A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Week Ending September 23, 2010
September 17, 2010 Briefs
• Israel's emergency services on high alert for most solemn Jewish festival of Yom Kippur Friday night Saturday. West Bank sealed for 24 hours.
• High-profile Hamas operative killed in counter-terror operation launched by Israel's military and Shin Bet.
• Arab League Secy Amr Mussa: Arabs and Palestinians will never recognize Israel as Jewish state. If West Bank building doesn't stop talks will break down.
• UK faces double wave of terror from new al Qaeda generation and Irish militants, MI5 head Evans.
Hamas security chief held in Cairo as counter-terror sweep spreads
17 Sept. debkafile reports: Hamas' security chief Mohammad Dababesh was held at Cairo international airport Friday, Sept. 17, the first high-ranking Palestinian ever held for questioning by Egyptian security. He is no doubt being grilled on the Eilat-Aqaba Grad attacks from Sinai of Aug. 3 and Hamas West Bank cells responsible for murdering four Israelis near Hebron on Aug. 30.
Earlier, Shin Bet-backed troops raided the Nur a-Shams camp in the West Bank town of Tulkarm and killed Iyad Assad Ahmad Abu Shalbaya, identified as deputy chief of the West Bank Hamas network responsible for those murders. This was Israel's first major operation against known Palestinian terrorist chiefs in some years. It was carried out after Palestinian security forces failed to catch up with the perpetrators.
From Thursday night, Sept. 16, measures have been in place to keep bomb cars out of the capital, including a ban on the movement of vehicles from the Arab sector of East Jerusalem to the Israeli city as of Friday.
Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin warned the Israeli cabinet session Sunday, Sept. 12 that the Hamas military arm Izz-e-din al-Qassam had given all its units strict orders to go all-out in order to bring about the collapse of the Israel-Palestinian talks begun at Sharm el-Sheikh on Sept. 13.
September 18, 2010 Briefs
• Israel complains to UN Sec Council that Lebanese army turns blind eye to Hizballah violations in S. Lebanon.
• Hizballah units learn how to use Fateh-110 missiles in Iran, Kuwaiti report.
Decision to purchase US F-35 faces serious objections in Israel
18 Sept. Israel cannot afford the expensive F-35 stealth warplane, say debkafile's military sources. It will make a big hole in a badly strained defense budget and is widely criticized by military aviation experts. They accuse Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak of surrendering to pressure from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to buy the warplane. It now turns out that unostentatiously, while overseeing the Israel-Palestinian peace talks, Clinton busied herself last week in Jerusalem with an errand of equal important to Washington: bulldozing Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak into agreeing to buy 35 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning stealth warplanes for the Israeli Air Force at a cost of $4.7 billion. This would help Obama get the Saudi arms deal through Congress.
To meet widespread professional objections at home to the transaction, the prime minister set up a special committee to discuss its pros and cons. The panel approved the purchase after cutting down the final number of F-35 warplanes from 35 to 20 at a cost of "only" $2.7 billion. Deeply resented is the Pentagon's refusal to allow Israeli aeronautical engineers adapt the plane to the IAF's special needs.
September 19, 2010 Briefs
• Netanyahu: Sale of Russian shore-ship cruise missiles to Syria is extremely problematic and calls for a military response. He said: Israel's purchase of F-35 warplanes is a partial answer to new threats. debkafile: Delivery of Russian cruise missiles is immediate – first F-35 due in five years.
• Dutch interior ministry: British terrorist suspect of Somali origin arrested at Schiphol Airport.
• Pentagon and Tehran deny Fars report that Iranian border guards hold 7 US soldiers in SE province accused of illegally entering Iran.
• Arab media pick up debkafile exclusive on detention in Cairo of head of Hamas General Security for questioning by Egyptian police.
• At least 29 killed, dozens injured in twin car bomb explosions minutes apart in North and East Baghdad.
• FM Lieberman: Population swaps covering Israeli Arab population not just land should be on agenda of talks with Palestinians.
• Damascus welcomes US steps to integrate Syria in peace process but stresses Golan is not negotiable.
• Israel remembers fallen soldiers of 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Hizballah poised for a coup in Beirut, backed by Iran and Syria
19 Sept. During the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's stopover in Damascus Saturday, Sept. 18, he and Bashar Assad finalized plans to back a Hizballah coup against the Lebanese government, debkafile's military and Mid East sources report. Hizballah called a general mobilization that same day and by Sunday had 5,000 armed men deployed in Beirut, ready to make good on its threat to seize power rather than let its leaders be indicted by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) for the Hariri murder.
Sunday night, Lebanon's ruling March 14 party held an emergency meeting to discuss what to do about "the persistent coup against the state and its institutions, especially by Hizballah's security and military…"
September 20, 2010 Briefs
• Obama said an Israel-Iran war or US strike were not ideal way to resolve nuclear standoff with Iran. But US was keeping all its options on the table.
• Turkish president Abdullah Gul refuses to meet Israeli president Shimon Peres "over tight schedule". He told new conference Turkey would "not forget those killed in Israel raid on ships even if it makes apology.
• Ahmadinejad at UN HQ: Iran is becoming the only world power besides the US.
Cairo shocked by Israel's inaction on terror, leaks Hamas hostage plot
20 Sept. After murdering four Israelis outside Hebron on Aug. 30, the Hamas gunmen planned to bury their bodies and use them as live hostages to extort the release of fellow-terrorists from Israeli jails. This was divulged by the Egyptian semi-official Al Ahram Monday, Sept. 20. Taken aback by Israel's failure fight the new wave of Hamas terror, Cairo leaked this information, gained from grilling Hamas General Security chief Muhamad Hamis Dababash, to the Egyptian newspaper.
Dababash, it turned out, was personally complicit in planning the attack at the Bani Naim road junction outside Hebron. The Hamas gunmen were ordered to videotape the shooting of the four Israelis, bury them in a secret place and then Hamas would claim they were held hostage to trade for jailed Palestinian terrorists. Hamas banked on a strong IDF reprisal by reoccupying the West Bank and causing the Palestinian Authority to topple taking Mahmoud Abbas and his talks with Israel with it.
The Egyptians were totally nonplussed when 48 hours when Israel did not respond to this revelation or even to word that Hamas terrorists had invaded Sinai to kill and kidnap Israeli holidaymakers over the Succoth holiday.
September 21, 2010 Briefs
• Ashkenazi: Russian missiles in Syria are worrying but we can cope with them. We know Hamas is shooting at us from Sinai and they will pay. Egypt is keeping a close eye on Hamas activities. Iron Dome rocket interceptor could be deployed by November. He told a Knesset committee the first batch would be placed in the North – not opposite Gaza.
• Netanyahu: Only Israeli troops can defend West Bank-Jordan border. International troops are not up to the job in this very tough neighborhood. The Israeli PM was addressing Jewish leaders in a conference call Monday.
• Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman officially raises concern over challenge to authority in Lebanon.
Nine Americans killed in Afghanistan helicopter crash as British quit Sangin
21 Sept. The US Apache attack helicopter crashed after taking off from refueling during a several-hour firefight against the Taliban in Afghanistan's Zhari district on August 20. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
It occurred the day after the British contingent pulled out of lethal Sangin in Helmand Province and has made 2010 NATO's deadliest year of the war, raising its war losses to 529 compared with 521 in 2009.
In Sangin, the British lost 107 men in four years – the last on Saturday – almost one-third of total British losses in Afghanistan. It would appear, in fact, that the entire 10,000-strong British contingent in Afghanistan is pulling in its horns and withdrawing to bases in central Helmand with no word about their new combat duties anywhere else. Our sources understand that London is only waiting for political and logistical conditions to be right for the final drawdown of the entire force, marking also the beginning of the end of British-US military cooperation as London cuts deep into its defense spending.
September 22, 2010 Briefs
• Bill Clinton says "Russian immigrants and settlers" are the main barrier to regional settlement. The Russian speakers are "a shocking problem since they make Israel a different country," said former US president. Israel Beitenu party accused Clinton of crude interference in Israel's internal affairs and oversimplification tinged with racism. Netanyahu lauded the huge Russian contribution to the country's progress.
• Twelve killed, 57 injured by suicide bombing against an Iranian military parade in northwestern Iranian city of Mahabad.
• Moscow: Sale of Russian S-300 missile interceptors to Iran is cancelled.
• Palestinian donor states met without news conference after PM Salam Fayad refused to accept "two states for two peoples" formula. Palestinian economy remains "stagnant" despite billions of dollars of aid pouring in year after year.
Palestinian violence in Jerusalem leaves 16 injured, including 5 policemen
22 Sept. After nightfall Wednesday, Sept. 22, Palestinians returned to the attack, throwing firebombs at police patrols and raising the number of injured during the day to 16 Palestinians and Israelis including five police officers.
During the day, Jerusalem police stormed Temple Mount where Muslim worshippers barricaded themselves inside the Al Aqsa Mosque after they rioted and threw rocks at Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall below. The police did not enter the mosque. The riots spread across Arab Jerusalem and the Old City during the funeral of Samir Sirhan who was killed earlier in Silwan by an Israeli security guard shooting his way out of a mob ambush closing in on his car. Sirhan, who was known to the police, was part of the mob and found armed with knives and a screwdriver.
The funeral party hurled rocks at passing Israeli civilians and police brought in to restore order and torched Israeli cars. Eight rioters arrested.
Europe on high alert for al Qaeda transport attacks
22 Sept. The high level of preparedness for terrorist attack maintained in France since Sept. 16 was quietly expanded this week to most big international air and railway hubs of Europe following intelligence that North African al Qaeda had sent Algerian women on suicide missions. Security measures were redoubled London's Heathrow, Amsterdam's Schiphol and airports in Moscow, Berlin and Rome as well as important railways and subway stations of Europe.
French police and security commander Frederic Pechenard told the nation in a broadcast Wednesday Sept. 22: "We have serious evidence coming in from reliable intelligence sources telling us that there is a risk of a major attack."
A single bomber aboard one of the Eurorail multi-country links could wreak havoc along the entire line.
Western terrorism experts believe Al Qaeda in North Africa has expanded its operations following an infusion of Arab fights from Afghanistan and Pakistan and the escalation of its secret war with France over a series of kidnappings in Africa.
Iran is under cyber attack as Obama offers more nuclear negotiations
23 Sept. As the UN General Assembly opens with speeches by US President Barack Obama and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, US media carry a plethora of leaks maintaining that the United States has embarked on a clandestine cyber war against Iran and that Israel has established elite cyber war units for this purpose.
A new virus called Stuxnet, rated as the most advanced and dangerous piece of Malware ever devised, is said to have slowed Iran's uranium enrichment by crippling 3,000 centrifuges.