Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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September 9, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda's American-Born Propaganda Chief May Have Died in Predator Attack - Nick Meo (Telegraph-UK)
    Attacks by unmanned U.S. predator aircraft have caused carnage among the middle ranks of al-Qaeda terrorist leaders in Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan.
    Adam Gadahn, originally from California - also known as Azzam al-Ameriki - has been credited with helping transform al-Qaeda's al-Sahab propaganda wing into a slick operation which communicates in fluent English.
    He was al-Qaeda's best known Westerner and became the poster boy of would-be jihadis around the world who are radicalized on the Internet.
    Nothing has been heard from him for months, leading intelligence experts to conclude that he may be dead.

Israel's New UN Ambassador Submits Credentials - Shlomo Shamir (Ha'aretz)
    Gabriela Shalev, Israel's first female ambassador to the UN, submitted her credentials Monday to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
    Shalev served as a professor of law at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and was rector of Ono Academic College in Kiryat Ono.

Terror from the German Heartland - Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark (Der Spiegel-Germany)
    Exactly one year ago, German investigators arrested three Muslim extremists. They wanted to build a bomb in southern Germany capable of killing as many as possible. The ringleader was born and raised in a German family.
    In the indictment prepared by the federal prosecutor's office, which was served on Tuesday, Fritz Gelowicz, 29, Adem Yilmaz, 29, and Daniel Schneider, 22, were charged with membership in a terrorist organization, making preparations for a crime involving explosives and, in Schneider's case, attempted murder.
    The authorities now know that the men got their marching orders from Pakistan, and that Gelowicz is one of about 50 Islamists from Germany who went to Pakistan to learn how to build bombs in the name of Allah.
    But what authorities know almost nothing about is how a blonde boy nicknamed "Fritzi," who spent a sheltered childhood in the southwestern German region of Swabia, became a fanatic, a man who now calls himself "Abdullah" and is so "filled with hate," as August Hanning, Deputy Secretary at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, has said.

Watching "Friends" in Gaza: A Culture Clash - Michael Kimmelman (New York Times)
    At the New Sound store in the middle of Gaza City, metal shelves bulge with dusty audiotapes extolling Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad.
    Alongside them are DVDs of not-yet-officially-released movies like "You Don't Mess With the Zohan."
    Do Gazans living under Hamas buy much Western music or Western movies? "Of course," answered the owner, Amer Kihail.
    Culture is a central battleground for control of Gaza. Gazans may loathe Israel but have worked there, and they've experienced Western life as many other Arabs haven't.

Key Links 
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • 9/11 Rumors Become Conventional Wisdom in Arab World - Michael Slackman
    Seven years later, it remains conventional wisdom in Cairo that Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda could not have been solely responsible for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and that the U.S. and Israel had to have been involved in their planning, if not their execution. This is what routinely comes up in conversations around the region - in a shopping mall in Dubai, in a park in Algiers, in a cafe in Riyadh, and all over Cairo.
        It is easy for Americans to dismiss such thinking as bizarre, but such ideas represent the inability of the U.S. to convince people in the region that it is, indeed, waging a campaign against terrorism and not a crusade against Muslims. Again and again, people said they simply did not believe that a group of Arabs - like themselves - could possibly have waged such a successful operation against a superpower like the U.S. "Maybe people who executed the operation were Arabs, but the brains? No way," said Mohammed Ibrahim, 36, of Cairo.
        There is a reason so many people talk about the U.S. attacking itself to have a reason to go after Arabs. It is a reflection of how they view government leaders throughout the Middle East. They do not believe them. They think that if the government is insisting that bin Laden was behind it, he must not have been. (New York Times)
  • British Jury Renders Split Verdict in Airliner Bomb Plot - Kevin Sullivan
    A British jury returned guilty verdicts Monday against Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 27, Assad Sarwar, 28, and Tanvir Hussain, 27, who were among eight British Muslims charged with plotting to bomb at least seven planes flying to the U.S. However, the jury declined to convict any of the eight of plotting to bomb airliners. The three were convicted only of "conspiracy to murder persons unknown" and face the potential of life in prison. In July, the three men pleaded guilty to conspiring to set off bombs, but they continued to deny targeting airplanes. Ali and Sarwar testified that they intended to detonate bombs at Parliament or other high-profile sites. (Washington Post)
        See also Five Potential UK Suicide Bombers "Still at Large" - Duncan Gardham and Gordon Rayner
    On Monday, British police admitted that up to five would-be bombers may still be on the loose, as a bugged conversation between the plotters in their east London bomb factory revealed they had recruited up to 18 people. To date, only 13 people have been arrested in connection with the plot.
        Police were forced to move in early to arrest the gang after a jittery President Bush put pressure on the Pakistani authorities to arrest Rashid Rauf, their al-Qaeda contact in Pakistan. MI5 had hoped to continue gathering intelligence on the remaining members of the cell. Ironically, Rauf escaped from Pakistani custody 16 months after he was detained and remains on the run. Intelligence services believe Abdul Hadi al-Iraq, said to be al-Qaeda's number three, was behind the July 7, July 21 and liquid bomb plots and that members of all three plots may have met each other in Pakistan. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Al-Qaeda No. 2 Blasts Iran for Working with U.S. - Maamoun Youssef
    In a video message Monday, al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahri said Tehran was "cooperating with the Americans in occupying Iraq and Afghanistan" and slammed Iran for recognizing the two governments. Zawahri has been increasingly singling out Iran and Shiites in his messages, describing the "Persians" as the enemy of Arabs. (AP)
        See also New Zawahri Tape Blasts Hizbullah and Lebanon's Sunnis
    Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahri slammed Hizbullah and took a swipe at Lebanon's Sunni leaders in a video message broadcast by Al-Jazeera on Monday. "What victory is Hizbullah talking about?" he asked of the 2006 summer war with Israel, saying that the Shiite group had lost control of south Lebanon and allowed "thousands of crusaders" - a reference to UN peacekeepers - in there instead. He dismissed the country's Sunni leaders in Beirut as "agents" of the U.S. (Naharnet-Lebanon)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S. Seeks to Define Israel's Security Interests - Amos Harel
    Gen. James Jones, Washington's security coordinator for Israeli-Palestinian talks, who will arrive in Israel on Tuesday, has been tasked with trying to define the vital security interests that Israel would need to address in any final-status agreement. However, Israeli security sources told Ha'aretz that the chances of reaching a breakthrough on this issue before President Bush ends his tenure seem slim. The Americans hope to finalize a security document even if no corresponding Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic agreement is reached. But Israel believes it would be a mistake to make security concessions without a quid pro quo in the form of progress in the diplomatic negotiations. (Ha'aretz)
  • West Bank Economy Is Improving - Yaakov Katz
    A series of Israeli goodwill gestures to the Palestinians in the West Bank has helped strengthen the Palestinian economy, the Civil Administration said Monday. In the last few months, the IDF has removed over 100 roadblocks throughout the West Bank. There has been a sharp increase in the passage of commercial goods as a direct result of an increase in employment licenses and trade permits issued to Palestinian merchants and business owners. A large expansion of the tourism industries in Bethlehem and Jericho has also occurred. Fresh agricultural produce exported to Israel has grown by 25 percent. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Self-Censorship and the BBC - Nick Cohen
    "The London Bombers" is one of the most thoroughly researched and politically important drama-documentaries commissioned by British television. A team of journalists reported to Terry Cafolla, a writer who won many awards for his dramatization of religious hatred in Belfast. The reporters spent months in Beeston, the Leeds slum where three of the four 7/7 bombers grew up, and convinced the families of three of the bombers to cooperate. Cafolla submitted five versions of the script. He was working up to a final draft when the BBC abandoned the project. BBC managers said they were stopping production because the work was "Islamophobic," arguing that a dramatic examination of terrorism would be offensive to all Muslims. (Jerusalem Post)
  • An Israeli Fighter Becomes a Paralympic Olympian - Stewart Weiss
    Shai Haim is one of the 43 handicapped Israeli athletes who left this week for Beijing to participate in the Paralympic Games. Among the sports in which they will compete are tennis, swimming, kayaking, sailing, horseback riding, table tennis, archery, air rifle, and basketball. Shai is one of the 12 players on Israel's wheelchair-basketball delegation, selected from among the more than 200 players who compete at several disabled veterans' facilities around the country.
        On September 30, 2002, Shai's unit was part of a raid on Hamas headquarters in Nablus' infamous casbah. In the midst of their mission, the unit came under fire from snipers in a nearby building. Shai was hit and his best friend in the unit, our son St.-Sgt. Ari Weiss, rushed to his side to help him and was shot and killed in the process. A year after the shooting, he married his girlfriend Tamar, who had helped nurse him back to health, and I had the great merit to officiate at his wedding. Says a smiling Shai, "My motto in life - no complaints, no whining - just get back in the game." (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israeli Swimmer Wins Silver Medal at Beijing Paralympics - Rami Hipsh
    Israel's Inbal Pezaro on Sunday earned a silver medal in the women's 100-meter freestyle on the opening day of the Beijing 2008 Paralympics, setting an Israeli national record as well. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    Misperceptions about Islam - Bernard Lewis (Foreign Policy)

    • Terrorism only comes from one brand of Islam, and even that one brand of Islam is not entirely committed to terrorism.
    • I don't like the term "Islamofascism" because it's insulting to Muslims. They see it as insulting to link the name of their religion with the most detestable of all the European movements. I prefer to use the term "radical Islam."
    • When a large part of the Muslim world was under foreign rule, then you might say that terrorism was a result of imperialism, of imperial rule and occupation. But at the present time, almost the whole of the Muslim world has achieved its independence. They can no longer blame others for what goes wrong.
    • What is important in Iraq is not that it's being ruled by the Shiites, but that it's being ruled by a democracy, by a free, elected government that faces a free opposition. It proves what is often disputed, that the development of democratic institutions in a Muslim Arab country is possible.
    • What is happening in Iraq I find profoundly encouraging. Of course, it is the ripple effect from Iraq that is causing alarm among all the tyrants that rule these countries [in the region]. If it works in Iraq, it could work elsewhere, and this is very disturbing [for tyrants].

      The writer is professor emeritus at Princeton University.

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