A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Two Weeks Ending Aug. 22, 2013
Aug. 9, 2013 Briefs
- Two Jewish teens from London victims of acid attack in Zanzibar
Katie Gee and Kristen Trup, both 18, were walking in the Zanzibar capital of Stone Town, in their last week of a trip as volunteer teachers, when two men on a moped threw acid at them. They suffered severe burns to their hands, chests and faces. The girls, both members of the Federation for Zionist Youth, arrived in the UK Friday, accompanied by their families, and were admitted to a London hospital after receiving first aid care at a hospital in Dar es-Salaam.
- Two Turkish Airline pilots abducted in Beirut
Eight gunmen in two vehicles blocked a bus near Beirut, Lebanon early Friday and kidnapped two Turkish Airlines pilots in retaliation for Syrian rebels’ refusal to free nine captured Lebanese Shiites.
- An Egyptian intel tip-off briefly closed Eilat airport Thursday
Intelligence suggesting terrorists planned to fire missiles Friday at Israel as well as locations in northern Sinai and the Suez Canal was passed by Egypt to Israel, an Egyptian security official told The Associated Press. Israel reacted by closing Eilat airport for two hours Thursday night.
Hamas supplied Sinai terrorists with heavy Fajr-5 missiles
10 Aug. The missile launcher destroyed by an Israeli drone in North Sinai Friday, Aug. 9 was capable of firing 4 heavy Iranian-made M-74 missiles known as Fajr-5, which Hamas possesses, but not Sinai Salafists. Its 75 kilometer range covers Tel Aviv from Gaza Strip or Eilat from inland Sinai. The five terrorists planning to fire them at Eilat airport Thursday were later killed in an Israeli drone strike.
Egypt’s Brotherhood fights on from secret Gaza command post
On July 22, debkafile reveals the escape to Gaza of six Muslim Brotherhood officials after Morsi’s ouster. Headed by Mahmud Izzat Ibrahim, they set up a command center at the Gaza Beach Hotel for an uprising against the military. It now transpires that after their election, the Brothers never dismantled their paramilitary underground and Ibrahim was always the “Mr. X” who manipulated their front politicians and Supreme Guide.
Aug. 12, 2013 Briefs
- Syrian army retakes villages along Israel, Jordan borders
Syrian troops are slowly and quietly pushing rebels out of their southern village strongholds on the Israeli and Jordanian borders, debkafile reports. In the west, government forces and Hizballah troops have stalled the rebels’ drive into Assad’s homeland Latakia province and Allawite Mts.
Aug. 13, 2013 Briefs
- Military sources: Two Sinai rockets were aimed at Eilat
Correcting the record, debkafile’s military sources report that not one but two rockets were fired at Eilat from Sinai Monday night. One was intercepted by the Iron Dome system guarding Israel’s southernmost town; the second exploded in the desert on the Egyptian side of the Sinai border.
- Kerry settlements need not disrupt Mideast peace talks
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that Israel's announcement of new settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem "were to some degree expected," and urged Israelis and Palestinians to move ahead with peace talks Wednesday.
Aug. 14, 2013 Briefs
- Egyptian generals appointed 19 provisional governors
The military regime appointed 19 generals as provisional governors effectively introducing military rule of Egypt at the end of a day of deadly clashes over the removal of two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo. Interim Deputy president Mohamed ElBaradei resigned.
- Israeli Air Force strikes Gaza rocket launchers
Hours after rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza, the Israeli Air Force carried out targeted strikes on concealed rocket launchers in northern Gaza.
- Brotherhood leaders accused of building alternative army in Sinai
debkafile: The Egyptian prosecution is preparing to indict deposed Muslim Brotherhood leaders with charges of establishing an Iranian Revolutionary Guards-type militia in the Sinai Peninsula, as an alternative to the Egyptian army. Khariat al-Shatter heads the list of accused Brotherhood officials. The Egyptian military reports charges the Brotherhood with planting cells among the armed Salafist and al Qaeda networks of Sinai and plotting to blow up the great 3.5km long bridge over the Suez Canal and block the waterway to shipping.
Israeli-Palestinian talks off to confused start. Palestinians nix security issues
14 Aug. The US, Israel and the Palestinian resume talks Wednesday, Aug. 14, in deep confusion, senior Israeli officials told debkafile. The US chair “appears to be at sea on the issue to lead off.” They refer to John Kerry’s proposal for the US and Israel to determine security arrangements along the Jordan River and the West Bank without Palestinian involvement as a non-starter. It has encouraged Mahmoud Abbas to rule out any Israeli presence on the West Bank – a line even more extreme than that taken by Yasser Arafat in 2000. Israel released 26 convicted Palestinian terrorists as a gesture toward the Palestinian side. It was greeted with skepticism. Families of their Israeli victims protested strongly against their release.
Egyptian army enters Cairo
14 Aug. What is next for Egypt? debkafile: Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi will follow a prepared plan for eradicating the Muslim Brotherhood as a political force. The Brotherhood plans to go underground and fight the military to the finish through allied terrorist networks. President Obama has opted for non-intervention. Neither the US nor Europe hold strong levers of influence since Saudi Arabia and Emirates have pledged $40 billion for bolstering the military caste versus the Brothers.
Aug. 15, 2013 Briefs
- At least 22 dead in huge car bomb blast in Hizballah‘s Beirut stronghold
A huge car bomb explosion left 22 people dead and 200 injured at the heart of the Hizballah stronghold in the Dahya district of Beirut, Thursday. A Salafist Sunni group claimed the attack.
- US cancels joint biannual training exercise with Egypt
In a special statement, President Barack Obama Thursday strongly condemned the steps taken by the Egyptians government, demanded the lifting of the state of emergency and called for the right to peaceful protest. He said US military assistance would continue, but the biannual joint training exercise would be cancelled.
- Egypt closes Gaza’s Rafah border crossing
The Egyptian army has sealed the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip by blocking its exit to Egyptian Sinai .through Rafah. debkafile: The objective is to prevent Muslim Brotherhood fugitives harbored in the Gaza Strip from escaping and those heading for Gaza reaching their destination.
US-Egyptian relations on the rocks
15 Aug. When the clashes between Egyptian security forces and pro-Morsi protesters were at their peak in Cairo Wednesday, Aug. 14 – 525 dead and 3,700 wounded to date – President Barack Obama put in a call to Egypt’s strongman, Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi, debkafile reports. The general refused to accept the call, anticipating a scolding like the one which forced Hosni Mubarak to quit. The general is determined to keep the Obama administration out of his plans for driving the Muslim Brotherhood out of Egyptian politics.
Saudi King Abdullah backs Egypt’s military ruler
16 Aug. Condemned roundly by the West, Egypt’s military rulers received a powerful shot in the arm from Riyadh Friday, Aug. 16. In an unprecedented public assurance, Saudi King Abdullah voiced the kingdom’s support for Egypt in the fight “against terrorism” – (euphemism for the Muslim Brotherhood). Egypt’s stability is being targeted by “haters,” said the king, and warned that anyone that interferes in Egypt’s internal affairs seeks to “waken sedition.” debkafile was the first to reveal’s Saudi backing for Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
Aug. 17, 2013 Briefs
- Iran’s nuclear chief confirms Iran has 18,000 centrifuges
Iran’s outgoing atomic agency director, confirmed Saturday that from July 23, Iran’s nuclear program had 18,000 first generation centrifuges (for enriching uranium), with more than 10,000 active and 7,000 ready to start work. He spoke at the handover to former nuclear negotiator Ali Akbar Salehi.
- Israel Tamuz rocket hits Syrian position after Golan shelling
IDF artillery Saturday night responded to a Syrian shelling over central Golan with a Tamuz rocket fired at a Syrian position near Beraika village. Fourteen injured Syrians crossed the border for treatment and were transferred to three Israeli hospitals.
- Egypt’s Copts targeted by Islamists
Since Aug. 14, Islamists have attacked 25 churches, community centers, schools and shops in 10 out of Egypt’s 27 provinces. Several dozen Christian civilians were killed in what were apparently orchestrated events. On Thursday, 84 people, several Muslim Brotherhood members, went before a military court for anti-Christian acts of violence in Suez.
- Al Qaeda leader Ayman Zuwahiri’s brother arrested in Cairo
Mohammed al-Zawahiri, the al Qaeda leader’s younger brother, was arrested in Giza, Cairo while demonstrating for ousted president Mohamed Morsi. He is the leader of an ultraconservative Jihadi Salafist group. The black al Qaeda flag was seen hoisted by some of the protesters.
- Ban Ki-moon admits UN bias against Israel
Visiting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon admitted that, “Unfortunately because of the conflict, Israel has been weighed down by criticism and suffered from bias – sometimes even discrimination.” He was speaking to Israeli students in Rishon Lezion Friday. Ban added that Israel should be treated as “equal to all other 192 member states.”
New Centcom underground war room in Amman for US intervention in Syria
17 Aug. Top US soldier Gen. Martin Dempsey has just inaugurated Centcom’s Forward Command in Jordan manned by 273 US officers. This underground facility near Amman is linked to US, Israel, Jordanian and Saudi Air Force commands ready for an order from President Barack Obama to impose a partial no-fly zone over Syria. debkafile special video presentation illustrates US, Saudi, and Jordanian preparations for military intervention in the Syrian civil war and its likely repercussions.
There are today some 1,000 US military personnel in the Hashemite Kingdom, plus a squadron of F-16 fighters and several Patriot anti-missile batteries strung along the Jordanian-Syrian border to shield Jordanian and American bases and the capital, Amman.
Obama’s final decision on a no fly and a buffer zone in Syria is expected in the coming two to three weeks.
Aug. 18, 2013 Briefs
- At least 36 Muslim Brotherhood prisoners killed
Egyptian security sources say some 36 Muslim Brotherhood supporters died today in a prison riot at the Abu Zaabal prison near Cairo while trying to escape after taking a police officer hostage. One source says the prisoners were overcome and died of vast quantities of tear gas.
- Sen. McCain: US has no Mid East credibility over Egypt
US Senator John McCain slammed President Obama Sunday for not taking a firmer stance against Egypt’s military leadership saying the US has lost credibility in the Arab world. He wanted Washington to cut off military aid and “exercise more muscle.”
Aug. 19, 2013 Briefs
- Salafist ambush kills 24 Egyptian policemen in Sinai
Egyptian security forces reported that gunmen stopped two police buses driving from Rafah to El Arish in northern Sinai Monday. They forced the Egyptian policemen to get out and lie down, shot 24 dead and injured several more. Egypt has shut the Sinai crossings into the Gaza Strip and Israel.
Israel stays clear of Egyptian crisis, fearing Russian military’s return to a second border after Syria
19 Aug. Saudi Arabia and the UAR – not Israel – are lobbying the West to support the Egyptian military. Their campaign is orchestrated by Saudi Director of Intelligence Prince Bandar Sultan – not an anonymous senior Israeli official, as claimed by the New York Times. debkafile: Israel has no interest in the Bandar initiative, concerned it may lead to restoring a Russian military presence to Egypt – not just Syria. Egypt’s Gen. Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi might one day turn on Israel with a charge of meddling in its affairs, if he needs a fall guy.
Aug. 20, 2013 Briefs
- US and Cairo denounce Erdogan’s allegations against Israel
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan's comments accusing Israel of involvement in the overthrow of Morsi are 'offensive, unsubstantiated, and wrong,' the White House said Tuesday. Egypt too deplored the Turkish Prime Minister’s comments, saying that it has lost patience with Erdogan and his attitude toward Egypt.
- Mahmoud Izzat fills in as Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood announced Tuesday that deputy leader Mahmoud Izzat will assume the role of Supreme Guide on a temporary basis following the arrest of Mohammed Badie early Tuesday. debkafile: Izzat, known as the movement’s “iron man” was already serving as its clandestine operations leader.
- Egyptian Sinai is a closed military zone
The Egyptian defense minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Siusi Tuesday ordered the Sinai Peninsula sealed off as a closed military zone after 24 service personnel were killed by terrorists near Rafah Monday.
Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie arrested
20 Aug. Egyptian officials and state media said the Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie was detained early Tuesday in an apartment in Cairo’s Nasser City. His arrest marks the collapse of his movement’s resistance to the military takeover, with most of its leaders in custody or having fled the country, some to the Gaza Strip. Rallies scheduled for Monday were cancelled as life began to return to normal. Next week, Badie and other Brotherhood leaders go on trial charged with inciting violence and hundreds of deaths.
Aug. 21, 2013 Briefs
- First Iron Dome anti-missile battery in Sharon
The central Israeli Sharon district just north of Tel Aviv has its first Iron Dome anti-missile battery. No reason given for its deployment.
Reported Syrian gas attack after first US-trained rebel incursion from Jordan
21 Aug. In the background of the deadly Syrian gas attack east of Damascus, killing up to 1,300, debkafile reports the first major incursion Saturday, Aug. 17 of Syrian rebels into southern Syria after receiving US training in special operations in Jordan. A second group of 300 fighters crossed into Syria from Jordan Monday. They have forced the Syrian brigades into retreating from positions inside a strip of 1-25 kilometers from the border opposite the Israeli Golan and started marking out a buffer zone between Israeli and Syrian forces in the Horan province.
Syrian ruler Bashar Assad has said that if Damascus was in danger, he would resort to chemical warfare and the entire Middle East including Israel would be set on fire.
Aug. 22, 2013 Briefs
- Four rockets fired from S. Lebanon on northern Israel
Residents of northern Israel – from the coastal towns in the West to Upper Galilee – have been ordered to go into shelters after four rockets were fired from South Lebanon. Three rockets landed around Nahariya, Acre, Shlomi and further east around Kiryat Shemona. A fourth was intercepted by an Iron Dome battery. Witnesses report the four rockets were launched in two volleys. They came from the Tyre and Kleia regions of South Lebanon. No injuries are reported. Police are scouring the area for the fallen ordnance.
- Mubarak released from prison
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has been taken to military hospital by helicopter.
The Assad regime, like Tehran, crosses “red lines” under cover of Western doubletalk
22 Aug. By two comments, Israel confirmed Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 21 and 22, that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons on civilians in the region of Damascus – the first came from Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who said "The use of chemical weapons by the regime is not a first,” and the second by Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, who reported corroborative intelligence. Yet no one anywhere admits that Syria, any more than Iran, has crossed US and Israeli red lines and that this necessitates direct action. debkafile: Talking of proof, Ya’alon told US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Israel has recordings of Syrian commanders ordering the poison gas attack Wednesday.
Jihad Islami aimed four rockets at Israel from S. Lebanon
22 Aug. The four rockets striking Israel from South Lebanon Thursday, Aug. 22, were Grad 120mm rockets launched by the Jihad Islami from the Palestinian Burj Al-Shamali refugee camp near Tyre. This emerged after a stream of muddled and conflicting communiqués came from the IDF spokesman.
The Jihad Islami takes its orders from Tehran and the Lebanese Hizballah. One of the rockets was intercepted by Iron Dome. None caused casualties, except for three shock victims, but they did cause damage to buildings and vehicles in two locations.