A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending July 5, 2007

Britain raises security level to highest rating of “critical” Saturday after blazing jeep smashed into Glasgow terminal in Scotland’s first terrorist attack


 


30 June: Home secretary says this rating means further attacks expected “imminently” in United Kingdom.


The Glasgow attack coincided with the Queen’s opening of the new Scottish parliament session in Edinburgh on Saturday. It occurred the day after the new Gordon Brown government took office in London. The second Cobra emergency team meeting was in progress chaired by new home secretary Jacqui Smith. Brown led another Cobra session Saturday night.


 


Right of appeal to Libyan agent partly influenced by suspicions that Iran and Syria, not Libya, planned 1988 Lockerbie bombing


 


30 June: June 28, the Scottish Criminal Cases Commission granted former Libyan agent Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, serving a 27-year sentence, the right to appeal his conviction six years ago for planning the attack, saying the “applicant may have suffered a miscarriage of justice.”


debkafile‘s counter-terror sources disclose the Scottish commission’s decision was influenced by the increasing conviction of Western intelligence experts that Iran and Syria, not Libya, may have planned the bombing disaster, using a Palestinian terrorist group for the operation. Tehran may have been acting in retaliation for the an incident five months earlier in July 1988 when the USS Vincennes destroyer shot down an Iranian passenger flight over the Persian Gulf with missiles, killing 290 passengers and crew.


 


Where Were the Explosive Materials in the London Bomb Cars?


 


30 June: Scotland Yard described 60 liters of gasoline, gas canisters and nails found in the two Mercedes, which would have cost many lives had they exploded.


But not a word was said about any actual bombs or explosive materials, a mechanism for igniting the inflammable materials or a trigger mechanism that should have been present for activation by remote dialing to the suspect cell phone.


The mobile telephone device for blowing up explosive charges was devised by the Palestinian Mohammad Dahlan in 2000 as a terrorist weapon par excellence against civilians. The Fatah members under his command used it for a long, deadly series of bus blasts in Israeli towns and on its highways.


While the devices in the London cars were primitive, the tactical planning of the London plot showed craft and forethought. The two Mercedes reached the targeted district when hordes of people were leaving places of entertainment. British intelligence was not forewarned.


 


Israeli Defense Official Highlights Israel’s Inadequacies in Face of Iranian Threat


 


3 July: Israel’s armed forces are not prepared to handle threats from Iran for lack of requisite funding from the Ehud Olmert government, said Moshe Sneh upon handing over the post of deputy defense minister to his successor, Ret. Gen. Matan Vilnai.


He maintained that international economic sanctions have failed to deflect Iran from its quest for the ultimate threat – a failure which has put the military option on the table.


Sneh dismissed the notion that Israel and the United States were closely coordinated militarily regarding Iran. “There is no coordination on an operational level between the Israel and US militaries on Iran,” he said.


Bush has said that all options, including military action, remain on the table. But, said Sneh, “If sanctions had been adopted more firmly and quickly, we may not have needed to talk about other options.”


This assertion made him the first Israeli official to outspokenly declare that international sanctions were not working.


The outgoing minister pointed up the deplorable condition of home front defenses one year after the Lebanon War – not only in the north but also in central Israeli cities.


He thus dispelled the impression conveyed by Olmert and his ministers that Israel has nothing to worry about from Iran because military coordination with the US is solid.


 


US counter-terror authorities fear major campaign in Europe


 


2 July: debkafile counter-terror sources report that ten days ago, the US gave the Czech government specific warning of large-scale al Qaeda terrorist attacks in Prague, targeting government buildings, the US embassy, American firms and Jewish and Israel locations in the Czech capital. All American missions and military facilities in Europe were placed on alert.


France, Germany, Italy, Denmark and Spain have also tightened their anti-terror precautions.


Our sources add that the London and Glasgow bombing attempts took the Americans by surprise. They had expected the jihadists to strike elsewhere in Europe.


Security has been tightened at US airports and transport systems ahead of the Fourth of July holiday and New York stepped up security at airports, rail stations, tourist spots and crowd centers after the botched attacks in Britain.


 


First explicit US charge: Iran’s RG Qods Brigade helped plan January Karbala attack which left five American soldiers dead


 


2 July: US military spokesman Brig. Gen Kevin J. Bergner also accused Tehran Monday of using the Lebanese Shiite Hizballah as a proxy to arm and train Shiite insurgents in Iraq.


He disclosed that captured insurgents had admitted senior officers of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards al Qods unit, in charge of terrorist operations abroad, had had pre-knowledge and supported the attack on the Karbala governate compound by assailants posing convincingly as American soldiers.


Gen. Bergner disclosed a senior Lebanese Hibzallah operative, Ali Mussa Dakdouk, captured on March 20 in southern Iraq, was liaison between the Iranian al Qods and a breakaway wing of the Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr’s Mehdi Army militia. That group, which is led by Qais al-Kazaali, carried out the Karbala attack.


 


UN Spanish peacekeepers buy covert Hizballah protection with intelligence on Israeli military movements


 


2 July: debkafile reveals a clandestine approach to Hizballah commanders in Beirut made by officers of the Spanish UN contingent, after the loss of six members in a terrorist attack last Sunday, June 24. The Spanish peacekeepers offered Hizballah intelligence and military collaboration in return for protection.


Monday, July 2, Israeli marks the first anniversary of the Second Lebanon War in which 114 Israeli soldiers and 43 civilians lost their lives and two servicemen were abducted as a result of Hizballah attacks from Lebanon.


That war ended in August, 2006, when Israel and Hizballah accepted a ceasefire under UN Security Council resolution 1701. It was secured by a newly-expanded UN force in S. Lebanon, which was mandated to distance Hizballah from the Israeli border and monitor the region to prevent the Shiite militia from returning, re-arming and redeploying rockets.


debkafile‘s Israeli military sources say that the Spaniards negotiated their secret arrangement behind the backs of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UNIFIL Lebanon commander Gen. Claudio Graziano. It violates UNIFIL’s mandate and has already encouraged other contingents to follow suit, thereby starting the disintegration of the entire UN Resolution 1701 regime for the Lebanon ceasefire.


Such undercover deals with Hizballah also bolster its active pro-Syrian and pro-Iranian campaign to destabilize the pro-Western Fouad Siniora government in Beirut.


 


BBC reporter Alan Johnston is freed in Gaza from 114 days as hostage in hands of Al Qaida’s Army of Islam.


 


4 July: Gaza-Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh appearing at a joint news conference with Johnston in Gaza said he hoped now to secure freedom of Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit in an “honorable deal for the release of our heroes.”


When Johnston was asked who kidnapped him and why, he said: It was a small group with a jihadi agenda who were not really interested in Israel and Palestinians but wanted to get their knife into Britain for some reason. His answer was quickly cut off by British voices saying: We must get on.


debkafile reports that for three days, Hamas’ Executive Force held to siege the Sabra compound in Gaza where the Durmush clan, heads of the Army of Islam, was holding Alan Johnston. After midnight, each side released the hostages seized from the other. Hamas handed over two members of the Durmush clan, while the Army of Islam released nine members of Hamas Executive Force and then the BBC reporter.


Obtaining Johnston’s freedom is a tremendous boost for the Hamas regime in Gaza and a step towards European recognition led by Britain. Last Thursday, June 28, debkafile reported that ex-prime minister Tony Blair had promised Russian president Vladimir Putin to start a dialogue with the Hamas government. This pledge brought him Moscow’s support for his appointment as the Middle East Quartet’s special envoy.


Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal told European officials last week that, whereas Gilead Shalit had been an important asset for his movement during the year after his abduction in June, 2006, since its takeover of Gaza, the Israeli captive had become a liability. In recent meetings with would-be mediators, including a Norwegian team, Hamas representatives submitted a reduced list of a few hundred Hamas operatives in Israeli jails as the price for Gilead Shalit. Johnston’s release should lend new impetus to the efforts to free the Israeli soldier. So far, the Israeli government including its special adviser on prisoners, Ofer Dekel, has not been directly involved in these efforts.


 


Syrian troops enter Lebanon, fortify positions three miles past border


 


July 5: Lebanese security sources report the intruding force backed by bulldozers has taken up position near Yanta in east Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley and is digging hundreds of trenches and bunkers in more than one area along the Lebanese border. This explains why Syria Wednesday reopened the Joussia-Qaa border post. Damascus-backed Palestinian radicals have been fighting Lebanese troops for close to two months in the still unresolved battle of Nahr al-Bared near Tripoli.

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