Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 3, 2007

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In-Depth Issues:

Mobile Phone Calls Failed to Trigger London Blasts (AFX/Forbes)
    The attempted London car bombings were meant to be detonated by calls to mobile phones in the two vehicles, but failed for technical reasons, London's Evening Standard reported.
    Calls logged on the phones led detectives to addresses in Liverpool, Glasgow, and Staffordshire.
    See also Five Doctors Held Over UK Attacks - (Sky News-UK)
    Five doctors are now being held in connection with the recent attempted terror attacks.
    Bilal Abdulla, an Iraqi doctor who trained in Baghdad, worked at the Royal Alexandra Hospital near Glasgow and was detained at the scene of the explosion at Glasgow airport.
    Dr. Mohammed Asha, 26, a Jordanian who worked at North Staffordshire Hospital, was arrested on Saturday.
    A third man, aged 26, arrested in Liverpool, was reported to have worked as a doctor at Halton Hospital in Cheshire.
    See also Doctor Arrested in Australia over Terror Plot - David Lister and Bernard Lagan (Times-UK)

Report: Al-Qaeda Planning Terror "Spectacular" in U.S. This Summer - Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz, and Richard Esposito (ABC News)
    A secret report prepared for the Department of Homeland Security warns that al-Qaeda is planning a terror "spectacular" this summer.
    "This is reminiscent of the warnings and intelligence we were getting in the summer of 2001," the official said.
    U.S. law enforcement officials received intelligence reports two weeks ago warning of terror attacks in Glasgow and Prague against "airport infrastructure and aircraft."

Saudi Clerics Urge Palestinians to Maintain Jihad Against Israel (Reuters)
    Several key Saudi clerics this week urged Palestinians not to give up jihad against Israel.
    "Maintain the way of jihad and preaching which has spread among the Muslim Palestinian people. Support it and beware of it easing up," said a June 30 statement published on Islamist websites signed by 16 leading clerics including Abdel-Rahman al-Barrak and Nasser al-Omar.

Palestinian Journalist Seeks Asylum in Norway - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Seif al-Din Shahin, the correspondent for the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel network, has left Gaza together with his family after he had received many death threats over the past few months and is seeking political asylum in Norway, Palestinian journalists said Saturday.
    Meanwhile, Fatah leaders have called for closing down the Al-Jazeera offices in the West Bank and Gaza, accusing the Qatari-owned TV station of serving as a mouthpiece for Hamas and other radical Islamic groups.

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  • U.S. Ties Iranians to Iraq Attack that Killed G.I.'s - Michael R. Gordon
    Iranian operatives helped plan a January raid in Karbala in which five American soldiers were killed, an American military spokesman in Iraq said Monday. Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Bergner said that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has used operatives from the Lebanese Hizbullah as a "proxy" to train and arm Shiite militants in Iraq. American military officials have long asserted that the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, has trained and equipped Shiite militants in Iraq. But they had previously stopped short of making a case that the Quds Force may have been directly involved in planning attacks.
        Gen. Bergner said that interrogations of Qais Khazali, a Shiite militant who oversaw Iranian-supported cells in Iraq and who was captured several months ago, showed that Iran's Quds force helped plan the operation. Similar information was obtained following the capture of a senior Hizbullah operative, Ali Musa Daqduq, Gen. Bergner said. "Our intelligence reveals that the senior leadership in Iran is aware of this activity," he added. (New York Times)
        See also U.S. Sees Iran-Hizbullah Link in Iraq - Tina Susman and Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times)
        See also The Quds Force: Lessons Learned - Dan Diker (ICA/JCPA)
  • Suspected Al-Qaeda Suicide Bombing Kills Seven Spanish Tourists in Yemen - Mohamed Sudam
    Yemen said seven Spanish tourists and two Yemenis were killed in a suspected al-Qaeda suicide car bomb attack on their convoy in the province of Marib on Monday. The tourists were accompanied by Yemeni security personnel when the suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into their convoy as they left the Queen of Sheba Temple. Security sources said the attack followed an al-Qaeda statement last week demanding the release of some of its members jailed in Yemen. (Reuters)
  • Iran Curses Ahmadinejad over Petrol Rationing - Colin Freeman
    The protests over fuel rationing, the most open sign of discontent with Ahmadinejad's rule since he took office in 2005, were accompanied by a stream of text-messaged jokes. "On the orders of President Ahmadinejad," read one, "those who are short of petrol can have a ride on the 17 million donkeys who voted for him."
        "I voted for Ahmadinejad because I thought he represented a new way of doing things," said Samid Jalali, a grocer whose shop is a minute's stroll from Ahmadinejad's house. "But I am not satisfied with the way things are going. Inflation is much worse now: a tin of cooking oil has gone from $6 to $9 in just three months." Inflation has soared to 40%. Ahmadinejad's critics predict that his downfall may lie in the discontent of his ordinary working-class constituents, rather than the reformist efforts of Teheran's educated, pro-Western middle class. (Sunday Telegraph-UK)
        See also Iran Exposes Its Weak Spot - Editorial (USA Today)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • 23 Saudis Killed in Fight Against Islamists in Northern Lebanon - Hani M. Bathish
    Fatah's commander in Lebanon, Sultan Abu al-Aynain, told Asharq al-Awsat that 23 Saudi nationals, out of a total of 43 Saudis fighting alongside Fatah al-Islam, have been killed in the fighting inside Nahr al-Bared and have been buried in a mass grave inside the camp. One Saudi fighter surrendered. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • PA Won't Pay Wages to Employees Who Report Directly to Hamas
    After Israel transferred $118 million to the PA on Sunday, PA officials said Monday they will pay all workers their first full wages in 17 months, excluding those who report directly to Hamas. Some 23,000 workers hired by Hamas after it won 2006 elections will be excluded. Members of the Fatah-dominated security services in Gaza have been asked to stay at home as a condition for receiving their salaries. Among those excluded are nearly 6,000 members of Hamas' Executive Force. The PA's monthly wage bill for nearly 140,000 employees totals $120 million. (Reuters/Ha'aretz)
  • Hamas Pressures BBC Journalist's Kidnappers - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas militiamen on Monday detained a number of Palestinians who were involved in the kidnapping of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston in Gaza more than three months ago. One of the detainees, Ahmed Mathloum, better known as Khattab al-Makdissi, served as a spokesman for a group calling itself the Army of Islam, headed by Mumtaz Dughmush. In response, members of the Army of Islam kidnapped 10 Hamas university students. (Jerusalem Post)
  • 11 Hamas Men Arrested in Eastern Jerusalem - Yuval Azoulay
    The Shin Bet security service and Jerusalem police recently arrested 11 Hamas operatives on suspicion of running Hamas facilities in eastern Jerusalem and for recruiting young people under the guise of religious and social activities, the Shin Bet announced Monday. The suspects, 10 of whom have Israeli identity cards, were planning to have the recruited youths carry out terror activities and set up groups that would later become terror cells. The Shin Bet confiscated about NIS 400,000 Hamas received from the movement's branches abroad. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Gaza: The Next Terrorist Safe Haven? - Matthew Levitt
    Could Hamas members in Gaza join ranks with the global jihadist movement led by al-Qaeda? There is merit to this question, given the recent Hamas takeover of the territory and al-Qaeda's call for Muslims around the world to finance and arm Hamas. The interpersonal relationships between Hamas and al-Qaeda members present a significant danger. Although, as an organization, Hamas is not about to join al-Qaeda, individual Hamas members could. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Behind the UK-Saudi Arms Deal - Stephen Fidler
    Investigators from the U.S. Department of Justice examining BAE Systems' compliance with anti-corruption laws in its arms dealings with Saudi Arabia will find themselves scrutinizing a deal that was used, with the help of the British government, as a secret tool of Saudi foreign policy. The agreement, originally signed in 1985 to pay for the Saudi purchase of British Tornado jets, was employed to distribute Saudi oil revenues outside the country's official budget. "It was a way of Saudis paying money to Saudis," said one person involved in the deal.
        The mechanism was also used to buy arms from Egypt for the Mujahideen fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan and paid for clandestine purchases of Russian arms to oust Libyan troops from Chad. Over nearly two decades, tens of billions of dollars were directed through it.
        A 2006 biography of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to Washington and now national security adviser to King Abdullah, describes the arrangement as one that "circumvented the bureaucracy." This included the U.S. Congress, whose original objections to the proposed purchase of F-15 fighters led the Saudis to turn to the UK. British flexibility and discretion suited the Saudis after their difficulties with the U.S. Congress. (Financial Times-UK)
  • If the Lebanese Army Can Stand Up to Jihadists, Anybody Can - Tim Cavanaugh
    In the vicious battle at Nahr el-Bared, the enfeebled, poorly motivated troops of Lebanon, one of the most dysfunctional states on Earth, have imposed their will against a group of heaven-bound martyrs. If the Lebanese army can stand up to the terrorists, anybody can. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Observations:

    Tony Blair's Challenges as Middle East Envoy - Dennis Ross (New Republic)

    • Blair has to find a way to get Fatah to reform itself so that it stands a chance of competing effectively with Hamas. Pressing Abbas to take on the old guard in Fatah is essential but goes against Abbas' very nature.
    • If Abbas will not take on the old guard, if he will not side with those who truly want to remake Fatah and reform it, it won't matter how much money is going to Fatah. Corruption will continue and Hamas will exploit the ongoing alienation from Fatah within the Palestinian public.
        See also Unreformed Fatah a Sinking Ship - Barry Rubin (Jerusalem Post)

    • Helping Fatah survive is probably the best policy, but one worth implementing only if leverage is used to make the surviving Fatah behave less like Hamas' twin brother.
    • People who would be appalled if the Free World uncritically backed sleazy repressive Latin American dictatorships have no problem thinking Fatah a dandy ally without pressing it for reform. Mark my words: Their ship will sink.

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