Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 21, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda Seen Planning for "Spectacular" Attack - Bill Gertz (Washington Times)
    U.S. intelligence agencies concluded recently that al-Qaeda - fearing its credibility is on the line - is moving ahead with plans for a major, "spectacular" attack.
    Recent intelligence assessments state that the danger will remain high until Inauguration Day on Jan. 20.

    See also Zarqawi Using Foreigners for Iraqi Car Bombings - Rowan Scarborough (Washington Times)
    Abu Musab Zarqawi, the most-wanted terrorist in Iraq, has been increasingly successful at recruiting foreign suicide bombers who are assigned a bomb-laden vehicle to kill coalition members and civilians, according to senior military officials.
    The officials also said a profitable market for kidnapped Westerners has emerged, as criminal gangs snatch hostages and then market them to various Islamic jihadist groups.

Israeli Surveillance Drones Thought to be Armed (Reuters-International Herald Tribune)
    Recent Israeli airstrikes against militants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have raised Palestinian speculation that Israel is arming its surveillance drones with missiles for track-and-kill missions.
    "I saw a small plane and then a flash of light, then I heard a huge explosion and a car went up in flames," said Abdel Karim Abdel of Jenin, recounting how three militants were slain last week.
    Israel will not say whether its unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, have offensive capabilities, but Robert Hewson, editor of Jane's Air-Launched Weapons, says, "The Israelis almost certainly have armed UAV programs on the go right now....The UAVs offer an ideal 'closed loop': spotting the target and then hitting it from the same platform."
    The U.S. already uses an attack drone, the Predator, one of which killed six people suspected of being al-Qaeda militants in Yemen in November 2002.
    U.S. avionics firm Northrop Grumman says it has rigged its Israeli-designed Hunter drone with missiles that are completely silent.

    See also Russia Purchases Israeli UAVs - Arie Egozi (Yediot Ahronot/Globes)
    The Russian company Irkut, manufacturer of the advanced Sukhoi Su-30 fighter-bomber, has signed a contract to purchase unmanned aerial vehicles from Israel's Aeronautics Defense Systems,
for use by Russia's Ministry of Civil Defense, Emergencies, and Natural Disasters.


Key Links

Media Contact Information

Back Issues

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Video: Purported U.S. Hostage Beheaded
    The militant group led by al-Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi posted a gruesome video on a web site Monday showing the decapitation of a man identified as American civil engineer Eugene Armstrong and said a second hostage - either an American or a Briton - would be killed in 24 hours. "The fate of the first infidel was cutting off the head before your eyes and ears. You have a 24-hour opportunity. Abide by our demand in full and release all the Muslim women, otherwise the head of the other will follow this one," the speaker said.
        In a video Saturday setting the 48-hour deadline, the militants demanded the release of female Iraqi prisoners detained by the U.S. military. The military says it is holding two women with ties to Saddam Hussein's regime, including Dr. Rihab Rashid Taha, a scientist who became known as "Dr. Germ" for helping Iraq make weapons out of anthrax, and a biotech researcher. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Powell Seeks Assurances that Gaza Pullout is First Step
    Secretary of State Colin Powell is seeking assurances from Israel that a pullout from Gaza would be a first step in peacemaking with the Palestinians and not be followed by a long timeout in seeking an overall settlement. Powell wants to keep peacemaking hopes alive, although he acknowledges getting started requires a clampdown by Palestinian leaders on terrorists who attack Israel. (AP/Washington Post)
  • Berlin Bans Arab-Islamic Congress
    The Berlin state government has banned an Arab-Islamic Congress due to be held in the German capital next month to rally support for "resistance and intifada" in Iraq and Israel. Henrike Morgenstern, a spokeswoman for the Berlin interior ministry, said Monday an advertisement for the event published in English on the Internet expressed approval for suicide attacks against Israel and the U.S. "That significantly oversteps the limit of what can be allowed in terms of opinion-forming," she said. Interior Minister Otto Schily said last week the government believed the event was a threat to security and public order. (Reuters/CNN)
  • German Minister Justifies Israeli Barrier
    German Interior Minister Otto Schily said the controversial West Bank barrier is effective because it has led to a drop in attacks on Israel. "Those who draw comparisons with the Berlin Wall are wrong, because it does not shut people in and deprive them of their freedom," Schily said last week. "Its purpose is to protect Israel from terrorists." Schily said the security barrier was the result of decades of failed efforts to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from attacking Israel. He insisted that the security barrier be referred to as a "fence" and not a "wall." (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
  • Syrian Troops Start Redeploying in Lebanon
    Syrian forces started redeploying from the outskirts of Lebanon's capital Beirut toward the eastern Syrian-Lebanese border on Tuesday, Lebanese officials said. The U.S. and France drafted UN Security Council Resolution 1559, passed last month, that called for foreign armies to leave Lebanon. (Reuters)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Kills Two Senior Hamas Terrorists - Arnon Regular, Amos Harel, and Nir Hasson
    Two senior Hamas terrorists, Rabah Zakut and Nabil al-Saidi, were killed Monday when an Israel Air Force helicopter missile struck their jeep in Gaza City on Monday. The IDF said the two "were on their way to launch Kassam rockets at Israeli targets." (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel to Mount Diplomatic Blitz Ahead of UN Meeting - Shlomo Shamir
    Israel is launching a focused diplomatic effort to convince UN member states and other international bodies that their ability to play a meaningful role in promoting Middle East peace depends upon their adoption of a balanced, unbiased stance toward the sides and the region's problems. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom is slated to meet Tuesday with the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan, Canada, Denmark, and Angola, and will meet with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Wednesday. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. to Extend Loan Guarantee Period - Ran Dagoni
    Following a request from Israel, the Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), granted Israel at least an additional two years in which to use U.S. loan guarantees approved in 2003, initially for a period of three years. The extension means that Israel's Ministry of Finance will be able to issue bonds backed by guarantees until 2007. (Globes)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Internal Conflict in Gaza May Scuttle Withdrawal - Danny Rubinstein
    Few believe that anything will come of all the preparations that the Egyptians and Palestinians are making in advance of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. A Gaza journalist says that everyone in the Strip is fighting everyone else. A few hundred senior Fatah activists are embroiled in ongoing, violent internal wrangling for power, budgets, vehicles, apartments, and offices. These brawls are characteristic of a ruling party that has goodies to distribute to its supporters. Now that the Palestinian power "pie" has shrunk greatly, the skirmishes have become intense. The increasing anarchy in Gaza will make the Israeli withdrawal more difficult. (Ha'aretz)
  • Time to Squeeze Syria - Jim Hoagland
    President Bush's grand ambition to halt terrorism in the Middle East and inspire democracy there is under challenge in Iraq, Iran, and the Palestinian territories. It may not seem the opportune moment for the administration to take on an urgent new task in the region. But it is. The task is to squeeze Syria into ending its oppressive, decades-long control over Lebanon. Helping that small, part-Muslim, part-Christian, Arab state escape Syrian hegemony and establish an independent democracy would put flesh on the bones of Bush's visionary commitment to transform the Middle East over the next generation. (Washington Post)
  • How 9/11 was Commemorated on Arab and Iranian TV - Steven Stalinsky
    On the third anniversary of 9/11, Arab and Iranian TV have been commemorating the attacks by airing shows with statements made by leading professors, religious leaders, government officials, and even Muslim-Americans stating that Arabs and Muslims were not involved and that the U.S. government or Jews are the true culprits. Syrian researcher Tayyeb Tizini, interviewed on Iran's al-Alam TV on August 16, claimed that an intifada against globalization had broken out, and that in order to thwart it America attacked itself on 9/11. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    The Wahhabi Koran Targets Jews and Christians - Stephen Schwartz
    (Weekly Standard)

    • The U.S. State Department recently welcomed a group of professors of religion from Saudi Arabia, led by five scholars from the Imam Mohammed Ibn-Saud Islamic University, a seminary for the training of clerics in Wahhabism. This institution was the alma mater of three of the 9/11 suicide hijackers.
    • The most obvious window into the theology taught at Ibn-Saud Islamic University is the Wahhabi Koran, an edition of the Islamic scripture, with commentary, printed in every major European, Asian, and African language in paperback editions that are distributed free or at low cost throughout the world.
    • The Wahhabi Koran is notable in that, while Muslims believe that their sacred text was dictated by God and cannot be altered, the Saudi English version adds to the original so as to change its sense in a radical direction.
    • For example, the four final lines of the opening chapter, Fatiha, recited in Muslim daily prayer, read, in a normal rendition: Guide us to the straight path, / The path of those whom You have favored, / Not of those who have incurred Your wrath, / Nor of those who have gone astray.
    • The Wahhabi Koran renders these lines: Guide us to the Straight Way. / The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who have earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians). The Wahhabi Koran prints this translation alongside the Arabic text, which contains no reference to either Jews or Christians.

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