A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending Aug. 13, 2009

Tehran prepares to declare three detained Americans “Israeli spies”


06 Aug. Tehran is preparing to claim the three Americans captured on Iran's Kurdish border with Iraq, all Jews, are Israeli spies as a stick to humiliate the Obama administration and provoke a new crisis with Washington. Ahmadinejad is furious over the White House's refusal to congratulate him on his reelection.

They are identified as Shane Bauer from California, who writes for the San Francisco Chronicle. The Nation and New American Media, his partner Sarah Short, age 30 from California, who writes for “Matador”, and Joshua Steel Petel, age 27 from Oregon, who attended a New York yeshiva and writes for Jewish Week.

The Petel family have their origins in Iraq, and Joshuah told his friends he was going on a roots tour of places from which his family emigrated to the US.

If the affair is not handled carefully, US diplomatic sources warn, it has the potential of deteriorating very quickly into Obama's “Irangate” – a repeat of the 1985 episode which bedeviled the Reagan administration for many months after the US and Israel were found sending a high-ranking delegation to Tehran with an offer of weapons in return for the release of US hostages abducted by the Hizballah in Lebanon.

Tehran may well involve Hizballah this time too, adding the Lebanese Shiite organization's demands from Israel on top of its own.


August 08 Briefs


·        Fatah convention resolution: Palestinians will not have independence until they control all parts of Jerusalem including outlying villages and suburbs. Mahmoud Abbas elected party chairman. Convention prolonged until Tuesday to elect institutions.

·        Iran puts second group of protesters against disputed elections on trial Saturday. They include a French language teacher.


Lebanese Army's shock: National Internet routed through… Haifa


08 Aug. A large Lebanese army force which raided the Lebanese Internet network center on Mt. Barukh east of the Lebanese town of Jezzine Saturday, Aug. 8 was dismayed to discover equipment made in Israel in use at the exchange center which carries all of Lebanon's Internet links. An intelligence sweep found the servers were routed to an exchange center in Haifa. The soldiers impounded piles of equipment and rounded up several detainees at the mountain center and several Lebanese Internet companies.

Upon learning of the discovery, Hizballah demanded an immediate and thorough investigation of how Israeli intelligence acquired free access to all Lebanese internet communications like an open book.


Top Hamas delegation from Gaza on surprise visit to Cairo Saturday


08 Aug. debkafile reports the delegation headed by Dr. Mahmoud a-Zahar exited Gaza through the Rafah crossing Saturday Aug. 8. Egyptian intelligence officers escorted them on their journey to Cairo for urgent consultations on an undisclosed subject. The Hamas leaders may proceed next to Damascus to confer with politburo chief Khaled Meshaal.

Friday, prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his security cabinet of six ministers were briefed on Middle East developments at a special session. debkafile's military sources report that an unusually variety of security officials attended the meeting.

They included the chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi, military intelligence chief Brig. Amos Yadlin, Mossad director Meir Dagan, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, OC Southern Command Brig. Yoav Galant and several more senior officers.


August 09 Briefs


·        Palestinians fire two mortar rounds, missile from Gaza Monday. No one hurt, no damage.

·        Netanyahu on Gaza expulsions: No more unilateral evacuations in my term.

·        US NSA Jones: North Korea sent through Clinton wish for better ties with US.

·        Security adviser says US believes Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud is dead. He was reported killed by a US missile strike on his father-in-law's compound in South Waziristan.

·        A British security contractor to face charges in Iraqi court in killing of a British and Australian in Green Zone.


Tension on Israel-Lebanese border amid Hizballah's intake of upgraded missiles


09 Aug. Israel, Lebanon and Iran have been trading charges of responsibility for the rising military tensions on the Lebanese-Israeli border in the past week. debkafile's military sources disclose that the Lebanese Shiite Hizballah is preparing for the intake of self-propelled anti-air SAM-8 missiles and an upgraded version of the Iranian ground-ground Fateh-110 missile, whose warhead carries half a ton of explosives with a 200-kilometer range.

Iran appears concerned that President Barack Obama, whom Tehran sources see as frustrated by his failure to cut the Assad regime in Damascus away from its bonds with Tehran, may give Israel a green light to punish Hizballah. The Iranians have responded by pumping up allegations of Israeli threats and building up Hizballah's arsenal with deliveries of advanced air-to-air, ground-to-ground, and shore-to-sea missiles for crippling Israel's military and battering its civilian population in the event of a flare-up.


Iran's “special” prisons for breaking political opponents


10 Aug. Exposed here the first time are the seven secret prisons where opponents to the Iranian regime are subjected to murder, rape, broken bones and other abuses. The infamous Kahrizak prison on the southern outskirts of Tehran was not shut down as reported. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wanted the building demolished to the last stone to conceal the atrocities perpetrated there but he was not obeyed.

The commander of Iran's internal security forces Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam said Sunday, Aug. 9, that he would not deny his share in the blame for the “terrible things that took place in Kahrizak” where two protesters were admittedly found dead. He claimed that two of the security officials responsible for “widespread prisoner abuse” had been fired and awaited trial.

The prison remains open and our sources doubt those responsible for the outrages will be brought to trial.

Six more jails and detentions centers operate in the Tehran area.


August 11 Briefs


·        Kuwait arrests six over al Qaeda threat to attack US military base. The group plotted attack during Ramadan month which starts around Aug. 20.

·        Israelis warned by Anti-Terror Center against visiting Sinai over High Festivals. Travelers should leave at once over a “concrete threat.” Israelis advised to avoid Kenya's coastal resorts, Kashmir, Morocco, Jordan and S. Thailand.

·        Three US troops, one Polish soldier, 2 Afghan servicemen killed in clashes in Afghanistan.

·        Roadside bombs kill nine civilians in upsurge of violence ahead of Aug. 20 vote.

·        A spokesman for Gen. McChrystal denies he said Taliban is winning. He said only insurgents gaining momentum in new areas.

·        Iran's Opposition leader Mousavi reports 69 killed in post-election unrest, submits names to parliament. Authorities admitted to only 26 deaths.

·        Mortar shell explodes harmlessly near Gaza-Israel border fence.

·        Hizballah's Naim Qassem says his militia is on constant alert for Israeli aggression.


New Fatah Central Committee cuts out overseas representation including Gaza


12 Aug. debkafile's analysts note that while fervently standing by the “right of return” for the 1948 refugees, the 2,300 delegates to the Fatah conference elected only one overseas member out of the 18 Central Committee seats up for election; Fatah delegates from Jordan, Syria, the Persian Gulf, Yemen, North Africa and even the Gaza Strip absentees did not get a look in past the solid phalanx of West Bankers.

Fatah leaders in Gaza protested not a single Central Committee seat was reserved for members whom Hamas barred from attending the convention. Ex-prime minister Ahmed Quraia, who lost his seat, charged the election was heavily rigged – “It was worse than Iran,” he said, supported in this claim by a large number of delegates.

The event has consequently deepened the West Bank-Gaza Strip divide and perpetuated the Fatah-Hamas feud, another major obstacle for President Barack Obama's Middle East peace program.

The convention confirmed Mahmoud Abbas, 74, as leader and returned the hardliner Abu Maher Ghneim, 71, his chosen first lieutenant and successor as chairman of the Palestinian Authority. The Netanyahu government allowed Abu Ghneim to enter the country from Tunis at Abbas' urgent request (channeled through Cairo and Washington) and is therefore responsible for an opponent of the Oslo partial peace accords and advocate of armed resistance, who denounces the two-state concept, taking the reins of government in Ramallah. Once in the saddle, he will present a major obstacle to any peace-making initiatives.


Kidnap of an Israeli soldier investigated


13 Aug. The Israeli Defense Forces is currently investigating a report that an Israeli soldier was kidnapped, said the IDF spokeswoman Thursday afternoon, Aug 13, as security roadblocks backed up traffic for miles in an expanded area of central Israel delimited by Kesem Exchange on Highway 6 and the Modi'in- Jerusalem Highway 443. The roadblocks were thrown up in this area and also on the southern outskirts of Tel Aviv. Security forces backed by helicopters are scouring the area.  The spokeswoman did not rule out the possibility of an IDF soldier's abduction. She told the Chinese news agency Xinhuar on the phone that the IDF will provide more information about the investigation in due time.

The searches appear to target a car into which a soldier may have been bundled by kidnappers, according to the agency.

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