A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending July 22, 2010
16 July, 2010 Briefs
• The mothers of three young American hikers imprisoned in Iran demonstrate against their inhumane treatment one year after they strayed across Iraqi-Iranian border.
• Austrian Jewish community presses for outlawing of Turkish IHH after Berlin banned its German branch for supporting Hamas.
IHH has strong links with Erdogan government. Its activists attacked Israeli commandos who raided Turkish-led flotilla against Gaza blockade in May.
July 17, 2010 Briefs
• Netanyahu opposes legislation granting Orthodox Israeli Chief Rabbinate control over Jewish conversions. He was praised by Conservative and Reform branches of Judaism.
• Dep. PM Yaalon: More than one Israeli minister does not believe an accommodation with Palestinians is possible.
• EU Foreign Executive Ashton visits the Gaza Strip before talks with Israeli leaders.
Syrian massacres Kurds aided by Turkey's Israel-made drones
17 July: Syrian troops are locked in battle with Kurdish fighters since Assad's army blasted four northeastern Syrian Kurdish towns and neighborhoods in late June, debkafile's exclusive sources report. Hundreds of Kurds are reported dead. The Syrian forces are backed by Heron spy drones Israel sold Turkey, which becomes the first NATO member to share advanced western military technology with a state that sponsors terror. After intense exchanges between Jerusalem and Washington, the NATO command was asked to take this up with Ankara.
The drones are being used to track Kurds in flight across Syria's borders, mainly into Lebanon, where Hizballah is helping Syria hunt the refugees down. The accessibility to Damascus of the unmanned aerial vehicles is in direct breach of the Israel-Turkish sales contracts which barred their use – and the use of other Israeli high-tech items sold to Turkey during years of close military collaboration – in the service of hostile states or entities.
Extending their sphere to Syrian and Lebanese skies gives the Syrian army and Hizballah (Iran's external arm) a unique opportunity to study the Heron (Eitan)'s sophisticated attributes in real combat conditions at close hand and adjust their own tactics accordingly to outwit them.
debkafile's intelligence sources have no doubt that Iranian intelligence officers stationed in Damascus and Beirut jumped at the opportunity to learn more about the Israeli wonder-drones.
July 18, 2010 Briefs
• Iran's parliament approves bill obliging government to continue 20-percent uranium enrichment for its nuclear program.
• Ahmadinejad accuses US forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan of backing two suicide attacks which killed 28 people in Zahedan Saturday. Sunni Jundallah claimed attacks were revenge for Iran's execution of their leader.
• A son of Osama bin Laden says 20 members of the Al-Qaeda chief's family are stranded in Iran.
• Egyptian FM Abu Gheit: Still no basis for direct Israel-Palestinian talks. This verdict follow Egyptian president's talks with Israeli PM Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Abbas.
• Death toll rises to 43 in suicide bombing of Sunni militiamen lining up for pay outside western Baghdad base Sunday.
Israeli generals win US high-tech ballistic missile tracking systems
18 July: A ballistic missile fired at Israeli from any spot in the Middle East, be it Iran, Syria or South Lebanon, can now be tracked from launch by top Israeli commanders by means of the Active Layered Theater Ballistic Missile Defense System (ALTBMD) developed to protect NATO forces against missile threat and provided Israel by the United States.
For the first time, Israel's war commanders will be forewarned of an approaching ballistic missile, its estimated launch point and impact target.
debkafile's military sources report: The system's interim stage links up radars of early warning sensors, radar, missile interceptors and space-based detectors. This integrated, layered protective network will alert Israeli division and brigade commanders in the field and the home front from a combined US-Israel operations center to the launching of a ballistic missile (from up to 3,000 kilometers) against Israel by sea, air or land.
Our military sources add that the US Defense Department has decided to arm NATO generals in Afghanistan and Europe with interim ALTBMD capabilities by the end of the year, as part of America's preparations for war with Iran.
July 19, 2010 Briefs
• Iranian lawmaker Boroujerdi confirms receipt of US Congress request for negotiations • He said hey were conditional on change in US "hostile policy".
• Shin Bet rounds up Hamas cell which shot dead Israeli policeman Shouki Sofer on June 14 in Mount Hebron area of S. West Bank. The four-man team was caught training for its next hit, the kidnap of an Israeli in Gush Etzion.
• FM Lieberman: There will be no extension of the 10-month West Bank construction freeze after it runs out in September.
• Iran will unveil a new home-made submarine next month – defense minister Vahidi.
• Israeli army chief visits Rome to discuss deepening military cooperation,
Iran may be fast nearing a nuclear test
19 July: Shahram Amiri's voluntary repatriation to Iran and a second close look at the nuclear data he passed to the CIA for six years are raising grave doubts about its value, debkafile's intelligence sources report. There is mounting suspicion in Washington and Jerusalem that Tehran employed the scientist as a double agent to strew red herrings in their path, namely, out-of-date material for concealing and misdirecting their attention from the rapid progress taking place secretly in Iran's nuclear program.
As of now, their forecast of a nuclear test capability has been brought forward to within the five months remaining of 2010.
Our sources report this revised forecast has emerged from US intelligence analysts' examination of two new premises regarding Amirir's input in the years he served as US informant:
1. That he was an Iranian double agent and his apparent defection to the United States just over a year ago was fake, engineered by Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).
2. That Shahram Amiri, the nuclear scientist, was a made-up identity.
July 20, 2010 Briefs
• Two US military instructors and two Afghans murdered by Afghan trainee at NATO base in N. Afghanistan.
• Tehran parliament enacts law authorizing tit-for-tat action against any state inspecting Iranian ships or planes in conformity with sanctions.
• In new tape, Al Qaeda's No. 2 Zawahiri slams Arab leaders as Arab Zionists more dangerous than Jewish Zionists.
• Clinton: Pakistan knows where Osama bin Laden is hiding and should share it with us • Al Qaeda and Taliban chief Mullah Omar are in the country.
• Netanyahu-Lieberman meeting agrees to fend off coalition crisis, clears away some items at issue.
• Tuesday is Ninth of Av when Israel and Jewish world hold annual day of fast and lamentation for destruction of Jewish Temples in Jerusalem.
• First two batteries of Israel's Iron Dome short- and medium-range rocket defense system to be deployed in November.
Israel's southern borders wide open, undefended
20 July: The successful tests conducted by Israel's home-made Iron Dome defense system against short- and medium-range missiles won a showy press – even though it will not be ready to protect southern and north Israeli from Hamas and Hizballah rockets for many months – and even then not permanently deployed. Egypt has given up on its anti-arms smuggling steel wall for the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-Egyptian border fence will not be ready before 2013, leaving 1,000 illegal job-seekers to stream into the country every month.
The Iron Dome proved it could simultaneously intercept volleys of rockets coming in from different directions while computing their trajectories to determine which would hit populated areas. But it promises no more than 80 percent effectiveness, has never been tried in battle conditions and may be too expensive for sufficient batteries to be deployed for full protection.
July 21-22, 2010 Briefs
• Israeli soldier missing since early Thursday from elite combat training in open country around Lachish, east of Ashkelon.
• Israeli force kills one Palestinian, puts second to flight in attempted break-in to Barkan in northern West Bank.
• Tehran boasts acquiring new data about CIA -locations, individuals, contacts and license plate numbers of two operatives' cars.
• Bank of Israeli governor Fischer warns worsening ultra-orthodox (10% of pop.) poverty hurts economy. He says growing numbers opting for study instead of work are unsustainable.
• Two Palestinians killed, 9 injured by Israel tank fire targeting a joint Palestinian Jihad Islami-Popular Front band preparing to shoot missiles over to the Erez-NirAm area.
• Iran's spiritual ruler Khamenei calls on Muslims worldwide to fight US and British "terror" which he accuses of attacking the Shiite mosque at Zahedan.
• New Israeli army report on Gaza campaign submitted to UN includes steps for further reducing civilian casualties. A humanitarian specialist to be attached to each unit and use of white phosphorus reduced in future conflicts.
• Gaza opens its first multi-storey shopping mall.
• Four US senators ask Cameron for independent UK inquiry into BP link to Lockerbie bomber's release. They do not accept his review of paperwork as sufficient.
• Senate Foreign Relations Committee begins hearings on issue July 29.
• Terrorists tie up employees, blow up hydro-electric power station in Kabardino-Balkaria, S. Russia.
US-Iranian combat looms in Iraq
22 July: Rising military tensions are reported in Iraq as pro-Iranian Shiite militias appear to be planning attacks on American forces, debkafile's exclusive sources report. US commander in Iraq Gen. Ray Odierno names three Shiite militias recently trained in Iran for a new collision course separate from the controversy over Iran's nuclear program.
Administration officials are holding intense consultations with UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon for the US detachment staying on in Iraq to be reclassified as international peacekeepers.
Wednesday night, July 21, General Ray Odierno said the American army is busy reinforcing its bases and preparing its forces in anticipation of attacks by at least three Shiite militias recently trained in Iran to strike American targets in Iraq.
He also said the US drawdown was progressing on schedule and U.S. forces will number just 50,000 by the end of August and drop to zero by the end of 2011. But debkafile's military sources report that the new state of combat alert may delay the departure of some of the troops scheduled to leave Iraq by Sept. 1.
Tehran refuses to brook the transformation of the 24,000 US troops remaining in Iraq into UN peacekeepers because:
1. Their blue caps will authorize them to enforce UN Security Council sanctions against Iran in the Persian Gulf region.
2. In their dual role as US combat troops, there may be pressed into service for an American military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.
Tehran has roped friendly Syrian president Bashar Assad into a scheme for thwarting the American design.
At his invitation, the pro-Tehran Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr visited Damascus on Saturday, July 17 together with Allawi, for talks on a combined scheme to torpedo Washington's plans for Iraq.