Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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August 4, 2005

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In-Depth Issues:

Germany to Deport Islamic Extremists (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    The German state of Bavaria plans to deport 37 alleged Islamic extremists, the state's top security official said Wednesday.
    Already in the first six months of 2005, the state sent 15 Muslims suspected of supporting terrorist organizations back to their home countries, Bavarian Interior Minister Guenther Beckstein said.

    See also Imams Facing More Scrutiny in Europe - Jamey Keaten (AP/Washington Post)
    Shaken by new terrorism on European soil, officials have stepped up a policy of deporting Islamic clerics accused of whipping up hatred and violence in vulnerable, disenfranchised pockets of the continent's mostly moderate Muslim community.
    On Tuesday, Italy expelled eight Islamic fundamentalist preachers - all Palestinians - who were found in Perugia, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.
    Ten people, mostly North Africans, are on trial in Italy for allegedly belonging to a terror cell based at a mosque in the northern Italian town of Cremona.

Female Suicide Bomber a Palestinian Heroine - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The Gaza Center for Culture and Arts on Wednesday launched a popular folklore course named after Wafa Idris, the first Palestinian female suicide bomber.
    Idris blew herself up on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem in January 2002, killing an Israeli man and wounding several others.
    The Union of Palestinian Women presented Idris as a role model for Palestinian feminism, a parade for young girls was held in her honor, summer camps for children, university courses, and Fatah programs have been named after her, and a concert honoring Idris has been broadcast numerous times on PA television.

Wiretaps: Florida Professor Al-Arian Tried Raid on Account - Meg Laughlin (St. Petersburg Times)
  In February 1994, the think tank former USF professor Sami Al-Arian founded in Tampa was in dire financial straits and he devised a scheme to raid the Gaza bank account of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) treasurer without his knowledge.
    According to FBI wiretaps, Al-Arian planned to transfer almost $350,000 from the Gaza bank account belonging to his brother-in-law, PIJ treasurer Mohammed Tasir Hassan Al-Khatib, into a Tampa bank account after a financial plan he authored had been approved by top PIJ leaders in Syria.
    But then the plan was inexplicably dumped.

Useful Reference:

How Yasir Arafat Destroyed Palestine - David Samuels (Atlantic Monthly)
    Full text of article


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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • 14 Marines Killed by Roadside Bomb in Iraq - Dexter Filkins and Eric Schmitt
    14 U.S. marines were killed Wednesday in Iraq when their troop carrier was blown up by a huge roadside bomb in the western town of Haditha. Haditha is one of a string of cities along the Euphrates River that American commanders believe forms the network that shuttles insurgents traveling through Syria into Iraq. (New York Times)
        See also Insurgents Using Bigger, More Lethal Bombs - David S. Cloud
    In recent months the roadside bombs favored by insurgents in Iraq have grown significantly in size and sophistication, American military officers say, adding to their deadliness and defeating efforts to increase troops' safety by adding armor to vehicles. The explosion in Haditha was powerful enough to flip a 25-ton amphibious assault vehicle. (New York Times)
  • American Journalist Killed in Iraq After Criticizing Fundamentalists
    American journalist and author Steven Vincent was found shot dead in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Tuesday, a few days after an opinion piece he wrote criticizing the rise of Shi'ite Islamist fundamentalism in Basra was published in the New York Times. (Reuters)
        See also Switched Off in Basra - Steven Vincent
    An Iraqi police lieutenant confirmed the widespread rumors that a few police officers are perpetrating many of the hundreds of assassinations that take place in Basra each month. There is even a sort of "death car" that glides through the city streets, carrying off-duty police officers in the pay of extremist religious groups to their next assignment. (New York Times)
  • Authorities Say Mosque was Radicals' Haven - Charles M. Sennott
    Ibrahim Muktar Said and Hassan Omar, who are being held in connection with the July 21 London bombing attempts, attended the Finsbury Park mosque, taking in the fiery sermons last year of Abu Hamza al-Masri, a radical cleric who has openly called for jihad, or ''holy war," against infidels. The two were also seen at the mosque this March, handing out leaflets opposing leaders of the moderate Muslims who had reclaimed the mosque from Masri and other radicals. British counterterrorism officials say the mosque became a ''gateway" where young Muslims are recruited to more radical causes.
        There are at least a dozen such mosques in Britain, investigators say, as well as similar mosques in Madrid, Amsterdam, Milan, and other European cities, where it is taught that Muslims are suffering at the hands of the ''Zionist-Crusader alliance." (Boston Globe)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Islamic Jihad Denies Halting Rocket Fire - Arnon Regular, Amos Harel, and Nir Hasson
    Official Islamic Jihad sources on Wednesday denied news reports claiming that the group had agreed to stop Kassam rocket attacks on Israeli targets until after the completion of the disengagement. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Weighs Leaving Egypt-Gaza Border Crossing - Herb Keinon
    Israel has for months said it needed to retain a presence at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza to ensure that heavy weaponry is not smuggled into Gaza. According to senior diplomatic sources, however, the defense ministry is now leaning toward leaving the crossing altogether and relying on the PA, the Egyptians, and an international observer force to police the crossing. One diplomatic official declared that this would mean that Israel would forfeit its demand to maintain a security presence at Gaza's airport and seaport after they become operable.
        The idea, according to diplomatic officials, was to create the type of deterrence that exists in Lebanon, where Hizballah - which has Katyusha rockets - has been wary about using them since Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon, out of fear of Israel's reaction. "If the agreement is violated, Israel will be able to take whatever action is necessary to remedy the situation," an official said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egyptians Arrive in Gaza to Help Train Palestinian Police
    Thirty Egyptian security officers arrived in Gaza on Wednesday to assist in the training of Palestinian police. Egypt is keen to see calm established in Gaza to prevent a security vacuum after Israel withdraws. (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Obsessive Correctness Betrays All of Us - Editorial
    At a time when there are Muslim fanatics on the loose who want to blow up men, women, and children of all races on buses and trains, British politicians are obsessed with the question of whether or not the police should be concentrating their searches on members of ethnic minorities. What a ludicrous debate. Everybody with an ounce of common sense must see that the police are duty-bound to focus in particular on those who look most likely to be carrying bombs. In this emergency, we are all being betrayed by politicians of all parties who put political correctness before protecting the public. (Telegraph-UK)
  • "Saudi Brezhnevs" - Simon Henderson
    According to the new official biographies of King Abdullah and his designated successor, Crown Prince Sultan, both men are lying about their ages - and age (of senior princes) is the key to understanding Saudi Arabia over the next few years. In the Saudi system, age brings seniority, a key qualification for succession. But old age also suggests infirmity, a possible disqualifying factor.
        When I wrote a book - After King Fahd: Succession in Saudi Arabia - in 1994, I spent months checking the years of birth of the sons of King Abdul Aziz, the founder of Saudi Arabia. Fahd was born in 1921, Abdullah in 1923, and Sultan in 1924. On Monday, the Saudi Press Agency said Fahd was born in 1923, Abdullah in 1924, and Sultan in 1930. Saudi Arabia is facing a future of kings with short reigns. They will probably be dubbed "Saudi Brezhnevs," after the increasingly decrepit leadership in the final years of the Soviet Union. The writer is a senior fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also After Fahd, Abdullah. But Then? (Economist-UK)
  • Palestinian "Witnesses"
    The unreliability of Palestinian sources has long undermined the integrity of Mideast media coverage. Last month, AP and Reuters reported Palestinian prisoners' claims that Israeli guards tore up copies of the Koran, while a Palestinian prisoner later admitted to doing the ripping. On July 20, Reuters, relying on unnamed Palestinian witnesses, reported that "Jewish settlers stabbed a Palestinian boy to death," though Palestinian police soon after arrested a Palestinian suspect in the murder. As Joshua Muravchik notes in his book, Covering the Intifada: How the Media Reported the Palestinian Uprising, "Journalists seem to follow a canon that says when two sides are fighting, it is their obligation to report equally and with equal credence what is said by each. But...the Palestinians repeatedly lie." (HonestReporting)
  • Zionism is in the Eye of the Beholder - Henry Chu
    Yisrael Harel says what's at stake in the removal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip is the very heart of Israel: the Zionist enterprise that brought Jews back to their homeland after centuries of exile. "In the Israeli ethos, the Zionist ethos, settlements are of the essence. That's why we came back," said Harel. Uprooting them, he said, would spell "the utmost negation of Zionism."
        Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is having none of that. "I am not prepared to listen to absurd claims that the disengagement from Gaza is the end of Zionism," he countered. On the contrary, he said, pulling out from territory of "negligible" security importance is a "process that will strengthen Zionism." The decision to abandon Gaza has called into question long-held beliefs about the meaning of Zionism, the founding ideology that led to Israel's creation as a Jewish state on the land of the ancient Hebrew patriarchs. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Observations:

    Saudi Arabia, Pakistan Seen Doing Little to Weed Out Radical Islam (AFP/Middle East Times-Cyprus)

    • Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have refused to take the fundamental step of banning radical Islamic groups, experts told a hearing convened by members of the Sept. 11 commission on Tuesday. "In these countries there still is a climate that certainly makes it possible and doesn't make it illegitimate to embrace this ideology," said former Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross.
    • "There's been criticism, there's been condemnation, but there hasn't been the kind of systematic effort that would make it illegitimate, that these views are simply illegitimate, they're wrong, they're not tolerable," he said. Ross cited as an example the arrest of 800 suspected militants in Pakistan after the July 7 London bombings, even though "they were there before and the ability to go after them prior to that time was there." Ross also said that Pakistani President Musharraf was halfhearted in the pursuit of Bin Laden.
    • Islamic education reforms are crucial in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of 15 of 19 hijackers involved in the 2001 attacks, said former assistant secretary of state Elizabeth Jones.
    • "Even today we're getting reports that the Saudis may be a source of significant terrorist financing, including financing of the insurgency in Iraq," said Ross. "And we know that they have been heavily involved, at least in the past and may still be, with regard to the promotion of ideologies that are used by terrorists and extremists around the world to justify their agenda," he said.

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