Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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May 26, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian-Born Spanish Engineer Charged on Hamas Rocket Plans - Al Goodman (CNN)
    A Spanish judge Friday jailed Palestinian-born Spanish engineer Marwan Ismail Dahman, 51, who allegedly faxed rocket designs to Palestinian militants, officials say.
    Police found a November 2004 fax to Hamas and a fax from this year to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, each with designs for the improved Kassam, which militants have used in the past to attack Israel.
    Dahman, born in Gaza, is an aviation engineer who worked in the 1980s on Spanish government aviation projects.
    On Wednesday the Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that Israel had contacted Spain to alert authorities that rocket designs had been sent from a Spanish fax number.

Former Iraqi PM Reveals Secret Service Data on Birth of Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AKI-Italy)
    The number two of the al-Qaeda network, Ayman al-Zawahiri, visited Iraq under a false name in September 1999 to take part in the ninth Popular Islamic Congress, former Iraqi premier Iyad Allawi revealed to the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat, shedding light on the relationship between Saddam Hussein and the Islamic terrorist network.
    "Al-Zawahiri was summoned by Izza Ibrahim Al-Douri - then deputy head of the council of the leadership of the revolution - to take part in the congress, along with some 150 other Islamic figures from 50 Muslim countries," Allawi said.
    In Allawi's view, Saddam's government "sponsored" the birth of al-Qaeda in Iraq, coordinating with other terrorist groups, both Arab and Muslim.
    "The Iraqi secret services had links to these groups through a person called Faruq Hajizi, later named Iraq's ambassador to Turkey....Iraqi secret agents helped terrorists enter the country and directed them to the Ansar al-Islam camps in the Halbija area," he said.

Fallaci Charged in Italy with Defaming Islam (Reuters)
    An Italian judge has ordered best-selling writer and journalist Oriana Fallaci to stand trial in her native Italy on charges she defamed Islam in her 2004 work La Forza della Ragione (The Force of Reason).
    Fallaci, who lives in New York, wrote that terrorists had killed 6,000 people over the past 20 years in the name of the Koran and said the Islamic faith "sows hatred in the place of love and slavery in the place of freedom."

Israelis Flock to Meron for Lag B'Omer - Mati Wagner (Jerusalem Post)
    A quarter of a million Israelis are expected to visit the northern Galilee grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron on Thursday evening to commemorate the holiday of Lag B'Omer.


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Abbas's Gamble: Pulling a Foe into Palestinian Politics - Steven Erlanger
    In their meeting on Thursday, Mr. Bush is expected to tell Mr. Abbas that bringing Hamas into politics will work only if he moves against the military wing to disarm it and ensure that the PA has a clear monopoly on weapons and force, a senior American official said. "The U.S. would have to be convinced either that Hamas is not a terrorist organization, or that they are dismantled," the official said. "We don't care about religious people with views we dislike sitting in parliament. But we can't accept militant terrorism brought into politics." "Abu Mazen has to take the guns away from the street - not necessarily seize them from houses," the official added. The PA has enough weaponry now "to at least get started," the official said, relaying the judgment of Lt. Gen. William Ward, the American security coordinator for the Palestinians.
        The PA police in Gaza recently stopped a truck full of locally made Kassam rockets produced by Hamas, American and Israeli officials said, but did not confiscate them. "It's in Hamas's interests to keep Gaza quiet and even make a success of Gaza," said the senior American official. "But if Hamas believes that Israel can't deal with casualties, and that it won the war for Gaza, why shouldn't it transfer resistance to the West Bank?" (New York Times)
  • Direct Aid to Palestinians Considered - Glenn Kessler
    President Bush is considering making the high-profile gesture of providing direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, but a decision may not be announced in time for Thursday's Oval Office meeting with Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas because of resistance on Capitol Hill, U.S. officials said Wednesday. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Arrests Two Zarqawi Aides
    Iraqi and U.S. troops have arrested two top aides of al-Qaeda's Iraq frontman, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, commanders said Wednesday. Described as "one of the most wanted people" in northern Iraq, Mullah Kamel al-Assawadi was detained after he tried to bribe his way past an Iraqi checkpoint, the U.S. military said. One of Zarqawi's regional secretaries was also detained in Baquba, north of Baghdad. Assawadi allegedly financed and provided military training to an insurgent cell and helped prepare car bombs. "He was linked to numerous Wahhabis (Saudi-inspired Sunni militants) operating north of Baghdad," said a statement. (AFP/ABC-Australia)
        See also Report: Zarqawi Shot in Lung - Ellen Knickmeyer
    Iraqi insurgents said Wednesday that the leader of the group al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi, was struggling with a gunshot wound to the lung. Zarqawi has a $25 million bounty on his head, and he is the U.S.'s most-wanted man in Iraq, blamed for instigating many of the beheadings and suicide bombings. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hizballah: All of Northern Israel is in Range of Our Rockets
    Hizballah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah Wednesday acknowledged that his group has more than 12,000 rockets and that all of northern Israel is within their reach. "All of the north of occupied Palestine, its settlements, airports, seaports, fields, factories, and farms is under the feet and hands of the Islamic resistance," Nasrallah said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Not Laying Down Arms
    Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal told Al-Jazeera TV Wednesday that Hamas's decision in March to agree to a ceasefire was part of "a campaign of tactics and maneuvers in order to put the ball back in the Israeli and American court." The decision to agree to a truce also stemmed from Hamas's desire to give the Palestinian people a rest from the violence of the uprising, he added. "We are committed to resistance and will not consent to any dismantling of resistance groups and laying down arms before the occupation leaves our land," he said. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hamas: Fatah Buying Votes in Upcoming Revote in Gaza - Arnon Regular
    Mashaal told Al-Jazeera that Fatah is distributing $200 to voters slated to take part in the upcoming revote in the Gaza Strip, scheduled to take place in a number of municipalities on June 1. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Opposes PA Election Delay
    Hamas West Bank leader Hassan Yousef told Israel Radio Wednesday that reports saying Hamas had agreed to postponing the elections were not true, and that Hamas is adamantly opposed to delaying the upcoming PA parliamentary elections, scheduled for July 17. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Mr. Abbas Goes to Washington - Editorial
    After a five-year ban, the president of the Palestinian Authority will finally be welcomed at the White House. Israeli officials are right when they say that Mr. Abbas must actually dismantle factories in Gaza where they say militants are using the cease-fire to build rockets to lob at Israel. More rockets are the last thing either Israelis or Palestinians need, and if Hamas and other militant groups are indeed resting up and restocking their ammunition to launch more attacks, then Mr. Abbas would do well to crack down now. Mr. Sharon wants Mr. Bush to pressure Mr. Abbas to crack down on Hamas, and Mr. Bush should do so. Israeli officials haven't exactly been blameless themselves; Mr. Sharon is continuing his ill-advised plan to build new houses in the settlement of Maale Adumim.
        Handled properly, the Gaza withdrawal could re-energize prospects for peace. But if it degenerates into a violent showdown between settlers and the Israeli Army, with Hamas unhelpfully throwing rockets at settlers on their way out of Gaza, any chance of returning to the road map will be lost. Mr. Bush's challenge today is to lean hard on Mr. Abbas to do all he can to keep a lid on Hamas. But while he's pressuring Mr. Abbas, Mr. Bush would also do well to send a message to his good friend Mr. Sharon. The road to peace, after all, is a two-way street. (New York Times)
  • More Than the Koran - Suzanne Fields
    Americans don't kill each other over burning the Bible, as reprehensible as Bible-burning would be, nor did any of us take to the streets to shout insults at Muslim "infidels" when Palestinian Muslims used pages from a Bible as toilet paper during the occupation of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, or when Islamic radicals beheaded Daniel Pearl, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, simply because he was a Jew. Many of the textbooks that Palestinian children use include Islamist messages that the United States and Israel must be destroyed because they are "the big and little Satans." Maps of the Middle East continue to omit Israel. Schools and communities continue to celebrate suicide bombers against both countries.
        By contrast, Israeli school children are taught positive images of Islam and Arab culture. The Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace reviewed 360 Israeli textbooks and found them to focus on reconciliation, tolerance, and peace without instigation toward hatred. Israeli textbooks aim to educate against stereotypes of "evil" Arabs and "bad" Muslims. (Washington Times)
  • Amnesty's 2004 Report: Too Much Politics, Not Enough Credibility
    Amnesty International's Annual Report for 2004, released on May 25, 2005, is a modest improvement, but continues to suffer from three fundamental weaknesses: 1) The limited credibility in its research and allegations regarding Israeli responses to terror; 2) The use of terms such as "war crimes" and "violation of international law" in an arbitrary and inconsistent manner; 3) The pervasive impact of ideological and political agendas that favor closed anti-democratic regimes over democracies, and replace universal human rights norms. At the same time, the current report devotes somewhat greater attention to systematic Palestinian violations of human rights, including the use of children by "armed groups," and is a step towards correcting the unbalanced allegations against Israel. (NGO Monitor)
  • Observations:

    What Drives Saudi Arabia to Persist in Terrorist Financing? Al-Jihad bi-al-Mal - Financial Jihad Against the Infidels - Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi
    (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • The U.S. offensive against terrorism has succeeded in reducing the extent of global terrorism. However, under the surface, the financial channels that are the arteries of radical Islamic movements from Hamas to the Chechens continue to operate. U.S. pressure has managed to force Islamic financiers to alter their pattern of operations, but the substance of their support persists - in a financial jihad that backs the wider global jihad against the infidels.
    • Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states remain the most significant source of funds flowing to the Islamist movements. New documents found at "charitable foundations" linked to Hamas, as well as a careful examination of the Palestinian press, indicate a continuing flow of funds directly from official Saudi organizations to these foundations, which were declared by both Israel and the U.S. as terrorist organizations.
    • Palestinian Authority officials recently confirmed that Saudi Arabia continues to fund charitable foundations controlled by Hamas. The World Assembly for Muslim Youth (WAMY) and the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) are active in transferring these funds. Captured documents show that the Saudi charity al-Haramain transferred funds to the al-Quran and a-Sunna Society in Qalqilia in August 2003 - almost two months after President George W. Bush announced in a summit meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, that he had assurances from Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah and other Arab leaders that they would halt all financial assistance to terrorist organizations.
    • In a later captured document, dated 8 February 2004, the Hamas-linked Idhna foundation in the Hebron area thanked al-Haramain for its assistance. The chairman of the al-Haramain administrative council was the Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, a member of the Saudi cabinet.
    • The financial support funneled to Hamas charitable societies under the heading of "humanitarian aid to the needy" is part of a financial jihad, subsidizing the military operations of the terrorist group. The Hamas civilian infrastructure is comprised of economic, educational, and social institutions that serve the terrorist wing. Intelligence services should devote more attention and resources to uncovering how terrorist organizations avoid international control mechanisms by operating through "innocent" front groups. Western financial institutions must not allow the transfer of funds that nourish the global jihad.

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