A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending Sept. 3, 2009

Jordan's King Abdullah conducts Palestinian purge of regime and army


27 Aug. Jordan's king Abdullah, who has always claimed to be an ardent champion of the Palestinians, is quietly acting to cut down their numbers and influence in his kingdom.

Just over 50% of Jordan's six million citizens are Palestinian.

On Aug, 6, he addressed the Jordanian General Staff in Amman with a warning that domestic and foreign plots were afoot to stir unrest among the Palestinian majority community.

Abdullah did not name the source of the threat. Some Middle East sources interpreted his unusually stern remarks as referring to Syria and Iraq and their possible exploitation of the Palestinian community for destabilizing the kingdom. Hence the following five steps disclosed here by debkafile's military and intelligence sources:

1. The king has ordered a massive purge of the Jordanian military, forcing hundreds of officers into early retirement. A survey of the names of the officers laid off and their replacements shows that none of the sacked officers bore Bedouin tribal names.

2. He is conducting the same process in the top levels of government.

Three officials elevated to the top of the pyramid are Prime minister Nader al-Dahabi, his half-brother Prince Faisal, who is now in line for promotion as chief of staff of the armed forces, the director of General Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Al Raqqad.

3. Not only were non-Bedouin officers' services terminated, but the king secretly ordered the general staff to stop recruiting them to Jordan's auxiliary units, such as transport, ordnance, quartermaster-general and surgeon-general.

4. The Jordanian ministry of the interior has begun the process for revoking the Jordanian citizenship of Palestinians who relocated from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the Hashemite Kingdom in the last 40 year, as a means of reducing the size of the community.

Jordan was unique in granting citizenship rights to Palestinians, a status not conferred by any other Arab government.

US may put missile shield in Israel, Turkey instead of E. Europe – Polish report

29 Aug. According to the Warsaw newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, Washington plans to scrap its plans to deploy anti-missile bases in Poland and the Czech Republic for defense against attacks from Iran.

No immediate comment was available from US, Polish of Czech officials on this disclosure, but the Polish paper cited unnamed US officials on Aug. 27 as affirming that Washington was now considering deploying anti-missile interceptors on naval vessels and at bases in Israel and Turkey, as well as potentially in the Balkans, in deference to adamant opposition from Moscow to their installation in East Europe.

debkafile's military sources report that Israel already has a substantial infrastructure for such bases, including the Arrow anti-missile system and American FBX-T radar located in an off-limits site in the Israeli Negev.

While serving America's strategic needs, these bases would also help shield Israel against missile attack from Iran and Syria

August 30 Briefs

·        Ex-PM Olmert indicted on three charges of fraud before the Jerusalem district court. His former bureau chief Zaken was brought to court on related charges.

·        Al Qaeda terrorist says he was trained in Syrian camp by Syrian agents before being sent to fight in Iraq. His taped accusation was aired after the August 19 Baghdad massacre.

·        Gaza-Israel borders heats up with 2 or 3 more Palestinian Qassam missiles exploding in open ground near Sderot Sunday night. No one hurt.

·        Suicide attacker kills 15 officers by blowing himself up at police station in Pakistan's Swat Valley.

·        Netanyahu unveils to cabinet comprehensive plan to combat mounting street violence. It includes harsher penalties, stricter limits on alcohol sales, cops on the beat in cities and a special school program.

·        Israeli Air Force bombs N. Gazan opening of Palestinian tunnel for smuggling terrorists into Israel under their border fence.

·        A Qassam missile exploding on open ground near a kibbutz triggers Red Alert systems in Sderot Saturday.

Hamas leaders' walkabout aims to break Gaza embargo rather than settle Shalit affair

30 Aug. Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu Sunday, Aug. 30 dismissed the torrent of press reports claiming a prisoner swap for the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit was imminent. He stressed that no breakthrough was expected in the coming days and termed the reports “unfounded, much exaggerated and inaccurate.”

debkafile's Middle East sources disclose the real object of Hamas leaders' shuttle between Gaza, Cairo and Damascus as a desperate attempt to lift the embargo clamped down on the Gaza Strip.

Since the onset of the Ramadan month of fasting last month, Gazans are grumbling more bitterly than ever before about their hardships, which are exacerbated by frequent electricity outrages induced by fuel shortages. The Hamas government is hard-pressed to decide between maintaining the posture of “resistance” and pay the price of an embargo and threats to its hold on government, or look after the needs of the population.

On Aug. 26, a large US military delegation took a close look for the first time at Egypt's anti-smuggling measures against the Philadelphi Strip's tunnels and gave the Egyptian operation high marks.

Israeli Arab used membership of same gym to spy on Chief of Staff

31 Aug. Rawy Sultani, 23, from the Israeli Triangle town of Tirah was brought to trial before the Petach Tikva district court Monday, Aug. 31, accused of being recruited by the Lebanese Hizballah to spy on the Israeli chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi with a view to enabling his assassination.

According to the indictment, he was recruited by Hizballah operative Salman Harb at a summer camp run by the Israeli-Arab Balad party in Morocco in August 2008.

Sultani was perfectly placed to spy on the Israeli army chief because they belonged to the same gym.

In December, he followed orders to travel to Poland where “Sammy Harb” grilled him on the routes of access to the gym, Ashkenazi's workout schedule, his gear and the state of security around him at those times.

The next day he was given an email address for corresponding with his controller together with an encryption disk. Later in December, Israeli police picked up his email messages and opened an investigation. Upon arrest he confessed.

Six nations may reveal data concealed by ELBaradei on Iran's nuclear progress

31 Aug. US, Israel and four other governments are urgently discussing the release of intelligence that Iran is running covert military nuclear projects parallel to its civilian program after Mohammed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, withheld this data from his last report, debkafile's military and intelligence sources disclose.

The four governments are Britain, France, Netherlands and Japan. They provided ElBaradei with new and detailed information for inclusion in his last report on Aug. 28 before retiring. But ElBaradei, true to his usual custom of blurring Iran's breaches, omitted the new evidence.

The governments concerned will decide very soon which parts of this unpublished information to air. According to our sources, they will not be attributed directly to any government, but to “Iranian exiles” who will present it as coming from inside Iran as in the case of the opposition Mojaheddin al-Khalq, whose leaders in 2004 first broke the news of Iran's uranium enrichment plant at Natanz.

Next month, a special high-level meeting of the UN Security Council will discuss nuclear proliferation, ahead of the UN General Assembly.

Was bomber who tried to kill Saudi prince an al Qaeda “mole”?

31 Aug. Al Qaeda Sunday, Aug. 30, identified the suicide bomber who injured Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, son of the interior minister and nephew of King Abdullah, in Jeddah Thursday Aug. 27, as Abdullah Hassan Tali al-Asiri, known as Abul Khair. Islamist sites reported: “The hero martyr on the list of 85 wanted persons… managed to enter his palace, pass his guards and blow up a package.”

The al Qaeda account confirms debkafile's report linking the attempted murder to Saudi Arabia's involvement in the civil war tearing Yemen apart.

Our military sources were the first to reveal on Aug. 22 that Saudi Air Force bombers were pounding rebel al-Houthi strongholds in northern Yemen and that the targeted Saudi prince is coordinating operations on behalf of the royal house with Washington, Cairo and Sanaa.

If the al Qaeda statement is correct, it would suggest that Osama bin Laden's “Qaeda Jihad Organization in the Arab Peninsula” has been able to get a double agent close to the key Saudi coordinator of the Yemen war effort. This organization was formed by amalgamting the Saudi and Yemeni branches of al Qaeda.

01 September Briefs

·        Egyptian police discover two tons of explosives cached near Gaza border. In last three days, four tunnel entrances found in border town of Rafah.

·        US has heard nothing conclusive from Iran in its reported “updated nuclear proposal” – White House spokesman Tuesday. The April offer by the US and allies is still out there, he said.

·        Six world powers meet in Germany Wednesday to discuss Iran's nuclear program.

·        UN agencies: 35,000 people trapped without basic amenities by fierce fighting in besieged northern Yemen town of Saada.

·        Palestinians lob rocks at Israeli cars in Jenin, Hebron and Ramallah districts of West Bank. No one hurt.


US trebles MOP “bunker buster” bombs order, wants them fast

01 Sept. In view of new information about Iran and North Korea's underground nuclear facilities, the US Air Force has asked to speed up the delivery of 10 to 12 giant Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bunker buster bombs, according to Air Force Lt. Gen. Mark Shackelford.

Unusually, debkafile's military sources report, the order has been trebled in less than a year after Congress was first asked for $68 million to buy four MOPs by the US Pacific Command which covers the Korean area and US Central Command which oversees Iran.

On Aug. 3, the Pentagon announced a decision to accelerate delivery and again on the 30th for the order to be filled as soon as possible by July 2010 at latest.

Gen. Shackelford said: “These are purchases beyond just those needed to test their capability. In other words (the military is seeking to) build a small inventory of, I believe, 10-12 bombs.”

The MOP, using GPS and inertial guidance to find its target, can penetrate 200 feet underground, and is the last of a line of American super bombs.

September 02 Briefs

·        Afghan Dept. security chief, Abdullah Laghmani, among 23 killed in Taliban bombing attack in Mehterlam, east of Kabul Wednesday. A group of government officials were inaugurating a mosque.

·        Israel's security cabinet holds special meeting on home front's readiness for wartime missile attack.

·        A large explosive device blew up near the Gaza-Israel border fence opposite Kibbutz Nir-Am. No one hurt.

·        Israeli Air Force grounds all F-16I to probe malfunction which caused jet to make emergency landing at the Mitzpe Ramon base in the South Wednesday. The pilot and navigator were uninjured.

Hizballah names two Israeli Internet “spies” amid horse-trading over Lebanese cabinet

02 Sept. Hizballah's Ibrahim al Amin Tuesday night, Sept. 1, named two Israelis who he said had been covertly diverting Lebanese Internet network traffic through the Haifa exchange center in Israel as Jerry Orenstein and Ronen Neuhaus.

debkafile's sources say Orenstein is an ultra-religious is business man whose firms in Israel, the UK and Cyprus deal with a variety of trades – from Internet and telecommunications to organizing European tours for ultra-religious travelers. Ronen Neuhaus is the Middle East director of Tinet, formerly known as Tiscali International Network, which operates in Scandinavia, the Eastern Mediterranean and Africa. He has vast experience in the telecommunications industry, specifically Internet Service Providers.

Hizballah sources claim that the pair, working out of their Cyprus bases of operations and using a Jordanian middle man called Nasser Farhan, persuaded Lebanese Internet companies that running their services through the Haifa exchange would save them money.

debkafile first broke the story of the Lebanese data center on Mt. Barukh found to be routed to an exchange center in Haifa on Aug. 14. Hizballah claims that among its users were the presidential palace and defense department, enabling Israeli intelligence was able to tap into the most sensitive Internet correspondence from the highest Lebanese official quarters.

Hizballah deploys chemical and biological weapons near Israeli border – Arab, European sources

03 Sept. The Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa reported Thursday, Sept. 3, that chemical weapons were stored in the hidden Hizballah arms warehouse which blew up at Hirbet Salim near the Israeli border in mid-July. Of the 11 Hizballah operatives killed in the blast, 3 died of chemical poisoning.

On July 21, debkafile reported that the explosion heard on both sides of the border refuted Israeli military claims that the Lebanese border was secure and revealed that the destroyed arms dump was one of 35 Hizballah had lined up within 20 kilometers from the border.

European intelligence sources reported on Sept. 1, that Hizballah had recently boosted its military capabilities with a supply of chemical shells and short-range missiles with chemical warheads from Iran and Syria and was about to receive biological weapons as well. One source said that the Lebanese terrorist group is now one of the most sophisticated and best trained military forces in the Middle East and was gearing up for “something big.”

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