September 24, 2010 Briefs
• Obama says Ahmadinejad's Sept 11 remarks were "offensive, hateful".Making them north of ground zero was "inexcusable".
• Threat level to Britain from Irish terrorism goes Friday from moderate to substantial. Threat from international terrorism remains "severe" – one less than highest.
• IAEA assembly votes down Egyptian motion criticizing Israel for refusing to join the anti-atom treaty and accept monitoring. The US led the vote of 51 to 46 Arab-sponsored including Iran.
• Egypt releases Hamas security chief Muhamad Dababash Friday a week after detention at Cairo airport.
• Jerusalem Police reinforced Friday 48 hours after Palestinian riots swept city.
• Pro-settlement lawmakers criticize Obama's UN speech urging its building freeze extension. He also told UN efforts to chip away at Israel's legitimacy would be met with unshakeable US opposition. Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people, he said. The US President looked forward to welcoming new Palestinian state next year.
September 25, 2010 Briefs
• Palestinian disturbances recur in Arab parts of Jerusalem Saturday night. A house torched in A-Tur, firebombs hurled from Issawiya.
• Iran admits its industrial systems are under cyber attack by deadly Stuxnet virus.
• Two NATO servicemen killed by roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan where also 30 Taliban died in a clash with coalition troops.
• Hizballah's S. Lebanon chief Nabil Kauk: We will not permit enemies of resistance to prosecute us. He was referring to Hizballah suspects reportedly summoned last week by the Hariri tribunal.
• A suicide bomber injures 30 people, 20 of them police officers, at the Makhachkala check point in Dagestan, Russia.
Direct Israel-Palestinian talks break down after Abbas engages Hamas
25 Sept. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas flew out of New York Saturday night, Sept. 25 standing by his refusal to continue the direct talks with Israel until Jerusalem announced a continuation of the temporary freeze on building construction in West Bank settlements after it expires Sunday night.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton abandoned the effort to talk him round Saturday after it emerged that Abbas was engaged in secret diplomacy with Hamas terrorist planners in Damascus. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu refrained from stating his intentions regarding West Bank construction. The Americans backed off pressure to change his mind after discovering Abbas' double game.
On Saturday, debkafile reported a new stumbling point had turned up on the diplomatic track in the form of a Fatah delegation Abbas had sent to Damascus to open peace talks with Hamas while he was talking to the Americans and Israelis. He had thus swung the focus of diplomacy over to Damascus by engaging the foremost opponents of talks with Israel. In this, the Palestinian leader was apparently supported by Egypt.
On the Hamas team was Izaat Rishak, the security operative personally responsible for orchestrating the drive-by ambushes on Aug. 30 and Sept. 1, which left four Israelis dead and two injured.
Our sources report that the same terrorist chief is using the same perpetrators who are still at large for the next stage of the terrorist campaign Hamas is plotting to unleash.
Obama and Clinton may try and cut through the tangle created by Abbas' double game by going straight to Damascus and trying to rope Bashar Assad into US-sponsored peace diplomacy.
Tehran confirms its industrial computers under Stuxnet virus attack
25 Sept. Mahmoud Alyaee, secretary-general of Iran's industrial computer servers, including its nuclear facilities control systems, confirmed Saturday, Sept. 25, that 30,000 computers belonging to classified industrial units had been infected and disabled by the malicious Stuxnet virus, which was designed to strike industrial controls systems Iran had purchased from the German Siemens.
This followed debkafile's exclusive report Thursday, Sept. 23, from its Washington and defense sources that a clandestine cyber war is being fought against Iran.
The experts say Stuxnet, the most destructive virus ever devised for attacking major industrial complexes, reactors and infrastructure, is beyond the capabilities of private or individual hackers and could have been produced only by a high-tech state like America or Israel, or its military cyber specialists.
The head of the Pentagon's cyber war department, Vice Adm. Bernard McCullough told a congressional panel Thursday, Sept. 22, that Stuxnet had capabilities never seen before. He testified that it was regarded as the most advanced and sophisticated piece of Malware to date.
According to Alyaee, since the virus began attacking Iranian industrial systems two months ago, Iranian experts have failed to come up with a remedy. Stuxnet is powerful enough to change an entire environment, he said without elaborating. Not only has it taken control of automatic industrial systems, but has raided them for classified information and transferred the data abroad.
More terror looms as direct talks collapse – one-up for Hamas, Hizballah
Sept. 26. The US and Israel skirted around admitting that direct Israel-Palestinian dialogue had foundered after 26 days, as Israel's settlement construction freeze expired. American spokesmen commented that with the resumption of building, a one-year clock was ticking for a peace accord. For now, the abruptly- terminated talks have done more bad than good: Hamas is preparing the next, expanded phase of its terror campaign against Israel from the West Bank, Egypt and Syria have agreed to patch up their quarrel and the two terrorist organizations, Hamas and Hizballah, are crowing over Washington's failure to keep the peace talks going.
The region's moderates have hardened and the rejectionists been strengthened – all blaming Israel's refusal to extend the West Bank building freeze for the talks' collapse.
When the building moratorium ran out, Binyamin Netanyahu called on the settlers to exercise restraint. According to debkafile, the Netanyahu government and the Obama administration have reached secret regional understandings that include a partial moratorium allowing for new construction in certain places.
So perhaps the last word has not been said.
September 27, 2010 Briefs
• Gen. Petraeus: Taliban leaders reach out to Karzai seeking reconciliation.
• debkafile: Secret talks already in progress with US participation under Saudi auspices.
• Iran's Bushehr reactor systems reported infected by Stuxnet worm. IRGC commander threatens "long-term war" in reprisal.
• Bank of Israel raises interest rate by 0.25% to 2% – against Treasury wishes.
• Special IRGC forces crossed into Iraq killed 30 Kurdish fighters. Tehran accused them of killing 12 troops in Mahabad suicide bombing five days ago. This was first time Iran owned up to incursion into US-held Iraqi territory.
• US, Europe disappointed in non-extension of Israeli settlement building freeze.
• Abbas is urged by Netanyahu to return to negotiations despite end of freeze.
• Seven hostages kidnapped by al Qaeda in Niger confirmed alive in Mali.
• Israeli woman gave birth in hospital after drive-by shooting south of Hebron injured her and husband.
• Palestinians hurl rocks, firebombs at Western Wall, Salahedin Street in East Jerusalem Sunday night. Israeli policeman wounded in head. This was fifth consecutive day of Palestinian disturbances in Jerusalem.
As Stuxnet attack expands, Iran threatens war in reprisal
27 Sept. Hamid Alipour, deputy head of Iran's Information Technology Company, said Monday, Sept. 27, that the Stuxnet computer worm "is mutating and wreaking further havoc on computerized industrial equipment."
Stuxnet was no normal worm, he said: "… new versions of this virus are spreading."
Revolutionary Guards deputy commander Hossein Salami declared his force had all the defensive structures for fighting a long-term war against "the biggest and most powerful enemies" with more advanced weapons than the past.
He stressed that defense systems have been designed for all points of the country, and a special plan devised for the Bushehr nuclear power plant which debkafile's military sources report has already been infected, together with other nuclear facilities.
Hamas muscle-flexing sparks Gaza clash with Israeli troops
27 Sept. The Palestinian terrorist group is winding down its missile-mortar offensive against Israel from the Gaza Strip in order to be free to focus on its new terrorist offensive on the West Bank, debkafile's military and counter-terror sources report. The clash Monday, Sept. 27, was sparked when a Hamas' special forces unit tried to wrest the 500-meter deep buffer zone inside the Gaza Strip from IDF control near Khan Younis in the south – and Israeli pushed back.
Hamas established this special unit to undermine Israel's military control of the border zone. On the West Bank, Israeli forces acted to pre-empt the massive terror campaign Hamas is plotting by detaining known terrorists. Monday, five were detained at Salfit south of Nablus together with a stash of rifles, pistols and ammunition.
September 28, 2010 Briefs
• Britain, France, Germany braced for simultaneous Mumbai-style terror attack. British sources say Pakistan-based Islamists behind multiple plot.
• Paris police evacuate Eiffel Tower after second bomb threat in two weeks.
• Lieberman: Israel and the Palestinians will not achieve a permanent accord so long as Iran is a destabilizing element in the Middle East. Iran makes trouble through Hizballah and Hamas on Israel's borders. Addressing the UN Assembly, the foreign minister said a long-term interim accord with the Palestinians was the best attainable at present. It should be based on exchanges of populated territory representing current realities.
• Israeli forces take over Gaza-bound yacht Tuesday without violence. The 10 activists aboard – half Israeli leftists – were first advised to change course for Ashdod.
• Dep. Governor of Afghanistan's Ghazni province killed by suicide bomber on motorbike. His son, two bodyguards in same car were also killed.
• Three Palestinian Islamic Jihad members killed in Israeli air raid in S. Gaza Strip. They were caught preparing to fire a missile into Israel Monday night.
• Iranian prosecutor: Sakineh Ashtiani to be hanged for abetting husband's murder instead of stoned for adultery.
Alarmed Iran asks for outside help against Stuxnet
29 Sept. Tehran this week secretly offered a number of computer security experts in West and East Europe handsome fees for advice on ways to exorcize the Stuxnet worm spreading havoc through the computer networks and administrative software of its most important industrial complexes and military command centers. debkafile's intelligence and Iranian sources report the appeal was made after local efforts backfired making the malworm more aggressive than ever.
None have so far come forward because Tehran refuses to provide precise information on the sensitive centers and systems under attack or tell the visiting specialists where they must work. Iran also refuses to give out data on the changes its engineers have made to the SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems imported from Germany.
The impression debkafile sources gained Wednesday, Sept. 29 from talking to European computer experts approached for aid was that the Iranians are getting desperate. Computer security experts estimate that millions of computers have been affected by Stuxnet – rather than the tens of thousands admitted by Tehran.
Pakistan cuts NATO supply route to Afghanistan after US helicopter attacks
30 Sept. A new crisis in relations between Islamabad and Washington was triggered by the recent US tactical escalation from drones to helicopters for destroying insurgent and terrorist concentrations in Pakistan's lawless North Waziristan province, debkafile's military sources report. Pakistan had accepted the drone attacks but, even after they were nearly doubled to 21 this month, the high-flying unmanned aircraft were not up to their mission – especially against the most effective Taliban force, the Haqqani network.
This militia enjoys Pakistani military intelligence protection as the card up its sleeve for ensuring Pakistani influence in Kabul after the Americans pull out.
US helicopters, used for the third time this week, proved more effective than the drones against insurgents on the move between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
But it was too much for Islamabad, which responded Saturday, Sept. 30, by blocking dozens of NATO trucks from passing from Pakistan into Afghanistan.
Pakistani leaders were also annoyed by western media reports justifying US cross-border strikes in North Waziristan on the grounds that harbored there were terrorists plotting multiple attacks in Britain, France and Germany. They called the reports much exaggerated.