Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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March 28, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Al-Aqsa Brigades Preparing Attack on Ashkelon - Jonathan D. Halevi (NewsFirstClass-Hebrew)
    The engineering and military industries sections of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Brigades announced Sunday the start of a new military offensive against the Israeli city of Ashkelon, to be called "Volcano Fire."
    The announcement claimed that the group had improved the range of its rockets from 12 to 18 km, which would reach all of Ashkelon.
    The Al-Aqsa Brigades announced a plan to fire 100 of the new rockets and 80 mortars at Ashkelon.
    These are not the rockets with the longest range in the Palestinian arsenal. On January 29, the Brigades revealed a new rocket - the Al-Aqsa 207 - with a range of 27 km, which could reach the Israeli port city of Ashdod.

Moussaoui Now Ties Himself to 9/11 Plot - Neil A. Lewis (New York Times)
    Zacarias Moussaoui, who is facing the death penalty for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, told the court Monday that he knew in advance of al-Qaeda's plans to fly jetliners into the World Trade Center and asserted that his role was to have been to fly another plane into the White House, accompanied by Richard C. Reid, the so-called shoe bomber.
    He also admitted that he knew most of the Sept. 11 hijackers.

UK Terrorist Plot Eyed Beer, Burgers - David Stringer (AP/Washington Post)
    An al-Qaeda terrorist plotting a bomb attack on Britain told accomplices to sell contaminated beer at soccer games or poisoned hamburgers from street vending stalls, an FBI informant told a court Friday.
    Waheed Mahmood, 34, accused with six other British men of plotting a terror strike, claimed during a meeting in Pakistan that he had already tested the poison plan, said the witness, Mohammed Junaid Babar.
    "You just put poison in a syringe, inject it in a beer can and put a sticker on it, which would stop it leaking, and hand them out," Babar said, recounting Mahmood's proposal.

Saudi Envoy Welcomes Osirak Attack (JTA)
    Israel's 1981 attack on Iraq's nuclear reactor was "probably" fortunate, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington said.
    Asked March 23 whether Saudis now welcomed the attack on the Osirak nuclear reactor, given Iraq's subsequent aggression against Kuwait, Turki al-Faisal answered, "Probably, yes."

Saddam Planned to Deploy "Camels of Mass Destruction" - James Langton (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
    Saddam Hussein planned to use "camels of mass destruction" as weapons to defend Iraq, loading them with bombs and directing them towards invading forces, according to a report captured after the fall of Baghdad and just released by the Pentagon.
    The animals were part of a plan to arm and equip foreign insurgents drawn up by Saddam shortly before the American-led invasion.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Diplomatic Push Planned to Curb Iran's Nuclear Ambition - Anton La Guardia
    The world's key powers will seek this week to reach agreement on a strategy that will build up pressure on Iran that could lead to sanctions being imposed by the summer unless Teheran halts the most dangerous parts of its nuclear program. Foreign ministers from the UK, U.S., France, Germany, Russia, and China will meet in Berlin on Thursday at a gathering designed to finalize a UN call on Iran to comply with international demands, and to agree on the steps that will follow if Teheran refuses. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Hamas Set for Clash with Abbas over $1.4B Investment Fund - Harvey Morris
    The new Hamas government may be headed for an early showdown with PA Chairman Abbas over control of the $1 billion-plus Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) that could be tapped to help fend off a looming financial crisis. The fund was established under pressure from foreign donors to put investments under more transparent control. In the wake of Hamas' victory in January's Palestinian elections, Abbas transferred control of the fund to himself, but Hamas may have different ideas. "As far as I know, the law says that the fund is under the jurisdiction of the minister of finance," said Omar Abdel-Razeq, the Hamas economist due to assume the finance portfolio. U.S. officials say the liquid assets of the PIF could serve as a source of financing to pay PA salaries for four to five months. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Iraqi Documents Are Put on Web, and Search Is On - Scott Shane
    Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte has begun a yearlong process of posting on the Web 48,000 boxes of Arabic-language Iraqi documents captured by American troops. Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who led the campaign to get the documents released, does not believe they have received adequate scrutiny. Hoekstra said he wanted to "unleash the power of the Net" to do translation and analysis that might take the government decades. (New York Times)
        View the documents (U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Office)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Knesset Elections in Israel
    On Tuesday, 8,280 polling stations opened across Israel where more than five million people are eligible to vote for 31 parties competing in elections for the 17th Knesset. (Ynet News)
  • Wanted Islamic Jihad Terrorist Killed; Rocket Fire from Gaza Continues - Efrat Weiss
    IDF forces arrived at the home of Islamic Jihad terrorist Samer Farihat in al-Yamon near Jenin in order to detain him early Tuesday. Farihat was killed in an ensuing exchange of gunfire. Earlier, Palestinians in northern Gaza fired three Kassam rockets toward Israel's western Negev area. (Ynet News)
  • "Hamas Will Not Abandon Jihad"
    Hamas leader Mohammad al-Siyam has said Hamas will not abandon the path of jihad despite its sweeping victory in the Palestinian general elections. "We will never let the Jews rule Palestinian territories," the Hamas leader told the concluding session of the Jamaat-i-Islami's grand assembly in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Saturday. He termed Hamas' electoral victory a triumph for the entire Muslim Ummah. (Dawn-Pakistan)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Promoting Democracy and Preventing Terrorism - Francis Fukuyama and Adam Garfinkle
    An editorial in the Wall Street Journal recently asked: "Anyone out there have a better idea" than the Bush administration's policy of high-profile democracy promotion in the Arab and Muslim worlds as a means to fight terrorism? Well, yes, there is one. That better idea consists of separating the struggle against radical Islamism from promoting democracy in the Middle East, focusing on the first struggle, and dramatically changing our tone and tactics on the democracy promotion front, at least for now.
        Just as it proved possible to stigmatize and eventually eliminate slavery from mainstream global norms without having first to wait for the mass advent of liberal democracy, it should be possible to effectively stigmatize jihadi terrorism without having first to midwife democracies from Morocco to Bangladesh. The U.S. and its Western allies should be helping genuine, traditional, and pious Muslims to reassert their dominance over a beautiful and capacious religious civilization in the face of a well-financed assault by extremist thugs. Promoting liberal and democratic institutions in the Middle East should be decoupled from this fight, since it is a much more long-term project. (Wall Street Journal)
  • America, the Global Target - Jim Hoagland
    In radical Islamic propaganda, the U.S. has graduated from being a mere Great Satan to being depicted as a global monster responsible for virtually every crime and failing since the dawn of modern history. Meet the new Jews: the Americans. This new virulent anti-Americanism competes with historical anti-Semitism as a single explanation for the failures and delusions of entire nations. In Turkish and Egyptian movie houses, overflow crowds watch depictions of Americans routinely raping, killing, firebombing mosques, and torturing innocents. It flows through the fanatical statements of bin Laden and others that conflate "Jews" and "Crusaders." (Washington Post)
  • Today Tehran, Tomorrow the World - Charles Krauthammer
    Iran's arriving at the threshold of nuclear weaponry is a signal historical moment. It is not just that its president says crazy things about the Holocaust. It is that he is a fervent believer in the imminent reappearance of the 12th Imam, Shi'ism's version of the Messiah. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been reported as saying in official meetings that the end of history is only two or three years away. He believes that the Islamic revolution's raison d'etre is to prepare the way for the messianic redemption, which in his eschatology is preceded by worldwide upheaval and chaos. How better to light the fuse for eternal bliss than with a nuclear flame?
        Depending on your own beliefs, Ahmadinejad is either mystical or deranged. In either case, he is exceedingly dangerous. If we fail to prevent an Iranian regime run by apocalyptic fanatics from going nuclear, we will have reached a point of no return. (TIME)
  • The Freedom to Describe Dictatorship - Jackson Diehl
    Following Egypt's deeply flawed parliamentary election last November, the newspaper al-Masri al-Yom reported "death threats, bribes, violence, and partisan security forces." It said that "the elections were marred by irregularities and violations carried out by a large number of [Mubarak's] National Democratic Party and independent candidates and their militias, which prevented people from entering polling stations." The fact that this was published in Cairo, and in Arabic - and that the newspaper's publisher remains a free man - is perhaps the strongest single sign that Egypt's stifling and stagnant autocracy has begun to unravel. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    Hobbling Hamas - Robert Satloff (Weekly Standard)

    • Since the triumph of Hamas, Washington's mantra is "no recognition, no dialogue, and no financial aid" to a Hamas-led PA until Hamas recognizes Israel, renounces violence and terror, and accepts all previous Palestinian-Israeli agreements.
    • Secretary of State Rice traveled around the Middle East urging Arab governments to deny all funding to a Hamas-led PA at the same time that James Wolfensohn, envoy of the Quartet, visited those very same Arab capitals urging leaders to donate as much as they could to the PA. Washington may have terminated its own direct financial support of the PA, but it did little to stop America's European allies as well as the World Bank from sending tens of millions of dollars to the same address.
    • In practical terms, Washington's current policy does not pack enough wallop to undercut Hamas. Since Arab, Muslim, and even Western states are likely to fill in for lost U.S. aid, there is little chance that the policy will entice Hamas to come to terms with the legitimacy of Israel.
    • When European powers begin to deal with Hamas, the likely result of U.S. policy will be America's isolation, not the isolation of Hamas.

      The writer is executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

          See also Hamas Governs - Barry Rubin
      The only reason the PA receives any international aid at all is because of the commitments it made in the 1993 Oslo Agreement with Israel, including preventing terrorism, ending anti-Israel incitement, and making peace. It violated all those pledges. But while the Fatah-led PA pretended to comply, the Hamas regime openly rejects all these principles. Why should it get a single penny? (Jerusalem Post)

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