Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 27, 2004

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In-Depth Issue:

Arab Daily: Arab Country Assisting Israel Against Hamas - Itamar Inbari (Maariv International)
    The London-based Arabic daily Al Hayat reports that an Arab intelligence agency has been cooperating with the Israeli Mossad, providing it with significant and sensitive information about Hamas bureaus in Damascus, Beirut, Teheran, and the Persian Gulf.
    A Western intelligence source hints that the country may be Egypt, claiming that Cairo is seeking to wean Damascus and the Palestinian terrorist organization from their alliance with Iran.
    On September 23, Assad threw Hamas leader Haled Mashal and Islamic Jihad chief Ramadan Salah out of Damascus, closing both groups' command and communications centers, and cutting off phones and electricity.
    Mashal had been dividing his time between Qatar, Damascus, and Cairo, and will feel the loss of the Syrian capital.
    Qatar denies Mashal a resident's permit and Cairo stipulates his continued acceptance of a ceasefire with Israel.
    If this ban from Damascus remains in force, Teheran will be the only capital where he can stay with no strings attached.
    In addition, Assad has concluded an agreement with the U.S. regarding patrolling the Syrian-Iraqi border and a crack-down on militants and terrorists joining the uprising in Iraq.
    Some small restrictions have been placed on the 3,500-4,000 Iraqi Baath leaders granted asylum in Syria.

Syria Brokers Secret Deal to Send Atomic Scientists to Iran - Con Coughlin (Telegraph-UK)
    Syria's President Bashir al-Assad is in secret negotiations with Iran to secure a safe haven for a group of Iraqi nuclear scientists who were sent to Damascus before last year's war.
    About 12 middle-ranking Iraqi nuclear technicians and their families were transported to Syria before the collapse of Saddam's regime in cooperation with Syrian Military Security, headed by Arif Shawqat, Assad's brother-in-law.
    The Iraqis brought with them CDs crammed with research data on Saddam's nuclear program, and have been hidden away at a secret Syrian military installation where they have been conducting research on behalf of their hosts.
    American intelligence officials are concerned that Syria is secretly working on a number of WMD programs.
    They have also uncovered evidence that Damascus has acquired a number of gas centrifuges - probably from North Korea - that can be used to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb.
    Under the terms of the deal Assad offered the Iranians, the Iraqi scientists would be transferred to Iran together with a small amount of essential materials, to assist Iranian scientists to develop a nuclear weapon.
    Assad wants the Iranians to agree to share the results of their atomic weapons research with Damascus.

UK Arrests over "Dirty Bomb Plot"  (Reuters/CNN)
    British police said they had arrested four men who tried to buy explosives for a dirty bomb.
    News of the World newspaper said a Saudi Arabian was prepared to pay 300,000 pounds ($540,600) for a kilogram of "red mercury," a mysterious radioactive substance rumored to have been developed by Russian scientists during the Cold War.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Successfully Tests "Strategic Missile"
    Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani announced Saturday that a "strategic missile was successfully test-fired during military exercises by the Revolutionary Guards and delivered to the armed forces," adding that Iran was "ready to confront all regional and extra-regional threats." In August, Iran said it test-fired a new version of its Shahab-3 ballistic missile. Israeli sources later said it could reach targets more than 1,200 miles away, or 400 miles farther than its previous range. (AP/USA Today)
  • Israel Fears Jerusalem Shrine Could Cave In
    Israel fears part of Jerusalem's most sensitive shrine at the site of the Temple Mount may collapse under the weight of Muslims due to pour in for Ramadan rites in mid-October and wants curbs on the number of worshippers, officials said Sunday. Israel's Antiquities Authority said the mosque foundations in the galleries known as Solomon's Stables had become unstable from a combination of neglect, shoddy construction work, and a recent earthquake. Fissures had formed in the roof - where Muslims also pray - and the eastern wall of the underground cavern, according to a recent on-site examination by Egyptian engineers. The eastern wall and roof risk collapse, Israeli officials said, and any structural catastrophe at the shrine would be blamed by the Islamic world on Israel. (Reuters/MSNBC)
  • Pakistani Forces Kill Planner of Daniel Pearl Murder
    Pakistani security forces on Sunday killed Amjad Hussain Farooqi, an associate of the al-Qaeda network, accused of organizing the kidnapping and killing of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 and of two unsuccessful attempts on the life of Pakistan's president Gen. Pervez Musharraf late last year. A special military team was formed in March to track down Farooqi after officials determined he was behind the attempts to kill Musharraf. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Airstrike Kills Saudi Aide to Zarqawi
    Abu Ahmed Tabouki, a Saudi said to be Iraq insurgency leader Abu Musab Zarqawi's right-hand man in Fallujah, was killed in U.S. airstrikes Saturday in the insurgent-held city, witnesses and hospital officials said Sunday. U.S. intelligence officials believe Zarqawi is al-Qaeda's point man in Iraq, identified on videos as the one who beheaded American contractors Eugene "Jack" Armstrong and Jack Hensley last week. (Washington Post)
        See also Zarqawi's Grisly Path to Power in Iraq's Insurgency (Washington Post); Zarqawi's Jordanian Roots (BBC)
  • Frenchman Killed in Jidda
    Laurent Barbot, 41, a technician for the French defense and electronics company Thales, was shot dead in his car in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday. A Saudi Interior Ministry security official, Brig. Gen. Mansur Turki, said, "There is a strong possibility that this is a terrorist attack." (Reuters/New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Top Hamas Leader Killed in Damascus - Arieh O'Sullivan
    A car bomb exploded in Damascus on Sunday, killing a top Hamas leader Izz El-Deen Al-Sheikh Khalil, Israeli security sources said. They said that Hamas in Damascus was increasingly involved in guiding, funding, and directing Palestinian terrorist groups in the West Bank and Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
        Khalil is believed to be in charge of Hamas's military wing outside the Palestinian territories. Israel expelled Khalil from Gaza to Syria in 1992. (Ha'aretz)
        Khalil was one of the founders of the secretive Hamas military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in bombings and shootings. An Israeli source said Khalil had directed the activities of Yehiyeh Ayyash, the group's chief bombmaker in the 1990s. (AP/Washington Times)
        See also Striking Outside the Ball Park - Arieh O'Sullivan
    The psychological and strategic benefits of hitting a senior Hamas figure in Damascus are great. The strike came after repeated finger-pointing and warnings by Israel that it would widen its war on terrorists and that no place was immune. Bashir Assad was caught red-handed. After declaring that the Hamas leadership had all cleared out of town, one of them found himself blown to bits right there in the capital. The message Israel delivered to Damascus Sunday is that Israel is willing to go up a notch in its war on terror. The major impact of the strike was its political message that Syria is vulnerable to Israeli actions and that if nothing is done the stakes will get higher. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rockets Strike Israel Again - Amos Harel, Arnon Regular, and Nir Hasson
    Four people suffered from shock when Palestinians in Gaza fired three Kassam rockets at the western Negev town of Sderot on Sunday. One rocket scored a direct hit on a home, the second fell between houses in a residential area, and the third rocket landed in an open area. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF: Hizballah Will Try to Increase Terror Attacks After Disengagement - Ariela Ringal-Hoffman and Alex Fishman
    According to Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky, Head of the IDF's Central Command, "More than 80% of terrorist activities in the territories are directed by Hizballah, via a special unit created by the Lebanese organization for this purpose. At the top of the pyramid stands the Revolutionary Guards, with the participation of the Iranians and Syrians. They are very intensively involved in organizing attacks, defining targets, manning positions, transferring knowledge and money, as well as training personnel and learning from previous actions."
        "We need to be prepared for an increase in the scope and quality of terror attacks. We already learned in Lebanon what Hizballah knows how to do: their ability to identify and capitalize on our weak points, the quality of explosives, their ability to combine organizational and operational intelligence. They gather intelligence, plan their actions, and prepare the necessary resources. They are sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to the territories each year, primarily Iranian money." (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 24 Sep 04)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Weighing the "Military Solution" - Jackson Diehl
    Two and a half years ago, the Israeli army launched an offensive against the Palestinian towns of Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, and Bethlehem which had become havens for extremist groups and suicide bombers who made daily life in Israel unbearable. Palestinian spokesmen claimed, falsely, that thousands were being massacred. Some editorial writers - such as this one - argued that the offensive would do more harm than good. As Americans and Iraqis now debate what to do about insurgent-held Iraqi towns, it's worth revisiting that Israeli campaign - because what followed offers a counter to some of the conventional wisdom. The salient point is that through the robust use of military force, Israel has succeeded in reducing the level of violence it faces by more than 70%. It's now undeniable that the "military solution" that so many believed could not work has brought Israelis an interlude of relative peace. (Washington Post)
  • Saddam, the Bomb and Me - Mahdi Obeidi
    As the head of Saddam Hussein's nuclear centrifuge program, I know that Iraq's nuclear weapons program was on the threshold of success before the 1991 invasion of Kuwait - there is no doubt in my mind that we could have produced dozens of nuclear weapons within a few years - but it was stopped in its tracks by UN weapons inspectors after the Persian Gulf war. Our nuclear program could have been reinstituted at the snap of Saddam Hussein's fingers. Iraqi scientists had the knowledge and the designs needed to jumpstart the program if necessary. And there is no question that we could have done so very quickly.
        In the late 1980s, we put together the most efficient covert nuclear program the world has ever seen in about three years. Had Saddam Hussein ordered it and the world looked the other way, we might have shaved months if not years off our previous efforts. Hundreds of my former staff members and fellow scientists possess knowledge that could be useful to a rogue nation eager for a covert nuclear weapons program. (New York Times)
  • From Gaza to Harvard: The Politicization of Mental Health and the Education of Palestinian Children - Irwin J. Mansdorf
    Reports on the status of Palestinian children's mental health and the nature of the Palestinian educational system purport to present data that implicates Israel as responsible for a lamentable state of affairs. Yet researchers generally do not acknowledge that the Palestinian Authority has had full control of the educational system since 1994. In reality, responsibility for the current state of affairs lies with the Palestinian Authority and with Palestinian terror organizations, both of whom promoted, funded, endorsed, and encouraged a culture of violence, hatred, incitement, and terror using children and students as its foot soldiers.
        A partnership project between Harvard Medical School and the Gaza Community Mental Health Center focuses on the effects of violence on the mental health and functioning of Palestinian children. The Palestinian researcher, Dr. Eyal El-Sarraj, is described as a "highly respected community psychiatrist." In an interview in Tikkun, Dr. El-Sarraj said: "I've asked myself: 'Are they evil by nature, these Jews? Or are they stupid, born mentally subnormal? Why are they doing this?' It's unbelievable. And I found after long, long thinking about it that they are not born evil. And they are not stupid. They are psycho-pathologically disturbed." This is from a man who heads a center that Harvard considers worthy of collaboration and funding. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Sharon: Israel to Step Up Operations Against Terrorists (Prime Minister's Office)

    • At the weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday, Defense Minister Mofaz said that there has been a noticeable increase in the number of attempts to perpetrate terror attacks and other atrocities in Israel, and in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and cited the attacks in French Hill in Jerusalem, the infiltration into Morag, and mortar fire at Neve Dekalim, all of which resulted in Israeli fatalities. The Defense Minister noted that the IDF and the security services are continuing with initiatives to thwart suicide terrorists and widening efforts to prevent Kassam rocket fire.
    • Prime Minister Sharon said that operations against terrorist organizations must be stepped up, especially in light of the countless attempts to perpetrate attacks, and due to the fact that the Palestinian Authority is making no efforts to stop the terror. Prime Minister Sharon said that he had instructed that the war against terror be increased and that there be no compromise with terror.
    • Foreign Minister Shalom briefed the Cabinet on his participation in the 59th UN General Assembly, where Israel came with a list of aims:
      • Bringing up the issue of Iranian nuclear weapons before the Security Council as soon as possible.
      • Increasing international pressure on Syria.
      • Receiving assurances from European states and other countries that they will not support Palestinian efforts against the security fence.
      • Reducing the number of anti-Israel resolutions in the UN and ending the exaggerated interest in Israel's affairs, which succumbs to the Palestinian attempt to internationalize the conflict.
      • Advancing the fight against anti-Semitism.

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