April 17, 2015 Briefs
- Reported death of Saddam Hussein’s deputy Al-Dori unconfirmed
Iraqi security officials reported Friday that Saddam Hussein’s former deputy Izzat Ibrahim Al-Dori, 72, was killed in battle in Tikrit. In his 12 years on the run, Izzat Ibrahim has been reported killed more than once and always turned out to have survived.
- Roadside bombs kill an Egyptian soldier, injure 5 in Sinai
An Egyptian NCO was killed and three soldiers injured after a firefight with five Al Qaeda-Sinai gunmen who ambushed the force Friday near the northern Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid. Their armed car ran into two roadside bombs.
Al Qaeda on winning streaks in Yemen and Iraq, exploiting stalemate in proxy wars
17 Apr. Thursday and Friday, April 16-17, two branches of Al Qaeda took the lead in violent conflicts: In Yemen, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and in Iraq, the Islamic State (ISIS), launched new offensives 3.050 kilometer apart. debkafile: Both branches of the Islamist terror movement used the absence of competent adversarial troops on the ground – American and Saudi – to push forward, exploiting the self-contradictions in Washington’s attitude towards their foe, Tehran.
Thursday, April 16, AQAP embarked on a broad offensive in southern Yemen’s Hadhramaut region on the shore of the Gulf of Aden. It captured the important seaport of Mukalla and the coastal towns of Shibam and Ash-Shirh as well as gaining access to the Saudi frontier through its back door. In Iraq, ISIS closed in on Ramadi.
April 18, 2015 Briefs
- First large-scale ISIS attack in Afghanistan kills 33 in Jalalabad
A suicide bomber Saturday detonated an explosive vest in a line of people outside the New Kabul bank branch in the eastern town of Jalalabad, killing 35 people and wounding more than 100. “Many congratulations to all on the first fedayeen attack by the Wilayah Khurasan,” said a statement released in the name of ISIS. debkafile: Afghan and Pakistani Islamist groups this year pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, dubbing the region the Khurasan Province of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
- US admits bomb blast at consulate in Kurdish capital
The Islamic State Saturday circulated reports on its social networks disclosing a car bomb attack Friday on the US Consulate in Irbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish republic of Iraq, killing four people and injuring 18. The next day, the State Department in Washington confirmed the report, adding that no staff members were hurt. debkafile: Its reluctance was understandable. This was the first time that ISIS had managed to break through the heavy defenses of the Kurdish capital and penetrate the fortified consulate compound, which is the seat of the US military headquarters running the American air strike campaign against the Islamists in northern Iraq.
- Australia detains 5 teens in ISIS-inspired terror plot
The five Australian teenagers arrested in Melbourne Saturday were suspected of plotting an ISIS-inspired terror attack on police at a Veterans’ Day ceremony on April 25 – ANZAC Day – commemorating the 1915 Gallipoli landings in World War I. Police said the plot was to have involved “edged weapons” but did not confirm that beheadings were planned.
- Iran to revive unlimited enrichment failing total sanctions relief
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif threatened Friday that if the US and UN fail to lift sanctions “totally and immediately” at the end of negotiations, Tehran will resume nuclear enrichment “without any limitations.”
- Israel to transfer $1.85bn revenues to Palestinian Authority
After three weeks of negotiations, it was agreed that Israel would transfer to the Palestinian Authority $1.85bn of the tax revenues collected in the Dec. 2014-April 2015 period. The moneys were suspended after the PA decided to sue Israel for war crimes at the International War Crimes Court in The Hague.
April 19, 2015 Briefs
- CIA Chief on unannounced trip to Cairo for talks with El-Sisi
CIA Director John Brennan was closeted with Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi on his arrival in Cairo Sunday for an unannounced visit. They said in their joint statement that they had discussed ways of “enhancing bilateral relations and region issues.” Both sides agreed to continue "consultation and coordination on issues of mutual interest."
- The Pentagon is to draft thousands of cyber experts
The US Defense Department is recruiting thousands of cyber experts in the private sector and National Guard to support a Cyber Mission Force, according to a report prepared for the Senate Armed Forces subcommittee. This force will be trained to defend vital US infrastructure including the energy sector and telecommunications in what is seen as the growing threat of a cyber emergency.
- New video shows mass beheadings of Ethiopian Christians
The Islamic State released a video Sunday showing the executions of Ethiopian Christians in two parts of Libya – one group was beheaded in a place believed to be Derna, on the Mediterranean, where ISIS murdered 21 Egyptian Copts in February; the other group was shot dead in the southern Libyan Fazzan Province. The video opens with a call to ISIS supporters to target Christians and shows jihadis vandalizing churches.
If Israel sells arms to Ukraine, Moscow will send S-300s to Syria
19 Apr. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warning to Israel not to sell arms to Ukraine, in reprisal for his release of S-300 air defense missiles to Iran, adds a European dimension to the dispute by planting Israel squarely in the middle of the US-Russian Ukraine crisis. Putin’s implied threat to punish Israel by sending S-300s to Syria too follows intelligence updates on tight US-Israeli military collaboration in two arenas: Syria and Ukraine. The S-300s have not yet been shipped to Iran. This depends on whether Obama decides to forge ahead with expanded military assistance to Kiev. The US president has chosen Ukraine as his arena for a showdown with the Russian president. Putin however, prefers to hit back in Iran and Syria.
April 20, 2015 Briefs
- A British couple with 4 children held in Turkey en route for Syria
Turkish authorities have detained a British couple with four very young children suspected of heading for Syria to join ISIS.
- Australia risks being a pawn in its intel trade-off with Iran – opposition MP
Australian Foreign Minister July Bishop reported Monday on the intelligence-sharing deal she had concluded with Iran during her visit to Tehran to track foreign fighters working with ISIS in Iraq. At home, she was criticized by the opposition: “When you start dancing with the devil… then we run the risk of becoming almost as bad,” said independent lawmaker Andrew Wilkie. As a former member of Australian intelligence, he said some of the “crap” coming out of Tehran was “worse than useless, because it was downright misleading.” Bill Shorten said Labor was seeking further details about the deal and would take a steady and considered approach.
- EU in emergency meeting on deadly refugee migration
European Union foreign ministers gathered in Luxembourg on Monday under pressure to produce more than words after at least 700 refugees from Africa died in a shipwreck off the coast of Libya.
- Khamenei: US created “myth” of Iran’s nuclear bomb
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni accused the US of creating “the myth of nuclear weapons so they could call the Islamic Republic a source of threat.” He said “the source of threat is America itself with its unrestrained, destabilizing interventions.”
- Lebanon receives first installment of $3bn French arms deal
Lebanese and French defense ministers and top army officers were present at Beirut international airport Monday for the handover of the first installment of French hardware under a $2bn arms deal, paid for by Saudi Arabia. It includes dozens of armored vehicles, six transport helicopters and other types of weapons.
- Netanyahu gains another two weeks for cabinet-building
Binyamin Netanyahu Monday asked President Reuven Rivlin for an extra two weeks to build a coalition government that is stable and able to manage national challenges. Rivlin assented.
- Roadside bomb kills 3 Egyptian soldiers in Sinai
Three Egyptian soldiers were killed when their armored vehicle struck Monday a roadside bomb near the northern Sinai border town of Rafah. debkafile: Most of the casualties in the last fortnight were caused by roadside bombs used increasingly by Al Qaeda’s Sinai branch and smuggled in from Iraq.
Hizballah copycats Hamas’ terror tunnels for Lebanese-Galilee border. No IDF solutions yet
20 Apr. Local civilian reports of mysterious underground explosions in northern Israeli locations near the Lebanese border are confirmed by Israeli troops conducting field exercises in the neighborhood. They attest to heavy earthmoving equipment, explosions, burrowing and shaking ground on the Lebanese side of the border, giving the area the appearance of a huge subterranean building site. debkafile: Hizballah has undoubtedly taken a leaf out of the Hamas book of terror and mobilized fully and efficiently for a major tunnel-building project. Israel seems curiously passive in face of its enemy’s ambitious enterprise. No silver bullet has so far been found for this primitive vehicle of terror, including the methods tried till now, such as buried microphones, optical fibers sensitive to seismic tremors, deep trenches along the border and an assortment of off-beat inventions.
April 21, 2015 Briefs
- Ousted Egyptian president Morsi sentenced to 20 years in jail
An Egyptian court Tuesday sentenced former president Mohammed Morso to 20 years in prison over the killing of protesters in 2012. Twenty-two fellow Muslim Brotherhood activists were sentenced Monday to death for attacking a police station in Cairo.
Yemen ceasefire depends on US mediation between Iran, Saudi
21 Apr. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdolllahian said Tuesday night, April 21, that Tehran is optimistic that ‘in the coming hours we shall see a halt to military attacks in Yemen.” White House spokesman Josh Earnest tried to play down the danger of a US-Iranian naval collision in the Gulf of Aden, saying that the US fleet’s mission was “to ensure the free flow of commerce.” debkafile: This mission seems to have shifted from pre-empting an Iranian convoy’s attempt to deliver arms to the Houthi rebels over to supporting a bid by Washington to broker a ceasefire.
US-Iranian naval collision building up in Gulf of Aden
21 Apr. The US and Iran may be hading for a naval face-off over Yemen. Monday night, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, known as “The Big Stick,” set out for the Gulf of Aden to join the American naval force building up to intercept any Iranian vessels carrying arms for Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The Roosevelt Strike Group 12 was dispatched from the Persian Gulf to underline Washington’s resolve to pre-empt any attempt by Iranian warships to break this Saudi-Egyptian sea blockade of Yemen, as well as deepening US involvement in the Saudi-led operation against Iranian-backed rebel forces in Yemen.
April 22, 2015 Briefs
- Israel mourns its fallen soldiers and terror victims
For a night and a day, Israelis have commemorated and mourned the 23,320 fallen in battle and victims of hostile operations. A two-minute pause and silence were observed at 11 a.m. as bereaved families visited cemeteries and attended memorial ceremonies across the country, led by the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon referred to the Russian S-300 missiles promised Iran, when he said: “Any system devised by man, man can overcome. I rejoice in out great security industry and its place at the forefront of world technology. Iron Dome is one example; others are our unmanned aerial vehicles and many other systems, which have never been disclosed. We are developing capabilities to withstand the challenges of the future.”
US Yemen ceasefire bid founders. Saudis resume air strikes
22 Apr. Just hours after halting military operations in Yemen, Saudi Arabia Wednesday, April 22 resumed its air strikes, its jets bombing pro-Iranian Houthi rebel positions southwest of Taiz, after they had seized a brigade base from forces loyal to fugitive President Abdu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. debkafile: the Saudi-led coalition went back on a promise to shift its focus from military action to diplomacy, while retaining its sea blockade, after Houthi rebels opted out of the US bid for a ceasefire. Iranian warships also stayed on course for the Gulf of Aden in the face of President Obama’s warning.