Middle East Intelligence Bulletin
Jointly published by the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon and the Middle East Forum
  Vol. 3   No. 7 Table of Contents
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July/August 2001 


Intelligence Briefs: Syria

Scud Missile Launch Detected
Nayyouf: Arad Was Held in Syrian Prison
Government-Sanctioned Islamic Party to Be Established

Scud Missile Launch Detected

Syria test fired a Scud missile on July 1, a move widely interpreted as a signal to Israel that Damascus can hit the Jewish state with ballistic missiles. The missile, which was tracked by Israel's Green Pine radar system, was launched near the northern city of Aleppo and landed in the desert in southern Syria, covering a distance of around 300 km. Israeli military sources did not reveal the specific type of Scud that was launched. The same system tracked the launch of a Scud-D missile last year.

Ron Arad
Nayyouf: Arad Was Held in Syrian Prison

In interview published by the French weekly Le Point on July 6, Syrian journalist Nizar Nayyouf said that he saw missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad in a Syrian prison in 1993. "I saw Ron Arad when I was in jail. He was alive on August 7, 1993," said Nayyouf, who was released from prison in May after nine years in captivity. "That day, his jailers took him to a bathroom, to be washed. His physical condition was good." Ron Arad's plane was brought down in south Lebanon by the Amal militia in 1986.

Nayyouf also revealed the existence of a mass grave near Tadmur prison that contains the bodies of 13,000-17,000 prisoners, including Jordanians, Palestinians, and Lebanese as well as Syrians.

Government-Sanctioned Islamic Party to Be Established

According to sources in Syria, President Bashar Assad will soon approve the formation of a state-sanctioned Islamic party in an effort to divert public support for the Muslim Brotherhood. Sheikh Ahmad Kuftaru, the government-appointed Grand Mufti of Syria, will reportedly be the party's spiritual head, while Sheikh Muhammad al-Habash, a prominent theologian, will be the political head. Kuftaru met with Pope John Paul II at the Omayyad Mosque in Damascus during the Pontiff's May 2001 visit, presenting himself as a strong proponent of religious tolerance. Habash is well known for his fairly progressive views on women's rights.


2001 Middle East Intelligence Bulletin. All rights reserved.
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