A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending October 25, 2012

October 19, 2012 Briefs

  • Egypt: A number of Sinai-based jihadists disappear
    An Egyptian security source report Friday that a number of jihadists based in Sinai had disappeared, suggesting a retaliatory strike against Israel is in preparation for the killing of two Palestinian terrorist leaders in Gaza last week.
  • Panetta appoints new African Command chief amid heightened al Qaeda activity
    Gen. David Rodriguez, former senior commander in Afghanistan, if approved by the Senate, will oversee counterterrorism missions in Somalia, Yemen, Mali and Nigeria after the deadly Al Qaeda attack on the US consulate in Libya and growing concern about its affiliates. He succeeds Gen. Carter Ham who played a key role in the NATO war in Libya.
  • Syrian army ambush kills 17 Lebanese
    Syrian rebel sources report at least 17 Lebanese civilians killed in an ambush on the Lebanese border Friday. Those sources also claim that Hizballah units had taken over six Syrian villages and small towns along the Lebanese border to help the Syrian army put a stop to the influx of smuggled fighters and arms for the rebel cause from Lebanon. Neither report is independently confirmed.
  • Iran-Turkey gas pipe blown up injuring 28 Turkish soldiers
    The blast attributed to the Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) occurred in the eastern Turkish town of Eleskirt in Agri province Thursday night, halting the flow of Iranian natural gas to Turkey. The Turkish soldiers were reportedly on the scene for “a special operation.”

Obama now admits Iran is piling up fissile material for 4-6 bombs

19 Oct, Barack Obama discreetly clued Binyamin Netanyahu in this week on the latest US intelligence confirming Iran will have enough enriched uranium for 4-6 bombs by March 2013, debkafile reports. It was the first time Obama admitted knowing that sanctions and diplomatic pressure were not working. Also revealed was that Iran had doubled the enrichment centrifuges at Natanz to 6,000, and that Iran needs no more than 2-3 weeks to upgrade enriched uranium from 20% to weapons grade. Obama still objects to an Israeli pre-emptive strike.

October 20, 2012 Briefs

  • Israeli Navy boards Gaza-bound pro-Palestinian ship
    Israeli sailors faced no resistance Saturday when they boarded the Swedish vessel, which arrived in the Mediterranean for another bid to break Israel’s sea blockade of the Gaza Strip.
  • FM Lieberman rejects EU’s “deep regret” for Jerusalem Gilo project
    These condemnations are automatic, said Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in response to the European Union’s foreign policy executive Catherine Ashton’s “deep regret” for the 800-unit housing project in the Jerusalem district of Gilo. She referred to an “illegal settlement” that undermines a two-state solution. Foreign Minister Lieberman said the bloc was ignorant of regional realities. “Gilo is part of Jerusalem and Jerusalem is part of Israel,” he said.

Syria, Iran, Hizballah don’t play war games, they attack

20 Oct. The car bomb which murdered anti-Syrian Lebanese security chief Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan and seven others Friday, Oct. 19, in East Beirut finally also dissipated hopes in the West and Israel of the Syrian civil war sundering the Tehran-Damascus-Hizballah axis. It also marked the brutal spillover of the Syrian bloodbath into a second Arab capital. Gen. al-Hasan paid the price for uncovering a Syrian plot to destabilize Lebanon and arresting the pro-Syrian politician and ex-information minister Michel Samaha for complicity in the plot. He also led the investigation that implicated Damascus in the 2005 bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
This week, US President Barack Obama reined in Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his chief of staff Gen. Necdet Ozel from expanding Turkish cross-border clashes with Syria.

October 21, 2012 Briefs

  • Beirut police use live gunfire, gas to disperse Lebanese mourners
    Thousands of mourners tried to storm the prime minister’s office central Beirut Sunday demanding his resignation over the murder of the Lebanese security chief Wissam al-Hasan Friday in a huge car bomb explosion that killed another 7 people. The Assad regime is widely blamed for the murders.
  • Jewish professor found dead in Lviv, Ukraine
    Prof. Leon Freifeld. Chief Orthopedist of Lviv, was beaten to death near his home Saturday. The Jewish Press reports the police arrested three Arab students suspected of the crime.The Russian language press quotes witnesses as reporting that Prof. Freifeld was attacked and murdered by a single assailant who was drunk.
  • Two readiness exercises in Israel
    The annual Israel home front drill, “Turning Point 6,” taking place Sunday simulates a major earthquake followed by a tsunami washing up from the Mediterranean against Israel’s coastal cities. It postulates 7,000 deaths, 70,000 injured and 170,000 rendered homeless. Updated Homeland Front directives advise people in its path to run for open ground instead of staying indoors. The US-Israeli three-week war game also starting Sunday simulates defending Israel under Iranian, Syrian and/or Hizballah missile attack. It deploys 1,000 American and Israeli soldiers each, using Patriot, Arrow and Iron Dome anti-missile batteries.

White House denies US, Iran to hold one-on-one talks

20 Oct. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor Sunday denied the New York Times report that the US and Iran had agreed to hold one-on-one talks on Tehran’s nuclear program before the US election. debkafile: The quick denial was necessary because Obama was shown not only to have misled Israel but also his five fellow world powers which had been holding talks with Iran.
On April 16, 2012, debkafile disclosed that Washington and Tehran were conducting back-channel talks in Paris and Vienna. In those talks he accepted Iran’s right to enrich uranium, erased all Israel’s red lines and demanded only 24/7 inspections, which Tehran refused. The talks therefore produced no breakthrough.
Yet Israel keeps on backtracking on its red lines: When Iran moved its enrichment plant into an immune zone earlier this month, one red line disappeared. And Israel no longer openly challenges Washington’s assurance that a decision by Khamenei to go forward and start building a weapon would reach US intelligence at the precise moment it is made.

Hizballah hosts Iran’s global cyber war-room in Beirut

21 Oct. debkafile Exclusive: Iran has located its global cyber war-room at Hizballah’s secret internal security apparatus headquarters in South Beirut, under the direction of Hassan Nasrallah’s brother-in-law Wafiq Safa debkafile’s intelligence and counterterrorism sources reveal. The hackers and cyber experts who recently attacked American banks, Saudi oil sites and guided an Iranian stealth drone into Israeli airspace on Oct. 6, operated from this facility and its secret bunkers.

October 22, 2012 Briefs

  • Two Palestinians killed in Israeli air force Gaza raids after 7 missiles hit Sderot
    A Palestinian missile and mortar barrage from Gaza Monday was followed by two Israeli air raids against terrorist targets in northern Gaza while IDF tanks traded fire with Palestinian gunmen. Two gunmen were killed, according to Palestinian sources, one of them the north Gaza commander of the Hamas Palestinian missile campaign against Israel. There were no Israeli casualties from the seven-missile Palestinian salvo against Sderot earlier Monday morning.

The Qatari emir sees Hamas as his fighting arm

22 Oct. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar is not just be visiting the Gaza Strip as a benefactor but with a plan to extend the regional ambitions he sought by intervening in the Libyan revolt and the Syrian conflict. He is bidding to shore Hamas up as a force for reining in Salafi and al Qaeda lawlessness in Sinai before it cuts into Qatari influence in Libya. Israel may be up against more than Islamist terrorists, like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, their Qatari sponsor and financier too.

October 23, 2012 Briefs

  • Palestinian attacks from Gaza escalate
    Tuesday night, another 9 Qassam missiles and mortar shells fired at the Eshkol district and other Israeli locations within range of the Gaza Strip. No one was hurt. Earlier, an IDF company commander was seriously injured by a bombing device on the Gaza border. People living within rocket range of the Gaza Strip advised to stay close to shelters until further notice.
  • Israeli N. Jerusalem checkpoint stops Palestinian carrying 8 bomb devices
    He tried to carry eight explosive devices past the checkpoint into Jerusalem when he was stopped and detailed. The checkpoint is closed.
  • Travel advisory for US visitors to Sinai
    US citizens are advised to avoid unsecured venues such as bazaars, shopping malls, night clubs and restaurants catering to foreign tourists.

Obama, Romney reserved on commitment to Israel’s defense

23 Oct. Both US presidential contenders, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney pledged to stand with Israel if attacked in their foreign policy debate in Boca Raton, Florida Monday, Oct. 22. Yet, in reply to a question, neither would formally declare that an attack on Israel would be tantamount to an attack on America, especially in relation to a nuclear Iran. Romney and Obama agreed that a military option must be a last resort, although Romney, unlike Obama, said even a “nuclear-capable Iran” was unacceptable.

High alert for terror strikes against Israel and US, Egyptian Sinai targets

23 Oct. Israeli, US, Egyptian and Jordanian counterterrorism agencies are on elevated alert ahead of the Eid al Adha festival starting Oct. 25, debkafile: Salafi and al Qaeda cells in Egyptian Sinai are reported to be poised to unleash coordinated terrorist attacks on US and Egyptian targets in Sinai and in Israel to avenge Israel’s targeted killing of two senior commanders of the Salafi-al Qaeda Sinai-Gaza network. Perpetrators of the Benghazi murders of 4 US diplomats are among the jihadi reinforcements coming in from Libya.
The US special forces unit posted last month on Jordan’s Syrian border was hurriedly transferred to the Red Sea port of Aqaba with a fleet of helicopters, in case MFO bases in Sinai come under attack.

The bombed Sudanese factory made Shehabs

24 Oct. The Yarmouk Complex near Khartoum, which was bombed Wednesday, Oct. 24, by four fighter-bombers, recently began manufacturing Iranian ballistic surface-to-surface Shehab missiles, debkafile discloses. Western intelligence believes they were to be stocked as Tehran’s strategic reserve in case its own ballistic arsenal was hit by Israeli bombers. Sudan accused Israel of the bombing. If the Israeli air force was responsible it would have demonstrated the ability to cover 1,800-1,900 kilometers to reach the Sudanese arms factory, which is farther than the 1,600 kilometers to the Iranian underground enrichment site of Fordo, while refueling in flight.

Israel halts war games to deploy troops, missile interceptors in escalating Gaza sector

24 Oct. Defense minister Ehud Barak and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz decided Wednesday, Oct. 24, that the heavy Palestinian missile assault from the Gaza Strip, which escalated to 80 rockets on Israeli civilian locations, must be stopped. The bulk of the personnel taking part in the joint Israeli-US war game Austere Challenge 12 and the Turning Point 6 home front exercise were pulled out, together with anti-missile interceptors and other resources, and redeployed across from the Gaza Strip.
debkafile’s military sources report that the two exercises were effectively halted, after a wide range of towns and villages within range of the Gaza Strip, including Ashkelon, took a heavy beating from round after round of rockets, including Grads. Two Thais working in the fields of the Eshkol district were flown to hospital in critical condition. Several properties were seriously damaged and local schools and work places remained closed. Iron Dome intercepted 7 Grads out of 13 aimed at Ashkelon.

October 25, 2012 Briefs

  • Netanyahu and Lieberman agree on merger
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that their parties, Likud and Israeli Beitenu, would run for election in January on a single ticket called Likud Beitenu. The united list expects to increase its combined 42 Knesset seats out of 120. Their union caught the national political scene by surprise.
  • Assad accepts four-day Eid ceasefire
    The Syrian president announced Thursday that he accepts the UN envoy’s proposal of a truce.
  • Two more US soldiers killed by man in Afghan police uniform
    The killer shot the soldiers Thursday in Khas Uruzgan, Uruzgan province. It was not clear if he was an Afghan policeman carrying out another “insider” attack on US soldiers, or an attacker disguised as one.
  • Israeli police alerted to threatened cyber attack
    Police computers were urgently disconnected Thursday from civilian networks upon being warned of an imminent cyber attack on their system. All police stations were prohibited from uploading any electronic material and officers told to shut their laptops to bar hackers.
  • Gaza ceasefire appears to be holding
    A ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza is in force from 7.30pm on Wednesday. The Palestinian Hamas, after firing 80 rockets from Gaza against Israel, appealed to Egypt to broker a truce.
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