A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Aug. 16, 2007

New Al Qaeda threat of radioactive truck attacks naming New York, Los Angeles, Miami


9 Aug: The threat was picked up by debkafile‘s monitors from a rush of electronic chatter on al Qaeda sites Thursday, Aug. 8.

The al Qaeda communications accuse the Americans of the grave error of failing to take seriously the videotape released by the American al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gaddahn last week. “They will soon realize their mistake when American cities are hit by quality operations,” said one message.

Another said the attacks would be carried out “by means of trucks loaded with radio-active material against America’s biggest city and financial nerve center.”

A third message mentioned New York, Los Angeles and Miami as targets. It drew the answer: “The attack, with Allah’s help, will cause an economic meltdown, many dead, and a financial crisis on a scale that compels the United States to pull its military forces out of many parts of the world, including Iraq, for lack of any other way of cutting down costs.”

There is also a message which speaks obliquely of the approaching attacks easing the heavy pressure America exerts on countries like Japan, Cuba and Venezuela.

debkafile‘s counter-terror sources and monitors say there is no way of gauging for sure how serious these threats are, how real, or whether they are part of a war of nerves to give the Gaddahn tape extra mileage. But it is important to note that the exchange of messages took place over al Qaeda’s internal Internet sites and that they contained the threat of radioactive terror and specific American cities for the first time after a long silence on these subjects.


New York steps up security against al Qaeda attack in response to debkafile Exclusive Report, followed by additional info on Manhattan dirty bomb


11 Aug. New York police increased security Friday, Aug. 10, throughout Manhattan and tunnels and bridges against threat of an al Qaeda plot to detonate a dirty bomb in the city. The department cited an “unverified radiological threat” from Internet chatter reported on Israeli Web site debka.com, stressing the security hike was precautionary.

New York Mayor and US homeland department played down the threat as “unsubstantiated” and stressed the city’s alert status stayed unchanged at “orange.”


India proposes collaborating with Israel on a new unmanned combat helicopter to counter Chinese C-802 missile


12 Aug: Israel’s outgoing Navy commander Maj. Gen. Dan Bashat discussed the project during his talks with his opposite number Adm. Sureesh Mehta in India last week, debkafile‘s military sources report. Adm. Mehta estimated that the Indian Navy could use 40-50 helicopters of this kind.

The helicopter project would be a revolutionary step for the Indian and Israelis Navies, providing them both with their first independent air arms. In the 2006 Lebanon War, the crippling of the Israeli missile vessel Hanit by a C-802 shore-to-sea missile opposite Beirut brought home to many world navies that their advanced air defense systems against missiles, such as the Israeli Barak, were not proof against the C-802 missiles acquired by Iran, Syria and Hizballah.

Since then, Israeli warships have kept their distance from the Lebanese shore. This seriously detracts from their ability to monitor the Lebanese and Syrian coasts for hostile weaponry.

In a war, Israeli would have to be satisfied with intelligence means for detecting Syrian and Hizballah missile batteries, and chancy, dangerous and expensive air strikes to destroy them. This imbalance could be radically altered by providing the warships with unmanned combat helicopters. Indian and Israeli warships face the same threat since Pakistan acquired C-802 shore-to-sea missiles from China.


New York scales down extra security measures a day after responding to al Qaeda radiological threat reported in debkafile


12 Aug: New York police reduced the extra security procedures that were introduced Friday night, Aug. 10, after debkafile reported a surge on al Qaeda Websites threatening New York, Los Angeles and Miami with dirty bomb attack by trucks carrying radioactive bombs.




13 Aug: At midnight Thursday, Aug. 9, debkafile‘s monitors of terrorist Web sites and forums connected the messages accumulating from midday. They spelled out an al Qaeda threat mentioning New York, Los Angeles and Miami as targets of attacks “by means of trucks loaded with radioactive material.” Our counter-terror sources and monitors stressed “there is no way of gauging for sure how serious these threats are, or how real.”

Monday, Aug. 13, the chatter continues.

Such disclosures are the daily content of debkafile – not only about al Qaeda, but terrorist organizations in the Middle East and other parts of the world. We believe that holding back such information would be irresponsible and wrong and possibly expose people in targeted countries, most predominantly the United States and Israel, to danger. After this data is aired on our free site, our job is done and it is up to the relevant security authorities to decide how to deal with it.

In this case, the New York Police Department very properly responded.

After 24 hours, during which time the department almost certainly put its vast resources to work to research and assess the debkafile disclosure, security was increased throughout Manhattan and on tunnels and bridges, with radioactivity sensors posted on vehicles, boats and helicopters.

The New York police came up with a further piece of information which was not sourced to DEBKA suggesting that a dirty bomb may go off on Friday evening around 34th Street in Manhattan, where the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden and Macy’s department store are located.

At that point, something quite irrational happened: The NYPD’s sensible precautions generated a flood of media recriminations against… debkafile. Unbridled, gratuitous assaults on this publication’s credibility came from the publications which missed the story, prominently Associated Press, the International Herald Tribune and FoxNews, followed by Jewish Week and Steve Emerson.

Reuters, to its credit, covered the episode fairly and professionally.

With regard to debkafile‘s record, our readers may recall that in 2003, our counter-terror sources exposed the massive recruitment campaign al Qaeda ran worldwide for an army of jihadis to fight US forces in Iraq under the command of a Jordanian terrorist called Abu Musab al Zarqawi.

Again, in 2005 – and up until the present – we warned that al Qaeda was building networks in Egyptian Sinai and the Gaza Strip.

Had the powers-that-be responded in timely fashion to these advance alerts, the situation in both troubled places might have evolved differently.


Hizballah is behind “The Galilee Freedom Brigades” which claims Friday’s Jerusalem attack


13 Aug: The claim was made over the Maan Palestinian news agency Monday Aug. 13 four days after Ahmad Hatib from Manda village, Galilee, died after grabbing the sidearm of an Israeli security guard on Jerusalem’s Christian Street and shooting him in the shoulder. Ten people were injured before he was killed.

debkafile cites Israeli intelligence sources link the organization and the Jerusalem attack to undercover Hizballah cells planted in the Galilee villages of Manda and Kafr Kana. Those sources recall three crimes attributed to the Galilee Freedom Brigades in 2003: the murder of the Israeli soldier Oleg Shaichat, the unsolved disappearance of Dana Bennet from Tiberias and the ambush of an Israeli policy patrol.

One source told DEBKA that if Hatib did indeed act on behalf one of those cells, Hizballah can claim to have carried out its first cross-border attack in Israel since kidnapping the Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev last summer and sparking the Lebanon War.


Syria has no intention of waging war against Israel to regain the occupied Golan Heights, says, Syrian VP Farouq al-Shara


14 Aug: “Israel knows we don’t want war. We should always be ready to respond to Israeli aggression, but Syria will not start a war,” Shara said Tuesday.

“People will not accept anything less than Israeli withdrawal from the whole of the occupied Golan Heights, he added. “Any Syrian preparations are defensive, while Israel wants any excuse to launch a war.”

debkafile: In Syrian vocabulary, terror is a legitimate form of defense or resistance rather than “starting a war”, while any Israeli action against Palestinian terror is perceived as unwarranted aggression.


Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards chief hits back at US plan to list his force as terrorists


15 Aug. The RG commander Yahya Rahim Safavi said Wednesday that Iran’s 2,000-km range missiles (capable of reaching Israel) could now be remote controlled.

debkafile‘s military sources say this is a reference to Shahab-3 missiles kept in hiding places, possibly outside Iran, which can be operated at a distance from Tehran.

Safavi also said his RG ground forces had missiles that could penetrate the armor plating fitted to Israel's Merkava and US Abrams tanks.

The Iranian general went on to declare: “Our coast-to-coast missiles can now reach the breadth and length of the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea and no warships can pass in the Persian Gulf without being in range of our coast-to-sea missiles.”

According to debkafile‘s sources, he was referring to the new generation of shore-to-ship C-802, recently acquired by Iran and supplied to Syria and Hizballah.

The RG commander did not say so, but his threatening boasts were undoubtedly Tehran’s response to Washington’s plan to blacklist his force a specially designated global terrorist.

debkafile‘s sources strongly doubt that President George W. Bush’s remaining 18 months in office will suffice for those measures to compel Tehran to give up its nuclear activities. The decision of whether to carry on will be left to his successor in the White House.

The Bush administration’s new order would not be binding on Iran’s leading trading partners, such as China, Russia, some of the Gulf emirates, Venezuela and Cuba, governments which sell the Islamic Republic arms and weapons technology in defiance of UN sanctions.


Israel forces blew up a Palestinian terrorist tunnel in northern Gaza Strip Wednesday night


15 Aug. The mouth of the tunnel was discovered 700 meters inside the Gaza border outside Beit Lahiya. It was dug under the tomato greenhouses of Netiv Ha’Asara north of Gaza. Israeli intelligence believes the subterranean passage was intended to carry infiltrators under the border for attacks against an Israeli town to the north of Gaza.


India‘s leading imam heads a delegation of prominent Muslim leaders on first visit to Israel. Their peace mission stirs protest at home


15 Aug. Maulana Jameel Ahmed Ilyasi is the President of the All India Organization of Imams of Mosques, who supervises over 250,000 imams serving an estimated 200 million Indian Muslims. the Indian visitors arrived Wednesday for a six-day visit to meet the two chief rabbis, President Shimon Peres and foreign minister Tzipi Livni.

Urging the Indian tradition of solving issues through dialogue, Maulan Ilyasi said: “Interaction with both Palestinian and Jewish sisters and brothers and their religious leadership will lay a solid foundation for future engagement.”

The visit is sponsored by the Project Interchange Institute of the American Jewish Committee and the Australian-Israeli Council.


Netanyahu is re-elected leader of Israeli opposition Likud. His first actions as victor provoke sharp criticism


15 Aug: As expected, former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu won an overwhelming 73% of his party’s support, compared with the nationalist Moshe Faiglin’s 23% and Danny Danin’s 3.5%. The turnout was 40% of the registered 95,000 members, a considerable feat in a midsummer poll.

His victory was marred by maneuvers to keep Faiglin and his supporters at a distance.

debkafile notes that Netanyahu has so far not laid out a program on such vital matters as security, bridging the vast gap between rich and poor, education, medical care and a host of other long-neglected issues plaguing Israeli society. Even his victory speech gave no clues. This deficiency is marked equally in the leaders of Kadima and Labor. None of the heads of the three main national parties trouble to share their worldviews with the public.


War tensions rise between Syria and Israel amid soothing words on both sides


16 Aug: Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak inspected IDF preparations on the northern front Wednesday the day after he escorted prime minister Ehud Olmert on a visit to the northern command. Both stressed that Israel does not seek war, echoed by Syria’s vice president Farouk a- Shara. OC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Gad Eisenkott and senior officers briefed the prime minister on their preparations in anticipation of such attacks.

They discussed ways of taking Syrian forces by surprise without provoking a full-scale conflict that would expose the populations of northern and central regions to Syrian missiles and potentially spread to the Lebanese Hizballah and Hamas.

debkafile‘s military sources report: Washington updates point to the rising influence of the pro-war faction in Bashar Assad’s government. Syrian troop reinforcements have been moved forward to the front line, mostly by night.

US and Israeli intelligence watchers believe Syrian leaders are banking on a low-intensity Israel response, such as artillery crossfire, to their attacks, to avoid a major conflagration.

debkafile‘s military sources say that whether Israeli air force bombers go after civilian infrastructure, like bridges, highways and power stations, or stick to military targets, such radar stations, bases and military command posts, will depend on the duration of the Syrian offensive, its violence and how much pain is inflicted on Israeli lives and property. The Israel reprisal spiral is likely to match the intensity of Syrian attacks.

Some officers in the northern command advocate a short and sharp Israeli response to nip any Syrian action in the bud. They say that weather conditions in winter would seriously hamper Israeli air force operations.

debkafile‘s military sources report that the delay in Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky’s scheduled departure as Deputy Chief of Staff, announced by the IDF spokesman Wednesday night, Aug 15, is connected with the war tensions on Israel’s northern and Gaza borders and renewed threats from Iran.


Israeli PM Olmert’s approval rating falls again, according to new opinion poll


16 Aug. Canvassed on choice of prime minister by pollster Yitzhak Katz, 32% opted for Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu, 30% for the Labor defense minister Ehud Barak (both former PMs) and 5% for the incumbent Olmert.

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