Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 15, 2006

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In-Depth Issues:

UN Says Somalis Helped Hizballah Fighters - Robert F. Worth (New York Times)
    More than 700 Islamic militants from Somalia traveled to Lebanon in July to fight alongside Hizballah in its war against Israel, a UN report says.
    Hizballah provided training and - through its patrons Iran and Syria - weapons to the Islamic alliance struggling for control of Somalia, according to the report issued by four experts monitoring violations of a 1992 UN arms embargo on Somalia.

Report: UN Troops Searching for Hizballah Weapons Tunnels - Jacey Herman (Jerusalem Post)
    In southern Lebanon, a UN convoy drives past with 15 officers belongs to the Belgium contingent.
    Sgt. Dimitri Brams says the Belgian mission is focused on disarming mines and cluster bombs - and treating the local population in a hospital they brought over.
    But Ebrahim Mehdi, the owner of a small cigarette stall, overhears the conversation and later tells me he's noticed the troops almost daily searching the area for tunnels where Hizballah guerrillas store their weapons and explosives.

IDF: Hizballah Units Returning to Border - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Three months after a UN-brokered cease-fire ended Israel's war in Lebanon, IDF officers said Tuesday that Hizballah gunmen disguised as civilians were back on the border and collecting intelligence on IDF positions.
    "They [Hizballah] are still there," an officer in the Northern Command said. "We are watching them and they are watching us."
    "They cannot operate freely like they used to," the officer said. "There is UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces there and this does complicate things for them."
    "The Lebanese government does not want to repeat the events of this past summer," the officer said. "To ensure this they need to enforce their sovereignty in southern Lebanon."

Hamas Government Accuses Israel of Killing Arafat (Xinhua-China)
    On the second anniversary of Yasser Arafat's passing last week, the Hamas-led Palestinian government accused Israel of killing Arafat.
    Calls to investigate Arafat's death were also released by most Palestinian factions and political groups.

Useful Reference:

Videos from the 2006 General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities in Los Angeles (Jerusalem Online)
    View videos of:
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
    Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Olmert Urges Arab Moderates to Unite Against Iran - Jeffrey Heller
    Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called on Tuesday for moderate Arab countries to unite against Iran and said the world must not wait any longer to thwart its nuclear ambitions. "We have reached the pivotal moment of truth regarding Iran," Olmert told the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities of North America in Los Angeles. "If Iran achieves the ability to produce nuclear weapons, as we know it is seeking to do, we will enter a new era of instability unlike any the world has ever seen," he said. "We cannot afford to wait." Israel "cannot tolerate those who challenge" its right to exist while actively seeking to develop "catastrophic weapons."
        "A coalition of moderate Arab countries can and must unite their common interest in preventing Iran from undermining stability in the Middle East," he said. "This coalition must struggle against the dangers of radical Islam that manipulate the very source of Islam itself."  (Reuters)
  • Report: Bush Asks Israel to Allow Entry into Gaza of Forces from Jordan Loyal to Abbas - Tim Butcher
    Israeli Prime Minister Olmert indicated on Sunday that he would respond favorably to America's request to authorize 1,500 armed Palestinian soldiers based in Jordan to move into the Gaza Strip. President George W. Bush is understood to have formally requested the troop transfer in his meeting with Olmert this week. The Jordan-based Badr Brigade was previously regarded by Israel as an enemy force. But the rise to power of Hamas has led to a re-think because the Badr Brigade is loyal to Fatah, the faction of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, that Israel now supports. (Telegraph-UK)
  • $2 Million from Saudi Arabia Seized by Egypt from Hamas Parliamentarian at Gaza Border
    Hamas parliamentarian Mushir al-Masri, who tried to return from Egypt to Gaza, was briefly detained Tuesday when found to be carrying $2 million in a suitcase, which Egyptian authorities seized, Egyptian security officials said. Al-Masri spent Tuesday night on the Egyptian side of the border, apparently hoping that the money would be returned. (AP/International Herald Tribune)
        An Egyptian security official said, "The Palestinian deputy had informed the Egyptian side that he received this money, which is aid for the Palestinians, after a trip to Saudi Arabia." (AFP/Middle East Times-Egypt)
  • Iranians Training Al-Qaeda Terrorists to Attack GIs - Con Coughlin
    Iran's Revolutionary Guards are training hundreds of al-Qaeda fighters to carry out attacks against coalition forces throughout the Middle East. The Iranian government has been providing a safe haven for fighters loyal to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror group since they were forced to flee Afghanistan in late 2001. The decision to allow al-Qaeda fighters to train in Iran was made by President Ahmadinejad as part of his policy of attempting to forge closer links with bin Laden's organization.
        "From the evidence we have seen, Iran's links to al-Qaeda go far deeper than simply supplying them with equipment," a senior Western intelligence official said. "They are allowing them the use of training facilities so that they can ensure their attacks are as effective as possible." Links between Iran and al-Qaeda date back to the early 1990s, when bin Laden was based in Sudan. According to America's 9/11 Commission report, Iran's Revolutionary Guards helped to train al-Qaeda fighters, and the Iranians were suspected of helping al-Qaeda to carry out the truck bomb attacks against an American military base in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in June 1996 that killed 19 American servicemen. (Telegraph-UK/New York Sun)
        See also below Observations - Doomsday Scenario: Iran Is Training Bin Laden's Successor - Con Coughlin (Telegraph-UK)
  • IAEA: Defiant Iran Increasing Its Nuclear Activities - Alissa J. Rubin
    Iran has slowly but steadily increased its ability to enrich uranium despite international calls to halt its nuclear activities, experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency say in a report released Tuesday. The report emphasizes that Iran's refusal to answer inspectors' questions about its nuclear activities makes it impossible for the IAEA "to confirm the peaceful nature of Iran's program." The report also notes that traces of plutonium have been found on storage barrels at a waste facility, in addition to a previously reported finding of highly enriched uranium at the site. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Iranian President Says Country Will Soon Celebrate Completion of Nuclear Fuel Program - Ali Akbar Dareini
    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad boasted Tuesday that Iran will soon have mastered the production of nuclear fuel. The Iranian leader said he hoped ''to hold the big celebration of Iran's full nuclearization in the current year.'' Iran's current calendar year ends on March 20. (AP/Chicago Sun-Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • One Dead, One Seriously Hurt in Palestinian Rocket Attack on Sderot
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two rockets at Sderot Wednesday morning, killing a 75-year-old woman and seriously wounding a 24-year-old man, one of Defense Minister Peretz's bodyguards who was on duty at the time. All together, eight Kassam rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza Wednesday morning. Three rockets were fired at Israel Tuesday night.
        David Baker, an official in Prime Minister Olmert's office, said: "The continued Palestinian rocket attacks on Sderot and surrounding communities inside Israel are clear evidence that Israel cannot let up in its defense of its citizens and must root out these rocket launchers, as well as those who perpetrate these attacks." (Ynet News/Jerusalem Post)
        See also Sderot: We Can't Live Like This - Yaakov Lappin
    Sderot is a working class town on the border with Gaza. For years, Palestinian rockets have been terrorizing the people in this frontier community. Every time they venture out of the house, residents know a piece of metal with some explosives on it could fall on them from the sky. "It really makes me angry, that our children have to be scared in the morning. Instead of a 'good morning' at the start of the day, we get a rocket alert," said Yelena Moshari, a kindergarten teacher. (Ynet News)
  • U.S. Envoy Meets with PA, Israeli Officials Over Gaza-Egypt Crossing
    Senior U.S. envoy Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton convened a meeting in Jerusalem on Tuesday of a security working group seeking to assure regular opening of the only land link between Gaza and the Arab world. Among those attending were Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad, and representatives from Egypt and the EU. The Rafah crossing has been closed often, especially since the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas-linked militants at the end of June near the crossing. The security working group will meet again in six weeks.
        The EU has agreed to keep monitors stationed at the border crossing for another six months, officials said on Tuesday. Some 70 European monitors have been overseeing the crossing. (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • News Magazine Changed Caption to Bash Israel
    In a bombshell of a post at the Lightstalkers pro photographers' forum, Bruno Stevens describes how during the Israeli-Hizballah war the captions he sent in with his pictures, published by both US News and World Report and Time Magazine, were changed by editors at the magazines to completely alter the story. (Little Green Footballs)
        See also The Lebanon "Garbage Dump" Story: Complete Explanation - Bruno Stevens
    On July 17, Lebanese TV started to show footage of a large metallic object falling from the sky and exploding upon touching the ground. The TV announced it as an Israeli jet being shot down over an army base in Kfar Chima, about 4 miles from where I was. I rushed to the scene. Time Magazine had my original caption, but chose to publish the following: "The wreckage of a downed Israeli jet that was targeting Hizballah trucks billows smoke behind a Hizballah gunman in Kfar Chima, near Beirut. Jet fuel set the surrounding area ablaze."
        After returning three times to the site and collecting more evidence, I modified my original caption to: "The Israeli Air Force bombed a group of Hizballah-chartered trucks parked at the back of large Lebanese Army barracks. At least one of these trucks contained a medium-range ground-to-ground missile launcher. At least one missile was hit, misfiring high into the sky before falling down and starting a huge fire in the barracks' parking lot." [See picture of destroyed Hizballah medium-range missile launcher hidden on truck at Lebanese Army base.]
        This is a very important piece of evidence showing probable collusion between Hizballah and the Lebanese Army. There is little doubt that the Lebanese Army was aware of the presence of at least one missile launcher and at least one large missile in their parking lot. (Lightstalkers)
  • Observations:

    Doomsday Scenario: Iran Is Training Bin Laden's Successor - Con Coughlin (Telegraph-UK)

    • According to recent reports received by Western intelligence agencies, the Iranians are training senior al-Qaeda operatives in Teheran to take over the organization when bin Laden is no longer leader. Bin Laden, 49, who is known to suffer from kidney problems that require regular dialysis, has not appeared on videotape for more than two years. Even if he is still alive, intelligence officials are working on the assumption that his ability to control the organization has been severely diminished, and that most of the day-to-day running is being undertaken by Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's Egyptian-born number two.
    • Western intelligence officials now believe that Iran is trying to cultivate a new generation of al-Qaeda leaders who will be prepared to work closely with Teheran when they eventually take control.
    • The Iranians are particularly keen to promote Saif al-Adel, who is wanted in the U.S. for his role in training several of the September 11 hijackers. Al-Adel, 46, a former colonel in Egypt's special forces, was also involved in the deaths of 18 U.S. soldiers in Somalia in 1993 and the truck bomb attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. He has, technically, been living under house arrest in Teheran since 2001 with hundreds of other al-Qaeda fighters following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.
    • The Iranians are now exerting pressure on al-Qaeda's leadership to make al-Adel the organization's number three, which, given bin Laden's poor state of health, would effectively make him number two and in a strong position to take control of the entire al-Qaeda network.
    • "This is an important power play by the Iranians and the prospect of al-Qaeda and Iran forging a close alliance is truly terrifying," said a senior Western intelligence official. "We are looking at a Doomsday scenario here where al-Qaeda finally fulfils its ultimate goal of acquiring weapons of mass destruction....And unlike other terror groups, al-Qaeda is perfectly willing to use them."

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