A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending October 21, 2010
Iranian missile-launchers for US, Israeli targets blown up
15 Oct. A top-secret Iranian military installation was struck by a triple blast Tues. Oct. 12 the day before Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad landed in Lebanon. debkafile's sources report the site held most of the Shehab-3 medium-range missile launchers. The underground bunkers housing the launchers at the Revolutionary Guards Imam Ali mountain base in Lorestan were built to defy sabotage. The 18 soldiers officially reported killed in the blasts and 14 injured belonged to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) main missile arm, the Al-Hadid Brigades.
This site was selected for an altitude which eases precise targeting and makes it hard to attack by air or ground forces. It lies 400 kilometers from Baghdad and primary American bases in central Iraq and 1,250 kilometers from Tel Aviv and central Israel. Both are well within the Shehab-3 missile's 1,800-2,500-kilometer operational range.
October 16, 2010 Briefs
• Lebanese PM Hariri turned down Ahmadinejad's invitation to join ME radical bloc led by Iran. It was up to an Arab consensus, he said.
• Hamas: German mediator in Gilead Shalit case visited Gaza two weeks ago.
• Washington "disappointed" by Israel's decision to build 238 new apartments in large Jerusalem suburbs across the old Green Line.
Why the US leak now hinting al Qaeda's Headley was a double agent?
16 Oct: Saturday, Oct. 16, apparently out of the blue, the powers-that-be in Washington leaked the five-year old suggestion by David Coleman Headley's wife that her Chicago-based husband, a key figure in the planning and preparation of the terrorist plot that killed 174 people in Mumbai, was also a paid US informant while training in Pakistani terrorist camps. debkafile's counter-terror sources offer two explanations for the timing of this leak now.
One: The federal authorities are anxious to distract American public attention from the court case beginning last week against the Palestinian-American Major Nidal Malik Hasan accused of murdering 13 US servicemen at Fort Hood base on Nov. 5, 2009 and responsibility for the most deadly Islamist terrorist attack ever staged in a US military installation.
Two: The US administration has come under heavy fire for the unspecific, imprecise terror alert the State Department issued on Oct. 3 for Mumbai-style multiple terror attacks across Europe. Three weeks later most counter-terror agencies in Europe are certain the alert was unfounded and hurt Washington's credibility.
Iran may get Russian S-300 interceptors – via Venezuela
16 Oct. Russia appears ready to sell Venezuela the same five advanced S-300PMU-1 air defense missile battalions it withheld from Iran because of international sanctions. debkafile's military sources report Venezuela's ruler Hugo Chavez offered to buy them when he met Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow Thursday, Oct. 14. Israel immediately turned to Washington to try and block the transaction. Clearly, the highly-sophisticated interceptors are bound for their original client, Iran, through its good friend Chavez.
But this deal will be harder to stop, partly because it gives Moscow the chance to recoup the $800 million lost by its cancellation of the sale to Iran.
October 17, 2010 Briefs
• Incoming Israeli top soldier Maj. Gen. Galant takes leave of Southern Command, warns Operation Cast Lead did not solve our problems with Gaza.
• French interior minister: Saudi Arabia warned Europeans, and especially France, of a fresh terrorist threat.
• Iran arrests 6 Afghan officers and a soldier claiming they crossed into Iranian Sistan-Baluchestan.
• Hugo Chavez arrives in Tehran Monday, will meet Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders.
• Israeli government holds cabinet session at Degana A to mark century of kibbutz.
• Merkel say German attempts to build multicultural society failed. Immigrants must learn German to integrate.
• Israel hosts international airport security conference next month, will exhibit new technology.
October 18, 2010 Briefs
• US, Israel will continue their drive to defeat Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons and sponsor terror. This statement issued at end of joint strategic review.
• Four Muslim men caught in an FBI terrorism sting convicted of trying to blow up New York City synagogues and shoot down military planes with heat-seeking missiles. One count was a conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction within the US. Three of the accused are born in the US, one in Haiti.
• Iran takes part for first time in international "contact group" for Afghanistan meeting in Rome.
• Turkey objects to NATO missile shield, demands proof it will not solely target Iran.
• Trial begins in Turkey of 150 Kurds accused of subversion – among them 12 mayors.
• Nine Afghan security guards of NATO convoy shot dead in S. Afghan Helmand province Sunday night.
• Yemen court condemns to death Al Qaeda's Saleh Al-Shawsh, one of three top AQAP commanders.
Lebanese leaders made sure the Ahmadinejad-Hizballah show was a flop
18 Oct. Despite Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's efforts to ham up his groundbreaking visit to Lebanon last week, debkafile's military sources quote Western and Arab observers as summing it up as a dud. The Lebanese president and chief of staff spoiled his plan for a grand display of hostile power on the border opposite Israel on Thursday, Oct. 10. The visitor had to submit to being escorted by Lebanese troops instead of Hizballah gunmen and his confrontational tour of the border was cut short. Hizballah's Hassan Nasrallah kept to his bunker after being balked of a starring role in a joint victory parade with the visiting president.
US diplomats concluded that neither Ahmadinejad nor Nasrallah achieved any of their objectives from the event.
Abbas weighs opening West Bank to Hamas fighting units
18 Oct. While raising Cain about Israeli settlement construction, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is seriously weighing a secret plan for bringing a fresh influx of Hamas fighting and intelligence forces into the West Bank at points opposite Israel, debkafile's military and intelligence sources report. Israel warns that this plan would bring IDF troops back into the West Bank towns turned over to the Palestinians and restore dozens of dismantled roadblocks.
The secret plan dubbed "Reform of Palestinian Security and Intelligence Services" tops the agenda of the second round of reconciliation talks between Abbas' Fatah and Hamas representatives opening in Damascus Wednesday, Oct. 20. It would be a trade-off: Six US-trained Fatah special forces brigades would regain a foothold in the Gaza Strip for the first time since they were thrown out in Hamas' 2007 putsch and a corresponding number of Hamas deployed in the West Bank.
It is the touchiest point in the negotiations the Fatah-Hamas negotiations for burying the hatchet and cutting a power-sharing deal.
October 19, 2010 Briefs
• British court finds Prince Saud Abdulaziz bin Nasser al Saud, nephew of King Abdullah's brother, guilty of brutally murdering his servant.
• Two bullets struck wall and window of Pentagon's unoccupied south wing Tuesday. Investigation continues.
• Six killed in terrorist attack on Chechen parliament in Grozny. Special government forces overwhelmed the assailants and killed them all. Second group attacked Chechen Agriculture Ministry.
• UK Navy flagship Ark Royal to be scrapped leaving UK without an air carrier, personnel slashed in massive British budget defense cuts.
Hariri Tribunal reconstructs murder blast at French base
19 Oct. The first reconstruction of the massive truck explosion which killed former prime minister Rafiq Hariri in Beirut five years ago was conducted at the French Air Force Base at Captieux near Bordeaux Tuesday, Oct. 19 in the presence of international explosives experts. It was set up by the Office of Danielle Bellemare, Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, in line with its mandate to "identify and prosecute those responsible for the attack."
The re-enactment takes the inquiry a large step forward. debkafile's counter-terror sources report that French President Nicolas Sarkozy had it postponed for more than two months fearing it would trigger an even bigger explosion in Lebanon. To simulate the scene of the assassination, a model of the Beirut street was constructed at the Captieux base, armor-plated cars like those used in the convoy five years ago were brought in and deep pits dug, like the ones in which the explosives were planted.
October 20, 20101 Briefs
• Iran claims to have doubled its stock of enriched uranium.
• In rowdy Knesset session in memory of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Netanyahu recalled that his predecessor never offered the Palestinians a state. The Speaker stressed the murdered prime minister had fought for a united Jerusalem. They were responding to opposition charges that the Netanyahu government was hard-line on peace.
• NATO carries Taliban chiefs to Kabul for talks on Afghanistan War's end. Some flown in from Quetta, Pakistan by US flights. Others through routes formerly closed against them by US forces. They include heads of the most radical Taliban faction, the Haqqani Network which has links to al Qaeda.
• Ex-CIA chief Michael Hayden: Military action now "inexorable" because nothing else stops Iran's nuclear push. Stopping at the "permanent breakout stage" more destabilizing for region than having a weapon, he said.
US deploys second air carrier in Persian Gulf
20 Oct. The United States has posted a second aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, in the Persian Gulf. The announcement came from the Pentagon Tuesday, Oct. 19, two days after the vessel put into port at Fifth Fleet headquarters in Manama, Bahrain. debkafile's sources note that this is the first time in two years that Washington had deployed two aircraft carriers at same time – not just one – in waters opposite Iran and Afghanistan. Together with the USS Harry Truman, the two vessels have 120 warplanes on their decks.
October 21 2010 Briefs
• IDF Galilee commander Yossi Bachar: Israel has plan ready to invade S, Lebanon and destroy Hizballah. His remark is widely reported by Lebanese media.
• Ex-Operations Branch chief Maj. Gen. Tal Russo assumes IDF southern command.
Outgoing commander Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant takes office as chief of staff in four months.
• Saudi King Abdullah and Ahmadinejad talk by phone for second time in a week.
• Hillary Clinton advises Lebanese president not to tolerate bids to discredit UN Hariri tribunal.
• Taliban sources tell Sky News that most of its funding comes from British donors.