A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending June 5, 2009

Muslim gang leader confesses to three-year old torture, murder of French Jew


29 May: Yousouf Fofana, leader of the self-styled Parisian “Gang of Barbarians,” has confessed at his trial to the brutal murder of Ilan Halimi, a 23-year old Jew, three years ago, after torturing him for 24 days. The anti-Semitic crime appalled the 600,000-strong French Jewish community, which accuses the government of still neglecting to curb the rising tide of anti-Semitism sweeping France.

The trial is proceeding behind closed doors because two of the 26 accused were juveniles at the time.

Halimi's body was found in February 2006 at a Paris suburban railway station, naked, handcuffed and covered in burn marks from cigarettes. He died of stab wounds to his neck on the way to hospital.

The victim's mother Ruth Halimi has published a book about her son's ordeal, comparing it to the kidnapping of Daniel Pearl, the American-Jewish journalist beheaded by Muslim terrorists in Pakistan in 2002.


US failure to block North Korea's nuclear armament is a lesson for Iran


30 May: “We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in the region or on us,” US defense secretary Robert Gates said in a speech Saturday, May 30. But he insisted the next step would be political, not military and called for stronger sanctions against internationally censured North Korea and Iran.

debkafile notes: Clearly, no military response is contemplated for now against North Korea, although Pyongyang has threatened military action against any attempts to stop and search its ships.

Gates insisted that the “transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities” would be a grave threat to the United States and its allies. But he avoided mentioning North Korea's blatant nuclear and missile transfers to Iran going back years.

debkafile's Washington sources affirm that US President Barack Obama is preparing America and the world to accept the necessity of living with a nuclear-armed North Korea, with Tehran taking careful note.


Hamas cells to launch full-blown West Bank terror war


31 May: debkafile's military sources disclose that Sunday night, May 31, Hamas commanders in Damascus and Gaza ordered all West Bank cells to unleash a terrorist assault on the West Bank with bomb cars, roadside bombs, snipers and missiles. They were told to set their sights against all Palestinian Authority officials including Mahmoud Abbas as well as taking aim at Israeli cities north of Tel Aviv.

Israel's homeland defense authority was notified of Hamas' declaration of war Sunday as it embarked on “Turning Point 3”, Israel's largest civil defense exercise ever, designed to simulate simultaneous missile attacks from Iran, Syria, Hizballah from Lebanon and Hamas from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas leaders' decision to unleash violence was triggered by three events:

1. In 48 hours, the fundamentalist Palestinian terrorists lost two top West Bank leaders in battle. Friday morning, May 29, an Israeli Border Guard counter-terror unit shot dead its Hebron commander when he resisted arrest.

Two days later, a special Palestinian Authority unit killed Hamas' northern Samaria commander after a seven-hour shootout in Qalqilya.

2. They believe the Palestinian Authority US-trained security force directed by Gen. Keith Dayton is not up to much and easily blown away.

3. Hamas is determined to scuttle Obama-Abbas cooperation and disrupt the US president's forthcoming speech to Muslims from Cairo.


May 31 Briefs


·        Ex-Mossad officer Haggai Hadas appointed negotiator for Gilead Shalit.

·        Ministerial legislative panel votes down Israel Beteinu's Loyalty Bill.

·        Thousands march in annual Salute to Israel parade on New York's Fifth Avenue.

·        Israel transport minister Katz: Government will not freeze legal settlement activity.

·        Bomb defused on Iranian domestic passenger plane in more campaign violence.

·        Israeli FM Lieberman to hold talks in Moscow with Russian president, prime minister.

·        Barak heads to Washington to meet Gates, Jones, congressmen.

·        Civil defense drill Turning Point 3 begins Sunday for emergency teams and government offices.

·        Tuesday, sirens to summon general public to shelters.

·        Abbas tells Mubarak he is ready to restart peace talks by July. In Washington, Abbas said no talks until Netanyahu government toppled under US pressure.

·        State funeral Sunday for Prof. Ephraim Katzir, fourth President of Israel. Ceremonies take place at the Weizmann Institution of Science, Rehovoth. Prof. Katzir who died aged 93, was internationally distinguished for achievements in biochemistry, biophysics.


Enough fissile material for Iranian nuke by year's end – AMAN officer


01 June: Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz, director of Israeli military intelligence (AMAN) research division estimates that Iran will have accumulated enough fissile material to build its first nuclear bomb by the end of this year.

Iran's nuclear clock, he said, is ticking away faster than international diplomacy. As he spoke, the country's biggest civil defense exercise configured for possible rocket attacks from four directions, including Iran, coupled with a mega-terrorist attack, was in progress.


Obama commits to close ties with Israel – but demands settlement freeze


02 June: US president Barack Obama vowed to sustain close US ties with Israel but said the status quo in the region was “unsustainable” for Israel's security.

In a NPR interview Monday, June 1, he said: “We do have to retain a constant belief in… negotiations that will lead to peace” and “I've said that a freeze on settlements, including expansion to accommodate successive generations of settlers, is part of that.”

Earlier Monday, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that halting construction in West Bank settlements would be equal to “freezing life,” and, therefore, “unreasonable.”

debkafile's Washington sources report that Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak has no hope of modifying administration's tough stance on West Bank settlements and a Palestinians state during his current talks with US officials. Therefore the Netanyahu government's strategy of skirting the real issues to avoid a clash will not work. He would do well to stop being defensive and stress that, even if every single settlement was removed from the West Bank, Iran would not stop developing nuclear weapons, the Taliban would not stop fighting, Hizballah would not be prevented from winning Lebanon's general election, and Hamas would not give up its bid to capture the West Bank as its next terror base.


Fellow Democrats in Congress criticize Obama's tough stance on Israel


3 June: Some of President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats in the US Congress have criticized him for “going beyond where it is appropriate for us to go in dealing with another democracy,” as Representative Anthony Weiner put it.

His comments were echoed by other congressmen.

“To say that a family that introduces a new child to their house can't build a wing onto their home, I think goes beyond what I think should be U.S. policy,” Weiner told a news conference.

New York Congressman Joseph Crowley said he was “very careful in questioning another democracy and the decisions that they make that would impose on their sovereignty.”

Israel, he added, “has demonstrated over and over again her willingness to work towards a lasting peace within the Middle East.”


Sarkozy strongly condemns Ahmadinejad's new denial of the Holocaust


3 June: French President Nicolas Sarkozy issued Wednesday a strong condemnation of new remarks from Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denying the Holocaust. He told Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki during a meeting in Paris that such comments were “unacceptable and profoundly shocking.”

The extremist Ahmadinejad, who is seeking a second term in office, reiterated Wednesday that “The identity of the liberal democracy has been exposed to the world by its protection of the most criminal regime in the history of humanity, the Zionist regime, by using the big deception of the Holocaust.


Obama arrives in Middle East to red carpet and al Qaeda threats


03 June: Received in Riyadh by King Abdullah and an honor guard, Barack Obama said: “I thought it was important to visit the place where Islam began.”

debkafile's Middle East sources report that over and above the genuine warmth of the royal welcome and assent on the need for a new Middle East peace conference, Saudi leaders strongly disapprove of the US president's insistence on dialogue with Tehran. Over last weekend, giant transports unloaded at Cairo airport a fleet of armored vehicles, White House helicopters, counter-terror weapons and the vanguard of the 3,000 Secret Service officers backed by CIA and FBI personnel who are securing the US president during his stay in Egypt. Many Cairenes chose to stay home as the city's traffic was brought to a halt by security measures.

Some 30,000 Egyptian security personnel including army units stationed in Cairo are on special duty until the American president leaves.

His convoy will be escorted by vehicles equipped with sensors for detecting firearms and explosives and covered by Marine helicopters overhead.


Bin Laden: Obama plants seeds of Muslim hatred for United States


3 June: Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden warned Americans “to be prepared to receive the consequences of the Obama and Bush administrations.” In a new recorded audiotape released by Arabic Al Jazeera TV Wednesday, June 3. he accused Obama of planting the seeds for “revenge and hatred” toward the United States in the Muslim world. Tuesday, his deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, called on Egyptians to confront the “criminal” Barack Obama whose “bloody messages” to Muslims have been received… and would not be covered by “public relations campaigns or theatrical visits or polished words.”


Obama reshuffles America's Middle East allies


4 June: In his two day stay in the Middle East, crowned by a speech from Cairo to the world's Muslims on June 4, US president Barack Obama held private talks with Saudi King Abdullah and Hosni Mubarak in which he cemented a new coalition between the US, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, debkafile's Middle East sources report. The three nations forged their first strategic bond ever to combat Islamic radicalism, chiefly al Qaeda and Taliban, and applying the brakes to Iran's drive for a nuclear weapon.

This seismic transformation means that President Obama proposes to gradually minimize America's strategic ties. He seeks to enter into negotiations with Iran unencumbered by Israeli baggage.

When he said in his epic speech “America will align its policies with those who seek peace,” he was saying that his hands are free to henceforth pick and choose US allies without being bound by the past.


Obama raps Israel, Palestinians, Arabs for Middle East stalemate


4 June: The US president Barack Obama stressed the need for mutual respect and tolerance among the world's faiths, denigrated al Qaeda and extremism, said the US “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements,” will respect all elected peaceful governments provided they respect their peoples, and called for universal human and women's rights to be upheld. His much awaited speech to more than a billion Muslims which quoted extensively from the Koran, but also the Bible and the Talmud, won cheers from the selected 3,000 strong audience in Cairo University's Great Hall Thursday, June 4.

Along with a declaration that the US bond with Israel is unbreakable, President Obama demanded that Israel and the Palestinians uphold their obligations to the roadmap. “America will align its policies with those who seek peace – Israelis, Palestinians or Arabs,” he declared. Israel must let Palestinians live a normal life in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, he said, but they must abandon violence.

Rockets on sleeping children or bombs killing old people on a bus are intolerable, but the US does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements and Israel must recognize the Palestinian right to dignity and a state of their own, but so must the Arab world recognize Israel.

Obama began his speech by saying: “I have come to Cairo to seek a new beginning of mutual respect between America and Muslims: Salaam Aleikum.” America and Islam are not mutually exclusive; they share common principles. Muslims have enriched America in many fields.

But no one should tolerate al Qaeda which killed members of all faiths, most of all Muslims.

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