Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 16, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Commander of Khobar Terrorist Squad Tells Story of Operation (MEMRI)
    The al-Qaeda-identified journal Sawt Al-Jihad includes an interview with Fawwaz bin Muhammad al-Nashami, who took responsibility for the May 29 attack at Khobar, Saudi Arabia, in which 22 people were killed.
    "We entered one of the companies and found there an American infidel....I went into his office and called him. When he turned to me, I shot him in the head."
    "We entered another office and found one infidel from South Africa, and our brother Hussein slit his throat."
    "We found a Swedish infidel. Brother Nimr cut off his head, and put it at the gate so that it would be seen by all those entering and exiting.
    "We found Filipino Christians. We cut their throats and dedicated them to our brothers the Mujahideen in the Philippines.
    "We found Hindu engineers and we cut their throats too."
    "That same day, we purged Muhammad's land of many Christians and polytheists."

    See also Al-Qaeda's Saudi Point Man - Erick Stakelbeck (New York Post)
    Abdulaziz al-Muqrin, al-Qaeda's chief of operations for the Arabian Peninsula, has been considered the world's second-most active terrorist, his roll call of atrocities eclipsed only by that of the ubiquitous Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

    See also Zarqawi on Most Wanted List - Katherine Pfleger Shrader (AP/Newsday)
    Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is believed to have connections to radicals around the globe - including the U.S. - and has firmly secured his position among the government's most wanted terrorists.

Saudi Cleared of Terror Charges in Idaho - Bob Fick (AP/Guardian-UK)
    Sami Omar al-Hussayen, a Saudi graduate student at the University of Idaho, was acquitted of charges he used his computer expertise to help Muslim terrorists raise money and recruit followers.
    The case was seen as an important test of a provision of the Patriot Act that makes it a crime to provide expert advice or assistance to terrorists.
    Al-Hussayen set up and ran websites that prosecutors said were used to recruit terrorists, raise money, and disseminate inflammatory rhetoric.

Palestinians Pull Out of Beauty Pageant After Threats (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Sixteen Israeli girls donned evening gowns and bathing suits in the Miss Barrier Line beauty pageant Tuesday, but their eight Palestinian Christian counterparts from nearby Bethlehem did not show up.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Two Pipeline Blasts Halt Oil Exports at Main Iraqi Port
    Two explosions at oil pipelines near the Persian Gulf forced the shutdown of Iraq's main oil export terminal on Tuesday for what is expected to be about 10 days, costing the country up to $1 billion in revenue. On the same day, snipers lining a highway and an overpass near Baghdad International Airport ambushed a convoy, killing at least four foreign contractor workers. (New York Times)
        See also Iraq Seeks Custody of Saddam; Bush Has Security Concerns
    President Bush said Tuesday that the U.S. would hand over Saddam Hussein to the new Iraqi government only when it was clear that the Iraqis had the ability to securely keep him in custody. "We want to make sure that he doesn't come back to power," Bush said. (New York Times)
  • Saudi Kidnappers of American Threaten to Kill Him in 3 Days
    Islamic militants holding American engineer Paul M. Johnson hostage in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday threatened to execute him within 72 hours unless the kingdom released the group's fighters from jail. (New York Times)
  • Islamic Jihad Terrorist Killed in Jenin
    An Israeli undercover unit entered the West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday, cornered a number of wanted terrorists in a restaurant, and shot dead Islamic Jihad member Majed al-Saadi, 25, when he tried to evade arrest. (Reuters/ABC News)
  • Sharon Bribery Case Dropped
    Israel's attorney general Menachem Mazuz dropped a bribery investigation against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Tuesday that had involved accusations relating to a tourism project on a Greek island. Mazuz said, "The evidence in this case does not bring us even remotely close to a reasonable possibility of conviction." (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Foils Hamas Plot to Smuggle Six Suicide Bombers from Gaza - Gideon Alon
    The security services recently foiled a major Hamas terror plot to smuggle six suicide bombers from Gaza through the Karni crossing so they could set off their bombs simultaneously in Israel, Military Intelligence Commander Aharon Ze'evi told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday. Ze'evi said that since the elimination of the top Hamas men, the organization has suffered from a lack of leadership in Gaza and a severe financial crisis, with the overseas leadership based in Damascus becoming more dominant.
        Air Force Commander Major General Eliezer Shekadi told the committee the air force had developed "technology and intelligence that made it possible to strike at an individual terrorist while they are in a moving car, without innocent people in the vicinity being harmed." That was not possible six months ago, he said. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hamas Terrorist Killed in "Work Accident"
    Hamas member Awmi Taha, 55, was killed in a mysterious explosion Tuesday in his house in Gaza City. Palestinian witnesses said that Taha was apparently preparing a bomb to be used against Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip. (China News-China)
  • No Decision on Linking Ariel Fence to Main Fence - Herb Keinon
    Israel has shelved plans to build a double security fence east of Ben-Gurion Airport that would have created an enclave with some 20,000 Palestinians between the two fences. "There will be no Palestinian enclaves," Col. (res.) Danny Tirza, in charge of planning the security fence, said Tuesday. Tirza said that construction work began last week on a fence to the north, south, and east of Ariel. The question of whether to link up this horseshoe with the main fence running along the "green line" has not yet been decided.
        Since terrorists cannot get into Israel in the North, he said, they are making their bombs in the refugee camps near the main West Bank cities and sending them to Ramallah and then to Jerusalem to be used there or elsewhere inside the "green line." Explaining the decision to build an 82-kilometer fence around Jerusalem, Tirza said that since the beginning of the violence in September 2000 there have been 591 terror attacks in the city, including 29 suicide attacks. These attacks have killed 208 people and wounded 1,624. "Israel cannot live with this level of terror in its capital, and had to do something." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Turkey Blames Israel for Rising Anti-Semitism - Yoav Stern
    Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday, "Unfortunately, the Israeli administration's current actions are increasing anti-Semitism in the world." Israel's Foreign Ministry responded: "The latest statements add to a series of recent remarks that unfortunately do not reflect our reality. Israel is not fighting against stones but against the terror of suicide bombers, which has claimed the lives of some 1,000 Israelis over the past few years. Erdogan should address these facts when addressing the matter." (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • What Were They Thinking? - Editorial
    Bouthaina Shaaban, an official of Syria, a terrorist-sponsoring state that has a horrible human rights record, spoke over the weekend at a convention in Washington of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee. She accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians" and accused American forces in Iraq of trying to wipe out Arab culture. She was met with a standing ovation. You'd think that in the middle of a war on terrorism American politicians would want to steer clear of this sort of event. Or if they did show up, they would at least voice a protest. Yet the Bush administration sent a top official from the Department of Homeland Security, Asa Hutchinson, to participate and speak at the meeting. The Kerry campaign sent the candidate's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. Ralph Nader showed up in person. (New York Sun, 16 June 04)
  • Arafat Losing Hold on His People - Peter Hermann
    A deadly three-year uprising against Israel by Palestinian militias, some supported or encouraged by Arafat, has not produced any tangible victories. Instead of loosening Israel's hold on the West Bank and Gaza, the militant groups have undercut Palestinian officials and created a lawless society in which citizens complain more about the armed gangs than about Israeli soldiers. A growing number of Palestinians regard Arafat as a barrier to reforms.
        Qadura Faris, a senior member of Arafat's Fatah Party, acknowledges that the Palestinian leadership has no vision for obtaining a peaceful future and lacks the ability to govern. The Palestinian Authority exists, its critics say, only because it manages to pay the salaries of its 140,000 workers, thanks largely to the contributions of $1.3 billion from donor countries over the past three years. "A lot of people are waiting for Arafat to die," said Jon Alterman, who directs the Middle East program of the Center of Strategic and International Studies in Washington. (Baltimore Sun)
  • Arafat Must Go - Editorial
    Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, obviously acting at the behest of President Hosni Mubarak, reportedly has warned Arafat that he must stand aside and permit a resumption of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations or face the consequences. That is exactly the right message if there is to be any hope for starting a new Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative. Arafat, complicit in terrorism and running a corrupt Palestinian Authority, is almost wholly discredited. He has long since ceased to be any kind of reliable partner for peace with whom the Israelis could negotiate. Today, Arafat is an obstacle to peace. It's time for him to go, and time for his Arab patrons to say so. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
  • Observations:

    Egyptian Demands and Commitments - Ze'ev Schiff (Ha'aretz)

    • Neither Israel nor Egypt is interested in Hamas and the Islamic extremist organizations taking over the Gaza Strip; the Egyptians fear a spillover of the extremism in their direction. Israel has a broader interest in the fact that cooperation with Egypt grants the disengagement plan Arab legitimacy. Yet the Egyptians do not wish to help Israel beat the Palestinians.
    • A senior Egyptian official told me that Egypt does not want to transfer military forces to the Strip to fight Palestinian terror there. The Egyptians say the positioning of Egyptian forces in the Strip is liable to deteriorate into military confrontation between them and the IDF.
    • The Egyptians also have reservations regarding the role they are expected to play in preventing arms smuggling from Sinai into Gaza. The truth is that neither additional forces nor a change in their composition are required by the Egyptians to prevent arms smuggling, but rather good, focused intelligence and decisiveness in taking action.
    • Only the naive believe the Egyptians won't make comprehensive demands on Israel, since it is important to them to win points in the Arab world. The Egyptians will demand the lifting of the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, even though it is not at all certain that they will be able to prevent arms smuggling from the sea, as in the case of the Karine A ship.
    • Above all, Egypt will demand that Israel not respond militarily to any acts of violence perpetrated from Gaza while there are Egyptians there. It is reasonable to assume that in this they will demand guarantees from the U.S. The danger is that terror activities from the Strip will continue even when the Egyptians are there, while Israel will lose its freedom to defend itself.

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