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May 13, 2010

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15 Jihadist Terrorist Attacks Thwarted in France - Edward Cody (Washington Post)
    A plot to set off a bomb in the Paris subway, revealed through a tip from Spain, was one of 15 planned terrorist attacks by jihadist cells in France that have been thwarted in recent years, according to the Central Directorate of Internal Intelligence (DCRI), France's main antiterrorism force.
    The emphasis in Europe has been on domestic human intelligence rather than the computerized systems such as watch lists favored by U.S. security agencies.
    That has meant tedious hours of surveillance, patient listening-in on telephone conversations, careful review of bank records, and relentless recruitment of informants among Islamic zealots.
    A DCRI field agent, interviewed recently on France 2 television, said all 15 terrorist plots in France were uncovered because of information received from human sources, recruited among a Muslim population estimated at more than 5 million.
    "In the shadows, we put into place...detection systems, surveillance arrangements that allow us to act at the right moment," Bernard Squarcini, until recently the DCRI director, said in an interview. "Our obsession is to anticipate, that is, to neutralize terrorists before they strike."

Where Did Tens of Millions of Dollars of Palestinian Assets Disappear To? - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    The Fatah central committee convened recently to discuss the disappearance during the 1970s of huge sums of the organization's money and other holdings.
    Yasser Arafat transferred tens of millions of dollars of assets to dozens of activists including real estate located in Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.
    The financial management of Fatah at the time was primarily in the hands of Arafat himself, and there is almost no documentation regarding what was distributed and to whom.

11 French Peacekeepers Injured in Lebanon Munitions Accident (AFP)
    11 French soldiers serving with the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon were injured on Wednesday, one of them seriously, when a rocket they were handling accidentally exploded inside their camp, Lt. Sylvain Bedouet, spokesman for the French battalion, said.

Whale Sighting Off Israeli Coast Stuns Scientists (AFP)
    The appearance of a grey whale off the coast of Israel has stunned scientists. It is thought to be the first time the giant mammal has been seen outside the Pacific in several hundred years.
    "It's an unbelievable event which has been described as one of the most important whale sightings ever," said Dr. Aviad Scheinin, chairman of the Israel Marine Mammal Research and Assistance Center which identified the creature.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S. Signals Unease over Russian-Syrian Nuclear Talks
    The U.S. signaled unease Wednesday with Russia-Syria nuclear talks, saying countries looking at energy cooperation with Damascus should be aware of Syrian shortcomings on nuclear matters. "What concerns us is...Syria has not answered questions that have been raised about its compliance with the NPT," the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said. During a visit to Damascus on Tuesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev voiced Moscow's readiness to build a nuclear power station in Syria as it has long been doing in Iran, Syria's main regional ally. (AFP)
        See also Russia Lands $20B Nuclear Deal in Turkey - Anatoly Medetsky
    Turkey on Wednesday agreed to let Russia build and own a $20 billion nuclear power plant complex in that country. Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Rosatom, the state nuclear corporation, signed an agreement to build four reactors on Turkey's southern Mediterranean coast. (Moscow Times-Russia)
  • Iran Eases Grip on Al-Qaeda - Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo
    Al-Qaeda operatives who have been detained for years in Iran have been making their way quietly in and out of the country, raising the prospect that Iran is loosening its grip on the terror group so it can replenish its ranks, former and current U.S. intelligence officials say. A major concern among U.S. officials is that this movement foreshadows the release of al-Qaeda's "management council," including some of al-Qaeda's most dangerous figures.
        Some experts believe that anyone from al-Qaeda freed to leave Iran must be returning to the battlefield. Others believe that terrorists may actually be working for Iran, gathering intelligence or passing messages before returning to Iran. (AP)
  • U.S. to Join Advisory Group Once Shunned - Matthew Lee
    The Obama administration is preparing to begin a formal relationship with the Alliance of Civilizations, an international advisory group that the U.S. has largely shunned due to fears it would adopt anti-Israeli and anti-Western stances, U.S. officials said Wednesday. The five-year-old, UN-backed organization aims to ease strains between societies and cultures, particularly the West and Islam.
        The Bush administration boycotted the group when it was founded in 2005, and its concerns were magnified a year later when the alliance released a report that identified Israel's "disproportionate retaliatory actions in Gaza and Lebanon" as a main cause of Muslim-Western tension. U.S. officials said the administration had been assured by the group's current leader, former Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio, that it would take a "more positive" approach to its work. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Rejects Call by Russia and Turkey to Include Hamas in Diplomatic Process
    The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement Wednesday saying it "absolutely rejects calls by the presidents of Russia and Turkey to include Hamas in the diplomatic process and expresses its deep disappointment in President Medvedev's meeting with Khaled Mashal in Damascus."
        "Hamas is a terrorist organization in every sense of the word; its declared purpose is the destruction of the State of Israel. Members of Hamas have been responsible for the murder of hundreds of innocent civilians, including Russian citizens and other former residents of the CIS. It is totally unacceptable for enlightened nations to divide terrorists into 'good' and 'bad' according to some geographical division. Terrorists are terrorists, and Israel does not see any difference between the Hamas terror operating against Israel and the Chechen terror operating against Russia."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Lieberman: Palestinians Reciprocate Israel's Gestures with "Slaps in the Face" - Merav Michaeli
    Israel's many gestures to the Palestinians have been reciprocated by "slaps in the face," Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday. "We took the unilateral step of deciding on a moratorium, a construction freeze in Judea and Samaria. We recognized two states for two peoples. We removed a dramatic number of roadblocks."
        "I think we made countless gestures, and what did we get in return? The glorification of terror." "The day before Israel's acceptance by the OECD, [PA Prime Minister] Salam Fayyad approached dozens of countries with a request to sabotage that acceptance. They keep going on with their stories about war crimes during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. After all, Mahmoud Abbas himself called and asked us, pressured us to continue the military campaign and overthrow Hamas."  (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Dispersing Military Equipment Stockpiles - Hanan Greenberg
    The IDF has recently begun scattering its stores of military equipment as part of a new defense concept to protect them from rocket and missile attacks, Brig.-Gen. Nissim Peretz, commander of the IDF's logistics division, said Wednesday. The equipment includes ammunition, weapons, fuel, food, spare parts and other equipment meant to serve the army in time of war. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • "Proximity Talks" Benefit Hamas and Iran - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Obama administration is making a mistake forcing Israel and the Palestinian Authority to discuss "core" issues such as Jerusalem, refugees, borders and settlements when the two sides are crying out that the gap between them on these explosive topics remains as wide as ever. The "proximity talks" will eventually undermine the moderates and boost the extremists among the Palestinians. The only ones who will benefit from this are Hamas and its friends in Tehran and Damascus.
        By insisting on putting the issues of Jerusalem and refugees on the table, the Obama administration is placing Israelis and Palestinians on a collision course. Achievements on the security and economic fronts seem to be at risk now that the "peace process" is being revived. Sooner or later, Israel and the Palestinians will be trading allegations over which party is to blame for the failure of the "proximity" talks. The higher the expectations, the greater the disappointment - especially among the Palestinians, who later vent out their anger and frustration against Israel. (Hudson Institute New York)
  • Human Rights Just a Joke at the UN - Anne Bayefsky
    Once upon a time, the UN was about protecting human rights and Eleanor Roosevelt was the chairman of its premier human rights agency, the Human Rights Commission. This week, the UN's top human rights body, renamed the Human Rights Council, is poised to add Libya to its membership. Libya will be elected by the UN General Assembly through a secret ballot in a process that champions geographic and religious loyalties over anything remotely resembling the actual protection of human rights. (FOX News)
  • Observations:

    Israel's Right to the Dimona Reactor - Ari Shavit (Ha'aretz)

    • According to foreign reports, the nuclear reactor at Dimona built in the early 1960s is not there for peaceful purposes. Why should Israel be permitted that which is prohibited to other states?
    • Why has the international community agreed that it should exist inside a cloud of ambiguity? Because the international community of the second half of the 20th century was moral. It remembered that for more than a millennium the Jewish people was the persecuted "Other" of Europe, and that between 1940 and 1945 a third of its number were murdered, and even Roosevelt and Churchill didn't lift a finger to save the one million Jews who could still have been rescued in 1944.
    • The international community could see that the Jewish state was surrounded by a sea of enmity. It also understood that precisely because the nuclear reactor was not for peaceful purposes, it would ensure peace. It is Dimona that stabilizes the Middle East.
    • Israel did not boast or behave ostentatiously, or in any way misuse the capability that was attributed to it. Even in difficult circumstances, it acted with deliberation and composure. It never unsheathed the sword that those foreign reports describe as a terrible one.
    • If the international community of the 21st century tries to force fashionable norms on the Dimona reactor, it will cause a disaster to itself. History will not forgive anyone who undermines the order that is based on Dimona, or anyone who tries to crack the glass that protects the Jewish state from those who want to do away with it.

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