A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Weeks Ending Oct. 15, 2009

October 9 Briefs

·        Iran threatens to blow up the heart of Israel if attacked.


·        Up to 42 killed, 100 injured by explosives-laden vehicle at Peshawar's Khyber Bazaar in N. Pakistan Friday.


·        Muslim Friday worship on Temple Mount passed quietly amid nationwide Israeli alert for Islamic violence. Beefed up police enforced week-long ban on visits by Jews and tourists. Muslim access was restricted to men over 50 and women with Israeli IDs.

Tehran moves to impose gasoline rationing, prepares for showdown with US

9 Oct. The Islamic regime in Tehran plans to slash the supply of subsided gasoline to the public by 45 percent and ration individual purchases to 55 liters per month, down from the 100 allowed at present. This announcement Wednesday, Oct. 8, by Iranian oil minister Massoud Mirkazemi was Tehran's second step ahead of an expected showdown with the West over its nuclear program.


debkafile's Iranian sources report: Accusing the US of involvement in the disappearance of an important Iranian nuclear scientist was the first.


Iran imports 40 percent of its gasoline needs because it is short of oil refineries. This shortage is sustained to boost the revenues of the Revolutionary Guards which owns a monopoly on gasoline imports. It has now become a strategic threat to the regime, curtailing fuel supplies for the military in the event of war and undermining Iran's ability to withstand severe sanctions. Rationing may also provoke domestic unrest.

Taliban gunmen take hostages in Pakistan's military HQ, launch push towards its nuclear arsenal

10 Oct. Hostages were held in a building near the main gates of Pakistan's army headquarters in Islamabad Saturday, Oct. 10 after an audacious Taliban invasion of the complex leading to gunfight in which at least eight soldiers including a lieutenant general and four gunmen were killed. The hostages were not named. debkafile reports that lodged in the HQ compound is the secret department in charge of securing Pakistan's nuclear weapons.


Pakistani paramilitary forces battled a second group of insurgents to recover control of a road tunnel which connects the towns of Darra Adam Khel and Kohat in the North West Frontier Province.


In a rare news conference, Khalid Kidwai, chief of Pakistan's strategic planning division which controls its nuclear program, rejected international fears that Pakistan's weapons could fall into the wrong hands and warned against any foreign intervention over the issue. “'The state of alertness has gone up,” he admitted but stressed: “There is no conceivable scenario, political or violent, in which Pakistan will fall to the extremists of the al Qaeda or Taliban types.”


The Pakistani army has deployed more than 100,000 men for a big offensive to be launched against Taliban and al Qaeda strongholds in South Waziristan.

Russia halts TOR-M1, S-300 air defense missile supplies to Iran

11 Oct. debkafile's military sources report that Russia's abrupt suspension of consignments of advanced Tor-M1 air defense missiles and S-300 anti-missile systems has left Tehran high and dry for effective weapons to defend itself and its nuclear facilities against attacks.


According to our Moscow sources, the Russians froze the transfers of anti-missile, anti-air missiles to Iran in the expectation of Saudi Arabia following through on negotiations for the purchase of the latest word in Russian anti-missile hardware, the S-400, which is more advanced than the S-300 system now withheld from Iran. It has never been sold to a foreign government and even the Russian army has only two brigades armed with S-400 batteries. The Saudis insisted on making the transaction contingent on Moscow withholding the S-300 and Tor-M1 from Iran. They succeeded in persuading the Kremlin where three Israeli governments failed.

Terror suspect worked at British nuclear lab before CERN – report

11 Oct. The Algerian-born nuclear physicist Dr. Adlene Hicheur, 32, arrested in France on suspicion of links with al Qaeda, previously worked at the Rutherton Appleton Laboratory in Didcot, four years ago, conducting nuclear physics research. He was arrested with his younger brother Dr. Halim Hicheur last Thursday Oct. 8, on his way to his job at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in the outskirts of Geneva. They are suspected of planning terror attacks in France after contacts with individuals linked to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb about potential targets.


The British internal security service MI5 and police are in contact with the French secret service to establish whether there are any UK links to the terror plot.

Pakistan frees 42 military HQ officers seized by Taliban. No word on embattled tunnel link to nuclear arsenal

11 Oct. Twenty-two hours after an armed Taliban takeover of Pakistan's main military headquarters in Islamabad, a Pakistani military spokesman said early Sunday, Oct. 11, that all the assailants were killed or arrested and 39 of the 42 hostages they took freed. In the rescue operation Sunday, three hostages, two soldiers and four assailants were killed. Pakistani news coverage was blocked from Saturday, after Taliban gunmen dressed as soldiers burst into its headquarters firing automatic weapons and hurling grenades from a white van.

October 12 Briefs

·        North Korea test fires five short-range missiles.


·        At least 32 killed in suicide bombing in NW Pakistan market near Swat Monday. Earlier Pakistani fighter jets struck Taliban fighters in South Waziristan.


·        Netanyahu blames recent Temple Mount violence on Arab “extremists.” They spread lies that “we intend to dig under al Aqsa. That is a lie.”

Munitions store blown up at Hizballah's main South Lebanon command center

12 Oct. A big explosion hit Hizballah's main command HQ in South Lebanon, near Tayr Felsay east of the port town of Tyre, at 0800 Monday night, Oct 12, debkafile's military sources report. Senior Lebanese sources said at least 8 people killed or injured in the blast. The command center was located in the villa compound of senior Hizballah operative Saeed Nasser. Israel has protested to the United Nations, attaching video images of trucks unloading heavy weapons behind the villa and Lebanese soldiers barring access to UNIFIL.


Under the terms of the truce which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hizballah and UN Security Council resolution 1701, Hizballah was forbidden to maintain armed forces or weapons in South Lebanon.

Israel postpones at last minute joint Juniper Cobra exercise with US

12 Oct. US and Israeli forces were poised to launch their joint Juniper Cobra strategic missile defense exercise, which takes place every two years, to begin Monday Oct. 12, when at noon an Israeli military spokesman suddenly announced its postponement by one week. The announcement came three days after Turkey called off its sixth annual international air maneuver after the US and Italy pulled out in protest against Israeli air force's last-minute exclusion by Ankara.


Our military sources report 17 US naval ships fitted with Aegis missiles and ground teams operating THAAD and Patriot missile interceptors are in place – altogether 1,000 personnel for the joint exercise with Israel.  They are to interlock with Israel's Arrow II and Navy for the biggest joint exercise they have ever held, simulating a multiple-direction missile attack on Israel from Iran, Syria, the Lebanese Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas in the Gaza Strip.


It will be overseen by Adm. Mark Fitzgerald, commander of the US. Navy's Sixth Fleet, and the head of Israel's air defense arm.

October 13 Briefs

·        A Qassam missile from Gaza explodes in a Sdeot Negev kibbutz field.


·        Two al Qaeda terrorists killed in a gunfight with Saudi forces near Yemen border. Three opened fire on Saudi patrolmen stopping their car for search. Two wore women's dress and bomb vests. Car carried hand grenades, machine guns.


·        UN Human Rights body holds special session Thursday on Goldstone war crimes report. Responds to international anti-Israel pressure.


·        Livni on Turkish state TV: Military cooperation with Israeli is also important to Ankara.


·        US troops intercept German-flagged freighter loaded with Iranian weapons bound for Syria on way to Hizballah.


·        Al Qaeda is broke, Taliban booming, according to US Treasury official David Cohen. Lack of funds hurts al Qaeda's recruitment effort.


·        Hizballah earns from criminal activities including software piracy smuggling.

First official probe launched against top Iranian opposition leader

13 Oct. The investigation announced Tuesday, Oct. 13, of one of the three presidential candidates defeated in Iran's June election looks like the first step toward using the tightly-controlled process of law to persecute the top dissenters who alleged that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected in a fraudulent poll. Thousands of demonstrators against the election were arrested. One of the leading dissenters, former president Mohammed Karroubi, is the first to pay the price for alleging that detainees are subject to rape and the torture.


debkafile ran a special expose on “Iran's prison hellholes” on Sept. 2.

Egypt jails family members of Hamas high-ups living in Cairo

13 Oct. High-ranking Hamas officials in Gaza keep their sons, brothers, wives, cousins living in comfort in Cairo. Monday night, Oct. 12, Egypt's Mukhabarat (security service) quietly detained hundreds of these Gazans and threw them into jail for “questioning,” debkafile's Middle East sources report. Intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman ordered the crackdown when he finally got fed up with Hamas' stubborn refusal to sign a reconciliation accord with rival Fatah and its leader Mahmoud Abbas on instructions from Damascus and Tehran.


Gen. Omar has spent long months in strenuous effort to bring the Palestinians together for a unity accord that would open the way to a unified delegation for negotiations with Israel.

Turkey's second slap: A war game with Syria

14 Oct. After a joint Turkish-Syrian military exercise was announced Tuesday, Oct. 13, The next day, Today's Zaman dredged up a fresh excuse for Ankara's last-minute decision to cut Israel out of the annual air maneuver with NATO after six years of participation. A senior Turkish military source told the paper: “Israel has failed yet again to deliver the Israeli-made surveillance drones known as Herons to Turkey.” The source said Ankara ordered 10 drones for $180 million and although the manufacturers, Israel's Elbit and the arms industry, rescheduled delivery dates, the Turkish military command does not believe they will keep to them. Israel later stated that the delays were due to Ankara's insistence on adapting a Turkish component to the drone's body.


Turkish prime minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan is gripped by the ambition to restore Ottoman glory to his country, the road to which he believes lies in mediating every world dispute. He is not deterred by failing in all his efforts till now. Wednesday, Oct. 14, Dayutoglu was due to leave for Bosnia for a bid to pacify the warning Muslim groups there.

Taliban launches fresh attacks in Lahore and road hub key to Pakistan's nuclear stores

15 Oct. Taliban gunmen attacked three law enforcement facilities in Pakistan's eastern city of Lahore early Thursday, Oct. 15, their fifth large-scale strike in 10 days. At least 37 people were killed. Interior minister Rehman Malik announced a nationwide red alert.


debkafile's military sources report: Five days ago, Taliban gunmen and bombers hit Pakistan's army headquarters in Islamabad and at the same time advanced on the northwestern Kohat road to Peshawar and a cluster of air bases holding its nuclear arsenal around Kamra in the North West Frontier Province.


Thursday, Taliban pushed further northeast toward the Kamra nuclear center, aiming to cut it off from Islamabad, 150 kilometers east of Kohat. Suicide attackers flattened a police station in the Saddar suburb of Kohat town, killing 10 people and wounding 20.


Taliban has stepped up the tempo of its large-scale assaults in an effort to throw central government and the military command off-balance as they prepare a major offensive against terrorist bastions in South Waziristan.

Israel may attack Iran after December – reports

15 Oct. According to an unconfirmed report in the French Le Canard Enchaine, Wednesday, Oct. 14, Israel is preparing to bomb Iranian nuclear sites and pro-Iranian targets across the Middle East after December 2009. The prestigious satirical weekly reports that the IDF has notified special forces reservists abroad to get ready to return home in November. debkafile's military sources add: A former Israeli deputy defense minister, Efraim Sneh, commented to US and British media in the past week that if the US fails to rally the other powers' support for toughened sanctions against Iran by Christmas, Israel will have to attack its nuclear installations.


Another sign of the growing military tensions surrounding the Iranian nuclear program was a phone conversation late Wednesday night between President Barack Obama and French President Nicola Sarkozy. The two discussed Iran. After Hillary Clinton failed to swing Russian leaders round to supporting sanctions, when she visited Moscow Tuesday, debkafile's Washington sources report that Obama has decided to work with the French president for efforts to stop Iran's nuclear program.

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