A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending Sept. 26, 2013

Kenyan President: 39 killed, 150 injured in al Shabaab Nairobi mall attack

21 Sept. Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta said 39 people were killed and 60 injured in the terrorist attack on a Nairobi shopping mall Saturday, Sept. 21. In an address to the nation, he said the operation to “neutralize” the attackers continues and the entire country has gone on terror alert. A Kenyan minister reported that Israeli Mossad agents were co-opted to the investigation. Americans were among the injured.

Sept. 22, 2013 Briefs

  • A US Navy helicopter crashes in Red Sea with five aboard
    Rescue efforts are underway by helicopters and small boats from the USS Nimitz carrier group to find the missing five crewmen. The MH60S Knighthawk from the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 6 was operating from the guided-missile destroyer William Lawrence, part of the Nimitz group, when it crashed over the Red Sea. The crash was not due to hostile action, the Navy’s 5th Fleet said.
  • Nairobi mall death toll from terrorist attack rises to 68
    The deal toll rose Monday from 59 to 68 when nine bodies were retrieved from the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi where 10-15 Islamist terrorists are still barricaded with hostages for the second day. Kenyan military sources say the operation to neutralize the terrorists has begun and will be over tonight.
  • Russia offers Syria military personnel for chemical removal plan
    Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Russia is ready to send military observers to Syria to ensure security for efforts to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons. But he says Russia is not considering sending a full military contingent.

Israeli commando force joins Kenyan military storming Nairobi mall seized by Islamist gunmen

22 Sept. Israeli special forces joined the Kenyan military in storming the Westgate shopping mall, Sunday, Sept. 22, to break the standoff with the Al Qaeda-linked Somali Al Shabaab gunmen barricaded there with hostages. debkafile reported that the AQAP-backed Somali terrorists singled out the mall to hit two targets – Kenya and Israel. Earlier, we revealed that Israeli commandos were airlifted to Kenya at the start of the episode. Nairobi invoked a secret security pact under which Jerusalem guarantees military assistance should the Kenyan government by threatened by a foreign force.
This is the first time Israeli special counter-terror forces have fought al Qaeda terrorists face to face on foreign soil. US and British commandos are also taking part in the Kenyan military effort to liberate the mall. The scale of the Westgate mall attack, which was carried out by up to a score of well-trained fighting men armed with large quantities of ammunition, pointed to heavy AQAP involvement from the word go.

No room for Israel in Obama’s lone overtures to Iran

22 Sept. Is the Israeli prime minister heading for a showdown with Obama when they meet at the White House on Sept. 30? If so, it is hard to see it having any effect. President Obama has demonstrated that he prefers to dispense even with confidants in his immediate White House circle – least of all with foreign allies – in pursuit of his policies for Syria and Iran.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tried to throw cold water on the news of an exchange of messages between Washington and Tehran, presaging negotiations that could relax sanctions. He issued a stern statement Thursday, Sept. 19, dismissing Rouhani’s claims that Iran’s nuclear program was peaceful as lies and his offer to engage in diplomacy as false “media spin,” which should not fool anyone.

Sept. 23, 2013 Briefs

  • Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood banned
    An Egyptian court has banned the Muslim Brotherhood group and ordered its assets confiscated in a dramatic escalation of a crackdown by the military-backed government against supporters of the ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.
  • Bank of Israel cuts interest by one percent
    By cutting bank interest to 1pc, the Bank of Israel arrested the steep plunge of the dollar against the shekel. The rate now stands at 3.53 shekels per dollar.
  • Defense Minister calls security meeting on Hebron murder
    Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has called a meeting on West Bank security following the Palestinian sniper attack which killed 1st Sgt. Gal Koby, 20, from Tirat Hacarmel Sunday in Hebron and the abduction and murder of Sgt. Tomer Hazan, 20, from Bat Yam Saturday.
    His murdered was captured but Ya’alon vowed to bring the sniper and his masters also to account. “This government will not abide terrorists – whether organizations or lone killers – harming Israeli citizens and soldiers and disrupting life in the country. Our fight against terrorism is long and hard and demands our firmest resolve.”
  • Three Nairobi terrorists are Americans, say US sources
    The US State Department says that federal security agencies are looking into reports that three American converts to Islam are among the Al Shabaab gunmen holed up in the Westgate mall in Nairobi since Saturday.

Abbas gives the nod to lone wolf Palestinian terror

23 Sept. Secretary of State John Kerry has kept a tight lid on the bubbling Palestinian stew by forbidding Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to publicly give the game away about the true state of their talks. They are stuck. This has let Kerry to pretend the talks are gong well; Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to avoid giving up settlements to keep his coalition intact; and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to quietly let terrorists off the leash for attacks on targets limited to the Israeli military. Saturday and Sunday, two soldiers were murdered by West Bank Palestinians: Sgt. Tomer Hazan, 20, from Bat Yam, was found dead in a water hole near the West Bank town of Qalqilya. His killer was apprehended and confessed. Thursday, another 20-year old, 1st Sgt. Gal Koby from Tirat Hacarmel, was killed by a single Palestinian sniper’s bullet while on guard at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The sniper is still sought.

Sept. 24, 2013 Briefs

  • Medical sources find a “huge number” of fatalities in Nairobi mall
    Kenyan medical teams who entered the secured parts of the Westgate shopping mall Tuesday found “a huge number” of hostages dead. They did not cite a figure except to stress that it was substantially higher than the official figure of 62 dead.
  • London admits UK forces fighting terrorists in Nairobi mall
    debkafile: The fourth day of the battle to secure the Westgate shopping mall from an Islamist siege finds American, Israeli and British commandos fighting alongside the Kenyan army.

US and EU rush toward détente with nuclear Iran

24 Sept. US President Obama is rushing toward rapprochement with a nuclear Iran notwithstanding its declared ambition to destroy Israel, refusal to give up its nuclear program, stop developing weapons for delivering a nuclear warhead, its sponsorship of terrorism against Israel and Jews, or its active complicity in Bashar Assad’s genocidal war. Sources close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu say he is determined when he addresses the UN later this month to tear the false veil off Iran’s face – even if he is a lone voice.

Sept. 25, 2013 Briefs

  • Mumbai Jews and Israelis under terrorist threat
    Jewish community leaders have warned eight Mumbai synagogues to be extra vigilant after the Indian Mujahideen terrorist group’s leader Yasin Bhatkal was arrested and threatened his organization planned to target Jews and members of the Israeli consulate.
  • Foreign advisers helping Nairobi mall forensic search
    Kenya reported Wednesday that US, Israeli, British, Canadian and German experts are assisting in the forensic investigation in the ravaged Westglade shopping mall to find the nationalities of the dead terrorists and their victims. He said five terrorists were dead and 10 arrested.
  • British suspect detained at Nairobi airport
    He was described as acting suspiciously, wore dark glasses and had facial bruises.
  • Al Shabaab claims 137 hostages dead in Nairobi mall attack
    The Somali al Qaeda-affiliate Al Shabaab claims its gunmen killed 137 hostages during their attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi. There is still no confirmed figure for the number of hostages or of attackers.

Obama’s nuclear concessions came before formal diplomacy with Tehran

25 Sept. Iranian President Rouhani avoided shaking the hand President Barack Obama at the UN Tuesday, Sept. 24 – not to rebuff diplomacy with the US but to support Iran’s demand for respect as an equal. In secret contacts with Tehran, Obama has already agreed to Iran keeping its enriched uranium stocks. This and other concessions give US Secretary of State John Kerry a flying start for his mission at the head of diplomacy with Iran, at the same time as the Israeli-Palestinian track.
The US president’s linkage of the two tracks places Israel at a disadvantage. Most of all it is puzzling:

Does it imply that the more land Israel gives up on the West Bank for a Palestinian state, the more heavily he will lean on Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program? Does it make sense to award this leverage to the Palestinian leader?
In his speech, Obama gave Tehran a major diplomatic concession by passing the Syrian chemical issue to the UN Security Council, knowing that the Russians will veto punishment for its ally’s non-compliance.

Sept. 26, 2013 Briefs

  • Explosion at the Guam Hilton injures two people
    The blast occurred at the Tree Bar of the Hilton Hotel in Tumon on the Pacific island of Guam Thursday. Two people were taken to hospital with injuries.
  • Rouhani calls for Israel’s nuclear disarmament
    In a brief address Thursday at the UN, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said it was important to remove nuclear arms from the Middle East. He omitted mention of Iran’s nuclear program and called instead on the international community to force Israel’s nuclear disarmament.
  • Assad says he has weapons able to “blind” Israel
    If we are attacked by foreign armies, Moscow has promised to send Russian troops, said the Syria ruler in news interviews September 26. He said Syria has weapons which are far more powerful than chemical arms and capable of “blinding Israel” within minutes.
  • Iran’s Kayhan: debkafile reveals secret US-Iranian deal
    The important hardline Iranian newspaper Kayhan Thursday headlined in red letters:
    debkafile reveals the secret agreements between Iran and the US. Then followed the story published exclusively on our site Wednesday, September 25. Kayhan is the mouthpiece of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards.
  • Two Saudi National Guard soldiers killed in “accidental” blast
    A bomb exploded in an army vehicle during a regular training mission.
  • debkafile: The bomb was planted in the vehicle of a member of the elite force which is the main pillar of the ruling royal family.
  • Rouhani: Nuclear resolution possible in 3 months
    Iranian president Hassan Rouhani told the Washington Post that his choice would be a three-month time table for resolving the nuclear issue and six months would still be good. debkafile: The brevity of this time table confirms our reporting that secret diplomacy between Barack Obama and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has settled most of the issues.

Kenya blames US and Israeli intelligence

26 Sept. President Uhuru Kenyatta blames the US and Israel in private conversation for their undercover agencies’ failure to prevent the major terrorist attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall on Sept. 21. He counted on them for a heads-up, only to find they were as much in the dark as Nairobi. Israeli security sources are digging hard to find out how Al Qaeda spies conducted surveillance forays in the mall – and even smuggled in large stocks of ammo – without Israel intelligence detecting them or sounding the alarm.

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