A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Feb. 5, 2015

January 31, 2015 Briefs

  • Islamist terrorists continue Sinai attacks on Egyptian targets
    The Egyptian army suffered more losses Saturday night in renewed attacks in northern Sinai by Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a branch of ISIS.
  • New video shows ISIS killing second Japanese hostage
    The video released online Saturday night purported to show the beheading of a second Japanese hostage, journalist and filmmaker Kenji Goto, 47, less than a week after the first Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa was executed.
  • Egyptian court blacklists, segregates Hamas’ armed wing as terrorists
    Egypt Saturday banned the Palestinian Hamas’s armed wing the Qassam Brigades as a terrorist organization, charged with aiding and abetting the multiple assault staged Friday by the ISIS wing Ansar Bait al-Maqdis on Sinai towns, in which 40 to 50 Egyptian security officers were killed.
    debkafile: The ban closed Cairo international airport to Hamas operatives traveling overseas to stay in touch with the Arab world and Iran.
  • Washington Post: CIA aided by Mossad rigged Mughniyeh killing
    The Washington Post Saturday headlined the revelation that the Central Intelligence Agency, aided by the Israeli Mossad, orchestrated the assassination of Hizballah’s international terror and military chief, Imad Mughniyeh, on Feb. 18, 2008. Until now Israel alone was blamed for the assassination. According to the WP, as Mughniyeh approached his parked SUV on a Damascus street, a bomb planted in a spare tire in the trunk exploded. He was killed instantly by flying shrapnel. The device was said to be triggered remotely by Mossad in Tel Aviv, whose agents were in communication with CIA agents on the ground in Damascus. “The way it was set up, the US could object and call it off, but could not execute,” a former US intelligence official said. The authority to kill Mughniyeh required a presidential finding by President George W. Bush, the paper reported.

February 1, 2015 Briefs

  • Egypt releases and deports Al Jazeera journalist
    Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste was on his way to Australia Sunday after being released from jail in Egypt where he was sentenced last June to seven years for “aiding terrorism.” He said he would not rest until the two colleagues arrested with him are released.
  • Is Israel backing down on removing Hizballah, Iran from Golan?
    A change of policy was indicated by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s words at the Sunday cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. “Israel is threatened from many fronts,” he said. “In the past week alone we witnessed terrorists in action across our southern border in Sinai. We have long been aware of Iran’s efforts to open a second front against us from the Golan in addition to southern Lebanon. We have proved that no one is immune to our resolve to thwart aggression against us. That was true in the past and will be in the future,” Netanyahu said. debkafile: In his previous remarks on the subject, Netanyahu laid stress on Israel’s determination to root out the new front taking shape on the Golan. But Sunday he indicated that Israel would only react to attacks.

ISIS in full swing under ex-Iraqi general with 70 deaths in a month, on the march in 10 countries

1 Feb. Saturday night, Jan. 31, the Islamic State capped a month of atrocities by beheading its second Japanese hostage, Kenjo Goto.. In January alone, the Islamists are known to have killed at least 70 people in 10 targeted European and Middle East countries: France, Spain, Belgium, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Libya. debkafile: This sweep is orchestrated by ISIS master strategist Abu Alki al-Anbari, a former major general in Saddam Hussein’s army and now its top commander. His appears to be the brain charting three major strategic thrusts in motion today: the activation of sleeper cells in Europe for coordinated terrorist operations: multiple, synchronized attacks in the Middle East along a line running from Tripoli, Libya, through Egyptian Suez Canal cities and encompassing the Sinai Peninsula; and the full-dress Iraqi-Syrian warfront, with the accent currently on the major offensive launched Thursday, March 29, to capture the big Iraq oil town of Kirkuk.

February 2, 2015 Briefs

  • Jordanian ambassador returns to Tel Aviv
    Jordan is restoring Ambassador Walid Obeidat to his Tel Aviv post. He was recalled three months ago over clashes in Jerusalem with Palestinians centering on Temple Mount. Amman commends the improved situation at the shrine and the growing number of Muslim worshippers flocking to the mosques there. debkafile: The amicable settling of this dispute must be credited to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
  • US sanctions chief: Iran needs nuclear deal for economic recovery
    The US Treasury Department’s outgoing sanctions chief David Cohen offered the opinion Monday that the Iranian economic recovery depends on a nuclear accommodation with the West for lifting sanctions. This strengthens Washington’s leverage in the final nuclear talks with Iran, he said, adding, “I think they are negotiating with their backs to the wall.” debkafile finds this view over-optimistic. President Barack Obama’s eagerness for a nuclear deal takes the heat off the Iranian economy and boosts Tehran’s bargaining leverage rather than Washington’s.
  • Iran reports launch of new satellite into space
    State TV reports the launch of Tehran’s fourth satellite into orbit around Earth. The report Monday quoted Defense Minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan saying the satellite, designed and built in Iran, is named "Fajr," or dawn in Farsi.

Islamist State plots terror attacks inside Tehran. Hizballah high-up killed in Damascus bus blast for starters

2 Feb. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has launched a new terror offensive against Iranians and other Shiites. It was kicked off Sunday, Feb. 2 with an attack on a Damascus bus carrying Lebanese Shiite pilgrims. Nine people were killed and at least 20 injured. ISIS has set its sights on the Muslim Shiite heartland, Iran and its cities – especially the capital Tehran. The bus attack aimed to kill a Hizballah military commander traveling in disguise with the pilgrims. His Beirut HQ is keeping his death and identity secret. This attack revealed most significantly that Hizballah has begun covering the tracks in Syria of its top Hizballah men by inserting them among Shiite pilgrim traveling by bus from Lebanon to Damascus.

February 3, 2015 Briefs

  • Two French soldiers injured by Muslim with knife in Nice
    Three French soldiers on anti-terror patrol at a building housing the Consistoire Israélite de Nice, a Jewish organization, at the southern French town of Nice town center, were attacked Tuesday by three Musliim men One wielding a knife injured two of the soldiers while shouting, “Je suis Charlie Coulibaly!” (the name of the gunman who killed four Jews in Paris last month). He was caught, but his two accomplices fled. Elsewhere, in Paris and Lyon, French police arrested eight people suspected of running a network for sending recruits to Syria on jihad.
  • Road accident in S. Israel kills 8, injures 24 – all Bedouin women
    A group of Bedouin women were returning home to their village of Hourah from worship on Temple Mt. in Jerusalem, when the accident occurred. A heavy truck swerved and the tractor it was hauling struck the left side their bus. Eight women were killed outright and 24 injured, two seriously.
  • Homemade bomb goes off near Cairo’s Tahrir Sq.
    No casualties were initially reported from the makeshift bomb explosion Tuesday on the busy Qasr al-Nil Street in central Cairo. Al-Arabiya news site reported that Cairo airport boosted security measures after police found two bombs at terminals. Airport authorities said the bombs were defused and did not disrupt travel.

New video shows ISIS burning Jordanian pilot alive

3 Feb. A ISIS video released Tuesday, Feb. 3, revealed that Jordanian Air Force pilot Lt. Mu’ath al Kassasbeh, aged 27, was burned alive. This was a gruesome departure from the barbaric beheadings practiced by the jihadi terrorists till now. The young pilot was captured by ISIS when his plane crashed over Syria on December 24. The horror of the pilot’s ghastly execution fate aimed to produce a backlash against King Abdullah and other Arab rulers staying in the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State. King Abdullah cut short his visit to Washington to deal with the crisis.

February 4, 2015 Briefs

  • Jordan’s king vows to hit ISIS “on their own ground”
    King Abdullah of Jordan vowed Wednesday to pursue a relentless war against ISIS and “hit them on their own ground.” He was responding to popular revulsion and demands for vengeance for the burning alive of the Jordanian Air Force pilot Lt. Mu’ath al Kassasbeh. Jordan’s executions of two long-jailed al Qaeda terrorists early Wednesday did not satisfy demands of “an eye for an eye” – accompanied by the call for Jordan to quit the US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
  • Netanyahu and Ya’alon visit IDF Hermon outpost
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon toured Israel’s’ military outpost on Mt Hermon Wednesday, a week after Hizballah shot up an IDF command convoy in the vicinity and killed two soldiers. Netanyahu accused Iran of conspiring to turn the Golan into a new anti-Israel front. Instead of curbing Iranian aggression, he said, the world powers were concluding an accord that would permit Iran to acquire nuclear arms.
  • Putin to pay a two-day visit to Egypt
    Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in Cairo on Feb. 9 for two days of talks with Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi on bilateral ties and regional issues, the Kremlin announced Wednesday. They will discuss the situation in Iraq, Syria and Libya as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Moscow seeks to boost its military ties with Egypt, while Cairo needs more Russian wheat.
  • A mine explosion seriously injures female Israeli officer on the Golan
    The IDF woman officer was seriously hurt Wednesday in the course of work on the northern Golan border fence by an exploding landmine. The mine is believed to have been dislodged by heavy seasonal rain.
  • ISIS forces capture big Libyan oil field
    Islamist State forces have seized the al-Mabrook oil field south of Sirte, one of the largest in Libya, security sources in Paris reported Wednesday. debkafile: Insufficient attention is paid in the West to the ISIS’s creeping expansion in Libya, where the jihadis are focusing on capturing oil fields, as in Syria. The head of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, Gen. Vincent Stewart, disclosed Tuesday that at least 20 terrorist organizations in Egypt, Libya and Algeria had recently joined ISIS.
  • Hamas is arming Sinai Islamist terrorists
    Egyptian security officials Wednesday accused Hamas in the Gaza Strip of continuing to supply Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, the Islamic State’s Sinai terrorist offshoot, with arms – including Grad missiles. The weapons are reaching Sinai from Gaza through the Palestinian smuggling tunnels.

Jordan executes two al Qaeda terrorists in revenge for pilot burned alive by ISIS

4 Feb. At dawn Wednesday, Feb. 4, Jordan executed the Iraqi woman terrorist Sajida al-Rishawi, who was offered to ISIS to save the life of the pilot Lt. Mu’ath al Kassasbeh, along with another al Qaeda terrorist Ziad Karbouli. Since the Islamic State released the video showing the young pilot burned alive in a cage, Jordanian army and security forces have been on full-scale alert in case ISIS retaliates for the executions by activating its many sleeper cells for strikes in Jordanian cities. The jihadist organization has a following among young Jordanians as well the large Iraqi, Palestinian and Syrian communities living as refugees in the Hashemite Kingdom.
debkafile’s counter-terrorism sources report that this latest turn of events has plunged King Abdullah and Al Qaeda’s ISIS into a deathly cycle of revenge, with the Islamic State predicted to launch a bloody campaign to destabilize the monarchy. This could bring the bloodshed right up to Israel’s eastern border, on the one hand, while, on the other, tightening security and intelligence cooperation between the two neighbors to safeguard the Hashemite throne.

February 5, 2015 Briefs

  • Ya’alon on first visit by Israeli defense minister to India
    Moshe Ya’alon will be the first Israeli defense minister to pay an official visit to India, according to a communiqué issued Thursday in Tel Aviv and New Delhi. His visit, during which he will open the Israeli pavilion at the Bangalore arms fair, is another sign of the warming relations between the two countries since Narendra Modi was elected prime minister of India. Large arms transactions shelved until then are now moving forward.

US coalition against ISIS is fraying. Four Arab partners mull withdrawal over Iran’s involvement

5 Feb. The UAE suspended its participation in the US-led coalition against ISIS in Iraq after the capture of Jordanian pilot Lt. Mu’ath al Kassasbeh by the Islamic State revealed the absence of personnel and facilities on hand for rescuing coalition air crews falling into enemy hands. The Jordanian pilot was subsequently burned alive. debkafile: The UAE contributed the largest and most modern air force in the Gulf region. But the entire coalition is fraying over the profound concern of four Gulf Arab participants over the expanding US cooperation with Iran in the Iraq arena.

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