A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending April 24, 2014
April 11, 2014 Briefs
- The IDF shuts down Yitzhar yeshiva and posts border guards
The IDF for the first time in its history took control of a yeshiva, the Od Yosef Hay, in the West Bank community of Yitzhar, announced the suspension of studies and posted a company of border guards there as of Friday morning. A group of students at this yeshiva is suspected of the rampage last week against the demolition of three illegal structures and knocking over the tents of a military position.
Gunman shouting “Heil Hitler!” murdered 3 people in two Kansas Jewish centers
14 April. A 70-year old man shot dead Sunday, April 14, three people at two Jewish centers in Kansas City, before being taken into custody. He was heard shouting “Heil Hitler!” A Johnson County sheriff's database identified him as Frazier Glenn Cross, an avowed white supremacist and anti-Semite. A grandfather and grandson whom he killed were members of the Episcopal Church. His third victim was a Jewish woman.
April 15, 2014 Briefs
- Prince Bandar replaced as Saudi intelligence chief
Saudi intelligence director Prince Bandar bin Sultan has been replaced by his deputy, Yousef al-Idrissi. Bandar, a former ambassador to the US, acted in the past two years as the kingdom’s point man on the Syrian conflict.
- Victim of Palestinian shooting was Police Dep. Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi
Police Dep. Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi , 47, of Modiin, was shot dead and his wife Hadas, seriously injured in a Palestinian shooting attack on their way to the Passover Seder Monday. The father of five, he had served 25 years in the IDF in operational and high-tech positions. His last job was in the prestigious 8200 Intelligence Unit before joining the police force in 2011.
Baghdad braces for wholesale Al Qaeda assault on city
15 April. The Iraqi army began buttressing its defense lines on April 12 to save parts of the capital city of Baghdad from falling to al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Terrorist forces have broken through into the city’s western outskirts before heading out to other parts of the city of more than seven million and government headquarters. The jihadis are engaged in cutting off the Iraqi capital’s sources of fresh water and blowing up its main bridges to the rest of the country to disrupt Iraqi army movements
April 16, 2014 Briefs
- Putin discusses Iran and Ukraine with Netanyahu
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Tuesday night discussed "current issues in bilateral cooperation and on the international agenda, including progress in talks on the Iranian nuclear program," Putin's website reported. On the Ukrainian question, the Russian leader “pointed out that the sharp escalation of the crisis is the result of Kiev’s irresponsible policy.
- Tehran vetoes discussion of its missiles in talks with world powers
Iran’s defense minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan said Wednesday that Iran’s missile program has nothing to do with the nuclear negotiations in progress with the six world powers and it has no nuclear dimensions. Iran's missiles are not up for discussion under any circumstances."
- Jerusalem police bar Jews from Temple Mt. amid Hamas rampage
Several hundred Palestinians, most of them radical Hamas or Al Tahrir activists are barricaded in the Al Aqsa Mosque on Temple Mount, Jerusalem since early Wednesday. They have been pelting police with rocks and firebombs they have piled up inside the mosque. So far police units have not tried to break up the disturbance by storming the site, after barring access to the compound for Jewish Passover pilgrims. Clashes earlier spread to the Old City.
Ukrainian armed operation founders with defections
16 April. The five or six armored personnel carriers which rolled in the embattled town of Slavyansk with Russian flags Wednesday, April 16, turned out to be part of the Ukrainian military operation whose crews, instead of cracking down on the pro-Russian militias, joined them. The Kiev government’s “anti-terror” operation in East Ukraine is accordingly breaking up.
April 17, 2014 Briefs
- Al Qaeda chief pledges war on western crusaders
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) chief Nasser al-Wuhayshi pledged to pursue the war against Western “crusaders” everywhere possible. In Canberra, Australian Prime Minister John Key reported that a New Zealander with terrorism links known as “Muslim bin John” and an Australian were killed in a US drone strike in Yemen last year.
- Jerusalem police again close Temple Mt. to Jewish visitors
For the second day running, Temple Mt. was closed to Jewish visitors and tourists by the Jerusalem police following Muslim stone-throwing riots, spearheaded from Al Aqsa Mosque by the radical Palestinian Hamas in the course of the Passover festival.
Jordanian air strike destroyed al Qaeda force aiming for US target
17 April. The Jordanian air strike Wednesday April 16 against an armored vehicle convoy from Syria destroyed an Al Qaeda raider force on its way to attack a US military target, debkafile reveals. Jordan’s first assault on a target outside the country took place on the Syrian side of the border opposite the eastern Jordanian town of Ruwaished. At a secret base nearby, Iraqi troops are being instructed by US and Jordanian instructors in counter-terror combat tactics. This episode dramatizes the escalating Al Qaeda-Iraq threat to Jordan, the US forces based there and Israel.
April 18, 2014 Briefs
- Kerry denounces demand of Donetsk Jews to list property
US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Geneva, denounced as grotesque a leaflet handed out to Jews leaving a local synagogue in Donetsk which ordered “citizens of Jewish Nationality” over age 16 to pay $50 to register and be issued special passports marking their faith, and listing their property. debkafile: This incident has all the hallmarks of a typical Kiev government provocation to discredit the pro-Russian separatist movement.
- Thai police foil suspected Hizballah Passover plot
Thai police round up two out of three suspected members of a terrorist cell run by Hizballah preparing attacks on Israeli tourists during Passover. They were identified as Lebanese-French national Daoud Farhat and Lebanese-Philippine national Youssef Ayad.
- Extra security at Jerusalem’s shrines after Hamas riots
Jerusalem security police have brought in extra strength to the Old City of Jerusalem. Access to Temple Mount is restricted to men over 50 though women may enter, after the riots and attacks on Jewish worshippers staged by Hamas activists from al Aqsa mosque during the Passover festival. The Christian Good Friday and Festival of the Light processions at Old City shrines and the Via Dolorosa were also under close police guard.
The leaking Kerry-Lavrov deal for Ukraine will fuel more US-Russian dissent
18 April. The Kerry-Lavrov “de-escalation” recipe for Ukraine, concluded in Geneva Thursday, April 17, consists of the same ingredients as their previous deals: a slick-sounding compromise that the US and Russian can more or less live with; a gloss over the real elements at issue between them; and a deal that goes over the heads of the prime movers involved in the conflict. By Friday, the two rival camps in Ukraine were digging in their heels against it.
April 20, 2014 Briefs
- Strongman El-Sisi faces just one challenger in run for Egyptian president
The former army chief, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi who toppled the Muslim Brotherhood government is challenged only by the leftist politician Hamdeed Sabahi in next month’s presidential election.
- Europeans fighting with al Qaeda in Syria quadrupled
The number of European Muslims who have joined up with al Qaeda to fight in Syria quadrupled in the first months of this year to 3,000 compared with 2013, increasing the menace of terrorism at the hands of returning Islamists after training and combat experience.
- Two Jerusalem policemen injured in Palestinian disturbances
When Temple Mount was opened to Jewish and tourist visits Sunday morning, Palestinian rioters began hurling large rocks and firebombs at security officers guarding the shrines holy to three faiths at the site and Lions Gate. Two police officers were injured. Twenty-four rioters were taken into custody and Temple Mount again closed to visits. Radical Palestinian Islamists have been hurling rocks and firecrackers against Jewish worshippers and police day after day throughout the Passover festival.–
- First crack in Western wall against Russia over Ukraine
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he wished as much emphasis would be placed on preventing an escalation of tensions with Russia over Ukraine as there is in threatening economic sanctions.
Salehi’s Arak “deal” – cover-up for 1,300 kg enriched uranium smuggled to Parchin for secret upgrade
20 April. Iran’s Ali Akbar Salehi’s offer Saturday, April 19, “to redesign” the controversial Arak reactor to produce one-fifth of the plutonium initially planned, was a piece of misdirection. debkafile reveals that Tehran has secretly smuggled 1,300 kilos of low-grade enriched uranium to Parchin, the military facility barred to inspectors, and installed there 1,630 banned advanced centrifuges for rapidly upgrading this quantity to 20 percent enrichment. The IAEA was deceived into reporting that Iran had left itself with “substantially less of the 20-percent enriched uranium than it would need for a nuclear warhead.”
April 21, 2014 Briefs
- US warns Abbas against threat to disband Palestinian Authority
The US State Department said Monday that if the Palestinian Authority dissolves itself, longstanding US support and assistance will be imperiled. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu commented “If the Palestinians want to tall peace for real, they can call us.”
- The US could hit Putin with sanctions, says State Department
The US State Department Spokeswoman, asked whether the US was considering hitting Putin personally with sanctions, said Monday: ” Yes. A range of officials is under consideration. Plenty to sanction before we would discuss President Putin.”
- Biden arrives in Kiev amid crisis with Moscow
US Vice President Joe Biden, the highest-ranking US official to visit Kiev since the start of the Ukraine crisis, said on arrival that he was sending a very clear message of “support for Ukraine's democracy, unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity” and threatened… “mounting costs for Russia if they choose a destabilizing rather than constructive course in the days ahead.”
- Third US drone strike in Yemen kills 55 al Qaeda
At least 55 terrorists were killed Monday in the third US drone strike this week on an al Qaeda training camp in the Mahfad mountains including three commanders.
- Israeli air force strikes Gaza in two waves after 10 Palestinians rockets
Israeli warplanes struck terrorist targets near the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza City Monday after
helicopters used heavy machine guns against the sources of the 10 rockets launched from the northern Gaza district of Bet Hanoun Monday morning, the seventh day of Passover. The rockets aimed at Israeli army patrols and the town of Sderot caused damage but no casualties. debkafile: The rare daylight air strikes and use of helicopters indicated that the IDF is treating this round of rocket fire as a serious escalation of aggression from the Gaza Strip and is resolved to curtail it without delay.
- Lavrov accuses Kiev of breaking Geneva accord, holds US responsible
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the Kiev authorities of breaking last week's Geneva accord by failing to disarm illegal groups, especially the ultra-nationalist Right Sector suspected of the shooting at a pro-Russian checkpoint near Slaviansk Sunday. Lavrod said the US should take responsibility for those whom they put in power instead of issuing ultimatums to Moscow.
Syrian-Iranian chlorine bomb mocks US-Russian chemical pact
21 April. On April 11, Syrian planes dropped Chinese-manufactured chlorine gas canisters rigged with explosive detonators on Kafr Zita near Hama. Since then, British and French intelligence sources have reported at least four such attacks against the northern towns of Idlib and Homs and the Harasta and Jobar districts outside Damascus. Assad is dropping these crippling gas bombs at the rate of one every three days, mocking the 2013 Kerry-Lavrov chemical disarmament pact. debkafile: Iran is supplying Damascus with Chinese chlorine purchased in industrial quantities over the Internet from a Hangzhou-based firm.
April 22, 2014 Briefs
- Syria schedules presidential election for June 3 amid civil war
The opposition denounced the announcement of a presidential election on June 3 as a farce to give Bashar Assad a semblance of legitimacy. No fair election is possible in country embroiled in a civil war, up to 200,000 dead, one third of the population dislocated and any likely contestants in prison or exile.
Syrian rebels get SA-16 anti-aircraft missiles after receiving advanced anti-tank weapons
22 April. Syrian rebels have been sighted wielding anti-aircraft weapons in various combat sectors in the last few days. Just as on April 6 debkafile was the first publication to disclose the delivery of US weapons – BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles – to certain Syrian rebels, our military sources now reveal the delivery of Russian-made 9K310 Igla-1 aka SA-16 anti-aircraft rockets, whose operational range is 5.2 km. While the rebels can hit Syrian assault aircraft for the first, time, the new weapons come too late to turn the tide of war.
April 23, 2014 Briefs
- Lavrov: Russia will retaliate if citizens’ interests threatened
“An attack on Russian citizens would be deemed an attack against the Russian Federation,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday after the Kiev authorities re-launched a armed “anti-terror” operation against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
- Obama’s fiscal-intelligence war with Putin grows shadowy global wings
The Obama-Putin contest over Ukraine no longer fits the definition of a cold war revival. It is a new kind of world war, fought by stealth between two financial and intelligence colossi aiming for each other’s economic jugulars amid skirmishes over Ukraine. In its coming issue out next Friday, DEBKA Weekly reveals how this novel war is orchestrated from a secret US headquarters in Kiev and the SVR center at Yasenevo near Moscow.
Netanyahu breaks off peace talks with Palestinians over unity pact with Hamas
23 April. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday night April 23 broke off peace talks with the Palestinians pending reassessment, after Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah signed a unity pact with Hamas in Gaza City. The US informed Abbas that if Hamas and Jihad Islami, both listed as terrorist organizations, were co-opted to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Washington would discontinue recognition of the PLO. debkafile.
The rival Palestinian factions agreed to establish a unity government “within five weeks” and hold presidential and parliamentary elections in six months. They carefully sidestepped the tough issues
This development found the Middle East peace process in a ridiculous half-dead condition, confused further by the muddled, illogical steps pursued by Abbas. By allying his Fatah with Hamas, Abbas placed the entire Palestinian movement in opposition to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE
April 24, 2014 Briefs
- Afghan guard shoots dead three American doctors in Kabul hospital
A security guard turned his weapon on the staff at the CURE hospital in Kabul, killing three US doctors and injuring two others. No group has taken responsibility.
- More Jewish sites vandalized in Ukraine
Days after a synagogue was fire bombed in Ukraine, the Holocaust Memorial in the Crimean town of Sevastopol for 4,200 Jews murdered by the Nazis in 1942 was spray-painted in red with a hammer and sickle and the letters USSR. In Dnepropetrovsk, vandals spray-painted swastikas on the tomb of Dov Ber Schneerson, the brother of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late leader of the Lubavicher Jewish Chabad movement. Vice President Joe Biden said on Tuesday during a visit to Kiev that there is “no place” for anti-Semitism in Ukraine.
- Obama pledges to defend Japan – but no red lines
At press conference in Tokyo, President Barack Obama said that the US would come to Japan’s defense if China further threatened a disputed chain of islands, but, he stressed, he was not drawing another “red line” on possible military action.
- Israel’s security cabinet meets to reassess peace process
After a phone conversation between Secretary of State John Kerry and Netanyahu following the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation pact, State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: “It’s hard to see how Israel can be expected to sit down and negotiate with a group that denies its right to exist”
- Obama says further sanctions against Russia “teed up”
In Tokyo US President Barack Obama accused Moscow of failing to halt actions by pro-Russian militants in Ukraine. He said the US had further sanctions against Russia "teed up".
Russian troops ordered to advance on Ukraine border
24 April. Defense Minister Gen. Sergey Shoigu Thursday, April 24, ordered the Russian army to start drills at Rostov on Don near the Ukraine border. debkafile: This order amounted to a state of alert, which required the troops to move up to the Ukraine border and take up prepared positions as bridgeheads if ordered to enter East Ukraine. In the past 48 hours, Russian officials have kept up an unprecedented stream of invective against the provisional government in Kiev – called “junta” – and the Obama administration for its intervention in Ukraine.