princes say. "We have not addressed the ideology of these groups, which is the same one the government is promoting. They attack just the individuals," said Suleiman al-Hattlan, a Saudi columnist and author. The attempt by some to expose and uproot the ideological and theocratic influences used to justify attacks has been suppressed by the religious establishment, which helped the Saud family consolidate its rule when the kingdom was founded more than 70 years ago. Instead, the official line became that the terrorists were infected with an alien ideology, imported by those who fought in Afghanistan or Chechnya, and that the religion espoused by Saudis is a peaceful one.
        "The official religious establishment does not admit that there is a problem inside Wahhabism itself," said Abdullah Bjad al-Otaibi, a former radical turned reformer. There has, in fact, been a profound silence in the kingdom in the wake of the attacks in Yanbu and Khobar, in which foreigners were the main targets and Muslims were pointedly spared. That leads some Saudi intellectuals to conclude that the religious establishment, or at least its more militant elements, basically support al-Qaeda's goal of driving all foreigners out of the Arabian peninsula and establishing a Taliban-like caliphate. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    President Reagan's Legacy - Natan Sharansky (Jerusalem Post)

    • In 1983, I was confined to an eight-by-ten-foot prison cell on the border of Siberia. My Soviet jailers gave me the privilege of reading the latest copy of Pravda. Splashed across the front page was a condemnation of President Ronald Reagan for having the temerity to call the Soviet Union an "evil empire."
    • Tapping on walls and talking through toilets, word of Reagan's "provocation" quickly spread throughout the prison. We dissidents were ecstatic. Finally, the leader of the free world had spoken the truth - a truth that burned inside the heart of each and every one of us.
    • I never imagined that three years later I would be in the White House telling this story to the president. When he summoned some of his staff to hear what I had said, I understood that there had been much criticism of Reagan's decision to cast the struggle between the superpowers as a battle between good and evil. Well, Reagan was right and his critics were wrong.
    • The legacy of President Reagan will surely endure. Armed with moral clarity, a deep faith in freedom, and the courage to follow his convictions, he was instrumental in helping the West win the Cold War and hundreds of millions of people behind the Iron Curtain win their freedom.

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