A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending March 12, 2015

March 6, 2015 Briefs

  • Islamic State on destructive rampage in Nimrod after Mosul
    The Islamic State has taken bulldozers and sledgehammers to the ancient Assyrian structures, statues and artifacts in the archeological city of Nimord in northern Iraq, founded by the Assyrian King Shalamansar I in 1200 BCE. Last week, ISIS barbarians videotaped themselves destroying priceless relics in Mosul Museum and the Nergal Gate to ancient Nineveh.
  • Nusra Front chief confirmed killed in Syrian air strike
    Syria's al-Nusra Front confirms that its leader, Abu Hamam al-Shami was killed with three other leaders by a targeted Syrian air strike. Nusra was involved in a major attack on the Air Force Intelligence headquarters in the embattled city of Aleppo Wednesday.

Five injured by Palestinian car crashing into Israel female police officers in Jerusalem

6 Mar. A Palestinian terrorist at the wheel of a car ploughed into a group of female police officers Friday, Feb. 6, injuring four. They were on duty for the Purim festival on northern Jerusalem’s Route One near the police and border guard headquarters. When police began closing in, the terrorist jumped out of the car brandishing a meat cleaver to attack bystanders. He was shot and seriously injured by the border guard. Vandals later damaged Jewish tombstones at the ancient Mount of Olives cemetery.

March 7, 2015 Briefs

  • Mysterious White House blast came from suspicious vehicle
    A suspicious vehicle spotted by a Secret Service dog and a loud explosion some blocks from the White House triggered a security alert and lockdown at the presidential residence Saturday. The incident delayed the departure of President Obama and family for Selma, Alabama. They traveled by motorcade to Joint Base Andrews instead of helicopter.
  • Egyptian air strikes kill 25 Islamist terrorists in northern Sinai
    Egyptian security sources reported Friday that air raids hit two houses south of the northern Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid killing 10 members of Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, which has called itself Sinai Province after joining ISIS. Egyptian air strikes Thursday killed 15 terrorists in the same town.
  • Iraqi forces with US air support retake parts of Al-Baghdad town
    The strategic town of Al-Baghdadi in the western Iraqi province of Anbar was recaptured from ISIS by Iraqi armed forces fighting with US air support and local tribes.The town is close to the Al Asad air base where 400 US military personnel are training Iraqi troops for battle. ISIS has tried repeatedly to capture the base but was thrown back.

US and Israeli intelligence at sharp odds on Iran’s breakout time to a bomb

7 Mar. US and Israeli intelligence experts sharply disagree on the time Iran needs for breakout to a nuclear bomb. The Americans cite one year between a decision by Tehran to cross from nuclear threshold to nuclear bomb – enough time for preventive action; the Israelis say much less and, anyway, US and Israeli can’t be sure to catch the Iranians at it in time to stop its advance to a nuclear weapon. Saudi Arabia, fellow Gulf States and Egypt are no more convinced than Israel that the one-year timeline is realistic.

March 8, 2015 Briefs

  • Chad and Niger launch offensive against Boko Haram in Nigeria
    An air and ground campaign was launched Sunday by Niger and Chad against Boko Haram strongholds in northeastern Nigerian Borno state, shortly after the Islamist terrorists pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. ISIS. Boko Haram’s murderous violence increasingly spills over into neighboring states.
  • Obama suggests a deal with Iran is imminent
    In an interview Sunday to CBS News “Face the Nation,” US President Barack Obama said gaps still remained for negotiators to bridge before a nuclear deal with Iran, but intimated that agreement on the framework accord was “imminent.” The deal he referred to would limit Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium so that it would take a year to break out to a bomb, time enough for international inspectors to verify violations. In exchange the world powers would ease sanctions. The deal would last at least 10 years before its expiry. Obama’s comments were partly intended as a rejoinder to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s criticism of the deal.
  • Netanyahu: US shifted from preventing nuclear Iran to containment
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told CBS News Face the Nation Sunday that the US had shifted its policy from preventing a nuclear-armed Iran to containing one. He was referring to reports that the US may offer Arab nations in the Middle East a “nuclear umbrella” as protection from a nuclear-threshold Iran, in exchange for guarantees that they won’t seek similar technology themselves.
  • Saudi King Salman invites Pakistani PM Sharif for urgent visit
    The Saudi King wants Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Riyadh to confirm their strategic accord – especially its secret nuclear dimension – before the US and Iran finalize their nuclear deal. debkafile: Rather than trusting an American nuclear umbrella, the Saudis have made advance nuclear arrangements of their own with Pakistan.

March 9, 2015 Briefs

  • Four arrests in connection with terror attacks in Paris
    French police have arrested four suspected associates of Amedy Coulibali, the terrorist who killed four Jews in a kosher grocery and a Paris policewoman last January. Among them is a female police officer who converted to Islam and a man who is believed to have met with Coulibaly shortly before the attack.
  • Republican lawmakers: Nuclear deal won’t last without congress’s signoff
    Forty-seven US Republican senators warned Iran's leaders on Monday that a nuclear deal needs congressional approval to survive past President Barack Obama's term. Without congressional approval, the senators pointed out, Tehran would be left with an “executive agreement” between President Obama and Iran’s leaders, which the next president could revoke with a stroke of a pen.
  • Three Egyptian soldiers killed by roadside bomb in Sinai
    The bomb planted by the ISIS-affiliated Ansar Bait al-Maqdis killed three Egyptian soldiers and wounded another in Sinai, shortly before an investment conference takes place at Sharm el-Sheikh.
  • “All of the Mid East is Iranian” – presidential adviser in Tehran
    Top presidential adviser Ali Younesi said Monday that Iran is once again an empire whose influence extends to Iraq and beyond. Responding to Saudi alarm over Iran’s takeover of Iraq, Younesi, a former intelligence minister, said, “The geography of Iran and Iraq cannot be divided. All of the Middle East is Iranian.”
  • Two Australian teens intercepted on way to join ISIS
    The boys, aged 16 and 17, were stopped trying to pass through Sydney airport customs on suspicion of being on their way to join the Islamic State in a “conflict zone.” They were released in the custody of their parents. Australia estimates that 90 of its citizens are fighting with IS in Syria and Iraq, some like the boys radicalized online.

Iranian general on groundbreaking visit to Amman

9 Mar. debkafile reveals exclusively that Gen. Qassem Soleiman, commander of the Revolutionary Guards elite Al Qods Brigades, paid a groundbreaking visit last Thursday, March 5, to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as guest of Gen. Faisal Al-Shoulbaki, director of General Intelligence, a trusted adviser to King Abdullah II. The visit, encouraged by the Obama administration’s policies, showed one of America’s oldest Sunni Arab allies recognizing trending Mid East reality to jump the lines over to Tehran. Iran’s grab for influence is reaching from four capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Sanaa, Beirut to a fifth, Amman.

March 10, 2015 Briefs

  • Dempsey: War on ISIS is “going fine” but hindered by Iraqi divisions
    Top US soldier Gen. Martin Dempsey concluded his short trip to Iraq Monday, telling reporters in Bahrain that “ISIS is under pressure in almost every corner of Iraq” and the military aspect of the campaign is on course and “going fine,” but it will be difficult to sustain the coalition for the continuing “trans-regional challenge” unless the Iraqi government forms a national unity platform which upheld the rights of its sunni Arab and Kurdish communities.
  • Suicide bombing kills 2 Egyptian troops, injures, 24 in Sinai
    Two Egyptian soldiers were killed and 24 injured when a water tanker packed with explosives was driven by a suicide bomber into a security compound near in El Arish in northern Sinai early Tuesday.
  • Obama hits back at senators’ letter to Iran
    US President Barack Obama accused the 47 Republican senators of "interfering" in ongoing nuclear talks following their warning to Tehran in an open letter that without congressional approval the nuclear deal the president is about to sign could be revoked by the next president. Obama mocked the group of senators, saying they were making "unusual coalition" with Iran's hard-line religious leaders. Vice President Joe Biden added his voice to Obama’s and called the letter dangerous.

ISIS executes Israeli Arab from Jerusalem as a “Mossad spy”

10 Mar. The Islamic State has put to death an Israeli Arab for the first time. A video tape released by the jihadists showed Said Ismail Musallem, aged 19, from Beit Haninah, East Jerusalem, shot in the head Tuesday March 10 by a 12-year old boy clad in ISIS uniform. He was condemned as an alleged spy for the Israeli external security service, the Mossad. The boy and the terrorist standing beside him were later identified as French nationals. The man, who issued a warning to French Jews, is believed to be the half-brother of the French jihadi gunman Mohammad Merah, who killed three Jewish students and a teacher in Toulouse in 2012 after shooting dead three French soldiers.

Palestinian forces detain 500 Hamas West Bankers, to thwart coup and Abbas assassination plot

10 Mar. On the orders of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian special forces raided all nine PA-ruled West Bank towns in the past 48 hours and detained 500 Hamas suspects, debkafile reports. Abbas had discovered that Hamas had been hatching a plot for some weeks for an armed uprising against the Palestinian Authority, starting in one of the Palestinian towns – possibly even the PA capital of Ramallah – and assassinate him in the process.
At the same time, because Abbas does not entirely trust Palestinian security services to safeguard him, he turned to Israel, which responded by deploying 3,000 IDF soldiers plus 10,000 reservists on the West Bank in case it became necessary to go into Palestinian towns and prevent their capture by the radical Hamas and Jihad Islami.

March 12, 2015 Briefs

  • IDF on alert for coordinated ISIS assault on Eilat or vicinity
    The commander of the IDF’s 80th Division, Col. Arik Hen, Thursday announced a military deployment to fend off a large-scale coordinated attack on Israel's southernmost town of Eilat, which the Islamic State is believed to be planning with speedboats and aquatic motor bikes combined with an overland incursion and rocket bombardment from Egyptian Sinai. Israeli troops are also ranged on Route 12 north of Eilat and the civilian locales along the highway in case they too come under jihadi attack.
  • The Kremlin reports Putin in good health
    The Kremlin Thursday dismissed rumors that President Vladimir Putin was ill after he canceled a trip to Kazakhstan. The rumors flying through the Russian Internet claimed in fact that the 62-year old Russian leader had suddenly died.
  • Khamenei: US is known for backstabbing
    ran's Supreme Leader Thursday slammed an open letter by US Republican senators warning that no nuclear deal would last without congressional approval. He was worried, he said, because “the United States is known for backstabbing.” At a meeting attended by President Hassan Rouhani and senior clerics, Ali Khamenei remarked: "Every time we reach a stage where the end of the negotiations is in sight, the tone of the other side, specifically the Americans, becomes harsher, coarser and tougher. This is the nature of their tricks and deceptions."

Netanyahu is running out of time for re-election

12 Mar. Five days before Israel’s voting day, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appears weary and, behind his controlled façade, shocked to discover that his Likud may actually be thrown out of office on March 17. Yitzhak’s Zionist Camp is overtaking Likud in the opinion polls – not by much but consistently. When the gap reached four Knesset seats, Netanyahu bestirred himself belatedly to go stumping across the country. He hasn’t lost the race yet, but he will need to pull out all the stops and some rabbits out of his hat to pull ahead.

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