A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending September 15, 2011
September 9, 2011 Briefs
• Palestinian sharpshooters in Gaza target Israeli civilians in Nativ Ha'asara early Friday. No casualties. Heavy damage. People told to stay indoors.
• Third Libyan military convoy crosses into Niger Friday under armed Tuareg tribal guard.
• S &P upgrades Israel's credit rating to A+ with stable forecast. New rating reflects responsible macroeconomic management and high growth rate. Revenue outlook positive following offshore gas discovery.
September 10, 2011 Briefs
• In address to the nation, Netanyahu extended special thanks to Barack Obama for helping to save six Israelis barricaded against mob in Cairo embassy.
• Israel would continue to stick to the peace accord with Egypt, he pledged.
• New York City, Washington DC on high alert for specific, unconfirmed vehicle-borne bomb threat as American marks 10th anniversary of 9/11. NYC police patrol train stations, set up checkpoints. Intelligence collected by CIA from Afghanistan-based source who reported group of terrorists had entered the US, one or two with American passports.
Cairo mob ransacks, torches Israeli embassy. Ambassador flown out
10 Sept. The Israeli embassy in Cairo stood empty Saturday, Sept. 10 after thousands of demonstrators smashed through the wall enclosing the building, broke in and dumped the flag and hundreds of documents through the windows – some classified.
debkafile: Egyptian security forces first stood by and watched. They later used tear gas and fired in the air but were too late to contain the howling mob led by Islamist fundamentalists. At least 5 Egyptian soldiers were killed and more than 1,000 demonstrators were injured in the clashes. Two Israeli military planes flew the ambassador and 80 staff home.
Six Israeli security officers remained on guard until early morning and were later rescued from a room with steel doors by Egyptian commandos – both groups in Egyptian disguise – and driven to the airport in an armored car. The first secretary stayed in Cairo in a secure place.
President Barak Obama expressed concern.
debkafile: The Egyptian rulers' policy of appeasement for the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic extremists has backfired against them too. The spreading extremist violence climaxing in the attack on the Israeli embassy augurs the further breakdown of their authority. As well as an outrage against Israel and setback for US influence, it confronts the generals with their moment of truth: Their failure to deal with the rioters, who quickly vented their fury on police vehicles and buildings after the embassy, will pave the way for Muslim extremist control of Egypt. Israel stands in grave peril of the region's two top Muslim powers lining up at the head of its enemies.
Israeli embassy break-in led by Jam'a al-Islamiya of NY Twin Towers 1993 bombing
10 Sept. In first new disclosures on the storming of Israel's Cairo embassy of Friday night, Sept. 9, debkafile reveals the mob was led by Gama'a al-Islamiya, the Egyptian founding branch of Al Qaeda, together with two other radical Islamist groups. One of its early operations under the al Qaeda label was the February 1993 car bombing of the World Trade Center of New York. Gemaa is now running for election in Egypt.
Saturday, when the mob sacked the embassy, the Egyptian police stood by for hours – until they rifled the gunroom of the local police HQ. The six Israeli security guards were only rescued one steel door away from falling into the mob's clutches by the intercession of US Ambassador Anne Patterson following Prime Minister's request of Barack Obama. Egypt's military ruler Mohammed Tantawi refused to take his calls.
September 11, 2011 Briefs
• Israel border patrol comes under fire from Egyptian Sinai north of Eilat Sunday night. No one hurt.
• US holds 9/11 commemoration ceremonies amid terror alert in NYC and Washington DC.
• New type of missile fired Saturday night from Gaza, exploding 35 km south of Ashkelon. Iron Dome and siren were not activated.
At least 77 US troops injured in Taliban attack in Afghanistan
11 Sept. A suicide bomber blew up a truck packed with 9,000 kilograms of explosives at the entrance to a NATO Combat Outpost Sayed Abad base in central Afghanistan's Wardak province Saturday, Sept. 10. The attack took place as America marked the 10th anniversary of 9/11and New York and Washington DC were on terror alert for a vehicle-borne attack.
The base targeted serves US Special Forces in Afghanistan. The ISAF (NATO) communiqué reported that at least 77 servicemen were injured in the attack at the compound entrance without explaining the almost 24-hour delay in its publication. The US Army spokesman Maj. David Eastburn later reported "89 wounded in action." There were no details of the injuries excepting that "all are being treated and none is immediately life threatening."
The injury toll was believed to be one of the worst for foreign forces in a single incident in the decade-long war. The attack cored in the same region as the Talban missile ambush which downed a US Chinook on Aug. 6 causing the deaths of 30 Americans, 6 of whom were members of the Seals unit which killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan on May 2.
debkafile's military sources: Talban has focused its most recent campaign on US special operations forces who are bearing the brunt of the Afghanistan war.
At a conference on terrorism in Washington, Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to the UK and the US, said the Obama administration should have used the bin Laden killing to declare victory and quickly withdraw from Afghanistan. Today, it faces an increasingly nationalist uprising.
September 12, 2011 Briefs
• Golani Brigade is moved to Israel's southern border with Egypt – military sources. debkafile reported high alert for Palestinian Jihad Islami attack from Sinai on S. Israel Sunday night.
• World Bank warns Palestinian Authority it is headed for acute fiscal crisis over slowed growth and dwindling aid donations. US may reduce aid if Abbas submits bid for UN membership.
• Libyan rebel advance on Bani Walid stalled by infighting, arguments after encountering stiff resistance. Local tribes accused of feeding information to Qaddafi's forces.
• Radical Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr suspends attacks on US troops to ensure their withdrawal by year's end.
• Muslim group burn American flag outside US embassy in London during 9/11 moment of silence.
• Libyan ruler's son Saadi Qaddafi arrives in Niger.
Turkish frigates to confront Israeli vessels, disable their weapons
12 Sept. Turkey sharply ratchets up its threat of war with Israel. Three Turkish frigates were ordered to the eastern Mediterranean and instructed to disable Israel military ships encountered outside Israel's 12-mile territorial waters. This was reported Monday, Sept. 12 as Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was due in Cairo for a controversial visit.
The Turkish threat applies to the warships enforcing Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip and the vessels protecting its deep sea gas drillings. Turkish naval sources report that the frigates assigned the mission belong to its Southern Sea Area Command.
September 13, 2011 Briefs
• CIA chief Petraeus says weakened core al Qaeda remains concern for US decade after 9/11. AQAP is the most dangerous node of global Jihad, he said in first congressional testimony.
• Obama says he will veto Palestinian UN motion for statehood. He objects very strongly to motion as a distraction from solving problems that can only be addressed through negotiations.
• US embassy in Kabul, NATO HQ and Afghan intelligence ministry under rocket and suicide fire in central Kabul's Abdul Haq Square Tuesday.
• In Cairo, Erdogan tells Arab League "Israel has isolated itself" and is endangering its survival.
• Greek Cypriot leader said island would go ahead with gas exploration despite Turkey's unlawful threats.
• Gunmen kill 22 Shiite pilgrims traveling from Karbala Iraq to shrine in Syria.
• Syrian protesters call for "day of rage" against Russia for rejecting sanctions against Assad regime.
• Twin strikes by Qaddafi's forces disable key Ras Lanour oil hub, killing at least 15 rebels. They still hold off rebel assault on Bani Walid.
• Libyan rebels promise moderate Muslim government as Amnesty accuse them of unlawful killings and torture.
• Israel's Labor holds leadership primary runoff Sept. 21 after no candidate netted 40%: •
Yechimovitch – 32%; Peretz – 31%; Herzog – 25%; Amram Mitzna – 12%. Left-of-center Labor's importance outweighs its 5th position on scale of parties. Founded by David Ben Gurion, Labor either led or joined most ruling coalitions.
• PM Netanyahu on crisis with Turkey said he believes common sense and cool reasoning will eventually prevail in Ankara. He was touring Israel's southern border with Egypt.
No US drones for Turkey until Erdogan lifts his armed threat on Israel
13 Sept. The Obama administration has turned down a Turkish request for drones and for the deployment of US Predators at Turkish bases until Ankara stops threatening Israel with armed attack, debkafile's military and Washington sources report. Turkey's lack of functioning drones has crippled the military campaign it is waging against the Kurdish PKK rebels in conjunction with the US and Iran at a critical juncture. Since expelling the Israeli technicians, Ankara has been unable to operate 10 Israeli-made Heron drones.
Since Saturday, Sept. 10, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has warned PM Erdogan that a military clash by a NATO member with the Israeli Navy would have grave consequences for Turkey's future military ties with the US and the alliance.
September 15, 2011 Briefs
• Cameron and Sarkozy visit Tripoli and Benghazi.
• Prime Minister's cost-of-living panel recommends defense spending cutbacks to fund free pre-schools.
• Human rights groups worldwide demand Arab League boycott of Syria.
• Five radical Islamiya Jihadiya members detained at Israeli Galilee Arab village of Dabburiya. They are suspected of setting up a terror cell for attacks on soldiers and border police.
Israeli-Greek defense pact invoked versus Turkish naval and air movements
15 Sept. Israel and Greece have invoked their new, secret mutual defense pact to counter heavy Turkish sea and air movements in the eastern Mediterranean. debkafile discloses that Israel may gain the new advantage of a military presence at Greek bases following a long phone conversation Wednesday night Sept. 14 between the Israeli and Greek prime ministers. They also agreed to share intelligence. Israel's expanded cabinet of eight was called into session over the Turkish threat to its off-shore oil and gas rigs.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan also claims Israel and Cyprus have no right to mark out and exploit the gas and oil zones of the eastern Mediterranean – a fuel-rich region known as Block 12 – without the consent of Turkish Cyprus (the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus – TRNC). This is the pretext for his threats.
With a military presence at Greek bases, Israel will be better able to operate form the rear of Turkish forces should they attack from the Mediterranean.
In sharp U-turn, Palestinians to go through with UN Security Council statehood bid
15 Sept. Thursday, Sept. 15, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas went back on his assurance 24 hours earlier to Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal and European Union foreign executive Catherine Ashton in Cairo and decided after all to go through with his application to the UN Security Council on Sept. 23 for the admission of a Palestinian state to the world body.
This was a pointed rebuff to the Obama administration whose envoys offered to renew US ties with the Palestinians if they refrained from making this application. It may have followed his meeting Tuesday with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyep Erdogan in Cairo, who offered him Turkish diplomatic and financial aid to dig the PA out of its financial hole if the Palestinians agreed to line up behind Ankara's virulent anti-Israel position.