Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 19, 2004

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In-Depth Issues:

Former Saddam Aide Directs Iraqi Insurgency from Syria - Peter Beaumont (Observer/Guardian-UK)
    A senior Baath party organizer and Saddam Hussein aide, Mohammed Younis al-Ahmed, has been named by Western intelligence officials as one of the key figures directing the Sunni insurgency from his hiding-place in neighboring Syria.
    "The main organizational strength behind the insurgency is Baathist military intelligence types who enjoy safe refuge in Syria," said one official.
  "Although Syria has clamped down on the border, they have not done anything about the planners and organizers. We are talking about 20-50 people who have access to funds, who know how to organize and use existing networks, and are adept at reforming into cells."
    The naming of Ahmed seems designed to pressure the Syrian authorities to clamp down on the activities of ex-Iraqi regime officials operating there.
    Arab and Western diplomats also admit there is evidence of arms, money, and fighters coming into Iraq from Saudi Arabia.
    Officials believe Saudi money is helping to finance the jihadist groups in Iraq - like Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group.

British Territorial Army Infiltrated by Al-Qaeda - David Leppard (Times-UK)
    The British Territorial Army has been infiltrated by al-Qaeda suspects, giving the Islamic terrorist group potential access to military bases, explosives, and fuel dumps.
    Five al-Qaeda suspects are believed to have trained as part-time soldiers with the TA, at least one of whom is now in custody after a series of investigations by MI5 and Scotland Yard's Special Branch.
    The TA has about 41,000 members and comprises a substantial portion of the 102,000-strong British Army.

Threats Scuttle Jordan Ramadan Broadcast - Jamal Halaby (AP/Washington Post)
    Jordan canceled plans Saturday to broadcast a soap opera about Afghanistan after an Internet threat against everyone from actors to TV executives if the show portrayed the Taliban in a negative light.
    The broadcast was "suspended indefinitely upon a request from its producer, the Qatari television," said Abdul-Halim Araibyat, director general of the state Jordan Radio and Television Corp.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Official Warns Syria Over Lebanon Troop Pullout
    U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs David Satterfield said Thursday, "We are determined to seek the implementation of (UN Security Council) Resolution 1559" which calls for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Lebanon. "And Syria's failure to implement it will be a serious problem." "We will not wait forever for Syria and we want to see it act," he said. (AFP/Al-Jazeerah-U.S.)
  • U.S. Muslim Activist Sentenced to 23 Years
    A federal judge Friday sentenced Muslim activist Abdurahman Alamoudi to a maximum 23-year prison term for illegal dealings with Libya that included his involvement in a complex plot to kill the Saudi ruler. The sentence marked the final downfall of one of America's best-known Muslim activists - a former head of the American Muslim Council. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Presbyterian Delegation Meets With Hizballah
    A 24-member delegation from the U.S. Presbyterian Church traveled to Lebanon on Sunday and met with the south Lebanon commander of Hizballah, a group Washington calls terrorist. The head of the delegation, Rev. Nile Harper, said Monday in Damascus that his church is studying the possibility of withholding investments to increase pressure on Israel. (AP/Newsday)
  • Iraqi Women Fleeing College Under Islamist Threats
    Islamist extremists are targeting Baghdad's universities by threatening and even attacking female students who wear Western-style fashions, setting off bombs on campuses and demanding that classes be segregated by sex. Pamphlets found at al-Kindi University in Baghdad declared: "If the boy students don't separate from the girl students, we will explode the college. Any girl student who does not wear a veil, we will burn her face with chemicals." "3,000 women students want to postpone their studies for this academic year because of the lack of security and the threats," said Ali Abdul Zahra, the official in charge of student affairs in Baghdad. (Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • New IDF Tactics Implemented in Gaza Operation - Amos Harel
    In the IDF's operation in the northern Gaza Strip, helicopter gunships were responsible for some 50% of the fatalities among armed Palestinians, locating and attacking Palestinian cells that attempted to fire rockets into Israel. At the same time, the IDF ground force did not sustain a single fatality during the operation. "I have no doubt that after the disengagement, there will be helicopters in the air along the border of the Strip 24 hours a day," said a senior IAF source, adding that the techniques developed recently would serve the IDF also in the event of a flare-up along the northern border. (Ha'aretz)
  • Karine A Captain Sentenced to 25 Years - Margot Dudkevitch
    A military court on Monday sentenced the captain of the Karine A weapons ship, Omar Muhammad Hassan Akawi, 47, to 25 years and two officers to 17 years each for attempting to smuggle tons of Iranian-supplied weapons to the PA in Gaza in 2002. The charge sheet revealed a wide network that sent the accused to Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Egypt, Dubai, and Sudan to collect money to purchase the ships and fill their containers with weapons supplied by Iran and Hizballah. The cargo included short- and long-range Katyushas, Sagger and LAW antitank rockets, mortars, mines, explosives, sniper rifles, and bullets. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Call for End to Armed Gangs - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in the West Bank city of Tulkarm Monday to demand that the PA put an end to armed gangs roaming the streets and terrorizing the population, following a shooting attack Sunday on the home of Tulkarm Mayor Mahmoud Jallad and the killing of two young men by armed gangsters. Residents said the city has been hit by a wave of armed robberies, burglaries, extortions, kidnappings, and physical attacks. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Rival Palestinian Security Services Clash in Gaza
    Six people were hurt in gunfights in Gaza City on Monday between officers of the PA's internal security service and military intelligence agents loyal to Yasser Arafat's cousin, Moussa Arafat. The deteriorating situation has raised the specter of total chaos in Gaza once Israeli troops and settlers withdraw next year. (Reuters)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel Feuds with Agency Set Up to Aid Palestinians - Greg Myre
    For years, Israel has feuded with the UN refugee agency for Palestinians over a wide range of issues, and recently Israel thought it had found a smoking gun to press its case. Based on a grainy videotape shot from a spy plane, Israel asserted that Palestinians in Gaza City had placed a rocket of the type being launched against Israel into a UN ambulance. Israel backed off its charge. Still, the case highlighted the running battle between Israel and the refugee agency. Israel contends that the agency's Palestinian workers have helped Palestinian militants, and the militants have often gained access to UN ambulances, schools, and other facilities.
        Since 2001, Israel has arrested and indicted 17 of the agency's workers, accusing them of assisting militants, and seven have been convicted by military courts. Israel has also criticized the agency's schools for using the same textbooks as the PA, saying the books preach incitement against Israel. "The education material raises the question of whether UNRWA schools are educating for peace or hate," said Israel's former UN envoy Dore Gold. Peter Hansen, the agency director, said recently that there were employees who supported groups like Hamas. (New York Times)
  • Anti-Israel Conspiracies Overflow Along the Nile - Matthew Gutman
    Not so long ago, cabbies in Cairo refused to wear seat belts because they had heard the plastic buckle was produced by the Mossad and would make them sterile. Now the city is awash in a fresh conspiracy theory - that Israel engineered the Taba bombings in which 34 people were killed. The conspiracy theories will likely block any revival of Egyptian-Israeli relations, say Western diplomats. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Europe Struggling to Train New Breed of Muslim Clerics - Elaine Sciolino
    The goal of the European Institute for Human Sciences in France is the training of imams to minister to the Muslims of Europe. Political leaders and intelligence and law enforcement authorities across the Continent believe that the growing Muslim population of Europe must stanch the migration of Muslim clerics who often are self-appointed, unfamiliar with the West, beholden to foreign interests, and in the most extreme cases, full of hate and capable of terrorist acts. (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    Lessons from Northern Ireland for the Arab-Israeli Conflict - Dean Godson (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • While there are obvious limitations in any analogy between the situation in Northern Ireland and the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, many in the British government and military believe there is such an analogy. As a consequence of the Troubles of the last 30 years, Northern Ireland has become the defining national security experience for that generation of people who now have stewardship for British policy.
    • Many British officials see a strong resemblance between the Israelis and the Unionists, both of whom have to be pulled down a peg or two. Both are now perceived as "Afrikaaners," or "settler" groups who have driven out indigenous peoples.
    • According to the "consent principle," which has governed British policy throughout the Troubles, Northern Ireland's position as part of the United Kingdom is recognized as long as the majority of its population wishes to uphold the existing constitutional settlement. In the Israeli context, the consent principle is known as the Jewish state's "right to exist." Beyond that, though, almost everything else is up for grabs.
    • The post-September 11 anti-terrorism legislation of 2001 holds that terrorism for no rational political purpose, such as the re-creation of a global caliphate, has to be subject to the most stringent anti-terrorism measures. However, the British government does not put Palestinian terrorism or Northern Irish terrorism into that category.
    • The British state is well-nigh unique in advertising, quite openly, that it does not really mind if it is dismembered. To ensure the IRA's abandonment of violence, the British will maintain the pace of concessions, at least for as long as the Unionists are prepared to tolerate them.
    • In recent years, PLO flags and large wall murals of Arafat can be seen in Catholic-Republican neighborhoods, while Unionist-Protestant zones are covered with Israeli flags. In fact, Northern Ireland is one of the very few parts of Europe where there is a very wide measure of popular support in the majority community for the State of Israel.

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