Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 20, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Shin Bet Chief: Gaza Raid Foiled Rosh Hashanah Attack on Israelis in Sinai - Yuval Yoaz (Ha'aretz), and Herb Keinon and Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)
    Shin Bet security services chief Avi Dichter told the Cabinet Sunday that a planned terrorist attack against Israeli tourists in the Sinai over the Rosh Hashanah holiday was in all likelihood blocked as a result of an IDF operation in Gaza last week.
    Dichter said eight Hamas activists from Gaza were apprehended in the Egyptian side of Rafah last week on their way to the Sinai and from there to the Negev to carry out an attack.
    The arrest of this group, coupled with Israel's successful attack earlier this month that killed 14 Hamas activists training at a soccer field in Gaza, diverted the organization's attention and kept them from carrying out a planned attack in Sinai.
    Dichter also warned that an IDF withdrawal from the Philadelphia Corridor as part of the disengagement plan could bring weapons smuggling from Egypt to previously unseen levels.
    Prime Minister Sharon said there are signs the Egyptians are doing more against smuggling. However, they have still fallen short of Israel's expectations on the matter, he said.

Al-Qaeda Third in Command is "Running Terror Cells in the UK and U.S." - Massoud Ansari (Telegraph-UK)
    Pakistani intelligence officials believe a Libyan, Abu Faraj al Libbi, once bin Laden's personal assistant, took over as third in command of al-Qaeda when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was captured last year.
    "Coded messages deciphered recently have revealed to us that he was not only coordinating pre-election terrorist acts in the U.S., but had sent several messages to several militants in the UK in the last eight to 10 share notes with them about future terror attacks in the UK," said an investigator who has seen the communications.

A Rare Look at Secretive Muslim Brotherhood in America - Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Sam Roe and Laurie Cohen (Chicago Tribune)
    Over the last 40 years, small groups of devout Muslim men have gathered in homes in U.S. cities to discuss their ultimate goal: to create Muslim states overseas and, they hope, someday in America as well.
    These men are part of an underground U.S. chapter of the international Muslim Brotherhood, an organization with a violent past.
    The U.S. Brotherhood has helped establish mosques, Islamic schools, summer camps, and prominent Muslim organizations.
    Federal authorities say they have scrutinized the U.S. Brotherhood for years. Agents currently are investigating whether people with ties to the group have raised and laundered money to finance terrorism abroad.
    See also How Cleveland Imam Misled FBI - Amanda Garrett (Cleveland Plain Dealer)


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Atomic Agency Votes to Censure Iran Over Its Nuclear Program
    The International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board of governors passed a resolution on Saturday criticizing Iran for a lack of candor over its nuclear program and calling for the country to suspend all uranium enrichment activities that could contribute to producing fuel for a nuclear bomb. The resolution said the agency "considers it necessary" that Iran halt all of its uranium enrichment programs and meet all of the agency's demands before its Nov. 25 meeting. (New York Times)
        See also U.S. Says "Clock is Ticking" for Iran
    "I think that the IAEA board of governors sent a very clear message that Iran must cease its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and answer questions, which the board has raised, and suspend its enrichment activity," said U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. "The clock is ticking down now on Iran towards the next meeting." (VOA News)
  • U.S.: Iran Helping Insurgents in Iraq
    Secretary of State Powell and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld have raised sharp complaints in recent days that Iran is providing support for the insurgency in Iraq. According to intelligence reports, money, weapons, and even a small number of fighters are flowing over the border from Iran to assist Shiite insurgents. (New York Times)
        See also Iranian Warlords Arm Anti-Coalition Forces in Iraq
    British intelligence has identified a group of Iranian "warlords" - a cell within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard - as the main source of funding and training for the Shiite insurgency in southern Iraq. (London Times)
  • Iranian "Spy" Caught Near Israeli Embassy in Azerbaijan
    Azerbaijani police have arrested an Iranian who allegedly was spying on the Israeli embassy in Baku, after an Israeli security team guarding the embassy saw the Iranian video-tape the site on Sept. 1. (UPI-Washington Times)
  • White House: Sharon is Jump-Starting Road Map
    White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said Wednesday, "Prime Minister Sharon has reaffirmed his commitment to moving forward on his bold proposal to move out of the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank. That is a proposal that can help get us jump-started again on the road map, which is the path toward the President's two-state solution." (White House)
  • U.S. Pressing Syria on Iraqi Border Security
    The dire security conditions in Iraq have overshadowed many of the Bush administration's diplomatic priorities in Syria, prompting U.S. officials to focus their efforts on enlisting the Syrian government's help in stabilizing the country's eastern border with Iraq. A Sept. 11 meeting between Syrian President Bashar Assad and U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs William Burns was dominated by U.S. concerns over Syria's 450-mile border with Iraq, which Arab fighters easily cross on their way to fight American soldiers. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Says Saudis Repress Religion
    The U.S. for the first time named Saudi Arabia as a country that severely violates religious freedom, potentially subjecting the kingdom to sanctions. In its annual report on international religious freedom, the State Department said: "Freedom of religion is not recognized or protected under the country's laws and basic religious freedoms are denied to all but those who adhere to the state-sanctioned version of Sunni Islam....Non-Muslim worshippers risk arrest, imprisonment, lashing, deportation, and sometimes torture."  (Washington Post)
        See also International Religious Freedom Report 2004
    There was deterioration in the status of the PA's respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report. The PA failed to halt several cases of seizures of Christian-owned land in the Bethlehem area by criminal gangs. There were credible reports that PA security forces and judicial officials colluded with members of these gangs to extort property illegally from Christian landowners. Several cases of physical attacks against Christians in Bethlehem also went unaddressed by the PA, while attacks against Muslims in the same area were investigated. (U.S. State Department)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Using Radar to Warn of Incoming Palestinian Rockets - Amnon Barzilai and Yuval Yoaz
    The IDF has begun using technology that affords Sderot residents a 15 to 20 second warning of an incoming Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians from Gaza. Using electro-optic sensors and advanced computers, the system, called Maamin, is capable of pinpointing both the location of the launch and the point where the missile will land, in less than a second. According to the Israel Police, 101 Kassam rockets have been fired at Sderot so far this year. Thirteen were the upgraded Nasser 3, which has a longer range and larger warhead. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinian Rocket Lands in Sderot - Amos Harel and Arnon Regular
    Palestinians fired a Kassam rocket that landed in Sderot on Monday. Four Israelis were treated for shock. The rocket also left a number of homes damaged. (Ha'aretz)
        See also First You Hear the Whistle, Then the Boom (Reuters)
        See also below Observations: Sharon Seeking Immediate Response to Palestinian Rockets
  • IDF Kills Senior Hamas Terrorist in Gaza - Margot Dudkevitch
    Senior Hamas terrorist Khaled Abu Salamiya, 33, a member of the Hamas military wing Izzadine al-Kassam, was killed in an Israeli air force missile strike on his car in Gaza Sunday. Salamiya was head of Hamas in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Shaati, and a key figure in manufacturing Kassam rockets and attacks on Sderot. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Gunmen Target Southern Jerusalem - Etgar Lefkovits
    An Israeli home in the southeast Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa came under fire late Sunday night, police said. The shots came from the Arab village of Beit Sahur at a distance of at least 1 kilometer, Israel Radio reported. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Palestinians in Gaza Amassing Arms Ahead of Withdrawal - Ze'ev Schiff
    Palestinian security organizations in Gaza have redoubled efforts to get weapons and ammunition before the IDF withdraws. Defense sources say that arms smuggling efforts into Gaza, primarily via the Sinai Peninsula and under the Philadelphia route, are at an all-time high. Egypt appears to be making a serious effort to prevent the Palestinians from smuggling strategic weapons, such as Katyushas with a range of 20 kilometers or portable missiles capable of shooting down Israeli helicopters. If the Palestinians were to obtain such weapons, the entire situation could deteriorate quickly, forcing Israel to use massive force. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel's Unexpected Victory Over Terrorism - Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael B. Oren
    Perhaps the greatest danger in fighting terrorism is the polarizing effect such a campaign can have - not just internationally, but domestically. To avoid this pitfall, a strong political consensus for military action is necessary. That means the president must actively reach out to domestic opposition. But American leaders must also heed Sharon's other lessons. That means an ability to endure criticism from abroad and even to risk international isolation, a willingness to define the war on terrorism as a total war, and a commitment to focus one's political agenda on winning, not on divisive or extraneous concerns. Fulfilling those conditions does not guarantee success. But it does make success possible - as Israel is, at great cost, showing the world. (New Republic)
  • Bin Laden's New Butchers - Martin Chulov
    Al-Qaeda's strength now lies in the affiliates it has inspired - some directly and others in its name. Among this conglomerate are four people almost certain to shape the future of Global Jihad Inc.: Sheikh Abu Muhammed al-Maqdesi, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Sheikh Ahmad al-Zahrani, and Sheikh Abu Omar Seyf. Al-Maqdesi is a Palestinian who combined the extreme doctrines of Jihadi Salafiyyah and Wahhabism to create the severe Islamic teachings espoused by the insurgency in Iraq today and its supporters in the pan-Arab world. His teachings have inspired Afghanistan's former Taliban regime, bin Laden, and Islamists in Southeast Asia and Chechnya.
        Al-Zahrani is carrying forward the teachings of al-Maqdesi and a Saudi Islamic scholar Sheikh Yousef al-Ayeeri, the cleric and Saudi commander of al-Qaeda proper, who was shot dead in Riyadh in May last year. The rise of the Saudi-born al-Zahrani marks a shift of the younger generation of global Jihad scholars to Saudi hands. Another feared Saudi firebrand is Seyf, the man deemed to be the spiritual mentor behind the Chechen militants who killed more than 300 children and civilians in southern Russia. (The Australian)
  • Observations:

    Sharon Seeking Immediate Response to Palestinian Rockets
    - Herb Keinon and Margot Dudkevitch (Jerusalem Post)

    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday:

    • "It is forbidden to get to a situation where people become accustomed to a situation where they can fire on Israel without a response."
    • "If the source of fire is coming from a residential area, advance warning should be given and then we should respond."
    • Sharon said that nobody - in Israel or abroad - should get used to being able to fire on Israel with impunity.

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