DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 3, 2003
Someone at Israel's Shin Beit secret service decided that 2 am Tuesday was just the time to ask Tel Aviv district court to declassify a stream of data from the investigation into the terrorist bombing that took place at Mike's Place Tel Aviv pub on April 30 leaving 3 Israelis dead and 60 injured. No one questions that the bomb team consisted of two British Muslims, Asif Muhamed Hanif, who blew himself up, and Omar Khan Sharif, who got away after his bomb belt failed to detonate and never seen since. The gray area began to creep in two weeks later in mid-May when certain Israeli security services claimed that a badly disfigured body washed up by the Mediterranean was the missing British bomber.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report May 2, 2003
One member of the British duo spent four months in Syria preparing for the operation. His partner joined him in the second week of April after taking a circuitous route through Europe. Together, they were led by a Hamas or Hizballah guide through Jordan to the Allenby Bridge crossing into the West Bank and Israel entering on their British passports. A taxi drove them to the Gaza Strip. There, Hanif and Sharif lay low for about two weeks as guests of a Hamas cell that also numbers Hizballah operatives.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 24, 2003
Only one man is smiling in the group photo of Yasser Arafat, incoming Palestinian reform prime minister Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian intelligence chief Osman Suleiman, who brokered an accord on the makeup of the new government. That man is Arafat. The rest were grim. In the current round of the Ramallah power struggle, Abu Mazen with massive international backing may have forced Arafat to accept former Gazan security chief Mohammed Dahlan as internal security minister, but in the process he has fallen back on home ground and Arafat has come up smiling. Uneasy over Dahlan's empowerment, the Fatah leadership and Palestinian institutions which first granted majority backing to Abu Mazen's premiership has reverted to support of Arafat.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 9, 2003
Nominating his most outspoken critic, Mahmoud Abbas, 68, the veteran PLO secretary general usually known as Abu Mazen, as first Palestinian prime minister certainly stuck in Yasser Arafat's throat. Yet he went through with his presentation to the PLO Central Committee and the Central Council in Ramallah, on Saturday, March 8 and Sunday March 9. To make sure the Palestinian leader did not back out at the last minute, Israel conveyed a hint that he may be closer to deportation than he thinks. Monday, March 10, the Palestinian Legislative Council is due to determine what authority the new position will carry. The showdown between Arafat and Abu Mazen over the division of authority between them is the focus of heated deliberations in these labyrinthine institutions. But a senior Palestinian source reported to debkafile that at this stage, Abu Mazen has been neatly outmaneuvered.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 8, 2003
The disclosure that Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon opens formal ceasefire talks with the Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Abu Ala next Monday, February 10, appears inconsequential and beside the point at a time when one war or more looms over the Middle East, together with other potential horrors. However untimely and irrelevant, this initiative serves an important purpose for Sharon and the caretaker government he heads until he can set up a new post-election administration. It is a distraction for Israelis, whom the vague and conflicting statements issuing from government and military officials on the dangers posed by the coming war against Iraq have left frightened and at sea.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 14, 2003
Tuesday, January 14, the Palestinian Authority's Al Ayyam daily published a message, approved by Yasser Arafat in the name of all the Palestinian groups, calling off attacks on Israeli citizens. This message, formulated by the Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, also endorses the continuing Palestinian struggle for a state whose capital is Jerusalem. Gen. Suleiman was to submit this text to the London Middle East conference opened by British foreign secretary Jack Straw Tuesday night, January 14, in the presence of representatives from the Middle East Quartet, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
The Palestinians will be there via a videolink after Israeli banned Palestinian travel in the wake of the massacre by Palestinian terrorists on January 5 of 23 people in Tel Aviv. Israel was not invited by British PM Tony Blair.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 30, 2002
The powerful blast that reverberated across eastern and central Lebanon Sunday, December 29, was caused by the explosion of a big surface missile in Hizballah hands and of Iraqi origin. Reporting this, debkafile's exclusive military and Lebanese sources reveal that the Lebanese Shiite terrorist group has recently taken delivery of a shipment of surface missiles, presumed to be medium-range, from the Iraqi army. The blast occurred at a Hizballah training camp near a village called Janta in the northeastern section of the Beqaa Valley close to the Syrian frontier. This camp is also used by the group as a testing ground for new weapons, short range missiles and explosive devices. The blast was heard at a distance of 20 km indicating a warhead of one ton at least.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 22, 2002
There are two main reasons for the Palestinian leader to have swung the Hamas Islamic terrorists round to a partial suspension of operations: A. To put pressure on Israel to reciprocate by lifting the closure of Ramallah so that he can wriggle out of the stranglehold imposed on him by US President George W. Bush and Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. Once in Bethlehem, he will be free and can move around at will. B. To show Arab leaders that America can be challenged; they don't have to knuckle under to American dictates, least of all those laid down by Sharon.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 15, 2002
Jordanian information minister Mohammad Adwan fingered Saad bin Suwied and Yasser Ibrahim as the murderers who fired eight bullets from the silenced gun that slew USAID executive Lawrence Foley outside his home in Amman on October 28. Adwan described Suwied - a Libyan who entered Jordan on a Tunisian passport and Ibrahim, a Jordanian - as al Qaeda members who were paid $68,000 for the assassination. According to the information reaching debkafile's intelligence sources, the two assassins are not al Qaeda; they are in fact members of two Palestinian groups, who work in conjunction - the pro-Iraq Arab Liberation Front, whose leader Abu al Abbas is based in Baghdad, and the Jordanian wing of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement. They were apprehended by Jordanian security forces in November in a sweep of the south Jordanian Islamic fundamentalist town of Ma'an. After a brief interrogation, the captured men admitted working for Palestinian groups operating in Jordan on behalf of Iraqi military intelligence.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 18, 2002
Less than 24 hours after Tawfiq Fukra attempted to hijack El Al Tel Aviv-Istanbul Flight 581 in midair with the help of a penknife, Israel's airport authority gave itself a clean bill of health. The initial probe had established, said the authority's spokesman, that the 23-year old Israeli Arab from the Galilee village of Baina Najidat, west of Tiberias, had been screened by security officers according to the strictest criteria. Therefore, no faults could be attributed to pre-flight security procedures. The Authority's CEO, Pinni Schiff, admitted he could not say how the would-be hijacker had spirited a penknife aboard the flight. He said an answer was to be expected from the Turkish security interrogation of Fukra, who was taken into custody at Ataturk international airport when the threatened El Al flight landed Sunday night, with 170 safe but very frightened passengers and crew.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 16, 2002
Seventeen Israelis have died in two major Palestinian acts of terror in the last six days, confronting Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's fresh top team with their first stiff challenge. The men who will have to come up with answers are defense minister Shaul Mofaz, foreign minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Mofaz's successor as chief of staff, Lt. General Moshe Yaalon. Sunday, November 10, Palestinian gunmen shot five Israelis in cold blood, including a mother and two small sons, at Kibbutz Metzer inside Israel. In response, Israeli forces stormed into two northern West Bank Palestinian cities, Tulkarm and Nablus, for what were described officially as "toothcomb" operations to uproot terrorists in their lairs. This momentum was brutally interrupted on Friday night, November 15, by a meticulously planned, surprise Palestinian assault on Jewish worshippers making their way home to the Hebron suburb of Kiryat Arba from prayers at the Cave of the Patriarchs.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 11, 2002
The terrorists Yasser Arafat's Fatah admitted sending to Kibbutz Metzer on the Israel-West Bank border carried out their killing rampage on Sunday, November 10, concurrently with the Fatah-Hamas conference taking place in Cairo under the European Union's aegis.
Far from being mutually contradictory, the two events fit neatly together.
Sunday night, two or more Palestinians burst into an avowedly pacifist rural kibbutz, shot dead its secretary Yitzhak Dori, 44, and a visitor from Moshav Eliachin, Tirza Damari, 42. They then burst into a home and murdered Revital Ochayon and the two small sons, Matan 5 and Noam, 4, she sheltered with her body, before disappearing into the night. They struck hours after the Israeli military pullback from the Palestinian city of Jenin.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 9, 2002
bureaucratic mix-up in London Friday, November 8, forced British officialdom into the unwilling admission that international terrorists may now wield a nuclear threat and it could be aimed at Britain.
On Thursday, November 7, Tom Ridge, US homeland minister and senior member of the Bush cabinet, said to the center for defense studies at King's College London: "Our transportation networks, power generating plants and industries can be attacked with potentially catastrophic consequences. Our public safety and health infrastrucfures can be quickly overwhelmed producing casualties in the thousands or tens of thousands. This is the inescapable reality of the 21st century."
After the lecture, Ridge went into conference with British Home Minister, David Blunkett. Hours later, Britain had its first major warning of a potential "dirty bomb" or poison gas attack by "fanatical extremists of al Qaeda, who would attempt to strike again".
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 6, 2002
Egypt, with quiet American encouragement, is engaged in a complicated diplomatic maneuver to persuade the Hamas to halt its suicide-murder attacks on Israelis by setting up meetings in Cairo between PLO representatives and the Damascus-based leaders of the Hamas: Khaled Mash'al and Abu Marzuk. This initiative comes from officials in the US State Department and European Union, led by Colin Powell and Javier Solana.
debkafile's political analysts note that both these officials cling against all odds to their dream of persuading Yasser Arafat to one day give up terror. Their latest ploy addresses the Islamic extremes of the Palestinian movement, the Hamas and the Jihad Islami, the idea being that if they are induced to stop their suicidal terror practices, the Tanzim and al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades run by Arafat's Fatah will follow suit.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 28, 2002
The assassination early Monday October 28 of USAID staffer Lawrence Foley in Amman was carried out the day after a bomb belt carried by a Palestinian suicide killer murdered three Israeli officers and injured 19 Israelis just outside the town of Ariel on the West Bank.
Not only did the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat hold back his ritual condemnation of bloodshed on all sides, but his own Fatah group together with the Islamist Hamas claimed the killings. Israeli security authorities report that the murder-squad was made up of two suiciders and one was still at large in search of another target.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 19, 2002
debkafile reveals that the long-lost al Qaeda leader, Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, is alive and inSaudi Arabia. He is believed to have landed secretly at the end of September, shortly before the latest upsurge of international terrorist attacks against the French oil tankerLimburg, the shooting of American Marines in Kuwait, the Bali bomb disaster.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 24, 2002
debkafile's readers were not taken aback by the Israeli Shin Beit's (Security Service) disclosure on September 23 that it had custody of a three-man Palestinian cell from Ramallah who trained in Iraq with Iraqi instructors in the execution of strikes against Israeli targets - in the company of al Qaeda terrorists.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 11, 2002
The members of the Palestinian Legislative Assembly ought to have remembered when they set about forcing a showdown with Yasser Arafat that he relishes the challenge of turning setbacks into victories. Just before the hitherto tame lawmakers forced a vote of no confidence in his 21-man cabinet Wednesday, September 11, he instructed the ministers to resign, thereby sidestepping the vote and defeating its purpose. The largely corrupt and inefficient cabinet stays on as a caretaker until a general election, exactly as he wanted. In another maneuver to blunt the opposition, Arafat fixed January 20 as election day. He has no more intention of letting a free election go forward than he has of appointing a new government in two weeks, which he also pledged.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report September 2, 2002
On August 14, after repeated delays, the Israeli security cabinet finally held a special meeting to review the country's preparedness for unconventional warfare. It decided to vaccinate 15,000 "first response" personnel against smallpox, as a first stage of a general vaccination campaign against a possible bio-weapons attack originating in Iraq or carried out by Saddam's Palestinian proxies.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report August 20, 2002
After 12 years of obscurity in Libya, Abu Nidal surfaced in late 1997, taking up residence in Cairo with a small band of trusted partisans. What was Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak thinking of when he opened the door to this notorious purveyor of death? Thereby hangs an extraordinary tale, which debkafile reveals here for the first time.