A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending October 14, 2010
October 8, 2010 Briefs
• Konduz governor, imam said to be among 15 killed in explosions at mosque in N. Afghanistan province.
• Israel signs $2.75bn deal to buy 20 US F-35 stealth fighters boosting US air industry.
Israeli troops kill Hamas' West Bank commander, hunt "Syrian" cell leader
8 Oct. Israel's pursuit of the Hamas terrorists behind the latest string of West Bank attacks ended Friday, Oct. 8 in a gun battle in Hebron and the deaths of Hamas' West Bank commander Nashat Al-Karmi and his lieutenant Mamoun Al-Natshe, thereby snapping Hamas' militant backbone in the territory. debkafile reports that the Hamas cell leader from Syria who led the attack which killed four Israelis and injured two others is still at large.
The two Hamas chiefs were killed when Israeli troops backed by Shin Bet operatives and the police anti-terror squad closed in on three Hebron houses in which they were holed up and refused to surrender. One of the houses was bulldozed and several occupants detained.
debkafile's counter-terror sources reveal: Nashat Al-Karmi, aged 34, was born in Hebron and lived there with his wife. His first brush with Israeli troops occurred in 1999 when he was picked up in a counter-terror swoop and spent three years in jail. In 2004 he suffered a serious gunshot wound to the stomach and was confined to a wheelchair. Exceptionally secretive, Al-Karmi escaped having his photo taken, never used a telephone or even a cell and preferred to go into terrorist action solo.
debkafile's sources stress that by wiping out Hamas' top West Bank command, Israel has also shown up as spurious Hamas' latest propaganda effort to demonstrate its superiority to Israel's Shin Bet and claim to have smashed Israel's covert networks in the Gaza Strip.
October 9, 2010 Briefs
• Pakistan reopens Khyber Pass to Afghanistan-bound NATO trucks after 7 convoys attacked in a week.
• Four Italian soldiers killed by roadside bomb against their armored vehicle in Farah area of W. Afghanistan.
• British aid worker taken hostage in Afghanistan is killed in US rescue attempt.
• Washington welcomes Arab League allocation of month's grace for efforts to bring Palestinians, Israelis back to talks.
• Tehran tones down provocative aspects of Ahmadinehad's Lebanon visit next week • Denies he will throw stones at Israel from border.
Obama to hold Assad responsible for Hizballah violence in Lebanon
9 Oct. Senior US diplomat Frederic Hof landed in Damascus Friday Oct. 8, with a strong ultimatum from US President Barack Obama warning Syrian President Bashar Assad that he would be held personally responsible for any military action Hizballah may pursue in Beirut or any other part of Lebanon. Such action would have consequences for the Syrian ruler's standing in Washington and that of his country. This is revealed by debkafile's sources in Washington and Beirut.
October 10, 2010 Briefs
• FM Lieberman scolds French, Spanish counterparts in Jerusalem Sunday: "Before you teach us how to resolve conflicts here, at least solve all the problems in Europe. We have no intention of becoming 2010's Czechoslovakia and will stand up for Israel's vital interests."
• By a vote of 22 to 8, Israeli cabinet approved controversial amendment to Citizenship bill. The draft requires non-Jewish applicants for citizenship to swear an oath of loyalty to Israel as "a Jewish and democratic state". Some Likud ministers joined Labor against the prime minister.
• Egypt's Banned Muslim Brotherhood to stand for one-third of seats in next month's parliamentary poll.
Iran believed executed nuclear staff over Stuxnet
10 Oct. Information reaching the West indicates that Iran has put to death some atomic scientists and technicians suspected of helping plant the Stuxnet virus in its nuclear program. The admission by Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization, on Friday, Oct. 8 – the frankest yet by any Iranian official – that Western espionage had successfully penetrated its nuclear program is seen as bearing out those reports.
It also attests to the damaging effect the malworm has had on the program: the Bushehr reactor has faced one delay after another since it was inaugurated in August and other nuclear plants are functioning only partially since the virus first surfaced last July.
But, the Iranian nuclear chief contended, Iran had countered enemy efforts. "The issue of spies existed in the past, but is diminishing day by day," he said
debkafile adds: The extreme security measures clamped down on the program's employees have further slowed its progress.
October 11, 2010 Briefs
• Netanyahu: If Abbas recognizes Israel as Jewish nation-state, I will reconsider extending moratorium on settlement construction. Palestinians instantly rejected offer.
• Iran contests Iraq's claim to be home to world's fourth-largest fuel reserves. After Iraq bolstered its estimate to 143 billion barrels, Iran raised Monday to 150.31.
• Law ministers draft legislation for change in status of Israeli sovereign territory in international accords. They recommended submitting all such changes to popular referendum or approval by Knesset majority of 80. This draft law would apply also to East Jerusalem and the Golan.
• Turkish PM Erdogan visits Damascus to discuss anti Kurdish PKK campaign with Assad. debkafile: Ankara says rebel PKK uses bases in N. Syria to attack Turkey.
• Russia and India launch joint anti-terror exercise in Uttarakhand Oct. 15. It will focus on combating terrorist cells in mountain hideouts.
• British panel begins inquiry of 2005 terror attack on London which killed 52 people including an Israeli woman. It examines why MI5 domestic security agency failed to prevent attack although terrorists were under surveillance.
Al Qaeda warns Ahmadinejad against visiting Lebanon, US citizens urged to be vigilant
11 Oct. More fuel was thrown on the bubbling brew surrounding Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Lebanon this week by a threat from an Al Qaeda-linked group: "The whole of Lebanon will tremble if he sets foot there," said the Abdullah Azzam group, named for Osama bin Laden's Palestinian mentor who was al Qaeda's original founder. "We will do the impossible to thwart this conspiracy."
Washington warned Americans in Lebanon to be vigilant and avoid large gatherings.
As Lebanese citizens snapped up every weapon on sale non-Shiite Lebanese including Sunni Muslims in the North posted large banners and pictures of the Iranian president with large crosses and the slogan: "You are not welcome in Lebanon."
Israel-Greek air forces practice long-distance helicopter strikes
11 Oct. The Israeli and Greek Air forces embarked Monday, Oct. 11, on a joint four-day exercise code-named Minoas 2010 over Crete and the Peloponnese Peninsula, debkafile's military sources report. Both areas are characterized by long coastal strips and high mountain peaks extended into the sea, similar to some Iranian shores. Taking part are 16 Apache and Black Hawk UH-60 assault helicopters – eight Israeli and eight Greek. The Israeli choppers were refueled in mid-flight to Greece.
The helicopters are practicing tactics designed for large expanses of water, island groups – the Argo-Saronic Islands east of the Peloponnese and the Ionian Islands to its west – and high coastal peaks with deep canyons and gorges. This sort of terrain resembles Persian Gulf shores, including the coastal strips enclosing the strategic Strait of Hormuz and the western and southern shores of Iran where key Revolutionary Guards Corps bases are grouped.
This and former exercises demonstrate Israel's ability to fly fighter-bombers long range to and from Iran.
October 12, 2010 Briefs
• At least 18 Iranian soldiers said killed in explosion at military base in western Lorestan province Tuesday.
• Twin blasts at Yemeni sports center in Aden kill three, injure 14, including two policeman.
• Al Qaeda marks 10th anniversary of attack on US destroyer Cole in Aden port by establishing a new "army to free" Aden and neighboring Abyan. Seventeen US sailors killed in that attack.
• Russia's chief nuclear negotiator Alexei Borodavkin arrives in Seoul in bid to revive stalled talks with North Korea.
Chinese warplanes make Mid East debut in Turkey and Iran
12 Oct: The arrival of a new Middle East player startled Washington and Jerusalem: debkafile's military sources disclose that when Turkish Prime Minister Tayyep Erdogan met Syrian president Bashar Assad in Damascus Monday, Oct. 11, they talked less about the Kurdish question and more about the role China is willing to play in the military-intelligence alliance binding Syria, Iran and Turkey.
Erdogan took the credit for China's unfolding involvement in the alliance in the role of big-power backer.
Chinese warplanes took part in Turkey's Anatolian Eagle air maneuver from Sept. 20 to Oct. 6 after breaking their journey to refuel in Iran, their first appearance ever in the Islamic Republic.
This year's Turkish exercise took place without US and Israeli participation. Israel was not invited and America opted out. Their place was taken by Chinese Sukhoi Su-27 and Mig-29 warplanes.
Israel drills unconventional al Qaeda strike in Jerusalem
12 Oct: debkafile's military and counter-terror sources report that Tuesday, Oct. 12, large-scale Israeli police, counter-terror squads, border police, first aid personnel and firefighters staged the most extensive exercise Israel has ever conducted against multiple terrorist attacks in its eastern and central regions including Jerusalem. The drill included an Al Qaeda penetration of crowded downtown Jerusalem with unconventional weapons – the first time Israeli has simulated an Al Qaeda infiltration of a large city.
October 13, 2010 Briefs
• Iranian president announces formation of new Eastern Front against Israel. Its members are Iran, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Palestinians and Iraq. He made the announcement in Beirut on Day One of his visit to Lebanon amid unprecedented security measures.
• Tuesday night he made phone call in bid to allay Saudi King Abdullah's anger over the visit.
• US calls on Palestinians for action to revive stalled talks with Israel. They should counter Netanyahu's offer of a freeze on settlements for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley said the US recognizes Israel as it defines itself as a Jewish state.
• Anglo-Jewish writer-columnist Howard Jacobson is surprise winner of British Booker Prize for literature for his work "The Finkler Question" • The pro-Israeli writer beat the odds which favored Tom McCarthy.
Call for Israel's destruction places IDF, Syrian Lebanese armies on alert
13 Oct. debkafile's military and Iranian sources report: Towards the end of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad first day in Lebanon Wednesday Oct. 13, a high alert was declared in the Israeli, Syrian, Lebanese armies, the Hizballah militia and the UN peacekeeping force ahead of his tour of the Lebanese-Israeli border Thursday.
In the speech he delivered Wednesday night from the Al-Raya Stadium in the Shiite district Dahya district of Beirut, Ahmadinejad and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared their common goal was Israel's destruction. Nasrallah did not appear in the flesh but on a video screen.
Israel's only response to the vicious attacks showered on its head from Lebanon came from an official in the bureau of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who said: The President of Iran's Lebanon visit is like that of a commander reviewing his troops – the terrorists of Hizballah who act as Iran's military arm in the region. Anyone who cares about peace and freedom must be filled with alarm by the Iranian provocation. Lebanon deserves calm and prosperity instead of which it has become the servant of Iranian aggression spearheaded by Hizballah."
Washington's response was still milder. The White House commented that the Ahmadinejad visit to Lebanon marked his provocative behavior, while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it would lead to greater regional instability.
October 14, 2010 Briefs
• Ahmadinejad at Bin Jbeil, S. Lebanon: The Zionists will go back to where they came from. The Holocaust and 9/11 are lies designed to justify the region's occupation. He comes from long discussions with Lebanese leaders on future of Hariri tribunal.
• Palestinian missile for the Gaza Strip explodes harmlessly in Ashkelon.
• Seven NATO troops were killed in S. W. and E Afghanistan Thursday – day after six service members died in insurgent attacks in the east and south.
• Germany outlaws Frankfurt-based Turkish IHH group for supporting Palestinian Hamas.
• Israel Aerospace signs $400 m contract to sell UAVs to Russia.
By its inaction, Israel permits Iran's annexation of Lebanon
14 Oct. The Netanyahu government chose silence in the face of the imperialist Shiite energy Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expended in his all-conquering visit to Lebanon. On his first day in Beirut he showed the world that Tehran calls the shots in Beirut – and that would be just for starters. debkafile's sources find in Israel's inaction today a regrettable analogy with the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's handover of Czechoslovak Sudetenland to Germany in 1938 so ushering in World War II.
Addressing tens of thousands of cheering Lebanese Shiites in the Hizballah stronghold of Dahya in Beirut Wednesday night, Ahmadinejad and his puppet, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah, pledged to make Israel "disappear" and declared nothing and no one can stop this happening. How and when is up to Tehran.
He also announced the formation of a new Islamic bloc, a revival of the old Eastern Front, composed of Iran, Syria, Turkey, the Palestinians, Lebanon and Iraq. It would be dedicated to fighting not only Israel but also America.
For the Iranian ruler, Israel is small change compared with the task of destroying America's Middle East presence and usurping its big power role.