Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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June 21, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

British Agents Trace 7/7 Terror Links to America - Daniel McGrory (Times-UK)
    British agents are operating in the U.S. to trace links with Islamic extremists from England who recruit Muslims to fight for terrorist groups abroad.
    The British-led investigation has played a part in identifying a number of U.S.-based terrorists and helped the authorities in Washington to break up an al-Qaeda cell operating in Falls Church, Virginia.
    Mohammad Sidique Khan, leader of the July 7 suicide bombers, is alleged to have traveled to America's east coast to meet fellow militants and stage a series of attacks on synagogues.
    Khan was considered such a threat that he was banned from returning to America two years before the attack on London, according to a book written by U.S. intelligence specialist Ron Suskind.
    Over the past few months, 11 men who regularly attended the same Islamic Center in Falls Church have been convicted of terrorism charges.
    Seven reportedly went to training camps in Pakistan, including one used by Khan.

Palestinian Camp in Lebanon a Recruiting Ground for Jihadists - Mitch Prothero (U.S. News)
    For 70,000 Palestinians, Ain al-Hilweh is a crowded, impoverished refugee camp near Sidon in Lebanon where more than 20 armed factions compete for influence.
    Radical jihadists returning from wars in Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Iraq are changing the complexion of the once secular Palestinian movement.
    The Lebanese Army can't enter the area, where well-armed Palestinian militias of Fatah, Hamas, and several Islamist groups rule the streets.
    And the Army has conceded an adjacent neighborhood to armed groups of radical Islamists considered aligned with al-Qaeda: Jund al-Sham (Army of Greater Syria), a mostly Lebanese group originated by veterans of the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and Asbat al-Ansar (League of Partisans), which is mostly Palestinian.
    One Lebanese member of Jund al-Sham says the Iraq war helped strengthen the jihadist group in Lebanon.
    "Before, there were Salafists, Takfiris, Wahhabis who all disagreed on minor points and did not unify," he says. "But now, they are one."
    One military official says that Jund al-Sham and Asbat al-Ansar are "mostly the same group and are very, very dangerous men."
    "[There are] less than 100 Jundis, 300 to 400 Asbat al-Ansar....They are tied directly to al-Qaeda....There is no hierarchy to al-Qaeda, though; it's like a McDonald's....Everyone wants their own franchise."

Al-Qaeda Says Saudi Was to Be 20th Hijacker (AP/New York Times)
    In a statement accompanying a new video, al-Qaeda's propaganda arm asserts that a Saudi, Fawaz al-Nashimi, also known as Turki bin Fuheid al-Muteiry, would have rounded out the team that took over United Airlines Flight 93 on 9/11.
    The video also contains 27 minutes of audio of a siege in May 2004 on oil facilities in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, in which Nashimi took part.
    Screeching tires and gunfire are heard. A voice can be heard asking in Arabic, "Where are the Americans?" Twenty-two people were killed in the attack.
    Nashimi was killed the next month in a gun battle with Saudi security forces.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • For Israelis, Rocket Strikes Fuel Fear and Loathing - Ben Lynfield
    As frayed Israeli residents of the border town of Sderot, on the receiving end of Palestinian rockets, waited for a solidarity visit from the president of Israel Monday, the dreaded words "red dawn" came over loudspeakers. Dozens of people rushed to a concrete wall and crouched behind it, hoping for shelter from the favored weapon of Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza: the Kassam rocket. Another red dawn announcement came seconds later, but no explosion was heard. Then came the frantic dialing of mobile phones to husbands and children to check that they had not been injured. The red dawn routine has become all too familiar in Sderot, a town of 24,000 people.
        "Red dawn can be at one, two, five in the morning," said Yona Gabay, 57. "We have no bomb shelter so we just stay in the living room. I embrace the children and try to calm them," said Diana Yegudayev, a mother of a three-year-old girl and a boy aged four, adding: "When my daughter hears red dawn she is terrified, she begins to cry." Five people have been wounded by shrapnel here during the past two weeks and there have been five deaths from rockets over the past five years. (Scotsman-UK)
        See also Sderot Residents Shop Quickly - Anat Barshkovsky
    One feature of the new way of life in Sderot is the pace of daily activities. With only 20 seconds of warning time between the activation of the "red dawn" alarm and the landing of a Kassam rocket, a hiding place should be found swiftly. At the local market, it was not business as usual. The few shoppers seen were rushing. "Buy fast before a Kassam falls," is the most common sentence heard in the market. A 10-year-old girl says, "I either stand by a wall or lie on the floor. It is scary but we got used to it." (Ynet News)
  • Muslim Nations Challenge Red Cross Move on Israel - Patrick Baert
    At an international conference in Geneva on Tuesday, Muslim nations launched a politically-inspired challenge to a proposed end to a 56-year stalemate over Israel's membership in the global Red Cross movement. Pakistan and Tunisia proposed that the 192 signatory nations of the Geneva Conventions should formally reaffirm that the movement's rules apply in "all Arab territories occupied since 1967, namely the Palestinian territory including east Jerusalem, the Syrian Golan, and the Lebanese Shabaa Farms." (AFP/Yahoo)
  • Fears of Armed Islamist Takeover in Morocco - James Brandon
    Police have arrested more than 500 Islamist activists since late May on accusations that they were planning a coup to replace Morocco's pro-U.S. monarchy with an Islamic state. Most were released swiftly, but the arrests revived fears that the country's largest Islamic movement, Al Adl wa al Ihsane, or Justice and Charity, is preparing to take up arms to fulfill predictions from the group's own Sufi mystics that Morocco's monarchy will fall this year. The group, which already has Islamized higher education in Morocco, wants to cut all political, cultural, and economic relations with the West. (Washington Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Air Force Targets Palestinian Rocket Commander - Ali Waked
    An Israel Air Force strike on northern Gaza Tuesday targeted Imad Hamad, 36, a senior member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. Military sources said Hamad had planned numerous terror attacks against Israel and was involved in financing and organizing the infrastructure behind the firing of Kassam rockets at Israel. Hamad, an intelligence officer for the Palestinian police, served as Fatah commander in northern Gaza in the 1990s where he recruited and trained many fighting cells. In 2002 Hamad became active with the Popular Resistance Committees, setting up a network of contacts with Hizballah in Lebanon. In 2004 he returned to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, serving as a liaison between Hizballah and the territories.
        On April 12, 2006, Hamad dispatched two terrorists who were killed on their way to carry out a suicide bombing attack at an IDF base near the security fence. He was also behind smuggling massive quantities of weapons into Gaza. In the past few weeks he planned a large-scale terror attack on the Karni crossing, as well as infiltrating suicide bombers through Sinai into Israel. (Ynet News)
        The IDF Spokesperson's Office said: "The operation was carried out following the ongoing rocket fire at Israel....The responsibility for the continued rocket fire lies with the Palestinian Authority leadership and the Hamas government." (Ynet News)
        See also Air Force: We Saw No Civilians - Hanan Greenberg
    In the attack on a Palestinian rocket cell Tuesday, two Palestinian children and a teenager were killed. A senior officer said the cell that was hit had carried out rocket attacks on Israel that morning. He explained that the area chosen to strike the vehicle was not crowded and there was almost no traffic on the road. Two missiles were fired at the same time and struck the car accurately. "We are seeking to hit only terrorists and doing everything to minimize the risk that civilians would be hit....Our role is to strike terrorists operating out of these areas so that they don't operate again," he said. (Ynet News)
        See also Explaining the Killing of Civilians - Ronny Sofer (Ynet News)
  • Abbas Calls for Halt to Palestinian Rocket Attacks
    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas called Tuesday on armed Palestinian groups to stop firing rockets at Israel, warning that they would be responsible for any Israeli retaliation, Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdenehan said. (AP/Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Kills West Bank Terrorist Behind Suicide Bombing - Efrat Weiss
    IDF forces in Nablus on Wednesday killed Daud Katuni, a wanted senior Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist who was behind a suicide bombing that killed four people in Kedumim three months ago. IDF officials said Katuni had planned to launch another attack into Israel about six weeks ago but had been foiled. Nablus sources confirmed that Katuni had been involved in many shooting attacks in the area. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Perilous Dance with the Arab Press - Mona Eltahawy
    Writing for an Arab newspaper is like playing hopscotch in a minefield. From January 2004 until early this year I wrote a weekly column on the opinion pages of Asharq al-Awsat, the London-based, Saudi-owned newspaper that is read across the Arab world. And then I stepped on a mine. Without warning or notice, fewer and fewer of my columns made it into print. Then my articles stopped appearing altogether. Nobody tells you that you're banned from an Arab paper - especially a paper that is supposedly the liberal home of writers banned from other papers.
        An Egyptian journalist told me the editor of a newspaper he used to write for actually confessed to him that the Egyptian regime had called the Saudi prince who publishes the paper and requested that my friend be banned. That is probably what happened in my case. Since Egypt's parliamentary elections last year, the Egyptian regime has been settling scores with opponents. I had devoted many of my weekly columns to the reform movement in Egypt.
        The trouble with Asharq al-Awsat, beyond its disturbing acquiescence to Arab regimes, is that it claimed a liberalism that was patently false. Few newspapers in the Arab world are truly independent. Most are state-controlled or state-owned, or owned by persons very close to the state; Asharq al-Awsat is published by a nephew of the Saudi king. It is gratifying to know that Arab regimes and compliant newspapers consider some of us annoying enough to ban. (International Herald Tribune)
  • Exploring the Strength of Ties to Jerusalem - Daniel Pipes
    Historically, the religious standing of Jerusalem for Muslims waxed and waned six times through 14 centuries. British rule over the city in 1917-48 galvanized a passion for Jerusalem that had been absent during the 400 years of Ottoman control. Throughout the Jordanian control of the walled city in 1948-67, Arabs largely ignored it. Jordanian radio broadcast Friday prayers not from Al-Aqsa mosque but from a minor mosque in Amman. The PLO's founding Covenant, which dates from 1964, contains no mention of Jerusalem.
        Muslim interest in the city revived only with the Israeli conquest of Jerusalem in 1967. By 1990, the Islamic focus on Jerusalem reached such a surreal intensity that Palestinian Arabs denied the city's sacred and historical importance to Jews.
        The Camp David summit of July 2000 saw the Israeli government put forward its demands for sovereignty over parts of the Temple Mount. As Dennis Ross, an American diplomat present at the summit, put it, Arafat "never offered any substantive ideas, not once" at the talks. However, "He did offer one new idea, which was that the Temple didn't exist in Jerusalem, that it was in Nablus." With this, Jerusalem's pseudo-history became formal Palestinian Authority policy. (New York Sun)
  • Observations:

    IDF Intelligence Chief: Strategic Threats to Israel Rising - Ahiya Raved (Ynet News)

    • Strategic threats to Israel have increased in the past year, Israel's military intelligence chief, Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin said Tuesday.
    • The prime reason was Iran's determination to attain nuclear weapons and the fact that Tehran renewed research and development in the field.
    • Another element was the weakening of the American drive in Iraq.
    • Another factor was the adoption of the democratic model which now aids many extremist organizations to seize power - as happened with the Hizballah in Lebanon, Hamas in the PA, and the Muslim Brotherhood which has gained strength in Egypt.
    • Yadlin noted Hamas' rise to power and increasing faith in the success of Palestinian resistance through terrorism. This trend was reinforced by Israel's disengagement from Gaza, he said.
    • He also noted that recent rhetoric and activities from al-Qaeda frequently focus on Israel and the Middle East.
    • A final element was the rise in oil prices. When a barrel of oil cost $20, Iran was on the verge of bankruptcy, but now the price is reaching $70, "and every dollar from every barrel of oil sold means another billion in Ahmadinejad's budget."

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