A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Jan. 9, 2014

January 3, 2013 Briefs

  • Young Palestinian girl stabs an Israeli border guard
    The 16-year old Palestinian girl from Jabel Mekaber, Jerusalem, was detained Friday as she stabbed an Israeli border guard near Damascus Gate. He was slightly hurt.
  • After five hours with Netanyahu, John Kerry meets FM Lieberman
    US Secretary of State John Kerry spent five hours talking to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Thursday night, followed by a conversation with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and a meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
  • Successful test of long-range Arrow 3 missile interceptor
    Israel in partnership with the US Missile Defense Authority performed a successful test, its second, early Friday on the Arrow 3 missile interceptor. A new version of the system was put through its paces in and outside the atmosphere to test improvements adapted to future challenges to Israel’s security. debkafile adds: The system is designed to intercept and destroy a hostile ballistic missile heading for Israel close to its launching pad. The Arrow 3 will be operational in 2016.

Al Qaeda defeats Iraq army, invades Ramadi and Falluja

3 Jan. Al Qaeda fighters marched into the key Iraqi towns of Falluja and Ramadi Friday, Jan. 3, after resoundingly defeating a major Iraqi army offensive. Their victory was aided by Sunni tribes of Western Iraq. The Iraqi-Syrian branch of al Qaeda (ISIS) has gained a territorial chain of control stretching from Ramadi, 100 km west of Baghdad, to Al-Raqqah in northern Syria.

January 4, 2013 Briefs

  • Al Qaeda proclaims first Islamic state from Iraqi Falluja
    Al Qaeda of Iraq Friday night decreed Falluja the capital of a new independent caliphate, and continued to push into another western Sunni town, Ramadi against fleeing Iraqi soldiers.
  • Lebanese al Qaeda-linked organization leader dies in prison
    Majid-al-Majid, head of the al Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades, was reported by the Lebanese army Saturday to have died in prison five days after his arrest. His group was held responsible for bomb attacks on the Iranian embassy in Beirut and Hizballah strongholds, as well as rocket attacks on northern Israel. He was arrested in Beirut on Dec. 30, on his return from signing in Syria a cooperation pact providing the Nusra Front with logistical facilities at Abdullah Azzam strongholds in S. Lebanon near the Israeli border. Sources in Beirut suspect either Hizballah contrived his death or he took his own life rather than be handed over to Hizballah and Iranian interrogators.

January 5, 2013 Briefs

  • Prague police find 20 weapons in Palestinian envoy’s home
    Twenty weapons, pistols and submachine guns, were found at the residence of the Palestinian ambassador Jamal al-Jamal in Prague after his death in a safe explosion on Wednesday, Czech Police President Martin Červíček reported. Genetic and ballistic tests are underway assisted by bomb disposal experts to determine if the weapons were used to commit a crime in the Czech Republic.
  • Maliki vows to recapture Falluja from al Qaeda
    In a televised speech to the nation Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki vowed to recover Falujja and other parts of Anbar Province captured by Al Qaeda in the past 48 hours. He also appealed to the Sunni politicians and tribal chiefs who back Al Qaeda’s offensive to reconsider their actions before it is too late. debkafile’s military sources report that Maliki ordered the Iraqi army’s 6th Division to advance on Falluja. There are no signs of Iraqi troops in its vicinity as yet. However, Al Qaeda’s ISIS forces are expanding their presence in Ramadi and the northern oil city of Mosul.
  • Kerry opens door for Iran’s participation in Syria parlay
    US Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday in Jerusalem: “There would be limits on Iran’s role [in the Geneva 2 conference opening on Jan.22 [for a political solution of the Syrian conflict] if Tehran did not formally accept that the goal of the conference would be to work out arrangements for a transitional authority that would govern the country if Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, could be persuaded to give up power.” debkafile: By this convoluted sentence, Kerry made room for Iran to attend.
  • Dankner’s IDF group passes to new owners
    Tel Aviv District Court Sunday approved the takeover of Israel’s largest concern, the IDB Holding Corp, from financially troubled Nochi Dankner to Moshe Ben-Moshe and Eduardo Elsztain after their financial credibility was scrutinized by experts of the Securities Authority and the official Public Receiver. IDB’s bond-holders had demanded that Dankner be removed from the concern.
  • Kerry: No US troops for Iraq to help battle Al Qaeda
    US Secretary of State John Kerry said in Jerusalem Sunday: “This is a fight that belongs to the Iraqis. We’ll do everything possible to help them” while stopping short of putting boots on the ground.

Iraq al Qaeda advances on Baghdad, claims Beirut bombing

5 Jan. Iraqi Al Qaeda (ISIS), advancing Saturday, July 4, on Baghdad from captured areas of Sunni Falluja and Ramadi, also claimed to have carried out the bombing attack Thursday, Jan. 2, on Hizballah’s political headquarters in Beirut. debkafile: Al Qaeda in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon are clearly in mid-momentum of a drive to seize footholds across a wide swathe of Middle East territory, running between three Arab capitals – Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut – and wielding a Sunni knife for slicing through the Shiite axis of Iran, Syria and the Lebanese Hizballah.

January 7, 2013 Briefs

  • The first consignment of Syrian chemical weapons is removed
    A Danish ship carried the first consignment of Syrian chemical weapons materials out of the country Tuesday from the Syrian port of Latakia, It was escorted by Russian and Chinese warships and will be destroyed aboard an American ship far out to sea in the central Mediterranean.
  • ID rescues settlers held by Palestinians after they traded blows
    The incident flared Tuesday when the Israeli civilian authority sent a team to uproot an Israeli settler’s vineyard near Nablus which his Palestinian neighbors said was planted illegally. A group of settlers set on the Palestinians from the nearby village and they traded stones. The villagers then grabbed some 30 settlers and tied them up. According to some witnesses, some of the Palestinian villagers notified the army before anyone was hurt.
  • Ambassador Shapiro: US seeks final Mid East accord
    US Ambassador Dan Shapiro reported Tuesday that US Secretary of State John Kerry would soon return to the region and was optimistic about his chances of bringing the Israelis and Palestinians to a final peace accord, even through gaps remain on all the core issues.. Shapiro referred to “new elements” in the proposed framework, introduced after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas were found in private conversations willing to take hard decisions. Kerry is now aiming not at an interim accord but a final-status agreement on all the central issues of the dispute.
  • Ya’alon: Israel ready to extend timeline for talks
    Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday that Israel is seeking Palestinian consent to extending peaces beyond the 9-month deadline set by US Secretary of State John Kerry. During a tour of the IDF Central Comment, he said Israel would accept oral Palestinian consent because they object to any written documents.
  • Afghan police hold female child would-be suicide bomber
    An Afghan child, believed 10 years old was detained in southern Afghanistan Monday wearing a suicide bomber’s vest packed with explosives. The sister of a Taliban commander, she was instructed to carry out a suicide attack on border police in Helmand province.
  • Sochi security divisions on combat alert
    From Jan. 7, all the Russian divisions responsible for ensuring the safety of guests and participants at the Olympic Winter games opening in Sochi in exactly one month have been put on combat alert, Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov announced.
  • More Palestinian attacks on Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem
    An Israeli was injured by an explosive device thrown by a Palestinian at the Rachel’s Tomb shrine in Bethlehem. A grenade exploded on an Israeli military position there without causing casualties.

Netanyahu plans a national referendum on US peace framework

7 Jan. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is planning the first popular referendum in Israel’s history for ratifying the amended peace framework proposal which US Secretary of State John Kerry is drafting for presentation in the coming weeks, debkafile reveals. The prime minister is for the first time in favor of accepting the Kerry framework and, although they don’t see eye to eye on many of the issues, he believes the gaps between them can be bridged.

Heavily armed militias rule West Bank Palestinian refugee camps

7 Jan. The rising level of Palestinian terrorism must be attributed largely to the 19 West Bank refugee camps falling into the hands of local armed militias run by a mix of terrorists, crime mobs and arms racketeers, who command big arsenals of illegal weapons, debkafile reports. The close to quarter of-a-million Palestinians living in those camps have veered out of the control of Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas and its security services. The militias’ sway is spilling over into the big Palestinian towns and the Palestinian neighborhoods of E. Jerusalem.

January 8, 2013 Briefs

  • Two US military helicopters crash separately
    A US Navy helicopter, a CH-53H Super Stallion went down in the Atlantic Ocean Wednesday, 12 miles off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia. Three crewmen were saved, one died and a fifth is missing. At the eastern seaboard of the Atlantic, another US military helicopter crashed on the same day, flying on a training exercise from a base on in northern Norfolk in Britain. The four people aboard were reported not to have survived.
  • Residents flee embattled Falluja
    The Red Crescent reported Wednesday that 13,000 families have fled the Sunni town of Falluja since Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) took control of the central Iraqi city a week ago. Vicious fighting between ISIS and the Iraqi army for control of al-Anbar Province encompasses Falluja, Ramadi and their outlying villages and roads.

January 9, 2013 Briefs

  • Five bodies shot in the head found near Sochi
    With 30,000 Russian troops already on “combat alert” for the Olympic games opening in Sochi on Feb. 7, Russian security forces Thursday uncovered five bodies of men shot in the head at Stavropol, a town 300 km east of Sochi. Bomb traps surrounding the four vehicles holding the bodies exploded as security officers approached without hurting anyone.
  • Second Israeli air strike over Gaza
    For the second time Thursday, the Israeli air force went into action against the Gaza Strip – this time striking terrorist targets in the southern town of Rafah. The Palestinians report three people injured including a child. The first strike followed a mortar attack on an Israeli border patrol. It hit a missile team near Khan Younes.

Iran blatantly defies five key Geneva Pact commitments

9 Jan. Tehran is openly installing fast IR-2m centrifuges aimed at speeding uranium enrichment, and preparing even faster machines, claiming theses actions were covered by the US-led five power recognition of Iran’s right to nuclear enrichment under the November, 2013 Geneva pact. debkafile: This group and Iran got together for a follow-up meeting Thursday, Nov. 9, in the face of the Iranian lawmaker Muhammad Nabavian’s revelation that Tehran can produce a bomb within two weeks – and a complete nuclear arsenal with the help of the new centrifuges – naming Israel as its target.

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