Drive-by rock attacks – a new twist on Palestinian highway terror
25 Sept. On the day Mahmoud Abbas applied for UN recognition of a Palestinian state Friday, Sept. 23, an Israeli called Asher Palmer, 25, and his one-year old son Jonathan were killed by a novel Palestinian method of murder: While driving home on the Hebron road, Palestinians waylaid his oncoming car in their own vehicle and hurled a rock the size of a football at his windscreen. Since they never have to leave their vehicle, the killers can quit the murder scene at top speed ahead of an alarm without leaving a trace.
The Israeli police are accused of deceiving the public by calling the attack a road accident.
Egypt uncovers anti-air missiles and sea mines bound for Hamas from Libya
26 Sept. Helped by highly sophisticated contraband weapons smuggled out of Libya, Iran and Hizballah are getting the Palestinian Hamas equipped for another round of hostilities with Israel. debkafile's military sources report that Sunday, Sept. 25, Egyptian security forces homed in near Ismailia on a large half-empty cache of advanced Libyan SA-24 anti-air infrared missiles (a version of the US Stinger). They enable Hamas to hit high-, medium- and low-altitude flying objects including commercial and military aircraft and drones. Many of the empty crates had contained Russian-made MDM-3 sea mines which could drift ashore.
Our North African sources report that many of Qaddafi's weapons stores were seized by the rebels and some of their officers sold them to the highest bidders.
September 28, 2011 Briefs
• Human rights groups raise death toll from Syrian security and military seven-month crackdown on protest to 3,600 of whom 225 are children.
• Israel in reply to international condemnation of 1,100 new homes: Gilo is part of Jerusalem and no part of possible negotiations with Palestinians.
• A senior Libyan official said Wednesday Qaddafi is most likely hiding in the southern desert near the Algerian border under Touareg tribal protection. On Sept. 22, debkafile revealed the ousted Libyan ruler had set up a Touareg army.
France: Iran faces military strike. Russia simulates Tehran's reprisal
28 Sept. A US and/or Israel strike against Iran suddenly looked tangible this week following a warning by a French diplomat and a large-scale Russian-Central Asian military exercise simulating potential Iranian retaliation against US-owned Caspian oil fields.
France's UN Ambassador Gerard Araud warned Wednesday, Sept. 28 that Iran runs a high risk of a military strike if it continues on the path to nuclear proliferation. "Some countries won't accept the prospect of Tehran reaching the threshold of nuclear armament," he said.
Sept. 9-26, the Russian army, joined by Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, deployed 12,000 troops for a huge combined military exercise code-named Center-2011 postulating a two-stage Iranian reprisal against the Exxon Mobile Kazakh Caspian oil field at Mangustan for an Israel strike.
A British diplomat quoted North Korean officials who told him that NATO would not have attacked Libya if Muammar Qaddafi had not given up his nuclear weapons. Tehran appears to have reached the same conclusion.
September 29, 2011 Briefs
• Palestinians still insist Israel accept 1967 borders and stop settlement before accepting Mid East Quartet call for talks.
• Iran claims large-scale production of cruise missile capable of destroying warships. Defense Minister Vahidi said Ghader's technology makes it undetectable by best radars.
• Washington dismissed the plan for Iranian warships to deploy in US territorial waters as beyond Iran's naval capabilities.
• Saudi King Abdullah revokes 10-lash punishment imposed on woman for driving a car.
• Libya's traditional government brings $16 million to southern desert town of Sabha to buy Qaddafi loyalists' support.
• Pakistan frees Osama bin Laden's bodyguard saying he was not a key player.
September 30, 2011 Briefs
• After two Palestinian missiles exploded harmlessly on open ground, Israel air force struck a Hamas terrorist base in the Gaza Strip. No Palestinian casualties.
• The European parliament endorsed legitimacy of Palestinian statehood along with Israel's right to exist within safe borders. It stressed that a Palestinian state must be the outcome of a comprehensive peace agreement. The bid for recognition must lead to immediate re-launch of peace talks. The International community must reconfirm strong commitment to security of state of Israel.
Al Qaeda infighting led to Awkali killing in Yemen after Ayman Zawhiri's secret arrival
30 Sept. The tip-off which enabled two Hellfire missiles fired by US drones to kill the US-born Anwar al-Awkali reached US intelligence as a result of a power struggle within Al Qaeda's leadership in Yemen. Killed too was a second US-born al Qaeda operative. debkafile's counter-terror sources disclose that the internal strife was sharpened by the recent arrival in Yemen of the new Al Qaeda leader Ayman Zuwahiri, who determined to purge AQAP ranks of its American element ahead of his next plans. Neither he nor Osama Bin Laden ever completely trusted Anwar al Awakli.
Zuwahiri is thought to have come to check out Yemen as his next permanent base to meet his plans for transposing al Qaeda's center of operations from the Pakistani-Afghan arena to the Middle East, North Africa and the Sahara.
October 2, 2011 Briefs
• Former CIA agent Bruce Riedel: Awlaki neither a top commander nor bomb-maker. AQAP's key players are still at large and very dangerous.
• Palestinians again reject Mid East Quartet's call for talks unless Israel freezes settlements and accepts 1967 lines. Israel earlier accepted Mid East Quartet's call for unconditional talks with Palestinian Authority. Israel's reservations subject to negotiation.
• US officials meet with Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood members. US sources say the contacts made no distinction between political and religious branches. debkafile: Obama's Mid East policy hinges on fostering "moderate" Muslims. Hamas is a part of the Egyptian Muslim Bros.
• NATO could begin wrapping up its Libyan military mission next week after allied leaders meet in Brussels, says US African army chief Gen. Carter Ham.
• Syrian army seizes control of Rastan north of Homs in five days of fierce fighting and dozens of dead. Sunni army deserters reportedly formed units to battle troops.
• US issues worldwide travel alert to Americans after killing of Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki.
• Seven Saudis on trial for creating an al Qaeda-linked terror cell and running a training camp near Yemeni border.
Turkish warships harass Israeli freighters
2 Oct. Turkish assertiveness has raised the concern of NATO chief, Anders Fogh Rasmussen and its fellow allies. Since Thursday, Sept. 29, Turkish warships have been harassing Israeli merchant vessels in waters off Cyprus, debkafile's military sources report, ordering them to change course in a bid to assert Turkish mastery. Israel has sent warplanes to fly over the areas of the incidents.
Over the weekend, Israeli missile ships sailed close to Cyprus's Exclusive Economic Zone waters, where the Houston-based Noble Energy began drilling for natural gas on Sept. 19 in the face of Turkish threats.
Last week, Ankara retaliated for Cypriot and Israeli deep sea gas explorations by sending an exploration ship of its own escorted by a frigate and a submarine. Turkish F-16 fighters have been deployed in the northern part of the island.
Western naval sources said last Saturday: "Turkey and Israel are in a constant muscle-flexing contest in the eastern Mediterranean, raising the risk of a confrontation that could quickly veer out of control."
October 3, 2011 Briefs
• After talks with Israel's Ehud Barak, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta again shut the door on Israeli action to stop Iran's nuclear program. Such action must be carried out with coordination and consensus of the regional community.
• The White House and State Department earlier applauded Israel's unconditional acceptance off the Mid East Quartet's call for unconditional talks with the Palestinian Authority.
Israel's isolation stems from US-imposed military passivity and backing for Arab revolts
3 Oct. US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Israel of increasing isolation in the Middle East and said "Israeli leaders must restart negotiations with the Palestinians and work to restore relations with Egypt and Turkey." Before landing in Israel Monday, Oct. 3, he also said: “Real security can only be achieved by both a strong diplomatic effort as well as a strong effort to project your military strength.”
debkafile: Israel is paying for not striking Iran in the early stages of its nuclear bomb program – because of US pressure – and for Washington's newly-evolving ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists dedicated to Israel's destruction rising to power in the Arab lands around its borders in the wake of the Arab revolts. Sinai has already fallen prey to a pack of Muslim terrorists and arms smugglers including al Qaeda and Hamas. In these circumstances isolation is the least of Israel's worries.
October 4, 2011 Briefs
• debkafile: US Defense Secretary Panetta left Cairo Tuesday without Ilan Grappel, US-Israeli imprisoned by Egyptian on charge of espionage. Egyptian rulers demanded package deal covering release of Egyptian felons in Israeli jails.
• In Saudi Arabia, Shiite rioters attacked security forces in eastern oil town of Al-Awamia. At least 14 injured. Riyadh is pouring troops into troubled region accusing "foreign elements" of stirring up trouble – hinting at Iran. Saudi Interior Ministry threatens "disloyal citizens" with loss of citizenship.
• Israeli Air force detonated four explosive devices rigged to ambush an Israeli military patrol on the Gaza border. Palestinians next fired two missiles – one landing harmlessly on the Ashkelon coast, the other falling short in the Gaza Strip.
• At least 65 killed, scores injured, by car bomb blast outside government buildings in Mogadishu, Somalia – claimed by Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab.
• Ex-Mossad chief Meir Dagan: Military strike is far from being Israel's preferred option against Iran. "Other means and measures are far more effective".
• Rioters in Galilee village of Tuba-Zangaria torched local council building, culture center and clinic. Monday, the Bedouin village's mosque was damaged and holy books burnt by unknown vandals. Police are probing Jewish "Price Tag" fringe group for vandals and Islamist circles seeking to provoke Arab-Israeli violence.
Turkey holds exercise on Syrian border. Assad threatens to destroy Tel Aviv if attacked
4 Oct. War tensions between Turkey, NATO and Syria shot up again Tuesday, Oct. 4, with the start of a Turkish 10-day "mobilization" exercise in the southern province of Hatay along the Syrian border where 7,000 Syrian refugees are sheltering. A visit by the Turkish prime minister is also expected.
debkafile reported earlier that Syrian President Bashar Assad has for three months staved off a military attack by Turkey or NATO by explicitly holding Greater Tel Aviv's 1.2 million inhabitants under threat of missile retaliation. Iran and Hizballah have been exercising the same deterrent. Assad now says he will send his missiles against Tel Aviv within six hours of Syria coming under attack.
The Turkish exercise was announced the day after US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta held talks with Israeli leaders and a week after NATO's European commander Gen. James Staviris visited Ankara. Both visits were apparently part of the build-up for the Turkish exercise.
October 5, 2011 Briefs
• Israeli chemist Daniel Shechtman from the Institute of Technology in Haifa wins the Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2011. His discovery of quasicrystals has fundamentally altered how chemists conceive of solid matter.
Saudis rush reinforcements to quell violent protest in oil regions
5 Oct. Has the Arab revolt reached Saudi Arabia? Wednesday, Oct. 5, the Ministry of Interior in Riyadh warned it would "strike with an iron fist" enemies of the country's stability and security after 11 security officers were injured by automatic fire and Molotov bombs in Qatif, Saudi Arabia's richest oil center. The Saudis did not name Iran, but blamed a "foreign country" for inciting the region's Shiites to armed violence against the royal regime.
To put down the riots before they spilled over into other parts of the oil kingdom, the Saudis Wednesday pumped large special forces into restive Qatif whose half a million Shiite inhabitants are employed in the Saudi oil industry. The Saudi expeditionary force in neighboring Bahrain was also more than doubled to 3,600 fighting men plus 30 tanks.
October 6, 2011 Briefs
• The IDF's Northern and Central Commands ended a two-day reserve mobilization exercise Thursday. They practiced rapid mobilization to meet a missile attack on Israel. Army chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz praising their performance warned the IDF must be ready for all possible scenarios given the instability in the region. Reserve officers' response to the call-up was total, the soldiers' 92 percent.
• Shiite protesters in Saudi Qatif oil region demand release of prisoners and withdrawal of Saudi forces protecting Bahrain's Sunni rulers.
• Lavrov rejects as wishful thinking NATO's claim to have saved countless civilian lives by its Libyan operation.
Assad warns Jordan not to follow Turkey and Israel in holding war game
6 Oct. Tensions around Syrian borders peaked Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 5-6, as Turkey and Israel conducted large-scale mobilization practices in their close vicinity. The United States and Turkey urged Jordan's King Abdullah to hold a similar maneuver. However, Bashar Assad sent his powerful brother-in-law Gen. Asef Shawqat to Amman Thursday to warn the king that Syrian warplanes would bomb Jordanian towns if Jordanian troops massed on the Syrian border. And if Israel intervened to engage Syrian aircraft, Damascus would launch surface missiles against Jordanian cities.