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December 1, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Lashkar-e-Taiba Said Behind Mumbai Terror Attacks - Brenda Gazzar (Jerusalem Post)
    Suspicions in the devastating Mumbai terror attacks are centering on Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani-based jihadi terror organization whose objectives include destroying India and Israel, and establishing an Islamic caliphate.
    On Sunday, Indian Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria said the only gunman captured by police admitted the group was behind the attacks and had intended to hit even more targets.
    Lashkar-e-Taiba - or Army of the Pure or Righteous - is the armed wing of a Pakistani-based religious organization founded in 1989. The organization is banned in India and Pakistan.
    During the 1990s, the group received instruction and funding from Pakistan's intelligence agency in exchange for a pledge to target Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir and to train Muslim extremists on Indian soil, according to the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations.
    The group is suspected of being involved in the December 2001 attack on New Delhi's Parliament and the 2006 Mumbai train bombings.

    See also Pakistan-Based Group Accused in India Carnage Thriving Despite Ban - Candace Rondeaux and Craig Whitlock (Washington Post)
    Since 2002 when the government of Pakistan banned Lashkar-i-Taiba, the group has expanded its membership, its operational reach and its influence among radical Islamist networks seeking to spark a revolution in South Asia.
    Inside Pakistan, Lashkar still operates training camps for militants and runs a large charitable and social-services organization that has been embraced by Pakistani officials.
    Some of its fighters have traveled to Iraq and East Africa, and it has nurtured a mutually advantageous alliance with al-Qaeda.
    One of the British suicide bombers in the July 7, 2005, London transit attacks spent time at a Lashkar-affiliated religious school in Pakistan.

    See also Lashkar-e-Taiba "Backed by Saudi Money" - William Kristol (New York Times)
    According to the respected journalist and diplomat Husain Haqqani, who is now Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S., Lashkar-e-Taiba is a jihadi group of Wahhabi persuasion, "backed by Saudi money and protected by Pakistani intelligence services."
    See also The Ideologies of South Asian Jihadi Groups - Husain Haqqani (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

U.S., UK, Israel Ramp Up Intelligence Aid to India - Chidanand Rajghatta (Times of India)
    Investigators, forensic analysts, counter-terrorism experts, and spymasters from India, the U.S., UK, and Israel are converging in New Delhi and Mumbai to crack the method and motive behind the Mumbai terrorist massacre, now widely blamed on Islamist radicals who appeared to have all four countries on their hit list when they arrived on the shores of India.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Couple Killed in Mumbai Were Revered in Brooklyn - Robin Shulman
    The bodies of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and his Israeli wife, Rivka, 28, were found inside the blasted shell of the Habad outreach center they ran in Mumbai. The Holtzbergs left Crown Heights in 2003, shortly after their marriage, and moved to Mumbai to direct the Habad center, where they ran a synagogue, led religious classes and social activities, and helped people in need, from drug addicts to the poor.
        After men firing automatic weapons and tossing grenades burst into the center on Wednesday, Gavriel Holtzberg was able to reach the Israeli consulate by phone. "The situation is not good," he began, in Hebrew, but the connection was cut off. (Washington Post)
        See also Orphan of Slain Rabbi in Mumbai Going to Israel - Marjorie Olster
    Moshe Holtzberg, the 2-year-old orphan of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, will fly to Israel Monday on an Israeli Air Force jet with his parents' remains, his maternal grandparents who arrived from Israel on Friday, and Sandra Samuel, the Indian woman who rescued him, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Andy David said. (AP)
        See also Remembering Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg - Benjamin Holtzman (JTA)
        See also Two Stopped Briefly at Habad House, Were Murdered - Tovah Lazaroff
    Bentzion Chroman, who survived an earthquake in China earlier this year, was killed when a terrorist invaded the Mumbai Habad House where he had stopped briefly on Wednesday for afternoon prayers. Chroman, 28, had gone to India at the request of his friend, Rabbi Leibish Teitelbaum, to help supervise kashrut. Teitelbaum was also killed in the attack. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Turns Back Libyan Ship Headed for Gaza
    A Libyan cargo vessel headed for Gaza was stopped several miles off Gaza's shores on Monday. "Navy ships approached the Libyan boat and ordered it on the radio to turn back, and so it did," Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. "Anyone wishing to transfer humanitarian aid into Gaza is welcome to do it in coordination with Israel and through the regular crossings. They can also contact Egypt." (AFP)
  • Al-Qaeda Leader Calls on Americans to Embrace Islam
    Al-Qaeda's No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahri appeared in a new video posted Friday calling on Americans to embrace Islam to overcome the financial meltdown, which he said was a consequence of the Sept. 11 attacks and militant strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Al-Zawahri called on the American people to "embrace Islam to live a life free of greed, exploitation and forbidden wealth." Al-Zawahri, an Egyptian, also took aim at Egypt's government, blaming it for the blockade of Gaza because it has kept its border with the territory sealed. (AP/Washington Times)
  • Hamas Blocks Mecca Pilgrims from Leaving Gaza - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Palestinian pilgrims bound for the annual haj pilgrimage to Mecca were prevented from leaving Gaza via Egypt on Saturday. The pilgrims said Hamas police set up checkpoints 300 meters from the Rafah border post with Egypt and turned them away. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said Egypt opened the crossing point for the pilgrims on Saturday but none came. Saudi Arabia says it has granted visas only to Palestinians who registered for the haj through the West Bank-based PA, and some 3,000 people in Gaza have done so. A further 3,000 Gazans have tried to arrange visas through Hamas. Hamas leaders have said that unless Saudi Arabia gives them visas, they will prevent anyone leaving Gaza for Mecca. (Reuters)
        See also Hamas Police Beat Muslim Pilgrims Trying to Reach Mecca - Diaa Hadid
    Hamas police beat some pilgrims who tried to dodge barriers, witnesses said. Egypt criticized Hamas' actions as unbecoming of an Islamic movement. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Bush to Olmert: Why Are You Giving Syria the Golan for Nothing? - Aluf Benn
    U.S. President George Bush believes that Israel is offering Syria the Golan Heights without getting anything in exchange, according to sources briefed on his White House meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week. "It's not for nothing," Olmert insisted. "It's in exchange for a change in the region's strategic alignment." Bush persisted: "Why should you believe him?" Infuriated by Syria's involvement in anti-American terror in Iraq, as well as its undermining of Lebanon's fragile democracy, Bush preferred to invest his diplomatic capital in Israeli-Palestinian talks, while eschewing contacts with the Syrians. (Ha'aretz)
  • EU Document on Mideast Peace Bid Alarms Israel - Barak Ravid
    Israeli officials are deeply concerned over an internal document written by the French Foreign Ministry outlining the EU's plans for advancing an Israeli-Palestinian deal in 2009. Inter alia, it calls for increased pressure on Israel to reopen Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem, including Orient House, which formerly served as PA headquarters in the city. "A key part of building the Palestinian state involves resolving the status of Jerusalem, as the future capital of two states," it declares. Therefore, "the EU will work actively towards the re-opening of the Palestinian institutions, including the Orient House." In addition, it notes, the EU "expects a complete freeze of all settlement activities including natural growth, including in East Jerusalem."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Eight IDF Troops Hurt in Palestinian Mortar Strike, Soldier Loses Leg - Amos Harel and Yanir Yagna
    Eight Israel Defense Forces soldiers were wounded Friday after Palestinians in Gaza fired mortars at a military base near Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Doctors had to amputate the leg of one of the soldiers who was brought to the hospital in serious condition. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues Sunday - Shmulik Hadad
    Palestinians in Gaza fired two Kassam rockets at Israel on Sunday, with one landing inside Sderot. A barrage of five mortar shells also landed in Israel. Palestinians fired three rockets at Israel on Saturday. (Ynet News)
  • Israeli Cabinet Approves Releasing 250 Palestinian Prisoners in Gesture to Abbas - Roni Sofer
    The Israeli government on Sunday approved the release of 250 Palestinian prisoners ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, in keeping with the promise Prime Minister Olmert made to Mahmoud Abbas in their meeting two weeks ago. Israel made a similar gesture two months ago with the release of 198 Palestinian prisoners. (Ynet News)
        According to senior government sources, the underlying logic behind this prisoner release - and previous ones like it - is to weaken Hamas. When the families of Hamas prisoners saw that only Fatah prisoners were being released, they would begin asking difficult questions. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The War Against Terror Has Changed - Amos Harel
    The war against terror has changed. The new scenario poses totally different challenges to anti-terror units. As soon as large areas such as hotels are attacked, the challenge becomes incalculably more complex. Anti-terror experts say that just securing one floor of a hotel where terrorists are holding hostages would take an entire unit. Even Israel does not have enough units capable of handling a few hostage-taking and other attacks simultaneously. In light of the quality of the training the terrorists received and the number of people training together, the West should perhaps return to attacking terrorist training camps, including those in Pakistan or Lebanon.
        The interest shown by global jihad organizations in Israelis and Jews as targets is not new. Even when the background to their attacks is apparently a regional conflict with no connection to us (India and Pakistan), the Islamic element turns Israelis and Jews into secondary targets for terrorists. (Ha'aretz)
  • Paying a Price for Honoring International Law - Jonny Paul
    Using a loophole in Britain's Universal Jurisdiction Law, pro-Palestinian campaigners filed a criminal complaint accusing IDF Maj.-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog of committing a war crime by ordering the demolition of Palestinian homes in Gaza in 2002. On Wednesday, Almog addressed a conference in London via satellite link, titled "Averting Abuse of Universal Jurisdiction." To show that the IDF deferred to the judicial system, Almog said that while he headed the Southern Command, he requested the demolition of a certain house in Gaza, but his request was turned down by the legal echelons of the IDF. In June 2006, that house served as cover for the tunnel from Gaza into Israel that was used to kidnap Cpl. Gilad Shalit. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Maj.-Gen. Almog: Universal Jurisdiction Used to Delegitimize Israel (Ynet News)
  • Observations:

    Lives of Noble Purpose Cut Short in a War the Free World Must Not Lose - David Horovitz (Jerusalem Post)

    • The premeditated assault on Habad House and Mumbai's other soft targets is only the latest bloody declaration of war by the death-cult Islamists, seeking now to destabilize India, but ultimately threatening all of our freedoms.
    • To its abiding moral and practical detriment, much of the international community nonetheless shies from this reality, clinging to the notion that there are specific, legitimate grievances motivating the murder, and that these grievances can be sated and normal service resumed.
    • In truth, of course, it's us or them. And the appalling "success" of this most recent, sophisticated assault on another free society, this latest benighted exercise in a campaign of global destabilization, exposes the incompetence of our defense.
    • The free world must first acknowledge the scale of the challenge, and then set in place the cooperative security, intelligence and legal frameworks to meet it.

      The writer is editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post.

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