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July 29, 2011

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Targeted Iranian Confirmed as Nuke Expert - George Jahn (AP)
    A man shot dead on a Tehran street by motorcycle-riding gunmen last weekend was a scientist involved in suspected Iranian attempts to make nuclear weapons and not a student as officially claimed, a foreign government official and a former UN nuclear inspector have told the Associated Press.
    An official from a member-nation of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency verified that the victim was Darioush Rezaeinejad, who participated in developing high-voltage switches, a key component in setting off the explosions needed to trigger a nuclear warhead.
    The official described Rezaeinejad as a physicist who had worked in the past for the Iranian defense ministry on projects linked to nuclear weapons development.

Soldier Held over Terror Plot at Fort Hood - David Goodman (New York Times)
    Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo has admitted that he planned to attack Fort Hood, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
    Police in Killeen, Tex., arrested Abdo on Wednesday after a clerk at a local gun store alerted the police about a suspicious purchase.
    Among the items found in his room were a pistol, shotgun shells and an article on "how to make a bomb in your kitchen" from the English-language Qaeda magazine Inspire.
    Abdo, who joined the Army in April 2009, gained national attention last summer when he refused to deploy with his unit to Afghanistan, insisting that his Muslim faith prevented him from serving.

Man Who Shot Two Arkansas Soldiers Also Shot at Rabbi's Home (AP-Washington Post)
    Abdulhakim Muhammad, who pleaded guilty to shooting two soldiers outside a military recruiting station in Arkansas, said he also fired 10 rounds at the home of Rabbi Eugene Levy in Little Rock days earlier, according to a letter he wrote to the FBI.
    In a letter dated November 24, 2009, Muhammad said he targeted Levy's house after researching Jewish leaders in Little Rock, Nashville, and Memphis.
    "Figured the FBI wasn't watching me anymore," he wrote. "I started my plans to attack recruitment centers, Jewish organizations, across America." He said he bought rifles, a pistol, ammunition and materials to make Molotov cocktails.
    On June 1, 2009, Muhammad said he decided to firebomb another rabbi’s house in Nashville. He said he lobbed a Molotov cocktail at the home, but the fire blew out mid-air.
    Muhammad was sentenced to life in prison without parole this week.

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Israeli Player on UK Team Subjected to Anti-Semitic Abuse in Malaysia - Dominic Fifield (Guardian-UK)
    Britain's Chelsea soccer club has lodged a formal complaint with the Malaysian Football Association alleging that the club's Israeli midfielder Yossi Benayoun was the subject of anti-Semitic abuse during last week's friendly in Kuala Lumpur.
    Large sections of the crowd booed and jeered Benayoun's every touch in Chelsea's 1-0 victory over a Malaysian team.
    "We believe Yossi was subjected to anti-Semitic abuse by a number of supporters at the game," a Chelsea spokesman said. "Such behavior is offensive, totally unacceptable and has no place in football."

Israeli Experiments Land with Final Space Shuttle - Andy Levy-Ajzenkopf (Canadian Jewish News)
    When the Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down after its final voyage last week, it returned with three Israeli experiments.
    The Israeli scientific payloads included microgravity experiments on telomeres - DNA sequences that protect chromosomes from erosion, a study on bone cells, and another on water purification.
    All three experiments were organized by Israel's Fisher Institute for Strategic Air and Space Studies.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Accuses Iran of Aiding Al-Qaeda - Joby Warrick
    The Obama administration said Thursday that Iran is helping al-Qaeda funnel cash and recruits into Pakistan for its international operations. Documents filed by the Treasury Department accuse Iran of facilitating an al-Qaeda-run support network that transfers large amounts of cash from Middle East donors to al-Qaeda's top leadership in Pakistan's tribal region.
        A Syrian national who directs the network has been allowed to operate in Iran since 2005, and senior Iranian officials know about money transfers and allow the movement of al-Qaeda foot soldiers through its territory, administration officials said. "By exposing Iran's secret deal with al-Qaeda, allowing it to funnel funds and operatives through its territory, we are illuminating yet another aspect of Iran's unmatched support for terrorism," said David S. Cohen, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. (Washington Post)
        See also below Observations: Al-Qaeda in Iran - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
  • U.S. Voices Commitment to Israel in Defense Talks - Charles Dharapak
    The U.S. on Thursday reiterated its support for a strong military in Israel as Defense Minister Ehud Barak held talks with top leaders in Washington. Newly installed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stressed his "strong commitment" to defense relations with Israel and to "ensuring that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge," Pentagon spokesman George Little said. (AFP)
  • 3,000 People Missing in Syria's Uprising
    The online activist group has identified 2,918 Syrians who were arrested or abducted by force by security troops and whose whereabouts are now unknown. "Hour by hour, peaceful protesters are plucked from crowds by Syria's infamously brutal security forces, never to be seen again," said Ricken Patel, executive director at Avaaz.
        Avaaz has identified 1,634 who were killed in the crackdown since March 15. Moreover, 26,000 have been arrested, and many of them were beaten and tortured. Some 12,617 are still in detention, the group said.
        Syrian troops opened fire Wednesday on scores of people in the Damascus suburb of Kanaker, killing at least eight people. On Thursday, security forces swept through the Barzeh neighborhood of Damascus, arresting more than a 100 people, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Bomb Blast Targets Oil Pipeline in Syria
    A bomb blast struck an oil pipeline in Talkalakh in western Syria on Friday in what Syrian state television described as a "terrorist" attack, saying that "saboteurs" were behind the explosion. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Syrian Regime Tortures Indiscriminately - Haitham Al-Tabiai
    The stories coming out of Syria every day reveal new details about the brutal practices of the Syrian security apparatus as part of the Assad regime's attempt to suppress the protests that have swept the country. Asharq Al-Awsat spoke to Syrian citizens who revealed that they had been tortured at the hands of the Syrian security forces. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • Clinton: House Foreign Relations Bill Deserves Veto - Pete Kasperowicz
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday told House Republicans that the Foreign Relations authorization bill approved in committee last week would be "debilitating" to her efforts to conduct foreign policy, and that she would push for a veto. Among other reasons, Clinton cited as a problem language that conditions funding to Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen and the Palestinian Authority on certifications that no terrorist groups are involved in those governments. Clinton said this would require the administration to meet "burdensome and infeasible certifications."  (The Hill)
  • Death of Libyan Rebel Leader Stirs Fears of Tribal Conflict - David D. Kirkpatrick
    The leader of the Libyan rebels' provisional government, Mustapha Abdul Jalil, announced Thursday that unnamed assassins had killed the top rebel military commander, Gen. Abdul Fattah Younes, and two other officers. Younes was a former interior minister in the Gaddafi government and members of his tribe - the Obeidi, one of the largest in the east - blamed the rebel leadership for having some role in his death. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Peacekeeper Bombing Used Sophisticated Technology - Nicholas Blanford
    The investigation into Tuesday's bomb attack against a convoy of French UNIFIL soldiers suggests that the explosive device was detonated by a command wire, allowing it to circumvent the electronic defenses used on UNIFIL vehicles, the Daily Star learned Wednesday. The use of a command wire suggests the perpetrator could have been relatively close to the scene of the blast, allowing him to see the approaching convoy and set off the bomb as it passed by.
        Unhappily for UNIFIL, the 11,000-strong force is a sitting duck for this kind of attack. If there are further bomb attacks against European troops in UNIFIL - particularly if any of them prove fatal - how long will it be before their respective governments decide to call it a day in south Lebanon? (Daily Star-Lebanon)
        See also Italy to Downsize UNIFIL Contingent - Patrick Galey and Youssef Diab
    Italy voted Wednesday to reduce the number of its peacekeepers in Lebanon by more than one-third, bringing 700 of 1,780 soldiers back to Rome, just a day after five French UN peacekeepers were wounded in a roadside bomb attack. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
  • Jerusalem Greets French Edict on Israel as Jewish State - Herb Keinon
    The French Foreign Ministry on Wednesday circulated comments made by Foreign Minister Alain Juppe last week saying that any solution to the Middle East conflict would need to recognize Israel as the nation-state for the Jewish people. Juppe said: "There will be no solution to the conflict in the Middle East without recognition of two nation-states for two peoples. The nation-state of Israel for the Jewish people, and the nation-state of Palestine for the Palestinian people. There is no getting away from this."
        Israeli diplomatic officials said Juppe's statement was an indication that the Europeans were moving in the direction of Prime Minister Netanyahu's position that recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people must be part of the parameters for future negotiations with the Palestinians.
        For weeks, diplomatic discussions have been quietly taking place regarding a formula for a return to negotiations that would be acceptable to both Israel and the Palestinians, and which could keep the PA from pressing the statehood issue at the UN. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Announces Full Diplomatic Ties with South Sudan - Barak Ravid
    The Foreign Ministry announced Thursday that Israel has established full diplomatic relations with the government of South Sudan. In recent days, an Israeli delegation visited the South Sudan capital of Juba and held talks with senior government officials. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Security Forces Raid Home of Former Security Strongman Muhammad Dahlan
    Palestinian security forces raided the Ramallah house of ousted Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan on Thursday. Gunshots were heard as Dahlan's security guards tried to escape. Twelve security men were held, and communications equipment, computers, 16 weapons and 12 of Dahlan's personal cars were seized. (Maan News-PA)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Reports from Inside Iran - Abbas Milani
    The heat on Ahmadinejad, at fever pitch till a month ago, has subsided, at least for now. An uneasy peace seems to have emerged between the president and the increasingly authoritarian Khamenei. When threatened with impeachment by the Supreme Leader's allies in parliament, the press and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), Ahmadinejad decided to fight fire with fire. He threatened to tell the truth about what is happening in the country. He talked of the tens of millions of dollars made each year from the illicit trade in American cigarettes, and how "the brothers" - an unmistakable reference to the IRGC - have not been able to forgo the temptation to avail themselves of this source of income. He talked of these brothers operating many illegal ports of entry where, using the guise of national security, they bring in all manner of commodities at great profit.
        There is no indication that the Bushehr reactor, scheduled to start operation at least a year ago, will be operational anytime soon. The viruses introduced into the computer system controlling the centrifuges did, by all indications, considerable damage to the regime's nuclear infrastructure. Of these viruses (all reportedly designed by the U.S. and Israel) only the first, Stuxnet, attracted much attention in the West. Almost in passing, the Iranian regime referred to a second virus and, of course, claimed that much as they had with Stuxtnet the "soldiers of God" immediately beat back this new "Zionist-American" attack. The writer is Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University, where he is also the codirector of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution. (National Interest)
  • Norway Needs a Single Standard Against Terrorism - Alan M. Dershowitz
    I know of no reasonable person who has tried to justify the terrorist attacks against Norway. Yet there are many Norwegians who not only justify terrorist attacks against Israel, but praise them, support them, help finance them, and legitimate them. The world must unite in condemning and punishing all terrorist attacks against innocent civilians, regardless of the motive or purported cause of the terrorism. Norway, as a nation, has failed to do this. It wants us all to condemn the terrorist attack on its civilians, and we should all do that, but it refuses to live by a single standard. (Hudson Institute-New York)
  • Egypt-Sinai-Gaza: The Triangular Threat to Israel - Gilad Stern, Einav Yogev, and Yoram Schweitzer
    Last week's attack on the gas pipeline in the El-Arish area in northern Sinai was the fifth attack on the pipeline in the past six months. While no organization has taken responsibility for the attacks, various elements in Egypt have pointed to terrorist organizations based in Gaza: al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad and Jaish al-Islam. These events, along with the sharp increase in smuggling of advanced weapons through Sinai to Gaza, make Sinai a security challenge for Israel because of the looser control of the peninsula by the new Egyptian regime.
        Sinai is likely to become a "no-man's land" from a security point of view, where terrorist organizations will be able to maneuver more easily. Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, head of Israeli Military Intelligence, recently observed that Egyptian security forces "are losing control over the Sinai region." Recent developments sharpen the need for an in-depth examination of the possibility of a strategic shift in relations between Israel and Egypt. This would likely require new military and security arrangements on the southern front, quiet for over thirty years.
        At the same time, the accepted assessment in Israel is that the new regime in Egypt will continue to adhere to the peace treaty. Nonetheless, as long as the Egyptian security apparatus is occupied primarily with the uprising aftermaths in the large cities, the common border area between Egypt, Israel and Gaza will likely continue to be a focus for increased activity by terrorist organizations against Israeli targets. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

  • Weekend Features

  • Over 170,000 Views for YouTube Video "The Truth about the West Bank"
    A new video featuring Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Danny Ayalon, who explains where the terms "West Bank," "occupied territories" and "67 borders" originated and how they are incorrectly used and applied, has already been viewed by over 170,000 worldwide. "For too many years, our public diplomacy has been mainly based on a 'peace narrative,' where Israeli officials talk about how much we are willing to concede for peace," Ayalon said. "While we do all we can do promote peace, it is time for Israel to return to a 'rights-based diplomacy' and talk about the facts, rights, history and international law which are little known but give a dramatically different viewpoint to what is currently accepted."
        Chief Palestinian negotiator Dr. Saeb Erakat claimed in an official PA press release that Israel was accepted to the UN on the basis of UN General Assembly Resolution 181. Ayalon responded: "This false claim shows that Erekat misconstrues international law and its system, proving exactly how misguided the Palestinian attempt to have their unilaterally declared state recognized at the UN really is. Israel was admitted as a full UN member in 1949 by UN General Assembly Resolution 273, after a recommendation by the Security Council, because it met the criteria of statehood and signed armistice agreements with our neighbors, something the Palestinians should bear in mind before they further their confrontational and damaging plan towards September."
        "I challenge any of the Palestinian Authority political leadership to an open debate on all the issues ahead of September," Ayalon added. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Minorities in the IDF - Aryeh Tepper
    Non-Jews from the Muslim, Druse, and Christian communities in Israel serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) alongside their Jewish peers. After completing their basic training, these soldiers swear fealty to the state of Israel on a copy of the Quran or the New Testament instead of the standard Hebrew Bible.
        Israeli Arabs are not drafted - though some still do serve voluntarily. Israeli Druse number approximately 115,000, and the overwhelming majority of men proudly serve in the IDF. The Sunni Muslim Circassians (of whom around 4,500 live in Israel) also loyally serve in the IDF. While Israeli Bedouins are not obligated to serve, some 5-10% volunteer for army service, often as trackers. In addition, each year a few dozen Arab Christians volunteer to serve in the IDF. (Jewish Ideas Daily)

Al-Qaeda in Iran - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)

  • The U.S. government has formally acknowledged the connection between the world's most dangerous terrorist group and the leading state sponsor of terrorism.
  • The Treasury Department sanctioned six members of a terrorist network based in Iran for serving as "the core pipeline through which al-Qaeda moves money, facilitators and operatives from across the Middle East to South Asia," principally meaning Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • The Obama Administration has come a long way since the days when it thought it could strike a "grand bargain" with Iran's mullahs, and Thursday's move is another good step.
  • Above all, it's a reminder of why a regime that has no qualms serving as al-Qaeda's facilitator can on no account be permitted to build a nuclear bomb.
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