Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 14, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Global Jihad Plans Kidnapping Israelis - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Global Jihad terror cells affiliated with al-Qaeda, operating in the Jabal Halal region in northern Sinai, and stationed 30 kilometers from Israel's border with Egypt are planning to abduct IDF troops, border policemen, and civilians, a high-ranking security official said Monday.
    In addition, "there are some Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who try to infiltrate from Egypt to carry out suicide bombings," he said.
    "Others try to make it to the West Bank to pass on technical information on how to manufacture bombs as well as Kassam rockets."
    Last month, Head of Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh revealed that Global Jihad and al-Qaeda terror cells based in Jordan have also stepped up their attempts to infiltrate Israel.
    Security forces have also been involved lately in dealing with a drastic increase in the number of Sudanese refugees trying to infiltrate into Israel.

Lebanese President Claims Israeli Territory - Orly Halpern (Jerusalem Post)
    Lebanese President Emile Lahoud said that Lebanon should fight not only for the Shaba Farms - an area that the UN says belongs to Syria - but also for land in the northern Israeli city of Metulla and in Kibbutz Misgav Am, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Balad reported Sunday.
    The pro-Syrian president also opposes disarming Hizballah.

    See also Palestinian Group in Southern Lebanon Tied to Al-Qaeda - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Usbat-al-Ansar, the Lebanon-based Palestinian organization that maintains close ties with some of the al-Qaeda networks, has a command post in the Ain el-Helweh refugee camp near Sidon in southern Lebanon.
    Israeli security sources say the Usbat al-Ansar members are Palestinians who initiated ties with al-Zarqawi's activists in order to receive assistance.

Anti-Semitism Seen Rising Among France's Muslims - Colin Nickerson (Boston Globe)
    Young Arabs and West Africans living in France have adopted loud hatred of Jews as a proclamation of cool, an attitude powered more by rap music, ultraviolent jihadist videos, and radical Islamic rhetoric than by any coherent stand on events in the Middle East.
    Equally alarming, anti-Semitism appears to be spreading among non-Muslim Africans and Caribbean blacks in France, and is gaining ground among white immigrants from European backwaters who find it difficult gaining a place in French society.

Purim in Jerusalem: A Non-Jew's Photo Exhibit - Benedicta Cipolla (PBS Religion and Ethics)
    Peter (Yankl) Conzen's photographs focus on Purim, a holiday that plays with themes of identity and masquerade through its tradition of dressing in costume.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • No Support in UN from China or Russia on Iran Measure - Colum Lynch
    The U.S., France, and Britain failed on Monday to get support from China and Russia on a proposed statement pressuring Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment efforts. Russia and China have publicly and privately urged Iran to suspend its enrichment of uranium and to cooperate with the UN atomic energy agency. But they have vigorously opposed any initiatives in the Security Council that could potentially lead to the imposition of sanctions or to the use of force. (Washington Post)
  • U.S.: Hamas Government Must Recognize Israel, Maintain Existing Agreements
    State Department acting spokesman Thomas H. Casey on Monday discussed U.S. aid to a Hamas government: "We need to see what that government looks like, who is in it, and what the nature of that participation is....The United States cannot by law and will not provide any funding that will go to Hamas. It's a Foreign Terrorist Organization; it's been designated as such and we're strictly prohibited from doing so....The international community, through the Quartet statement on January 30th, has made it clear exactly what we want to see from that government, including a recognition of Israeli's right to exist, [and] maintenance of all existing agreements that the Palestinian Authority has signed with Israel." (State Department)
  • Hardline Saudi Clerics Fete Hamas Delegation
    Leaders of the Palestinian militant group Hamas were feted at a reception by hardline Saudi clerics during a visit this week to ensure continued financial aid. Members of the five-man delegation, headed by Khaled Meshaal, said on Saturday that Saudi officials had assured them of continuing political and financial aid in private meetings. A delegation source said hardline cleric Nasser al-Omar hosted a reception for the delegation in Riyadh on Sunday. A report on Omar's website said on Monday that the reception included a number of prominent clerics and Islamists, some of whom have been jailed in the past for suspected support for al-Qaeda or criticism of the Saudi government. Saudi authorities have been tight-lipped about the visit. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Push for Democracy Could Backfire Inside Iran - Karl Vick and David Finkel
    Prominent activists inside Iran warned that the announcement of President Bush's plan to spend tens of millions of dollars to promote democracy in that country endangers human rights advocates by tainting them as American agents. (Washington Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Enters Jericho to Arrest Killers of Israeli Minister - Ali Waked
    Israeli security forces entered Jericho on Tuesday to arrest the killers of Israeli minister Rehavam Zeevi, who are held at a PA prison. Israel's decision to enter Jericho was taken after the IDF received information that the PA intends on releasing Ahmed Saadat and three other members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who were held there under international supervision. Following Tuesday's announcement by Akram Rajoub, director of Palestinian Preventive Security in Jericho, that the British and American supervisors had left the prison, the IDF was instructed to act. The PFLP assassinated Maj.-Gen. (res.) Zeevi in a Jerusalem hotel in 2001. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Platform Calls for Continued "Armed Resistance"
    Armed resistance is a legal right and method of achieving Palestinian rights, Hamas announced Sunday in its proposed platform for the next Palestinian government. On the key issue of whether a Hamas-led government would recognize previous agreements the PA signed with Israel, the platform said "the cabinet would deal with the reality resulting from previous accords reached between the PA and the state of the occupation." "It is the right of the new cabinet to reconsider these accords on the basis of respecting international law and to implement them in order to protect the rights and interests of our Palestinian people," the platform said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Armed Attacks on Palestinian Public Institutions Continue
    Scores of armed Palestinians carried out attacks on Al-Aqsa University in Khan Yunis, Al-Karama Military Hospital in Khan Yunis, and the electric power station in central Gaza over the weekend. On Sunday, a group stormed the campus of Al Aqsa University, where a gunman fired shots at the entrance, causing panic. Earlier Sunday, gunmen from the Military Intelligence Service stormed Al-Karama Military Hospital east of Khan Yunis, demanding the arrest of Dr. Mazen Rajab El-Batsh in what appears to be a clan dispute. On Saturday, 50 gunmen affiliated with Fatah attempted to storm the electric power station to demand jobs. The gunmen said that if their demands were not met within 48 hours, they would escalate their actions. (Palestinian Center for Human Rights)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • No Culture War with Islam - Shlomo Avineri
    There is a war - not between Islam and the West, but rather inside the Islamic world. America is not bin Laden's principal enemy. Rather, it is the Saudi dynasty - an oppressive Islamic regime based on a fundamentalism even more extreme than that found in Iran (for example, with regard to elections, women's rights, and non-Muslim's rights in society). In Iraq, Sunni terror is directed mainly at the Shiite majority and the Kurdish minority. Sunni terrorists recently blew up one of the holiest Shiite mosques in the world. Shiites responded by attacking and burning dozens of Sunni mosques. The murder is directed first and foremost at other Muslims. Of course, the West and Israel are targets, but this is mainly an intra-Islamic struggle. Prof. Avineri is a former director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Ynet News)
  • CENTCOM General: War on Terror Not Confined to Al-Qaeda - Sara Wood
    The enemy in the war on terror is not limited to al-Qaeda and its associated movements in Iraq and Afghanistan, but includes a global network of extremist groups, Brig. Gen. Mark T. Kimmitt, U.S. Central Command's deputy director of plans and policy, said Saturday. "If we declared victory and walked away from Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow, we would be fighting this fight for years and years....We are fighting an insurgency, a terrorist movement, that is represented by al-Qaeda, but it is far more than al-Qaeda."
        The terrorist network the U.S. is facing is made up of primarily Sunni Muslims whose goal is to reclaim what they see as the holy lands in the Middle East and to remove Western influence, he said. Their ultimate goal is to establish a caliphate in the region, where Sharia, or Islamic law, rules, and the people are oppressed. Important to CENTCOM's strategy is denying safe havens or sanctuaries to terrorists, Kimmitt said. The U.S. has to ensure that as al-Qaeda and its related organizations are pushed out of Iraq and Afghanistan, they don't just resettle somewhere else. The war on terror will be a long fight, perhaps lasting a generation, he said. (U.S. Defense Department)
  • The Ghost of Purim Past - Jeffrey Goldberg
    Three years ago, while visiting Tehran, I was introduced to a charmless man named Muhammad Ali Samadi, who, I was told, would parse for me the Iranian theocracy's peculiar understanding of Judaism and Zionism. Samadi said that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, held no brief for anti-Semitism. Then, a moment later, he explained the role of Jews in history. "There are always infections and diseases in man," he said. "In the world there is an infection called international Jewry."
        A great many people, in Iran and beyond, believe that the Jewish state is a cancer, and it is foolish to believe that this is an idea without consequences. As one Islamic Jihad leader told me not long ago, "Everyone knows that the cure for cancer is radiation." (New York Times)
  • Observations:

    The Coming New Wave of Jihad - Rita Katz (Boston Globe)

    • Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has suddenly disappeared. A year after it assumed the name Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers (Iraq), Zarqawi's group took a back seat. In an Internet message posted Jan. 15, Abu Maysara al-Iraqi, the group's spokesman, announced the establishment of the Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq, an alliance of six Salafi jihadi groups. A few days after the council was established, Al-Qaeda in Iraq ceased to post communiques.
    • In a letter from Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaeda's second in command, to Zarqawi in July 2005, Zawahri described al-Qaeda's plans: ''The jihad in Iraq requires several incremental goals. The first stage: Expel the Americans from Iraq. The second stage: Establish an Islamic authority or emirate...a caliphate - over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq, i.e., in Sunni areas. The third: Extend the jihad wave."
    • Zawahri then addressed the timing of the changes: ''Things may develop faster than we imagine...we must be ready to start now, before events overtake us, and before we are surprised by the conspiracies of the Americans....The Sharia emirate that is necessary requires fieldwork starting now."
    • Zarqawi had not intended to remain in Iraq forever anyway; he used Iraq only as a springboard for his long-term goal - establishment of a global caliphate.
    • Toward that goal, attacks by Zarqawi's group have expanded beyond Iraq's borders. His group participated in the rocket attack on U.S. Navy ships at the Jordanian port of Aqaba on Aug. 19, 2005, the rocket attack on the Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona on Dec. 27, 2005, and the suicide attack on Western hotels in Amman on Nov. 9, 2005. Thus, Zarqawi and his Al-Qaeda in Iraq are not gone; they have simply moved to the next stage of their jihad against the West.

      Rita Katz is director of the SITE Institute, an international terrorist-investigation and information group.

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