A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending May 4, 2006

Washington and London fund new Palestinian militia to guard Mahmoud Abbas


28 April: Abu Mazen’s new private army financed by the US and UK is described by debkafile‘s intelligence sources as built around the Force 17 presidential guard, which served the late Yasser Arafat. Its manpower will be augmented by 40% to eventually match the force controlled by Hamas.

debkafile‘s counter-terror sources note that this will be the fifth military force in a decade that the CIA and MI6 have created to buttress Palestinian government.

All four previous efforts petered out when most of the troops they trained defected to terrorist groups taking with them a large part of the military equipment they received.

According to our sources, the new force’s commander is Col. Tawfiq Tirawi, chief of Palestinian intelligence on the West Bank, a man who has worn many hats. Still a strongman of the Fatah’s al Aqsa Martyrs’ brigades, Tirawi was among the top wanted terrorists who sheltered for months under Arafat’s protection at his Ramallah headquarters.


Turkish FM Abdullah Gul: Ankara will not be drawn into US or Israel military operations against Iran


30 April: The Dubai newspaper Al Bayan (out on April 30) quotes the Turkish leader as disclosing that, during her visit to Ankara last Tuesday, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice requested the use of the Incirlik air base for an American strike against Iranian nuclear installations. She was said to have offered Turkey in return a nuclear reactor for electricity, but was turned down.

debkafile‘s military sources add: Washington’s original request was for permission to build a new air base in eastern Turkey between Lake Van and the Iranian border. From there, US bombers could have reached nuclear targets situated in northern Iran where most of its nuclear sites are thought to be concentrated.

In particular, they could have hit the top secret plant under construction at Neyshabour – first disclosed by debkafile on April 15 – to run 155,000 centrifuges, enough to enrich uranium for 3-5 nuclear bombs a year.

Turkey is motivated by four factors:

1. Ankara does not believe the US will go through with military action against Iran.

2. Gul says that with 165 nuclear sites scattered over Iran, its program is well nigh indestructible.

3. Ankara perceives the Bush administration’s domestic situation as too shaky to undertake an effective military attack on Iran.

4. Turkish actions against the radical Kurdish PKK rebel strongholds in Northern Iraq are raising tensions in Ankara-Washington relations. Especially resented is the reciprocal assistance understanding Turkey and Iran have concluded to help each fight the Iraq-based Turkish PKK and the anti-Tehran People’s Mujaheedeen. Both Turkey and Iran have massed forces on their borders with northern Iraq.


30 April: Former defense minister Moshe Arens urges Israeli reoccupation of N. Gaza Strip to halt Palestinian al Qassam offensive


The Mubarak-Abdullah Aqaba summit dominated by extreme concern over branching out of Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s network


30 April: The Egyptian and Jordanian rulers, accompanied by their intelligence chiefs, met urgently Saturday, April 29, to discuss the threat to regional stability posed by the al Qaeda in Iraq’s chief’s stepped-up operations in Egypt, Sinai, the Palestinian territories, Israel and Jordan.

debkafile‘s sources report Israel was not invited to the summit, although squarely in Zarqawi’s sights, because its new leaders show scant interest in the encroachment of his cells right up to Israel’s borders.

Following last Tuesday’s tripling bombing of the Dahab Sinai resort, cause of at least 34 deaths, large-scale Egyptian special forces conducted sweeps of terrorist bases in Sinai. Friday night, April 28, Zarqawi’s cell in Gaza announced it is waiting for the final signal to execute the order received in mid-week to “revive the traditional sacrifice of apostates” against four Palestinian targets.

They are identified as Fatah followers of Mahmoud Abbas: former interior minister and Gaza strongman Muhammad Dahlan, prominent West Bank figure Yasser Abd Rabbo, deputy chief of Gaza’s Preventive Security Service Samir Mashrawi, and Abu Ali Shihin, an old Yasser Arafat crony from Rafah.


Israel‘s marks its 58th year of independence with 7,020 million citizens – nearly 9 times its population in year one


1 May: Seventy-six percent are Jews, 20 percent Arabs and 4 percent immigrants. The population grew by 118,000 in the outgoing year.

Altogether 22,123 men and women lost their lives in wars and terrorist attacks since the birth of the state. They are mourned Tuesday, May 2, the national Day of Remembrance for the Fallen. As Israel prepares to celebrate its Independence Day Wednesday, 80 threats of attack are filed by Palestinian terrorist organizations, placing security forces on high alert.


Special operations units of Egypt intelligence corps beef up troops battling al Qaeda Sinai stronghold


2 May: debkafile‘s military sources reveal that despite comprehensive sweeps with casualties on both sides, Egyptian forces have not been able to capture al Qaeda hard core leaders. The main battle has been raging three days against the fortified terrorist stronghold on Jebel Magharah, 22km SW of El Arish and west of a former al Qaeda base on Jebel Hilal (alt. 654 meters). Signals passed among the troops describe the operation as the “Tora Bora of Sinai,” naming it after the fierce epic US-al Qaeda engagement in Afghanistan three years ago.

Egypt launched a large-scale clean-up operation against al Qaeda’s various Sinai bases last week after three bomb blasts killed at least 34 people at the Sinai resort of Dahab Tuesday. They are also reported to be raiding more new al Qaeda havens around St. Catherine’s monastery and Wadi Faran in the south.


New uranium deposits found in central Iran. Tehran again threatens Israel


2 May: The new sites of “economically viable” uranium deposits were found in central Iran’s Khoshoomi region, Charchooleh and Narigan. Iran’s principle source until now had been the Saghand mine, near Kashan, which has a reported capacity of 132,000 tons of ore a year.

debkafile‘s sources say the Saghand ore is of poor quality, not up to supporting the six to eight nuclear reactors president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a month ago claimed Iran aspires to build in the next two decades. The discovery reduces the Islamic Republic’s dependence on outside sources which could be susceptible to American pressure.

Regarding potential US military action, Revolutionary Guards commander Rear Admiral Mohammad-Ebrahim Dehqani said Tuesday: Whenever America does something evil, “the first place that we target will be Israel.”

debkafile‘s Iranian sources add: Tehran will very soon add 400 advanced P-2 centrifuges to the 1.600 already in place. This would be a giant leap forward as the P-2 type could triple or quadruple the speed of enrichment and accelerate progress towards the production of a bomb.

Our sources add: Week by week, a hitherto concealed breakthrough in Iran’s nuclear program comes to light. The cumulative effect is a build-up towards a militarization process that at some point will become irreversible – unless it is stopped. Iranian progress to that point appears to be accelerating.


Israel‘s top soldier says “the world” is capable militarily of stopping Iran’s military program


Asked in interviews marking Israel’s Remembrance Day for the Fallen about Israel’s involvement in a potential military operation, the chief of staff Lt -Gen Dan Halutz said: “We are part of the world.” He warned that Iran armed with a nuclear capability would constitute a threat to Israel’s existence.

In the Order of the Day he posted for the IDF Tuesday, he said the Iranian president’s refusal to recognize Israel’s right to live (in the region) as an independent state must not be treated lightly.

Halutz voiced opposition to re-occupying the Gaza Strip to stop Palestinian Qassam missile attacks. In his view, the price Israel would pay for re-entry would be much greater than any success in stopping the missiles.


Israel holds first state ceremony honoring the Jews murdered in terrorist and anti-Semitic acts outside the country


The memory of 200 Jews who have died since 1968 was marked at the World Zionist Organization main office. A memorial candle was lit by the parents of Joel Olcher, Turkish citizens, who was killed in the 2003 al Qaeda attacks on Istanbul’s synagogues.


Abu Mazen’s new Fatah militia performs exhibition exercises in Gaza Wednesday


3 May: The 2,000-strong expanded Force 17 set up to guard Mahmoud Abbas is funded by Washington and London – as debkafile reported on April 28.

The new militia is intended to stand up to the Hamas’s military wing Ezz a-din al-Qassam’s roughly 6,000 men.

debkafile adds: The Palestinian Authority’s financial straits notwithstanding, these two forces are paid regular wages. So too are the members of the terrorist umbrella group, the Palestinian Resistance Committees, which derives funds from various sources including criminal activities to pay its 4-5,000 members.

The 6,000-strong Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a branch of Abu Mazen’s Fatah group, covers its payroll mainly with the help of the Lebanese Hizballah and Iran, while the Palestinian Jihad Islami (1,000) relies on assistance from Iran and Syria. Both these groups engage in regular terrorist operations against Israel.

Consequently, up to an estimated 20,000 active terrorists earn a regular income and are able to support their typically large families in the Gaza Strip and West Bank – an estimated 150,000 individuals.

This payroll does not extend to employees of the public sector, or members of the Palestinian population who are not in the employ of a terrorist group. Some are engaged in private enterprises, commerce or farming. But the World Bank recently warned that if international assistance continues to be withheld from the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, some 75% of the Palestinian population will fall below the minimal poverty line and lack essential needs.


Outstanding soldier refuses to shake hand of chief of staff at citation ceremony


3 May: Sgt. Hananel Dayan, of the Armored Corps 188th Brigade, declined to shake the hand of Lt.-Gen Dan Halutz, because he remembered the military tractor that demolished his grandfather’s home in Neve Dekalim, Gush Katif last year. The chief of staff handed certificates of exceptional merit to 120 IDF members at an Independence Day ceremony Wednesday.

debkafile adds: Sgt. Dayan was not the only person present to voice disapproval of last September’s wholesale evacuation of Israel’s civilian and military presence from the Gaza Strip.

President Katzav voiced this sentiment more obliquely when he complained that the gap between the Palestinians and Israel had widened rather than narrowed as a result of Israel’s epic concessions. Not only do they reject negotiations, they deny our right to exist.

At another event, the president called for a referendum on the incoming prime minister Ehud Olmert`s plan to relocate some West Bank settlements into blocs.


Israeli navy alerted by suspect Palestinian fishing boat


4 May: The boat from Gaza was sighted nearing the Israeli port of Ashkelon. The crew threw weapons and large bags overboard when an Israeli naval patrol approached. Israeli seamen boarded the boat and had it towed into the naval base at Ashdod port. The crew is under interrogation on suspicion of heading for a terror attack on the southern town of Ashkelon, which was crowded with Independence Day holiday trippers. The water is being dragged for the bags and weapons


Olmert’s 25-member coalition government presented Thursday


4 May: In his opening remarks, the incoming PM told the Knesset that Israel’s borders will be different from the current lines after some Jewish locations on the West Bank are evacuated and relocated in main blocs.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email