A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending October 20, 2005

The Shin Beit has caught the Palestinian Hamas kidnappers who murdered Sasson Nuriel in Jerusalem Sept 21.


10 October: Its leader is the Ramallah police chief son who is employed as Palestinian interior minister’s senior staffer. Altogether, 117 members of three Hamas networks responsible for five Israeli murders in four years have been rounded up in the West Bank towns of Ramallah, Kafr Shewoich north of Hebron and Dahariya southwest of Hebron. As a student in Egypt, their leader, Yasser Salah of Ramallah was recruited by a Gazan Hamas operative.

A young Palestinian woman of 22 from the Gaza Jebaliya camp was sent to the West Bank as bomb-maker, expert in explosive vests. Israel permitted her relocation on the West Bank to marry a man from Tulkarm. In Ramallah she ran courses in bomb-making for Hamas network members and trained her husband to take her place if she were captured.

Under questioning, the detained terrorists admitted to the murder of four Israelis. Two women, an officer and a soldier, were shot dead outside the southern command in Beersheba in February 2002. Eitan Kukoi and Rema Novkov were murdered south of Hebron two years later.

In August, 2005, they engineered the suicide bombing at the Beersheba central bus station in which two security guards were gravely injured chasing the bomber away from the buses. The kidnap of Sasson Nuriel was to have been the first in a series of abductions of Israelis. Two Palestinians who worked with him lured him to A-Ram village north of Jerusalem to buy a coffee machine. At their Ramallah hideout they videotaped him before his murder.

The network had manufactured a 20-kilo bomb ready to plant at the Israeli air force base in the Judean desert and plotted more terrorist attacks, but they were captured in time.


debkafile Exclusive: Abbas ducks round disarming Fatah militias in Lebanon – as well as the Gaza Strip terrorists


10 October: Washington and Paris are pressing the Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to disarm the militias of his own Fatah movement in Lebanon – in obedience to the UN Security Council resolution that ordered Syria’s evacuation and the dismantling of armed militias in Lebanon. debkafile‘s Palestinian sources say they are urging him to at least meet the Lebanese government’s demand and start with the militias which have set up a presence outside the Palestinian refugee camps. The Lebanese army still refuses to venture into the lawless badlands of the refugee camps, as it has for the last 30 years. The US and France want Abbas to stop the spillovers outside the camps – to start with. But Abbas, who has been maneuvering for months around the road map requirement to disarm Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, has cooked up a special delaying tactic for Lebanon: first, the Palestinians must have an embassy and a PLO mission in Beirut. He is pretending ignorance of the fact that no one in Lebanon, even the Hizballah, would accept this diplomatic sham.


Sharon-Abbas meeting Tuesday is off


10 October: Sharon’s aide Dov Weisglass and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat failed to agree on an agenda for a meeting before the Palestinian leader’s talks at the White House next week. The Palestinians wanted to come out of the summit with “achievements.” They want 20 veteran Palestinian murderers freed from jail plus an Israeli commitment to halt counter-terror operations. Israeli officials are prepared to honor the Sharm al Sheikh ceasefire understandings from earlier this year, noting they are binding on all parties. They also sought advance Israeli commitments on sea and air ports in the Gaza Strip. A senior US official David Welch conferred with Palestinian and Israeli officials but failed to break out of the impasse.


The Shin Beit has developed a prize-winning computer program as a short cut for aborting suicide terror attacks


11 October: Yuval Diskin, the director of Shin Beit, Israel’s domestic security agency, explained when accepting the prize Monday night, Oct 10, that speed was of the essence in translating digital data into operational intelligence. The agency was in a day-and-night race against time to keep the names of suicide terror victims from turning its computer screens red. Without this customized program, Israel would have been unable to pre-empt the major suicide offensive plotted by Palestinian terrorist organizations in the past year. At times, the bomber was intercepted when he was already on his way to target. Regardless of promised “lulls”, Diskin warned that the Hamas is working flat out to extend its terrorist efforts from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

debkafile‘s defense experts note that Diskin stands out among the array of defense chiefs prime minister Ariel Sharon lined up to support his evacuation program, including a new chief of staff. Unlike them, the Shin Beit chief spoke out against handing over the Philadelphi border route between Gaza and Sinai to Egyptian border police. He estimated the border would soon run out of control and become a new danger zone for the war on terror. On the same grounds, he objects to granting the Palestinians the free, sovereign passageway between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank they are demanding. Not only will it bisect Israeli territory, but it will provide the assortment of terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda, foregathering in Gaza since the Israeli pullout a month ago unfettered international transit. There will be nothing to stop them moving at will between Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Sinai, Gaza and finally the West Bank.

The Shin Beit’s mission is to beat the terrorists’ plans – hence the unique intelligence tool the agency’s technology department has developed for the war on terror. It converts raw intelligence at top speed into operational data for field operatives, its efficiency is unparalleled by any system in use today in the global war on terror. Diskin does not forgets for a moment that failure is unthinkable; the Shin Beit’s computer screens cannot be allowed to turn red.


Prof. Robert J. Aumann is the eighth Israeli to win the Nobel Prize


11 October: In his first comment, the 75-year old mathematician said the prize belonged to Israel and the Hebrew University, which have become a world power in game-theory analysis. Aumann, an Israeli-American, shared the prize for Economics with Professor Thomas C. Schelling, 84 of the University of Maryland.

The prize committee cited their achievement in having “enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analyses. They help explain why some communities are more successful than others in managing common-pool resources.”

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Aumann and his family emigrated to the United States in 1938. He studied at a yeshiva before going on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a doctorate in mathematics. In 1956, he migrated to Israel and was hired by the Hebrew University where he has worked ever since. A widower, he has five children, 18 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He is a longtime member of the Professors for a Strong Israel that opposed the pull-back from the Gaza Strip.

Last year, Israeli biochemists Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko of the Israel Institute of Technology were co-laureates of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.


Syrian military and security forces are on the highest alert in the mountain strongholds of the ruling Alawi clans east of Latakia


14 October: They are braced for a vendetta within the Alawi community of which President Bashar Assad and his supporters are leading members. They fear that at least two clans may reject the official claim that interior minister Ghazi Kenaan died by his own hand Wednesday and seek revenge.

debkafile‘s Syria observers report that the last high Syrian military alert occurred in 2000 towards the end of Bashar’s father president Hafez Assad term when prime minister Mahmoud Zouaby, a Sunni, killed himself after he was imprisoned on corruption charges. The only time before that was in 1968 when Syrian military intelligence chief Gen. Abndel Karim al Jundi, an Ismaili, committed suicide.


Russian “military advisers” land in the Gaza Strip


15 October: debkafile‘s military sources say this is a landmark, the first Russian military presence in a Palestinian war zone against Israel. It also represented another flagrant Egyptian violation of its commitments under the new military protocols it signed with Israel to bar the Philadelphi border crossing to foreign military personnel.

debkafile‘s military sources add: the Russian officers were flown in directly from Moscow to Cairo and then overland to the Egyptian side of Rafah where they were welcomed by Egyptian military intelligence officers. No notice was received in Jerusalem.

Moscow is clearly in mid-momentum of a fresh Middle East initiative. Putin has promised the Palestinian Authority in Gaza 1,000 armored personnel carriers. He is also going through with the sale of the state of the art Iskander SS-26 surface missiles, as first disclosed by DEBKA-Net-Weekly 224 on Sept 30.

debkafile‘s intelligence experts recall Abu Mazen’s Cold War Russian connections with the former KGB’s First Directorate. A graduate of Moscow University, he retains those connections to the present day.

Three foreign intelligence missions are now operating in the Gaza Strip – the American CIA, the British MI6 and now the Russian FSB – as well as the Egyptians. They have all failed signally to prevent the Gaza Strip from falling into the clutches of the radical terrorist Hamas and Jihad Islami or stem al Qaeda’s percolation from Sinai. The Russians are unlikely to be any more successful.


The three Israelis killed in a Palestinian drive-by shooting


16 October: Israeli roadblocks have been restored to West Bank roads and Palestinian private cars banned after two deadly Palestinian Fatah-al Aqsa Brigades drive-by shootings. The attacks were planned by the Yasser Arafat team from Nablus, second by the Masoud Ayad team. Hamas-Hebron provided the cars and the weapons.

The West Bank roadblocks were dismantled three months ago as Israeli confidence-building concessions to Mahmoud Abbas.

debkafile adds: As soon as he heard of the attacks, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon ordered the withdrawal of all the concessions extended to bolster Abu Mazen’s grip on government as too costly in Israeli lives. Abu Mazen uttered no word of condemnation. Ahead of his White House talks on October 20, the Palestinian leader is cultivating the weak man posture to back up his appeal for urgent help to save him from collapse. When he is asked what kind of help, his reply his ready: Make Israel release the popular Fatah terrorist leader Marwan Barghouti, sentenced to life by an Israeli court for multiple murder, to run alongside Abbas in the January elections and assure a Fatah victory. Abbas has thus reversed his strategy: instead of striving to show the Americans he is capable of subduing Palestinian terror, he is embracing the threat of violence to squeeze further concessions from Israel.


Saddam Hussein’s trial produced two surprises: the appointment of a Kurd Rizgar Mohammed Amin as head judge and its location in the Green Zone


19 October: Kurdish leaders hitherto declined any involvement in the legal proceedings against the deposed dictator. The Kurds feared their involvement in his sentencing would provoke a Sunni Arab blood feud against the Kurdish people for generations to come. The appointment of Rizgar Mohammed Amin, a Kurd from Suleimaniya, as lead judge of the five-member tribunal, marked a change of attitude on the part of President Jalal Talabani. He was no doubt influenced by the dramatic decline in Saddam Hussein’s personal importance. His transfer from the maximum security prison at Baghdad’s international airport to the old Baath headquarters in the fortified government seat known as the Green Zone was a calculated propaganda gamble. Although the trial date was public knowledge and the distance traveled by the dictator and his seven co-defendants 12 miles, neither the Baath insurgents nor al Qaeda’s terrorists were able to derail the process.

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