Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
View this page at


May 13, 2009

Daily Alert Needs Your Support

In-Depth Issues:

Man Convicted of Building Terrorist Training Camp in U.S. - Carrie Johnson (Washington Post)
    A federal jury in New York Tuesday convicted Oussama Abdullah Kassir of providing support to al-Qaeda by building a terrorist training camp on U.S. soil.
    Kassir traveled to Bly, Ore., in late 1999 to establish a military-style facility at the direction of Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri of the Finsbury Park mosque in London, who has been designated a terrorist by the U.S.
    At the camp, Kassir taught techniques for waging jihad, including "how to kill a person by slitting their throat with a knife," according to the indictment.
    Upon returning overseas, Kassir operated for nearly four years what prosecutors say were "terrorist web sites" that offered instructions on how to prepare bombs and poisonous compounds.

Ten Arrested in UK Anti-Terrorism Raids "Linked to Al-Qaeda" - Fran Yeoman (Times-UK)
    The men arrested during anti-terror raids in Britain last month included members of a UK-based network linked to al-Qaeda attack planning, an immigration hearing was told Tuesday.
    The Home Office is seeking to deport ten of them, all Pakistani nationals, on the ground that they pose a risk to national security.

Al-Qaeda Suspects "Plotted Attack on Britain" from Behind Bars - Nick Squires and Duncan Gardham (Telegraph-UK)
    Italian police on Tuesday arrested two al-Qaeda terrorists suspected of planning attacks on Britain and France from inside an Italian prison as part of a Europe-wide network.
    During wiretapped conversations, Bassam Ayachi, 62, a Syrian imam with French citizenship, and Raphael Frederic Gendron, 33, a Frenchman who converted to Islam, discussed an attack on Charles De Gaulle airport outside Paris and spoke of the need to "strike at the British," Italian police said.
    "They are key figures in al-Qaeda's European organization," said Giorgio Manari, the chief of police in Bari.

Five Men Convicted in Miami Terrorism Trial - Vanessa Blum (Los Angeles Times)
    After two mistrials, five men from Miami were convicted Tuesday of trying to join with al-Qaeda in plots to topple the 110-story Sears Tower in Chicago and bomb government buildings in South Florida.

Israel Marks Lag B'Omer (JTA)
    Lag B'Omer, the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer between Passover and Shavuot, was marked on Monday night and Tuesday with bonfires and first haircuts for 3-year-old boys.
    More than 400,000 people gathered at the burial site of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, who died on Lag B'Omer, in Meron in northern Israel.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use/Privacy 
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Report: Ahmadinejad Leads in Iranian Election Poll
    A recent poll shows that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is leading Iran's presidential election race by a big margin, Iran's satellite Press TV reported Tuesday. "The opinion poll conducted in Tehran as well as 29 other provincial capitals and 32 important cities on May 3-4 indicates that 58.6% will cast their ballots in favor of Ahmadinejad, while some 21.9% will vote for [Mir-Hossein] Mousavi." In another more recent poll carried out in Tehran, 44.8% said they would opt for the incumbent president while 29% percent said they would pick Mousavi. (Xinhua-China)
        See also Khamenei Offers Implicit Support to Ahmadinejad
    Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday offered his implicit support to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the June 12 presidential election. "We should elect those who have popular support and who live in a simple and modest way," Khamenei said in an apparent reference to Ahmadinejad who is known for his modest style of living. (AFP)
  • U.S. Elected to UN Human Rights Council - Neil MacFarquhar
    The U.S. won a seat on the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday, as the General Assembly re-elected other nations to the 47-member body which have been condemned by human rights organizations for abusing their own citizens, including Cuba, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Cameroon. "While we recognize that the Human Rights Council has been a flawed body that has not lived up to its potential, we are looking forward to working from within with a broad cross section of member states to strengthen and reform the council," said Susan E. Rice, the American ambassador. (New York Times)
  • Pope Urges Palestinians to Resist Terrorism - Rachel Donadio
    Pope Benedict XVI traveled Wednesday to Bethlehem, where he told Palestinians they had a right to a sovereign homeland "in the land of your forefathers, secure and at peace with its neighbors, within internationally recognized borders." He also urged young Palestinians to "have the courage to resist any temptation you may feel to resort to acts of violence or terrorism."  (New York Times)
  • Israeli PM Favors "Natural Growth" of Existing Settlements - Ron Bousso
    "[Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu will insist on Israel's right to construct within existing settlement blocs in order to sustain their natural growth," Zalman Shoval, a close confidante of Netanyahu and former Israeli ambassador to Washington, said Tuesday. "He will also make a clear commitment not to build new settlements." Netanyahu will argue that President George W. Bush said in a letter to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004 that large settlement blocs will remain under Israeli control in any future peace deal. "The previous U.S. administration made a clear commitment on the large settlement blocs. It is not possible not to build there," Shoval said. (AFP)
  • Ahmadinejad Upsets Iranian Farmers - Najmeh Bozorgmehr
    Markets in Iran are now saturated year-round with Chinese pears, Pakistani tangerines, French apples and Chilean pomegranates. All this abundance comes at a cost. Iranian farmers say the government has wasted windfall oil earnings and stoked an import-led boom rather than encouraging domestic food producers. Local media have reported that Iranian cattle farmers are facing bankruptcy because of imports of cheap red meat and dried milk at rates less than half local prices. Rice growers in the Caspian region say they cannot compete with cheap imports from Pakistan. The agricultural trade balance came in at a record deficit of about $9 billion for the last Iranian year. The figure was $45 million when Ahmadinejad took power about four years ago. (Financial Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • IDF Intelligence: Mideast Not Obama's Top Priority - Amnon Meranda
    IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday that the Middle East was not the first priority of the U.S. administration, which was currently focused on Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Iran. (Ynet News)
        See also Military Intelligence: Gaza Smuggling Continues Despite Egypt's Efforts - Yuval Azoulay
    Yadlin also said that while Egypt has increased patrols along its border with Gaza, the smuggling of weapons has continued. "The situation is better than before, but the Gaza Strip has still not been hermetically sealed to smuggling," Yadlin said. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Fencing Off Part of Egyptian Border - Yaakov Katz
    Fearing an increase in infiltration attempts by terrorists along the border with Egypt, the IDF's Southern Command recently began constructing a 40-km. barrier fence between Gaza and the Israeli border town of Nitzana to the south. The border with Egypt, over 200 km. long, is Israel's most porous frontier and is marked only in certain sections by a regular fence lacking electronic sensors. The section being sealed off is used frequently by drug smugglers and refugees to enter Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Don't Blame Israel - Alan M. Dershowitz
    In a highly publicized recent statement, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel linked American efforts to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons to Israeli efforts toward establishing a Palestinian state. This is dangerous. It will be far easier for Israel to make peace with the Palestinians if it did not have to worry about the threat of a nuclear attack or a dirty bomb. It will also be easier for Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank if Iran were not arming and inciting Hamas, Hizbullah and other enemies of Israel to terrorize Israel with rockets and suicide bombers. If there is any linkage, it goes the other way - defanging Iran will promote the two-state solution.
        Israelis have been scarred by what happened in Gaza. Israel ended the occupation, removed all of the settlers, and left behind millions of dollars worth of agricultural and other facilities designed to make Gaza into an economically-viable democracy. Land for peace is what they sought. Instead they got land for rocket attacks against their children, their women and their elderly. No one wants to see a repeat of this trade-off. (New York Post)
  • States Should Divest from Outlaw Regimes - Editorial
    Americans can fight the war on terror by stopping businesses from investing in terror-sponsoring states. On May 1, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a law that divests his state's public pension systems from companies doing business with the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Syrian Arab Republic. Indiana previously divested from the Islamic Republic of Sudan in 2007.
        A Florida law requires police and firefighters' pension funds to withdraw their money from firms with active business ties to Iran and Sudan, and requires the state to provide a "terror-free" investment option for state employees participating in Florida's defined-contribution retirement plan. California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have also adopted laws to divest. These admirable efforts demonstrate how Americans across the country can take the fight to terrorist states. (Washington Times)
  • Christians in Mideast Losing Numbers and Influence - Ethan Bronner
    Christians used to be a vital force in the Middle East. They dominated Lebanon and filled top jobs in the Palestinian movement. In Egypt, they were wealthy beyond their number. In Iraq, they packed the universities and professions. But as Pope Benedict XVI wends his way across the Holy Land this week, he is addressing a dwindling and threatened Christian population driven to emigration by political violence, lack of economic opportunity and the rise of radical Islam.
        A region that a century ago was 20% Christian is about 5% today and dropping. In Lebanon, Christians now amount to a quarter of the population. A century ago there were millions of Christians in what is today Turkey; now there are 150,000. In Bethlehem, Christians now make up barely a third of the population after centuries of being 80%. Of the 1.4 million Christians in Iraq in 2003, nearly half have fled. (New York Times)
        See also Some Truths about Palestinian Christians - Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)
  • Observations:

    Iran Has Changed the Middle East Security Agenda - IDF Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • I recently met with a very prominent figure in one of the Gulf states. He said, "The reason I had an interest in meeting you could be summed up in one word: Iran. We are on the same side. We feel threatened by the Iranian nuclear projects, by their political ambitions, by their subversion and so on. And frankly, we are skeptical of whether Iran could be stopped. We don't know if the U.S. administration will be assertive enough, and if Iran goes nuclear it's going to be hell for all of us."
    • This anecdote encapsulates the general feeling today in the Middle East. When we talk to our neighbors in Egypt, in Jordan, in the Gulf states, in North Africa, the number-one topic that comes up is Iran. They are scared by the Iranian projects and ambitions. They are willing to do a lot in order to stop it.
    • Some of them are exerting more efforts in order to stop the Iranians and be more assertive. Others, who fear that Iran can't be stopped, are aligning themselves with the Iranians.
    • This confrontation between the radical and the moderate axis impacts the behavior of some of the regional actors, and you see things that you have not seen in the past. Look at the way Egypt behaved while we were operating in Gaza. They basically gave us a free hand and wished that we would crush Hamas.
    • I am often asked, why did you stop the operations in Gaza? Why didn't you crush Hamas? In order to topple the Hamas regime we would have needed to occupy the whole of Gaza, to stay there for a very long time, and to assume responsibility for 1.5 million civilians. Beyond all of this, Gaza is not the number-one challenge that we face. We have Iran, we have Hizbullah, we have other issues. So we decided not to go the full way. Hamas was badly beaten. I think we have created a sufficient deterrence, for the time being at least.

    Unsubscribe from Daily Alert