A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending November 18, 2010

November 13, 2010 Briefs
• Ex-PM Ariel Sharon is transported home from hospital after nearly five years in a coma.
• Taliban launch major attack on big E. Afghan NATO base in Jalalabad claiming 14 suicide bombers involved. Eight assailants reported dead in firefight with NATO and Afghan forces. Friday, a drive-by suicide bomber attacked a NATO-Afghan troop convoy on the outskirts of Kabul.
• Jews, Muslims, Christians, West Bank Palestinians and settlers pray together for rain as Holy Land faces another severe drought. They joined to symbolically sow wheat at a village between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Iran, Hizballah step up preparations for war with Israel

13 Nov. Hizballah's Hassan Nasrallah has quietly placed Hashim Safi Al-Din, his cousin and heir apparent, in command of southern Lebanon, further upgrading Iran-backed preparations for an armed clash with Israel, debkafile's exclusive military sources report. This week, Safi Al-din was recalled from his post in Tehran as head of Hizballah's Liaison Office and immediately assumed his new duties. Tehran counts on the new frontline commander for implicit obedience to its dictates in a war situation.
Our intelligence sources say this appointment is the most ominous sign to date of the seriousness Iran and Hizballah attach to their plans for an early war with Israel.
Tehran, Damascus and Nasrallah are tensely watching the clock ticking for the UN Special Tribunal on Lebanon – STL to deliver indictments against top Hizballah officials before the end of this year or early January. Hizballah has threatened to block their extradition by seizing Lebanon's government and strategic centers. This action that could quickly ignite the inflammable Lebanese-Israeli border, an interconnection Hizballah's leader eagerly embraced in his latest speech of Thursday, Nov. 11.

November 14, 2010 Briefs
• Radical Islamic preacher Omar Bakri Muhammed sentenced in Lebanon to life captured on the run.
• Netanyahu tells cabinet Sunday: Settlement freeze deal for US incentives is still in discussion. When finalized he will table it at security cabinet. debkafile: Netanyahu is playing for time to gather a government majority.
• Palestinians: West Bank building moratorium is not enough. Jerusalem must be included before we sit down and talk.
• Britain's top soldier says Al Qaeda cannot be beaten, only contained to allow Britons to lead normal lives.
• More than 2 million Muslims begin annual hajj to Mecca. Saudi Interior Minister does not rule out al Qaeda attack on pilgrims although AQAP denied such intention.
• Israeli Air Force resumes training flights after last week's F16 I warplane accident in which pilot and navigator were killed.

Obama draws US map of future Israel-Palestinian borders

14 Nov. debkafile's Washington sources disclose that the 90-day settlement construction freeze-for-incentives deal Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says he discussed with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday, Nov. 12, also included a commitment to hold negotiations with the Palestinians during that period on final borders. Assuming the talks collapse, the Obama administration will chart those borders itself and present an American map to both sides before the three months are up. This map will closely adhere to Palestinian aspirations.
Obama believes that Israel can cover its security needs with no more than 4-4.5 percent of the pre-1967 West Bank area and should therefore evacuate dozens of settlements plus two important towns, Efrat in Gush Etzion in the south and Ariel in Samaria.
For Washington, it is the Palestinians who are laying down the law. After his ultimatum on construction was accepted as an obstacle to talks, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas now warns Washington that if every last Jewish resident is not cleared from Ariel, there will be no peace accord. Former President George W. Bush accepted that in 33 years, the West Bank had undergone demographic changes. The settlements developed and multiplied exponentially every time the Palestinians refused to discuss peace and resorted to violence.

November 15, 2010 Briefs
• Public clash between Afghan president Karzai and US commander Petraeus • Petraeus accused Karzai of undermining progress in war by his criticism of NATO tactics. Karzai called for fewer US troops and an end to night raids which disturb Afghans' normal life. The exchange occurred just before NATO summit in Lisbon on new US plan to wind down war in four years.
• Taliban claimed lives of seven NATO servicemen in eastern and southern provinces of Afghanistan making Sunday deadliest of November. Early Monday, insurgents killed eight Afghan policemen in northern Konduz province.
• Iran launches five-day air defense war games Tuesday, promises to unveil new radar system.

Iran's Baghdad feat will force US to engage Hizballah, Hamas

15 Nov. Iyad Allawi, whose Al Iraqiya party won Iraq's general election last April, was lost the premiership to the pro-Iranian incumbent Nouri Al-Maliki and admitted Friday, Nov. 12 that "the concept of power-sharing in Iraq was dead. For Iraq" he said, "there will be tensions and violence…"
That day, too, debkafile's sources report, Hizballah's Hassan Nasrallah asserted that what happened in Baghdad is destined for Beirut, marking the next Middle East target Tehran plans to wrest from Washington.
This is the new Middle East, where Iran and its allies are beating the West out in one crisis after another, forcing pro-US and pro-Saudi political forces to come to terms with antagonists sponsored by Tehran, such as Al Maliki, who is under the thumb of the anti-American radical Shiite Sadrists, whose headquarters is located in Iran.
In addition to boosting violence – as Allawi predicted – Iran has perpetuated the ethnic and religious divisions of the national government and parliament while also fostering the national, political, ethnic and religious conflicts dividing the country outside the capital.
The next ton of bricks about to fall on Washington's head now comes from Lebanon and the Palestinians, both of whom are falling ever deeper into Syria's clutches.

November 16, 2010 Briefs
• Gates: Military action would not stop Iran's nuclear program only make it "deeper and more covert".
• Russia to give Lebanese army helicopters, tanks, ammo free of charge. This was announced by PM Hariri after talks with Putin in Moscow.
• Nigeria reported seizure of Illegal arms shipment from Iran to UN Security Council.
• Qassam from Gaza explodes in Negev field. Red Alert did not work because of fog.
• Twelve ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees to receive 10 m sterling out-of-court compensation payouts from UK government.

As Iran, Hizballah weigh war in months, Israel plans for another decade

16 Nov. Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have made a big deal about the security benefits they say Barak Obama is offering for a second, 90-day moratorium on settlement construction. However the delivery date of the second lot of 20 F-35 stealth warplanes is 2020 – ten years from now! So how can they help Israel stand up to its current security threats from Iran, Hizballah, Syria and Hamas? The Obama letter of commitment is meanwhile delayed.
On October 28, a Hizballah war game demonstrated the ability of its special forces to overrun Lebanon in two hours. It took Israel 19 days to respond: Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi finally confirmed on Nov. 15 that the Shiite terrorists may seize power after the UN Tribunal indicts their leaders for the Hariri assassination. But he did not say how Israel proposed to handle a violent hostile terrorist takeover of Beirut on Iran's behalf and the grave strategic peril it presented Israel.
Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak appear to be sunk in a state of suspended animation in the face of these threats – even as an Israeli intelligence officer, who opted to stay anonymous, confirmed Sunday, Nov. 14, that Hamas had obtained surface missiles capable of exploding in the heart of Tel Aviv. They are leaving Israel's enemies in peace to build up their strength.

November 17, 2010 Briefs
• Iraqi President Talabani refuses to sign death warrant for Saddam Hussein's deputy Tariq Aziz.
• Israel decides to unilaterally withdraw from the northern half of Ghajar village which straddles the Lebanese-Israel border.
• The foreign ministry and IDF given 30 days to draw up security arrangements for the territory's handover to UNIFIL. Its residents are fiercely opposed to the Israeli pullout, fearing to fall in Hizballah's hands.
• Alleged Russia arms dealer Viktor Bout pleads non guilty to terrorist-linked charges in US court Wednesday. His extradition from Thailand touched off row with Moscow. FM Lavrov accused US of politically-motivated pursuit of Bout and pledged him legal support.

Israeli air strike in Gaza kills two Al Qaeda-linked Army of Islam chiefs

17 Nov. Just two weeks after Mohammed Namnam was killed in a combined Israel-US-Egyptian targeted assassination, an Israeli airborne missile struck again in Gaza City Wednesday, Nov. 17, and killed two more commanders of the Al Qaeda-linked Army of Islam. debkafile's sources name them as the brothers, Islam Yasin and Muhammad Yasin, who were preparing a new wave of terrorist attacks in Sinai aimed at hitting the Multinational Force and Observers North Base under US command at El Gorah, 37 kilometers southeast of the Sinai port of El Arish, and kidnapping Israelis vacationing in Sinai for ransom in Gaza.
Their victims were to be spirited into Gaza through Hamas' arms smuggling tunnels. Israeli travelers in Sinai were warned they are still in danger and advised to leave.
The plot was revealed during the interrogation of 25 Army of Islam accomplices captured by Egyptian intelligence units in North Sinai. This many accessories points to the scale of the attacks Al Qaeda-linked terrorists were and still are planning.
On the West Bank, Palestinian Authority security forces rolled up a Hamas terrorist network in Nablus. It was plotting, debkafile's sources report, the assassination of the Palestinian governor to kick off Hamas' offensive against the PA on the West Bank.

November 18, 2010 Briefs
• UK counter terror police investigating mysterious explosion in Scottish forest near Loch Lomond find several explosive devices.
• Palestinians fire three mortar shells at Eshkol region from Gaza.
• Namibian police delay Air Berlin flight after finding bomb components in a suitcase checked through to Munich. An X-ray revealed batteries attached with wires to a detonator and a ticking clock. The discovery Thursday comes amid tightened German security following a terror alert.
• The first civilian trial of a Guantanamo prisoner ended Wednesday with the stunning acquittal of an accused Al Qaeda operative on all but a single count. A federal jury convicted Ahmed Ghailani, 36, of conspiring to destroy U.S. buildings and property in the 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people, including 12 Americans.

Al Qaeda cells bound for "Christmas sales" strike in Germany, UK

18 Nov. As Al Qaeda cells, each numbering two-to-four terrorists, headed out this week from India and Pakistan to Europe, Germany tightened security at airports, railway and bus stations, debkafile's counterterrorism sources report. The tipoff to Berlin and London came from US intelligence Wednesday, Nov. 17 and warned that the terrorists were due to land Nov. 22 and time their strikes for peak pre-Christmas shopping. They were described as ready to go into action without recourse to local assistance. Weapons and explosives await them at prearranged hideouts.
This method of operation recalled the massive Mumbai attacks two years ago when gunmen stormed ten locations killing 166 people and injuring more than 500. The US alert signal cited the high-profile Mohammed Ilyas Kashmiri, 46, architect of the Mumbai terror strategy, as senior planner of the coming attacks.
In London, British parliament members and staff were warned of the possibility of an Al Qaeda commando raid on the Palace of Westminster, seat of the Houses of Commons and Lords. An email from Scotland Yard Tuesday, Nov. 16, advised them to exit the building rather than looking for a hiding place in the event of a terrorist invasion.

Namibia delays Munich-bound flight after fighting a bomb in a suitcase

18 Nov. The Namibian police evacuated 300 passengers from an incoming Munich-bound Air Berlin flight after finding bomb components in a suitcase at Windhoek airport Wednesday, Nov. 17, the day after Germany was warned by US intelligence that Al Qaeda cells were planning to land in Germany and the UK from India and Pakistan. An X-ray of the luggage revealed batteries attached with wires to a detonator and a ticking clock, German authorities said in a statement. The plane has meanwhile taken off and landed safely at its destination in Germany as a team of German explosives experts headed for Windhoek.

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