A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Aug. 8, 2013
August 2, 2013 Briefs
- Rouhani: Israel is an old wound that should be removed
The new Iranian president Hasan Rouhani said Friday: "The Zionist regime has been a wound on the body of the Islamic world for years and the wound should be removed.”
- Two rockets explode near Lebanese presidential palace
Fired from an unknown location Thursday night, one of the two rockets fell 100 meters from the presidential palace.
- Obama calls Netanyahu, Abbas on peace talks
In separate calls to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Obama commended their “leadership and courage” and reaffirmed “US readiness to support the parties in achieving a just and lasting peace based on the two-state solution.” To Abbas, the president promised “to continue to work closely with the Palestinian Authority to achieve this goal.”
Egypt’s Gen. El-Sisi will run for president
2 Aug. Egypt’s Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi will run for president – possibly before the end of the year, debkafile reports exclusively. He plans to launch a short election campaign on August 15. His campaign managers have been set the goal of collecting 30 million signatures for his candidacy. That way, he can run on the ticket of the people’s candidate – not the army’s.
Untroubled by US and European criticism, the general is restoring the Egyptian army to political center. And like former presidents Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak, he will repress the Muslim Brotherhood. Washington’s answer is to appoint as ambassador to Cairo, former envoy to Damascus Robert Ford, who excelled in building ties with the Syrian opposition. The administration can’t do much with Gen. El-Sisi. He addresses Washington and European officials with courtesy but then goes off and does the exact opposite of what they ask of him.
August 3, 2013 Briefs
- Gen. El-Sisi accuses Washington of turning its back on Egyptians
“You left the Egyptians. You turned your back on the Egyptians, and they won’t forget that,” an indignant Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi accused the Obama administration in his first interview since the overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi last month
- Syrian air strike kills 9 in Lebanese village
A Syrian air strike against the Lebanese village of Khirbet Daoud in the Beqaa village of eastern Lebanon killed at least 9 people and injured many. debkafile: This village is close to the town of Arsal from which Syrian rebels operate command centers.
- Interpol global alert for al Qaeda prison escapees
The international police agency raised the alert Saturday following "the escape of hundreds of terrorists and other criminals" from Libya and Iraq’s Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons. The Interpol notice came a day after an unusual US global terror alert.
Putin visit to Cairo impending. El-Sisi prepares to outlaw Egypt’s Brotherhood. US in blocking mode
3 Aug. President Vladimir Putin is set to visit to Cairo after Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan told him King Abdullah was in favor of the trip. Bandar did not rule out the signing of a large Russian arms sale to Egypt, bankrolled by Riyadh. Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is resolved to break up Muslim Brotherhood protests and outlawing the movement in consultation with the judiciary. The Obama administration is fighting a losing battle against the avalanche threatening its Middle East policies.
August 4, 2013 Briefs
- Netanyahu on Iran: New president, same regime
Responding to the swearing-in of the new Iranian president Hasan Rouhani, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said: “Iran’s president might have been replaced, but the regime remained as it was. One of Iran’s intentions is to develop nuclear capability and weapons with the purpose of destroying Israel. This is a risk for both Israel and the world and we are all committed to preventing it from happening.”
- Saudi airspace denied Sudanese president’s flight to Tehran
Saudi Arabia denied permission for a plane carrying Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to travel through its air space on Sunday for the swearing-in of the new Iranian president
- Larijani slams Israel-Palestinian talks at Rouhani’s swearing-in
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani used the occasion of the new president’s oath of office to deplore US attempts to revive ‘peace talks’ between Israel and Palestinians.
US global terror warnings cover American homeland
4 Aug. Sunday, Aug. 4, as US missions closed in 22 countries, the NYPD went on high alert. Security was beefed up at houses of worship and transportation hubs, although Police Commissioner Ray Kelly complained about “a lack of specific information.” Saturday night, National Security Adviser Susan Rice convened security officials, after which the White House stated: “Given the nature of the potential threat… regular inter-agency meetings were held” to ensure the US government is taking appropriate steps.” This statement too omitted to specify the nature of the “potential threat.”
August 5, 2013 Briefs
- US drones kill four in North Yemen
Two US drone strikes killed four suspected al-Qaeda terrorists Tuesday morning in Yemen's Mareb province.
- US sources: Terror alert not triggered by single intercept
Some type of message between al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and Nasser al-Wuhayshi head of AQAP, disclosed by the New York Times, was just one component of a broader pool of intelligence that prompted the threat alert closing a wide range of US embassies in Muslim countries. A US official said that this intercept was not the smoking gun.
- US raises alert for warships, Marines in Mid-East
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered US warships to sail into waters opposite Yemen and Marine units in southern Italy and Spain to stand ready for intervention.
- Up to 117 year prison sentences against 275 alleged Turkish coup plotters
The defendants included ex-generals, opposition politicians and journalists, whom critics accuse the government of prosecuting in order to silence opposition and disempower the army. The former chief of staff Gen. Ilker Basburg was among those jailed for life.
- Syrian rebels seize advanced weapons depot north of Damascus
debkafile reports: The 1st Battalion of the Syrian rebels’ Muslim Brigade Sunday captured the Syrian army’s biggest hoard of anti-tank missiles and rockets in Denha 80 km north of Damascus. Our sources report they seized 600 advanced Russian-made Konkurs rockets and French-made Milan anti-tank missiles as well a supply of Grad missiles.
US: Terrorists with implanted explosives prompted alert
5 Aug. The Obama administration continued Monday, Aug. 5, to try and impress Americans and the world that its far-reaching still ongoing terror alert across a host of Muslim countries was serious and credible. US sources now disclose concern focusing on explosive devices implanted in the body of terrorists. Plastic devices without metal components carried in the body of a suicide bomber would be undetectable by standard screening devices like those used at most international airports. debkafile: Surgeons have been experimenting with this method on behalf of AQIM for some years.
August 6, 2013 Briefs
- Yemen criticizes US, British staff evacuations as serving extremists
A statement by the Yemeni Embassy in Washington says Tuesday's decision to evacuate "serves the interests of the extremists and undermines the exceptional cooperation" between Yemen and the international community in the fight against terrorism.
- US Army psychiatrist tells court he was the Fort Hood shooter
“The evidence will show that I was the shooter,” said US Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 of attempted murder in a shooting spree against fellow servicemen at the Fort Hood military facility, in Texas in 2009. Hasan, who made this opening statement before his court martial, faces a possible death sentence if convicted.
- Rouhani rejects “outdated” demands on Iran’s nuclear program
At his first news conference, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday: “We are ready to engage in serious and substantive talks with the other side [on Iran’s nuclear program]. Both sides’ concerns could be resolved in a short time.” He rejected any demands that he called “illogical and outdated,” adding “We should deal with the issue by talks, not threats.”
- US airlift starts evacuating US citizens and staff from Yemen
US Air Force transport planes began landing at Sanaa airport Tuesday to evacuate US citizens living in Yemen who were urged to leave immediately due to “extremely high” terrorist threats.
- Pakistan accused of 5 Indian soldiers’ deaths in Jammu and Kashmir
The Indian army accused Pakistan of entering the Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir and an ambush in the Poonch area in which five Indian soldiers were killed. A Pakistani military official claimed “no fire took place” from their side. This incident came as the two governments were preparing for peace talks, the first since a new Pakistani government took office.
Al Qaeda’s Chechen, Caucasian fighters seize Syrian air base
6 Aug. Al Qaeda fighters from Chechnya and the Caucasian seized the key northern Syrian air base of Minakh Monday, Aug. 5. debkafile: This was the first important gain by Al Qaeda’s North Caucasian brigade, Jaish al-Muhajireen wal Ansar, and its Chechen commander Abu Omar. They caught Syrian troops at the base and executed them by slashing their throats or beheading. If they move on Syria’s borders they will challenge Israeli, Jordanian and US forces based in the Hashemite kingdom with a different and unfamiliar kind of terrorist savagery. While the US sounded the alarm about a major terror attack or attacks on US targets in 21 Muslim countries, al Qaeda opened a new front from Syria manned by Chechen jihadis.
August 7, 2013 Briefs
- Obama cancels meetings with Putin in Moscow
President Barack Obama will attend the Group of 20 economic summit in St. Petersburg next month, but has cancelled his one-on-one with President Putin, furious over over Russia’s harboring of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
- Egypt’s presidency: Foreign diplomacy failed to end crisis
The interim presidency said the international efforts that began more than 10 days ago had "ended today,” holding the Muslim Brotherhood completely responsible for their failure and “what will follow.” debkafile: Washington’s plan for the Egyptian military ruler to call off Muslim Brotherhood trials and let Morsi go into exile fell flat. Security forces will now proceed to break up the pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo by force.
- Four Israeli soldiers injured by explosion in Lebanon
Lebanese sources report that the four Israeli soldiers were 150 meters inside Lebanese territory Wednesday when an explosion occurred near the Israeli-Lebanese border fence. There is no information about the cause of the explosion or what Israeli soldiers were doing on the Lebanese side of the border.
- Egyptian official denounces US Sen. McCain’s comments
An Egyptian presidential aide sharply reproved US Senator John McCain for describing the military overthrow of Mohamed Morsi as a coup d'etat, “distorting facts” and making statements “unacceptable in form and substance.” The senator said the US “cannot support Egypt that is not moving to a democracy.”
- Sealed criminal charges filed against Benghazi attack suspects
The Justice Department has filed sealed criminal charges against a number of suspects in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans. One of those charged is Ahmed Abu Khattalah, founder of Libya's Islamist militia Ansar al-Sharia. The exact nature of the charges wasn't clear, nor was the number of suspects. debkafile: A year after the event, the Obama administration is still withholding the facts of the Benghazi attack and who murdered the American diplomats.
Barring the IDF, Netanyahu’s last resort against possible Obama détente with Iran is US Congress
7 Aug. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in his first news conference Tuesday, Aug. 6, said his government would not discuss his country’s nuclear program with the world powers under pressure. No sooner had he spoken than Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu shot back: The only thing that worked in the past was pressure, so the answer now is increased pressure.
debkafile: Israel is starting to accept that President Barack Obama’s balking at military action in Syria applies equally to Iran. This was the thinking behind the remark by a high Israeli official that Israel could strike Iran’s nuclear facilities on its own, but this strike would be more limited in scope than an American operation. For now Netanyahu is counting on winning the US Congress around to Israel’s case as his last resort against Obama’s policy. .
August 8, 2013 Briefs
- Eilat airport briefly closed by terror alert
Israel’s military authorities closed and reopened Eilat airport Thursday night, presumably after a terror threatfrom across the nearby Sinai border. Eight incoming flights were diverted from the Red Sea resort of Eilat tp the Ovdat air base further north at the peak of the town’s tourist season.
- Rockets fired from Gaza explode in Eshkol
A number of rockets launched from Gaza hit an open area in Israel’s south early Thursday morning. No injuries or damage are reported. The siren did not go off.
- Outgoing CIA official: Syria is greatest threat to US today
Michael Morell, outgoing CIA Deputy Director finds the possible collapse of he Assad government a greater danger to America’s national security than the terror threat emanating from Pakistan and Yemen. He explained that this was because the Assad regime possesses chemical weapons and because al Qaeda is involved in the Syrian civil war.