A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending Feb. 25, 2010

February 22, 2010 Briefs
• A new Israeli Heron TP super-drone Heron TP able to reach Iran goes into service. It can conduct long-range surveillance or attack ground strikes if fitted with missiles.
• Netanyahu urges immediate oil embargo against Iran without waiting for UN Security Council.
• Bank of Israel leaves March interest rate unchanged at 1.25 pc for second straight month.
• Turkey detains 50 commanders suspected of plotting to blow up mosques preparatory to a military coup against Islamic government. Among them members of once untouchable elite Pasha class.
• Iran plans two new uranium enrichment facilities deep inside mountains, first of 20, using more advanced centrifuges.
• Dubai police chief accuses Hamas traitor of tipping off Mossad on Mabhouh's Dubai visit.
• Iran to ban from its airspace airlines calling Persian Gulf the Arabian Gulf.

EU anti-terror chiefs: Mabhouh furor may jeopardize our operations

22 Feb. European anti-terror agencies warned EU foreign ministers that sensationalizing the Dubai killing may expose and jeopardize their own operations, prompting a condemnation that omitted to mention Israel. Important intelligence service heads, including the British MI6 and German BND, said that digging too deep in the Dubai affair and heaping abuse on Israel might lead to the exposure of unpublished liquidations of high-profile terrorists – not necessarily by the Israeli Mossad – and so jeopardize the work of Western undercover agencies combating terror.
Iran urged the United Arab Republics to fan the flames and tar Israel as a terrorist state by filing charges against its leaders at the international war crimes court at The Hague. Most of all, they were urged to accept mutual defense pacts with Tehran.

February 23, 2010 Briefs
• A motorbike bomb kills eight people, injures 14 – all civilians – in Afghan Helmand town of Lashkar Gah.
• Najibullah Zazi sentenced to life after pleading guilty to planning to blow up New York subway for al Qaeda.
• Iran will "chop of the hands" of any attacker from any part of the world – Ahmadinejad.
• Dozens of active-duty and retired Turkish military brass grilled Tuesday over alleged anti-government coup plot.
• Israel opposition leader Tzipi Livni hails terrorist killing in Dubai, the first such comment from leading Israeli.
• Sudan president signs ceasefire with Darfur rebel group effective from Tuesday midnight.

Syria wants Iranian troops guaranteed for front against Israel

23 Feb. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's talks with Syrian president Bashar Assad in Damascus Thursday, Feb. 25, are aimed at coordinating practicalities in order to bring Iran's secret military pacts with Syria, Hizballah and Hamas a step closer to fruition. A possible Middle East war will then become more tangible.
But Tehran's allies are refusing to act as surrogates in a potential conflict and demanding the status of equal partners.
Ahmadinejad tried promising Iran would come to Syria and Hizballah’s aid if they came under Israeli attack, but left them with the impression that the onus for bringing about Israel's downfall "once and for all" was squarely on the shoulders of Syria and Hizballah. Iran would not necessarily fight alongside them.
Their leaders were not satisfied. They want Tehran to abide by their mutual defense pact in letter and spirit, meaning it would not be enough for Iran to open a front against Israel; it must also provide guarantees that Iranian troops would be sent over to fight shoulder to shoulder with Syrian soldiers and Hizballah militia units.

February 24, 2010 Briefs
• Clinton to senate panel: US has little choice but to impose sanctions on Iran. She asked US lawmakers not to restrict her flexibility to negotiate sanctions. Russian official Oleg Rozhkov says Moscow will not work on sanctions which could isolate Iran. This rules out harsh economic or financial sanctions contemplated by US, Europe.
• Dubai police identify another15 suspects in Mabhouh killing raising total to 26. Three left Dubai for Iran by sea ferry. New group, including 5 women, acted as logistical backup for main hit team. Six carried British passports, 3 Irish, 3 French, 3 Australian. Dubai police: Suspects used 14 credit cards issued by US bank.
• High-level US delegation heads to Israel for resumed strategic dialogue Thursday – mainly on Iran. It is headed by US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg. Represented too are US national security council, and Pentagon.
• Israel rejects criticism over its proclamation of Cave of Patriarchs and Rachel's tomb heritage sites as hypocritical. No other country in the Middle East offers freedom of worship to all faiths.

Iran forces Kyrgyzstan airliner to land, nabs Baluchi activist

24 Feb. Dubai figures in another intelligence affair: Tuesday, Feb. 23, an Iranian bomber forced down a Kyrgyz airliner to seize Tehran's most wanted fugitive, Abdol Malek Rigi, leader of the Baluchi Jund Allah underground movement.
debkafile's intelligence and counter-terror sources rate Rigi's capture one of Iranian intelligence's biggest coups and a stinging setback for Western undercover operations against the Islamic regime in Tehran.
Its mouthpieces are already going to town on charges that the US, Britain and Israel "aided and abetted" a terrorist organization in its efforts to destabilize central government.

February 25, 2010 Briefs
• Ahmadinejad after talks with Assad: I want a new Middle East without Zionists and imperialists. Assad: We are preparing for Israeli aggression, small or large. We must be ready at all times for Israeli reprisal.
• Trial of ex-PM Ehud Olmert on corruption charges opens at Jerusalem district court Thursday.
• US State Department criticizes Israel's addition of Hebron's Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb to its list of heritage sites. The act was called "provocative" and unhelpful to getting peace talks restarted.
• Australian FM Stephen Smith summons Israeli ambassador Yuval Rotem after three Dubai suspects reported carrying Australian passports.
• Qatar and Iran sign pact to boost defense ties.
• Algeria's police chief shot dead by colleague at a HQ working session.
• Judea and Samaria sealed from Thursday midnight for Purim festival.

Arab Islamist and Palestinian terror chiefs gather in Tehran Saturday

25 Feb. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has summoned allied Islamist and terrorist chiefs to Tehran Saturday, Feb. 27, to finalize their roles in military operations against Israel in the event of a Middle East conflagration. It will be the sequel to the preliminary discussions Ahmadinejad held in Damascus with Syrian president Bashar Assad and Hizballah and Hamas chiefs Thursday, Feb. 25. Those meetings accelerated Iran and its allies' war preparations.
The Lebanese Shiite group's secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah will not be there because he never leaves his Beirut bunker for fear Israeli assassins will catch up with him. He is not alone; some of his fellow terror chiefs hesitate to show their faces outside their strongholds – even in friendly Tehran – since the Dubai police disclosed that three of the suspects in the Mabhouh killing, carriers of Australian passports, passed through Iran unnoticed by its vast security machinery.

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