A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending October 4, 2012

September 28, 2012 Briefs

  • Panetta reports Syrian chemical storage movements – but no exact intel knowledge
    There has been "limited movement" at Syria's major chemical storage sites, Leon Panetta told reporters Friday, adding: “Where exactly that’s taken place, we don’t know.” He neither confirmed nor denied that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards or the Syrian opposition had got hold of any of Syria’s chemical weapons.
  • Mitt Romney says he doesn't believe military action will be necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons
    The Republican presidential nominee says he discussed the issue with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telephone Friday. Romney later told reporters that he can't completely take the military option off the table because Iran needs to take the threat seriously. But he says he does not believe force will ultimately be needed.
  • Obama phones Netanyahu
    The president and prime minister discussed the importance of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon and a range of security issues in a call Friday lasting 20 minutes.

Netanyahu’s speech irks White House

28 Sept. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is reported by debkafile as berating Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the powerful presentation of his case for confronting Iran with red lines in his speech to the UN General Assembly Thursday, Sept. 27. Netanyahu warned that Iran would have covered 70 percent of the distance toward a nuclear bomb capability by late spring, early summer 2013, and must be stopped before then. He did not say how or mention military action.
Neither released statements. President Barack Obama would not tolerate the Israeli leader having a say in his Iran agenda, she reportedly said. Clinton then announced that the world powers had decided to go back to negotiations with Tehran.

September 29, 2012 Briefs

  • US Intel Chief: Benghazi murders were al Qaeda-linked terror
    The office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper released an unusual statement Saturday explaining that only in the aftermath was it discovered that the murders of Ambassador Chris Steven and three others in Benghazi on Sept. 11 was “a deliberate and organized terrorist attack.”

Fordo sabotage enabled Netanyahu to move Iran red line

29 Sept. The sabotage of the Fordo uranium enrichment facility’s power lines on Aug. 17, gave Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu the extra leeway to move his original red line for Iran from late September 2012 – now – to the spring or early summer of 2013, debkafile reports. The sabotage of Fordo’s power supply caused several of the advanced IR-1 and IR-4 centrifuges producing the 20-percent grade uranium to burst into flames. Work was temporarily halted and the accumulation of 240 kilos for Iran’s first nuclear bomb slowed down by at least six months.
Tehran hit back fast with two aggressive actions on Israel’s doorstep: a buildup of thousands of al Qods elite units in Syria and Lebanon, and Assad’s withdrawal of chemical weapons from storage and likely transfer to incoming Iranian units.

September 30, 2012 Briefs

  • Grenade attack kills one child, seriously hurts three in Nairobi
    The grenade was hurled into a church Sunday school. Somali al Shaabab terrorists associated with al Qaeda are suspected in reprisal for Kenyan war on the jihadist militia in Somalia.
  • US military death toll in Afghan war reaches 2,000
    The death toll in the 11-year war was pushed up Sunday when two Americans were killed in a firefight with their Afghan army allies in eastern Afghanistan’s Wardak Province. Three Afghan soldiers were killed in the incident. The firefight flared when US soldiers thought their checkpoint was under insurgent fire from a nearby Afghan army checkpoint and fired on it. The Afghan soldiers shot back. The incident which may have been caused by a misunderstanding is under investigation.
    This year, 52 US and allied military deaths were caused by uniformed Afghans turning on US instructors preparing them to take over when the US army quits the country by the end of 2014.
    debkafile: Obama’s surge policy for bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table out of weakness is roundly criticized as having backfired – even by the hitherto supportive US media: Taliban is less ready than ever for peace talks except on its own terms.
  • At least 26 dead in string of Iraq car bombings
    Most of the attacks targeted Shiites areas and police checkpoints. The most deadly explosions took place in Taji, 20 kilometers north of Baghdad where bombs in three parked cars killed eight people, wounded 22.

October 1, 2012 Briefs

  • Three US troops believed among 14 killed by Khost suicide bomb
    The Taliban suicide bomber waited for the troops to leave their vehicles before detonating his bomb and killing at least 14 people including at least three NATO troops believed American and 6 civilians and injuring 60. The NATO convoy was hit Monday as it was passing through the crowded center of the eastern Afghan town of Khost.
  • Ahmadinejad’s cameraman defects
    Hassan Gol Khanban, who accompanied President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to New York for his last UN appearance, is seeking asylum in the United States, his lawyer Paul O’Dwyer reports. He provided no other details including his client’s whereabouts.

Israeli advisers aided major Kenyan victory over al Qaeda

1 Oct. The Kenyan army has captured Somalia’s Indian Ocean port of Kismayo, driving Al Qaeda’s Somali franchise Al Shabaab from its last stronghold after a year-long ground, sea and air operation, aided by the US, France and Israel. Kismayo is key to controlling southern Somalia. DEBKA: It was the first time Israel’s military, police, intelligence and counterterrorism forces took part in an anti-al Qaeda offensive outside its borders. This success may help block Iran’s push to the Indian Ocean and East Africa.
Israeli military officers and counterterrorism experts advised the Kenyan army on war tactics, supplied them with specialist weapons and counseled Kenyan internal security authorities on terror prevention in the big towns.

October 2, 2012 Briefs

  • Ahmadinejad: Our nuclear program will not stop. We can cope with sanctions
    Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told reporters Tuesday that Iran will not have to halt its nuclear program because of the rial’s record plunge against the dollar. He said panicky Iranians scrambling to change their rials for hard currency were victims of Western psychological warfare.
  • Hizballah admits high-ranking operative killed in action in Syria
    Ali Hussein Nassif, aka Abu Abbas, the Lebanese terrorist group’s Operations Chief in Syria was killed in a rebel ambush near Homs along with several other Hizballah operatives.
  • Moscow warns NATO against military intervention in Syria
    Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Russia, an ally of Damascus, opposed the creation of buffer zones or humanitarian corridors in Syria and called for calm between Turkey and Syria over tension on their border.
  • New online video shows American journalist missing in Syria
    Austin Rice, a former Marine and freelance writer, has been missing in Syria since mid-August. The video shows him surrounded by captors without revealing their identity or his whereabouts.
  • Vice PM Yaalon: Sanctions are not delivering the goods
    Israel’s Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon responded to the Iranian currency’s record slump against the dollar by saying that although sanctions were biting hard into the Iranian economy, the centrifuges (enriching uranium) were still spinning. A combination of three elements might stop Iran: tougher sanctions, isolation and a credible threat of military force. Yaalon noted that Iran was still investing vast sums in propping up the Assad regime.

More Al Qaeda pre-US election attacks forecast. Americans quietly lifted out

2 Oct. Al Qaeda’s Ayman Zuwahiri is preparing a string of terrorist attacks in the five weeks up to the presidential election as the sequel to the Sept. 11 Benghazi murders, says US intelligence. He seeks to influence the poll’s results while building up his reputation as master of spectacular terrorist operations. The Benghazi attack exposed al Qaeda’s striking expansion across a broad region – Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Mali and Egypt (Sinai). Most US personnel have been quietly lifted out of 20 endangered countries.
Zuwahiri’s planning for a new offensive takes advantage of the Arab Spring upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa, which let Islamic extremists off the leash, and turned them around to strike at the heart of the Obama administration’s Middle East policy objectives. America is confronted with a broad new al Qaeda front with scanty intelligence and new regimes which can’t be trusted for cooperation in fighting terror.

October 3, 2012 Briefs

  • Turkey bombs Syrian targets after Syrian shells kill 5 Turks
    After three Syrian shells killed 5 people and injured eight in southeastern Turkey, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday night: "These provocations against the safety of Turkey will not remain unanswered. NATO met to discuss the crisis." The shells killed two women and three children.
  • Bomb cars rip through Aleppo
    Syrian rebel FSA claimed bomb explosions that ripped through Aleppo Wednesday, reporting 44 dead, many of them military personnel and more than 100 injured. Official sources in Damascus say just a few people were hurt. debkafile: FSA claims are not completely credible because the insurgency in Aleppo is not led by this rebel group but the Tahid militia which is not a part of the FSA.
  • Israel’s army chief: Terrorists taking root in Syria pose new peril
    Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz warned Wednesday: “Alongside the potential nuclear threat from Iran and spiraling Hizballah capabilities in Lebanon, we hear that terrorist networks such as international jihadists are moving into Syria.” He went on to say, “On the Golan we are armed with ample resources for dealing with them.”
  • At least 7 dead in explosions at Hizballah’s E. Lebanon stronghold
    Three mysterious explosions struck the Beqaa Valley stronghold, hitting a weapons store belonging to Hizballah activist Mohammad Adnan Mussawi.

Large Bassij forces pumped into Tehran as riots flare

3 Oct. The Iranian government Wednesday, Oct. 3, invoked the emergency measures drawn up for the 2009 protests for the deployment of large Bassij militia forces in the capital to put down the first angry protests against mounting economic hardship and the plummeting rial. Money changers and gold merchants attacked police, torched their cars and threatened a shutdown of trading and the Bazaar by a general strike. The government decided to draw the line in Tehran before the unrest spread further by deploying large Bassij militia forces in the capital.

Israeli politicians set for Netanyahu to call a February election

3 Oct. Less than a week after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu struck Iran with a red marker, Israel was plunged deep in acute election fever. debkafile: None of the politicians citing Feb. 13, 2013 as the date of an early election is privy to the prime minister’s carefully calculated agenda. That date may see a poll followed by messy cabinet-building, or presage a decisive step for preempting Iran’s advance to the threshold of a nuclear bomb.
Netanyahu has taken two weeks for a final decision on whether to appease his coalition partners with more spending money, or hold out for a slimmed-down budget and possibly face the voter. As part of the ferment, Defense Minister Ehud Barak was accused by the prime minister’s office and his Likud ministers of presenting views different from those of the Netanyahu on Iran during his recent visits to the United States. He issued a statement denying the charges.

October 4, 2012 Briefs

  • Hizballah spy arrested in Israel
    Milad Hatib, 26, from Majdal Krum in northern Israel, was charged in the Haifa District Court Thursday with gathering intelligence for the Lebanese terrorist Hizballah on IDF bases, driving time between them, defense industries, ordnance and arms stores, Arab-Israeli lawmakers and President Shimon Peres’ security arrangements when he travels.

Continuous Turkish barrage cuts out buffer strip inside Syria

4 Oct. Turkish artillery continued to pound Syria Thursday, October 4, with the aim of carving out a 10-kilometer buffer strip inside Syria. Several Syrian army bases and positions inside this strip have taken direct hits and Syrian troops were killed or wounded. Turkey hopes its artillery barrage will help Syrian rebels create a 50-km long protected corridor between Aleppo and the Syrian border. Both Ankara and Damascus have imposed a news blackout, to keep events under control and avoid a full-blown war.

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