A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending October 18, 2012
October 12, 2012 Briefs
Khamenei: Iran’s readiness will deter Western invasion
During a visit to an army base in northeastern Iran Friday, Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran would never give into to foreign attacks or any act of aggression. IRGC chief Gen. Ai Jafari said his naval and missile forces are on strategic readiness – a new Iranian term.
Turkish fighters attack Syrian helicopter near border
debkafile: In another step towards enforcing a buffer strip inside Syria, Turkish fighters Friday attacked a Syrian helicopter bombing rebel positions in the village of Azmarin near the Turkish border. This attack brought the Turkish Air Force closer to a clash with the Syrian air force over the control of Syrian air space. The Syrian army deployed advanced surface-to-air missiles along the northern border district of Akkar, in case Turkish planes strike from Lebanon.
Panetta warns cyberthreat is escalating
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Thursday that recent electronic attacks in US and abroad – that have been tied to Iran – demonstrate the need for a more aggressive military role in defense and to retaliate against organized groups or hostile governments, That is especially the case if electric grids, water systems, transportation networks an other critical functions are targeted. "This is a pre-9/11 moment," he said in a speech in New York. "The attackers are plotting." Panetta described recent efforts to disable 10 US bank websites and an attack in July on Saudi Arabia’s Aramco with a virus called Shamoon that replaced data with burning American flags.
IDF on guard for Iranian-Hizballah drones flying in from Gaza
12 Oct. Hassan Nasrallah’s threat Thursday night of more UAV’s over Israel aroused concern in the Israeli high command that Iranian drones had been smuggled into the hands of the Palestinian Hamas extremists ruling the Gaza Strip. The Hizballah leader implied that Tehran or Hizballah might ask Hamas to release drones over Israel, possibly in coordination with UAV intrusions from Lebanon. All three would celebrate a double drone shot as a major feat against the Zionist enemy – especially after the successful Iranian drone incursion last Saturday.
October 13, 2012 Briefs
Syria closes its air space to Turkish flights
The state-run SANA news agency reported Saturday night that Syria had decided to ban Turkish Airlines flights from its airspace.
Israel denies reported fleeing Hizballah official’s arrival with $5 m of Iranian funds
Israeli sources denied the Lebanese media report citing Hizballah officials as saying that Hussein Fahs, a 29-year old telecommunications engineer from south Lebanon, had crossed into Israel carrying $5 m embezzled Iranian aid funds well as classified documents and maps.
Israel’s Gaza air strike killed top Al Qaeda-linked Salafi terror leader for Sinai and Gaza
debkafile’s counter-terror sources report that one of the two al Qaeda-linked killed in Gaza Saturday by the Israeli air force was Hisham Saidni, an Egyptian who was top chief of the main Salafi Jihad organization in Sinai and Gaza, the “Shura Council of the Jihad Warriors in the Environs of Jerusalem."
Car bomb kills at least 15 people in NW Pakistan town bordering Afghanistan
Another 30 people were injured when the bomb went off outside the offices of pro-government elders in Darra Adam Khel, which is famous for its weapons markets selling home-made guns. Local elders formed peace committees to evict insurgents and support the authorities.
Israeli air force strikes three Gazan terrorist targets
A Palestinian Grad rocket exploded between two residential buildings in Netivot Friday night. The second attack in a week caused damage. Three shock victims were hospitalized. Turning to the government, the Netivot mayor said his town would not be a “second Sderot.”
Panetta: Iranian cyber attacks are spreading
13 Oct. An Iranian cyber offensive has hit US banks, Israeli military defenses, Saudi oil and Qatari gas websites. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the US will retaliate for a “cyber Pearl Harbor.” The Wall Street Journal reports 100 Iranian hackers are conducting the offensive. debkafile: Tehran is telling Washington that US-led sanctions will be punished in kind and further pressure on Syria’s Bashar Assad will be met with assaults on Israel’s military or even nuclear sites. Without counter-action, Iran will keep going.
In America, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan revealed that Iran already possesses enough fissile material to make five nuclear bombs. The cat was finally out of the bag after years in which American and Israeli leaders contrived to keep this secret dark. He was probably briefed by former ambassador to the UN John Bolton whom our sources learn is tabbed as National Security Adviser if Mitt Romney wins the White House.
October 14, 2012 Briefs
Second Israeli air strike Sunday targets Palestinian rocket team
The two men killed near the central Gaza town of Deir el Balakh Sunday had earlier fired Qassam rockets at the Eshkol and Kissufim regions. Six terrorists were killed by Israeli air attacks in Gaza in the last two days, high-profile members of an Al Qaeda-linked Salafi group operating in Gaza and Sinai and the hardline Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. More than 500 Palestinian rockets and mortar rounds were fired at southwestern Israel from Gaza this year.
Turkey bars Syrian civilian flights
Turkey’s foreign minister says the country has barred its air space to Syrian civilian flights because they were being abused by transporting military equipment.
Zawahiri urges more opposition to “American crusader Zionist aggression”
In a videotape released Friday, Al Qaeda’s leader Ayman Zawahiri praised last month’s assault on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed four diplomats. He called on the “zealots for Islam” who attacked the US consulate in Libya and protested against the Prophet film to “continue their opposition to the American crusader Zionist aggression.”
October 15, 2012 Briefs
Tehran: Hizballah to soon show UAV photos of Dimona nuclear reactor
Iranian security sources reported Monday that Hizballah will very soon publish detailed photographs of Israel’s nuclear reactor shot by the UAV which intruded in Israel’s air space Saturday, Oct. 6.
Egypt: Israel warns us of imminent attacks in Sinai
An Egyptian security official on Monday acknowledged that Israel had relayed a security notification warning Cairo of imminent attacks in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula by local terrorist groups.
The EU tightens sanctions on Iran
EU foreign ministers approved extra curbs on trade with Iran covering Iran’s finance, energy and transport industries, freezing the assets of 34 Iranian entities to block revenues and banning natural gas imports from the Islamic Republic.
Turkey lets Armenian cargo plane resume flight to Aleppo
The Armenian flight bound for Syria was required to land in eastern Turkey of its cargo to be examined. It was allowed to resume its flight after its cargo proved to be humanitarian aid as claimed.
New intelligence: Syrian rebels are too few to win
15 Oct. The revised estimates compiled by US and French intelligence agencies on the relative strength of Syrian government and rebel forces have given Washington and Arab capitals backing the Syrian opposition pause. The Obama administration built its policies around an estimated 70,000 rebel fighters, whereas the new figure disclosed by debkafile’s intelligence sources appears to be around 30,000 – one tenth of them Al Qaeda-linked jihadis. The overall balance of strength has radically changed in the Assad regime’s favor, due to the input of Iranian military advisers of the elite Al Qods Brigades and their crash combat courses for the 70,000- strong pro-Assad Alawite militia and sections of the Syrian army/.
Challenging Washington, French President Frances is urging direct intervention now to save the Syrian revolt.
Netanyahu’s light finger on the trigger. Khamenei’s prize to Hizballah
15 Oct. Ten days after Hizballah launched an Iranian stealth UAV into Israeli air space, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu unveiled his new security doctrine in a Knesset speech confirming elections on Jan. 22, 2013. He said that his light but firm finger on the trigger had given Israel seven years without war. Iran’s leader Khamenei, in contrast, handed Hizballah a $1 m prize for sending the spy drone in a blatant act of belligerence. He rewarded the Iranian UAV designers with a Porsche car each.
October 16, 2012 Briefs
Israel would fight to keep Syrian chemical weapons from terrorists
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Israel would do what is necessary to keep Assad’s chemical weapons from reaching terrorist hands and even weigh military action in Syria if this was suspected. He was talking at a reception in Jerusalem for European Union envoys. It was the first time Netanyahu had spoken of possible Israel military involvement in the Syrian conflict.
Iran claims frequent former drone flights into Israel
A senior Iranian military official claimed Tuesday that Iranian-made surveillance drones had made dozens of apparently undetected flights into Israeli airspace from Lebanon in recent years to probe air defenses and collect reconnaissance data. An Israeli official rejected the account.
Clinton accepts blame for Benghazi
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said On Monday in Lima, Peru, that she takes responsibility for security at the American diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, where Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died in an attack last month.
Knesset dissolves after endorsing election date
Israel’s 120-member parliament unanimously endorsed the prime minister’s decision to call a general election on Jan. 22, 2013 – and dissolved itself. Five opposition Kadima members applied to bid in the Likud pre-election primary for places on the national list. They were told to take their chances.
Suicide “insider” kills 2 US soldiers, 4 Afghans of joint intelligence team
The killer detonated the suicide vest he wore under his Afghan intelligence uniform when US Army Spc. Brittany Gordon, 24, and Sgt. Robert Billings, 30, arrived Saturday with a delegation at a remote Maruf district in Kandahar province with new furniture for their intelligence office. Among the four Afghans killed was Gulam Rasool, deputy intelligence director for Kandahar Province.
Australian PM Julia Gillard flies to India for trade talks boosting uranium sales
Because India is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, talks will focus on a safeguards agreement which already cover Australia’s uranium sales to nearly 40 countries. The most recent was the United Arab Emirates in August. Gillard’s three-day trip to New Delhi marks the warming of bilateral ties and a shared interest in containing spreading Chinese influence, particularly in the Indian Ocean region.
All Iran’s enrichment plant now moved into Fordo
16 Oct. Iran has finished transferring all its advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges to the fortified underground Fordo site, placing it in an “immune zone,” against bombardment. In so doing, Tehran beat the clock before President Barack Obama faces presidential contender Mitt Romney in a foreign policy debate and responded to the EU's tightened sanctions against its nuclear program. Iran plans to go forward next and convert its centrifuges from 20 percent to 60 percent enrichment of uranium, a short step before the 90 percent weapons grade.
On Iran, the differences between President Barack Obama and contender Mitt Romney are significantly nuanced: Obama pledges not to let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon, i.e., build a bomb, whereas Romney says promises to prevent Iran acquiring a nuclear capability, i.e., reach the capacity for building one – a point which US intelligence believes will arrive in six months.
This estimate may not fully take into account Iran’s accelerating momentum.
October 17, 2012 Briefs
FBI detains Al Qaeda-linked terrorist plotting to blow up Federal Reserve in Manhattan
The suspect, aged 21 from Bangladesh, arrived in America last January on a mission of terror to blow up the Federal Reserve bank in Manhattan. The public was never at risk because the suspect’s two accomplices with whom he plotted to establish an al Qaeda cell were FBI and NYPD agents taking part in a string operation.
Diplomats in Vienna: Iran continues to install centrifuges in Fordo
One day after debkafile, diplomats accredited to the Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna reported that Iran had continued installing centrifuges at the Fordo underground site. “We think that their pace has continued the same as it was, which was pretty rapid," they said. The work may be “near complete.” Tuesday, Oct. 16, debkafile revealed from its exclusive sources that Iran had installed two clusters of centrifuges, 174 in each, in Fordo’s Chamber B, thereby completing the shifting its most advanced centrifuges for uranium enrichment out of the way of a potential bombardment.
Belarus President reports ex-Mossad Chief Dagan recovering from liver transplant
President Lukashenko told reporters Tuesday night that Meir Dagan had undergone liver transplant surgery in a Minsk hospital five days ago and was moved to intensive care after complications developed. His condition is now serious but stable.
Russian S-400s face Turkey. Hizballah rockets moved into Syria
17 Oct. Two external players in the Syrian conflict took significant military steps Wednesday, Oct. 17. Russia started moving advanced S-300 missile interceptors over to its southern military region opposite Turkey as a warning to Ankara not to further involve itself in the Syrian war. And, as Ankara’s clashes with Assad’s forces intensified, Hizballah moved rockets and fighting units out of their South Lebanon positions opposite Israel and transferred them to the Homs front as back-up for Syrian forces. This attests to the scope and fury of the Syrian army’s onslaught on rebel forces. It also means that Hizballah has no fear of Israeli retaliation for the infiltration of an Iranian stealth drone from Lebanon into its air space on Saturday, Oct. 6.
October 18, 2012 Briefs
Ban Ki-moon: Iranian drone was a “reckless provocation”
The UN Secretary General warned that the Iranian drone launched into Israel by Hizballah earlier this month was a “reckless provocation” which could lead to a regional conflict. The warning was contained in a harsh report to the UN Security Council on the situation in Lebanon including sharp criticism of Hizballah.
New Tehran warning against an Israeli attack
“The Zionist regime [of Israel] lacks defense depth and this regime’s defense mechanisms are very vulnerable to all-out strikes by Iran and the Islamic Revolution’s offshoots,” said the Revolutionary Guards Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said Thursday. He warned: “An attack on Iran will speed up the Israeli regime’s annihilation as it lacks a strong defense strategy.” debkafile: Iran is still braced for a surprise Israeli attack.