A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending October 20, 2011
October 14, 2001 Briefs
• US intelligence officials dispatched to Moscow, Beijing and Ankara to brief governments on Iranian murder plot for the Saudi ambassador. Lavrov asked for more information. Ankara skeptical.
• British defense secretary Liam Fox resigns over scandals about personal relations with business friends and foreign lobbies – US, Iranian, Sri Lankan and Israeli.
• Cairo reports detention of five arms smuggling gangs heading to Israeli border with Libyan portable anti-air rockets.
• Armed gunmen trained by Iranian Al Qods attacked US soldiers in Iraq.
• A prisoner swap opponent whose parents and three siblings were killed in a suicide attack on the Jerusalem pizzeria defaced the Rabin memorial in Tel Aviv. Other victims protest releasing hundreds of jailed Palestinians responsible for up to a thousand Israeli deaths for Gilad Shilat's recovery.
• At US request, Saudis advised Argentina four months ago of Iran-backed plot to kill Saudi ambassador to Washington and attack Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires.
Iranian radicals looked for a limited armed clash with the US
14 Oct. The motivation for the foiled Iranian-instigated plot to murder the Saudi ambassador to Washington at his favorite eatery, Café Milano in Georgetown, is revealed by debkafile's Iranian sources as a bid by a super-radical faction at the top of the Iranian regime to draw the United States into a limited military clash. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approved the plot when his son and heir Mojtaba, 42, and the Al Qods Brigades commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani presented him with their "grand plan."
US President Barack Obama said Thursday, Oct. 13 that a person charged with plotting to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s US ambassador “had direct links, was paid by” and “directed by individuals in the Iranian government. He also said he would not take any options off the table in dealing with Tehran.
October 15, 2011 Briefs
• Yemen: Al Qaeda in Arabia's media chief Ibrahim al-Bana and six others killed in air strike. Son of Awkali reportedly killed too. Gunmen retaliated by blowing up export pipeline.
• Hamas spokesman says kidnapping another 5 Israeli soldiers would free 5,000 more Palestinian prisoners.
• UN Secretary Ban criticizes Israeli plans to build 2,610 new apartments as Gilo extension in S. Jerusalem.
October 16, 2001 Briefs
• Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein warned the US was on a collision course with Iran – Fox News. She urged increased economic sanctions, rejected covert operations against Al Qods Force which could start a war.
• Military force shouldn't be ruled out in response to Iranian assassination plot on US soil – Mike Rogers, Republican chair of US House intelligence panel.
• Kenyan troops enter Somali in pursuit of rebel al Shabaab kidnappers.
Israelis divided over price for Gilad Shalit's freedom
16 Oct. Some of the most notorious Palestinian masterminds of multiple Israeli murders are in the first batch of 477 convicted terrorists who will head for the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, E. Jerusalem and deportation Tuesday, Oct. 18 as part of the price Israel agreed to pay to rescue Gilead Shalit from Hamas. 280 were serving life sentences for multiple murders of whom 204 will not return to their homes but deported. The huge relief over his rescue is mixed with dread. Sixty percent of the Palestinians released in previous prisoner swaps reverted to their old crimes.
This time, before the Netanyahu government approved the exchange, Israel's security chiefs asserted they were capable of containing any fresh upsurge of Palestinian terrorism in the wake of the deal.
Ahlam Tamimi will be banished to Jordan instead of serving out her sentence for transporting a suicide bomber to the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem where 15 people were killed, including five members of a single family.
One of the first atrocities of the Palestinian intifada war was the public lynching in Ramallah on Oct. 12, 2000 of two Israeli soldiers. Abdul al-Aziz Salaha was filmed at a window holding up his bloodstained hands in triumph. He now goes free.
Walid Anajas was serving 36 life sentences for orchestrating the attack at the Moment Café in Jerusalem which killed 12 people and the bombing of a pool hall in Rishon LeZion which left 20 people dead – both in 2001. He will be deported overseas.
Big US airlift drill starts Monday
16 Oct. The United States launched a large-scale strategic airlift exercise over the Middle East Monday, Oct. 21. Tuesday, the day of the Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange for Gilad Shalit, the giant transports carrying command and combat units will practice swift emergency landings in Israel and Saudi Arabia. The US, Israeli, Egyptian and Saudi armies are on high military preparedness amid warnings of terrorist attacks to disrupt the prisoner exchange and avenge US charges of an Iran-instigated plot to murder the Saudi ambassador.
debkafile's military sources report that during this critical week, the exercise ending Friday, Oct. 21 will keep an American air fleet in Middle East skies ready to land at any moment for any contingency.
In parallel, The USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier with Air Wing CW-9 escorted by seven warships is on its way from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean. Last Tuesday Oct. 11, as the US officials accused the Iranian government of directing a plot to assassination the Saudi ambassador to Washington, the Stennis was nearing the Red Sea.
October 17, 2011 Briefs
• As expected, Israel's high court Monday night rejected four petitions by terrorist victims' families to delay release of 477 Palestinian prisoners for Gilat Shalit. The exchange takes place Tuesday morning, The judges found that a delay might put the entire deal at risk.
• Jordan's King Abdullah appoints legal expert Awn al-Khasawneh prime minister in place of Marouf al-Bakhit who resigned.
• Israel and Egyptian sources confirm US-Israeli Ilan Grapel to be swapped soon for 80 Egyptians jailed in Israel.
• Khamenei warns US that "inappropriate" action in connection with assassination plot would bring "decisive response”.
• Transport Minister Israel Katz proposes executing terrorist-killers to halt hostage-taking and traffic in jailed terrorists.
Three Syrian generals disappear. Minority regions barricaded
17 Oct. Has Syrian President Bashar Assad started murdering his own generals? Three have disappeared. One body was discovered in hospital riddled with bullets and may have been liquidated by rebels. After quelling mass demonstrations, the regime faces a rising opposition guerilla war. Fearing its descent into civil strife, the Allawites and Druzes have formed armed militias to protect their domains. Strapped for cash by sanctions, the Assad regime is borrowing from Iranian banks.
October 18, 2011 Briefs
• Hillary Clinton arrives in Libya on an announced visit from Malta.
• Gilad Shalit is flown by helicopter home to Mitzpe Hila.
• PM Netanyahu: Hamas' acceptance of two conditions opened the door to the prisoner swap: Hamas leaders would stay in jail and most released terrorists would not return to the West Bank.
• Chief of Staff Gantz mourned the two Israeli officers killed by the Hamas-led cross-border raiders when they kidnapped Gilad Shalit.
• PM Netanyahu met the German mediator Conrad Erhadt in Tel Aviv to thank him for his critical role in securing Gilad Shalilt's release.
• Syrian security forces kill 25 people in Homs.
Gilad Shalit arrives home from Hamas captivity
18 Oct. Gilad Shalit, 25, won an ecstatic national welcome home the day he was released from five years, four months of Hamas captivity Tuesday, Oct. 18. He was flown by military helicopter from the Egyptian border to Tel Nof air base where he was awaited by his family, the prime minister, the defense minister and the chief of staff, as the first 447 Palestinian terrorists released by Israel crossed the border in the opposite direction. Another 550 will be freed later.
The soldier looked pale, frail and exhausted. His father said he was in fairly good shape except for untreated minor injuries, prolonged lack of sunlight and some malnutrition.
In an interview screened by Egyptian TV before his handover to Israel, Gilad Shalit said what he had missed most during his years of solitary confinement was human contact. Asked if he would campaign to free the thousands of Palestinians still in jail, he replied he would be glad to if they stopped fighting Israel and worked for peace.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said after welcoming the returning solder that Israel would continue to combat terrorism and if any released terrorist reverted to violence "his blood would be on his head."
Nonetheless, it could not be denied that under his watch, Israel had engaged the terrorist group Hamas for the first time in direct negotiations to obtain Gilad Shalit's freedom.
Egypt allowed Hamas leaders to enter the country with their bodyguards as escorts of Gilad Shalit. They made sure their presence was caught on camera.
The deal was controversial in more ways than one. The High Court dismissed four petitions to delay the release of convicted multiple murderers filed by the families of hundreds of their victims amid a storm of protest.
West Bankers greeted returning Palestinian terrorists with songs of praise for their "heroic" feats and green Hamas flags held high in defiance of the ban by Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority.
US objected to Israel's release of some Palestinians as posing a threat
18 Oct. Tuesday night, Oct. 18, the State Department spokesman Mark Toner disclosed that the United States had voiced concerns to Israel over some of the 477 Palestinians freed as part of a deal for his release. "We have looked at some of these individuals and we've communicated our position… to the Israeli government."
Some of the victims of these terrorists were American nationals.
An opinion poll the day before Gilad Shalit's release Tuesday showed 88 percent support for the prisoner swap, while 82 percent feared it would encourage more kidnappings.
Only 36 percent believed the deal had added to Netanyahu's popularity while 57 percent thought his public position was unchanged.
October 19, 2011 Briefs
• Egypt flies out all the 42 terrorists deported under the prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit.
• Eleven land in Turkey, 15 each in Syria and Qatar and one in Jordan.
• Police guards preserve privacy of Shalit family day after son's return from Hamas captivity. The returned soldier has been out on strolls twice in two days.
• Turkish armored infantry backed by fighter aircraft invades northern Iraq. They pursued Kurdish rebels who killed at least 26 Turkish soldiers and police in bomb attacks on police and army posts in S. Turkey Tuesday. debkafile: The operation was start of major Turkish offensive against the PKK's Qandil mountain strongholds in N. Iraq.
• S & B downgrades Egypt's credit rating to BB minus on heightened risks to macroeconomic stability.
• Soldiers apprehend a Palestinian woman heading for passengers at the Gush Etzion bus stop with an open knife.
Moscow welcomes a Hizballah delegation, cites Israel's direct talks with Hamas
19 Oct. Russia used Israel's negotiations with the Hamas for the release of Gilad Shalit to justify its continuing support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and opening the door to pro-Iranian and pro-Syrian terrorist groups. Wednesday, Oct. 19, Moscow welcomed a Lebanese Hizballah delegation, the first European capital to formally receive Iran's terrorist surrogate. debkafile: The Russians suspect a US-Israeli gambit is in play to loosen Hamas' bonds with Damascus and Tehran and are working through Hizballah to spoil it.
debkafile's sources stress that for Hizballah, the official Russian communiqué announcing its visit, is tantamount to international recognition as a force with a say in the region as well as boosting the prestige of its masters in Tehran.
debkafile's Russian sources would not be surprised to hear about a Hamas delegation or its leader Khaled Meshaal arriving in Moscow on the heels of their Lebanese allies.
Libyan rebels drag Muammar Qaddafi's body through Misrata streets. Fighting continues
20 Oct. Questions swirl around the death outside Sirte Thursday, Oct. 20, of Muammar Qaddafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years until his overthrow in August 2011. According to one theory, he shot himself dead to escape capture after he was wounded outside Sirte. Later footage showed him being dragged by howling rebels through the street and then shot dead.
In the eyes of his loyalists, and there are still many left in Libya, he is admired for dying the death of a hero.
If the bullet or shell that injured or killed him is identified as belonging to NATO, he will be acclaimed by his own people and the Muslim world as a martyr like Osama bin Laden before him. This would be the pretext for the outbreak of bloody guerrilla warfare between the dead ruler's following and his opponents.
The third theory is that rebel forces found him dying from an attack on the convoy carrying him and his party out of Sirte and made sure of his death by shooting him in the head.
debkafile: Qaddafi's death may end NATO's military campaign in Libya, but it is far from ending the Libyan war. The barbaric treatment of his body in Misrata is a shocking omen of the bloody conflict to come.