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.


September 13, 2004

To contact the Presidents Conference:
[email protected]

In-Depth Issue:

New Documents Reveal PA Paid $2,000 to Father of Dolphinarium Suicide Bomber (Intelligence and Terrorism Center at the Center for Special Studies-Hebrew)
    On June 1, 2001, Said Hassan Houtari, a Hamas suicide bomber, attacked the Dolphinariuim discotheque in Tel Aviv, killing 21 Israelis, most of them teenagers, and wounding 83.
    It has now been disclosed that the Palestinian Authority transferred $2,000 to Houtari's father, who resides in Jordan, on June 18 of that year.
    German television reported that Arafat sent the bomber's father a note praising the attack by his son.

For the First Time: Senior Iraqi Official in Israel - Smadar Peri (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 13 Sep 04)
    Last Friday, Mithal al-Alousi, a senior official in the new Iraqi government in Baghdad, boarded an El Al aircraft in Ankara and flew for the first time in his life to Israel.
    Al-Alousi was invited to speak at an international conference of the Anti-Terrorism Institute in Herzliya.
    On Sunday he found himself to be the guest of honor at an address by the chief of staff of the Israeli army, Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon.

Al-Qaeda Plans to Turn Tanker into Floating Bomb - Philip Sherwell, Massoud Ansari, and Marianne Kearney (Telegraph-UK)
    U.S. intelligence has intercepted communications between activists from the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiah (JI) network - blamed for last week's suicide attack on the Australian embassy in Indonesia - about a plot to hijack an oil tanker or freighter and turn it into a floating bomb.
    The hijacked ship would be wired with explosives and then directed at other vessels, sailed towards a port, or used to threaten the narrow and congested sea routes around Indonesia.
    Meanwhile, detained militants in Pakistan told their interrogators that last week's taped message from Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's deputy, was a signal for al-Qaeda cells that were already on standby to begin a new wave of bloody attacks against Western targets.
    "The cadres linked to the terror network were told to carry out an attack once this video is released," said a senior Pakistani intelligence official.

Saddam's Ally Switches Sides - Robert Winnett (London Times)
    Tariq Aziz, Saddam Hussein's former right-hand man, has agreed to give evidence against him, in return for leniency from prosecutors.
    Aziz is now expected to testify that Saddam was personally responsible for war crimes, including the slaughter of thousands of innocent Kurds and Shi'ites.
    Two other senior members of the regime - Sultan Hashim Ahmad, a former defense minister, and Kamal Mustafa Abdullah, secretary of the Republican Guard - have also agreed to testify.


Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • UN Nuclear Watchdog Meets on Iran Nuclear Plans
    The UN nuclear watchdog IAEA meets Monday in Vienna to consider a European draft resolution on Iran's atomic program, but the resolution lacks an "automatic trigger" that would send Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions. Western diplomats said the U.S. has little support for tough action against Iran now. Diplomats said the draft by the EU trio (France, Britain, and Germany) calls on Iran to dispel worries that it has a weapons program by November and suspend all activities that could enable it to create weapons-grade uranium or plutonium. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Urges Syria to Pull Troops from Lebanon, Halt Support for Terrorists
    After meeting with Syrian President Assad in Damascus on Saturday, Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East William Burns said Syria must withdraw its troops from Lebanon and stop interfering in internal Lebanese affairs. "We underscored our deep concern over Syrian intervention in the Lebanese political process," he said. Burns also said Syria must take "concrete action" to cooperate with the U.S.-led war on terrorism by halting support for militant Palestinian factions based on its territory and preventing anti-U.S. Arab fighters from infiltrating into Iraq. Syria "must take steps to halt the activities of states, individuals, and organizations operating on and from Syrian territory and in Lebanon that facilitate and direct violence and terror." (AP/Washington Post)
        See also U.S.: Syria Liable for Beersheba Bombings - Janine Zacharia
    U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was asked Friday, in an interview with Egyptian TV, if Syria "should be held accountable" for the Beersheba bombings which killed 16 and wounded dozens. He replied: "Why not? Syria holds and houses Hamas. Syria is a conduit of weapons from Iran to Hizballah. It seems to me that Syria does bear some responsibility....President Assad should take a careful look at what his nation is doing and what his government is doing in supporting violence in the territories and decide whether this is in the long-term interest of Syria. I don't believe it is." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Government Agency Joins Lawsuit Against Saudi Arabia Over 9/11
    The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a government agency that owns the World Trade Center site, said Friday it intends to join a lawsuit filed against Saudi Arabia for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people and destroyed the complex. The agency lost 84 employees in the attacks. (AP/USA Today)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Egyptian Islamic Terror Squad Captured - Yuval Azoulay
    A six-man Egyptian Islamic terror squad was captured inside Israel in August 2003, security sources revealed Sunday. The group planned to ambush an army patrol near the border, kill the soldiers, steal their guns and uniforms, and use their patrol vehicle to travel deeper into the country. Next, they planned to commandeer a tank, kill most of the soldiers, and take the driver hostage. Finally, they planned to drive the tank to Mitzpeh Ramon, shell a local bank branch, rob the bank, and return to Egypt. The money was to be used to set up a training base in Sinai for anti-Israel terrorists. When captured, the six were carrying 14 knives, a telescope, walkie-talkies, and maps of Israel with towns and roadblocks marked. (Ha'aretz)
  • Ya'alon: Iran's Nukes Challenge West - Margot Dudkevitch
    Iran's attempt to attain nonconventional weapons capabilities is a disaster for the stability of the Middle East, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon said Sunday. In addition, "There is no doubt that Iran generates terror. I can illustrate a connection between suicide bomb attacks in Tel Aviv, Beersheba, or the 14-year-old boy who was arrested at the Hawara checkpoint near Nablus wearing an explosives belt. I can trace it all back to Teheran, Iranian money, Iranian weapons smuggling," Ya'alon said. It is within this context that Iran can only be described as a "rogue state," he said, and it should be dealt with accordingly.
        Ya'alon also emphasized Syria's role in supporting terror. He said Syria continues to allow Palestinian terror organizations to maintain headquarters in the country, supports Hizballah's actions from Lebanon against Israel, does not prevent the passage of terrorists from its territory into Iraq, and collaborates with the former Iraqi regime. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Expands Criteria for Targeted Interception - Arieh O'Sullivan
    The IDF will now target Palestinian gunmen engaged in terrorist training, military sources have confirmed, expanding the criteria usually met for staging a targeted interception and indicating improvements in field intelligence. The missile strike last week against a large group of Hamas members in a Gaza field was the first example of this change. A senior military source described the decision as one aimed at pre-empting Hamas attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers at all stages.
        National Security Adviser Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland noted that the IDF had four criteria that had to be met to carry out a targeted interception: 1) that there was no way to arrest the person; 2) that the intelligence was completely reliable; 3) that the target was "important enough"; 4) that the operation could be conducted with the minimum probability of causing innocent casualties. "There have been dozens, if not hundreds of times that we had good operational opportunity to do something but did not because it did not meet all four conditions," Eiland said. He said Israel had no policy of targeted killing. That was a mistaken perception. The action was related to an increasing level of reliable intelligence, which was able to detect terrorist intentions earlier and earlier. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • When War is Justified - Editorial
    Saturday's commemorations of the September 11 attacks on America confirmed that the most devastating terrorist outrages the world has seen have not lost their power to shock and move. Those attacks marked the start of the war on terror, a war that is likely to go on for many years. It also marked a profound shift in American foreign policy, making it willing to intervene more aggressively than at any time for a generation.
        Al-Qaeda had for a decade become bolder because it thought the West lacked the stomach for a fight. When earlier attacks met with a less than resolute response from Washington, the fanatics kept raising the stakes all the way to that attack on the World Trade Center. It is also undeniable that sooner or later Saddam's bloodthirsty regime had to be confronted. Skillful diplomacy might dry up some of the well-springs of hatred. But there will still remain a body of fanatics whose hatred of the West cannot be satisfied by any political solution, and we have no choice but to fight. The critics can carp. But think how loudly they would be wailing had Washington retreated into fortress America. (London Times)
  • The Whole World Is Watching - Victor Davis Hanson
    The recent slaughters in Russia were the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back of excusing or explaining away radical Islamic terror. If the Estonians can break away from post-Soviet oppression and free themselves from Russian authoritarianism without slaughtering schoolchildren and blowing up airplanes, then the Chechens can as well - but only if they wish to create democracy rather than an Islamic fascist state.
        The real problem is the democratic dialogue itself - unknown in the Arab Middle East. Consensual government alone is the key to ending failed statist economies, gender apartheid, religious intolerance, state-controlled media, and tribalism. The Islamic Middle East is becoming an international pariah. Islamic young men on European flights are looked at with distrust; they are not welcome in Russia. China wants none of them. They are wary of visiting India. The whole world is watching - in disgust. How the Arab-Islamic world managed to unite over 3 billion nuclear Anglo Americans, Indians, Chinese, and Russians in their suspicions of it will be a case-study in imbecility for diplomatic historians for decades to come. (National Review)
        See also The New Fascism Reunites the Great Alliance - Zev Chafets
    Three years after 9/11, the grand, anti-fascist coalition of World War II is now falling into place. First, it was America alone. Then Great Britain threw in. Now, here comes Russia. For countries like Russia and India (and the U.S. and Great Britain, too), this time Israel is a source of great military expertise in the art and science of jihad-busting. (New York Daily News)
  • Observations:

    Empirical Hubris: How "Anonymous" Disguises the Real Threat to the West and Damages the CIA - Jeff Helmreich (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • The book, Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, by "Anonymous," aims to spark a dramatic re-evaluation of American policy in the Middle East. Indeed, if one did not know of the author's expertise level, the facts and motivations behind the book's release, and the sources for its thesis, one might seriously entertain his central claim: that Islamists are at war with the West over its policies, not its culture or values. On this basis, "Anonymous" seeks a reduction of U.S. support for Israel while slandering lobbying efforts on Israel's behalf.
    • The context in which the book was published raises questions about the CIA in the wake of the post-September 11 criticism of American intelligence. Rarely does a government agency permit one of its officials to publicly attack the government he serves. The CIA, in particular, tends to strictly censor its own officers. Yet somehow the agency allowed Imperial Hubris to be released even while its author, Michael Scheuer, remains a paid CIA official - just as the intelligence service was under attack, for reasons that Scheuer's book coincidentally challenges.
    • Scheuer's claims are refuted largely by the same evidence he cites, as well as by the events of the pre-2001 period that he mostly ignores. Scheuer carefully drew sources only from a narrow time period that distorts his account. Even that evidence, however, challenges Scheuer's thesis about why militant Islamists attack the West.
    • As Scheuer points out at the start of the book, he did not spend much time traveling in the world of Islam, but instead served as an "analyst" of the radical Islamist mindset at headquarters, in a role that resembles that of an academic scholar. The more qualified experts Scheuer consults - including Daniel Pipes and especially Bernard Lewis - actually argue against the "policy-based" view of radical Islamism that he uses them to construct.
    • Scheuer's thesis about "why they hate us" shatters under a simple consideration of sources, some of which he cites, and events over the past decade. Indeed, U.S. policy in the 1990s defended Muslims in Kuwait, Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo, while pressing for Israeli withdrawals, through the Oslo process, for the sake of the Palestinians. And yet, al-Qaeda grew. Recently, Islamists slaughtered Nepalese workers in Iraq. They were not killed because of Nepalese policy (which opposes the U.S. on Iraq), but precisely because of who they were - non-Muslim Hindus.

    To subscribe to the Daily Alert, send a blank email message to:
        [email protected]
    To unsubscribe, send a blank email message to:
        [email protected]