A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending September 28, 2006

The Pope is Sorry. Muslim Terrorists Are Not


16 September: A firestorm of Muslim rage ignited by a lecture on the theme of Faith and Reason by Pope Benedict XVI coincided with an Islamist terrorist attack on the US embassy in Damascus.

debkafile‘s Islamic observers comment that the threat of Muslim anger exploding into violence is an increasingly powerful deterrent to any religious controversy that touches on the Muslim faith – especially in the West – because Western Christians, moderate Muslims and the Jewish world continue to distinguish between international Islamic terrorist groups and Muslims at large.

While the majority of Muslims do not subscribe to al Qaeda’s violent methods, neither do they actively oppose them. As for Palestinian violence against Israel, that is universally condoned. Much of Western society as well as many Muslims and Israelis prefer to forget that suicidal terrorism as a political and religious instrument was the gift Yasser Arafat bequeathed to contemporary Islam; and it was enthusiastically embraced by al Qaeda and the Sunni insurgency in Iraq.

This ability to disremember the root of a world problem extends to non-recognition of the deepening integration of the Palestinian and al Qaeda jihad movements. Abu Musab al Zarqawi was a Jordanian Palestinian, as were some of his commanders; a Palestinian Hamas mentor hosted and instructed shoe bomber Richard Reid in Gaza. Many of al Qaeda’s most active cells are planted in Palestinian refugee camps in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. Nonetheless, many Western policymakers place “the Middle East conflict’ in a box of its own, separate from the global war on terror or the clash of religions and civilizations.

Because these policymakers have only very limited control over the jihadists’ actions, their pious hopes and efforts to appease angry Muslims keep on blowing up in their faces.

Oddly enough, no outrage was forthcoming when the leader of Israeli Arab Muslims, Sheikh Raad Salah promised a gathering of 50,000 Israeli Arabs, Friday night Sept. 15 that “very shortly the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem would be eclipsed and the city (Israel’s historic and national capital), will become the capital of the “world Islamic caliphate.”

His audience eagerly thundered: “With fire and blood we will liberate al Aqsa!”

No one demanded of the sheik any apology. This double standard for Islamic conduct ruled the thinking of much of the world before Pope Benedict dropped his clanger – and will be there after it is forgotten.


Abu Mazen cannot deliver on his pledge to the UN that his planned unity government will recognize Israel


22 September: This pledge is hollow given the terms of his secret deal with Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh. Yet Abbas appealed movingly to the world body Thursday night, Sept 21: “Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.” And a day earlier, the Middle East Quartet, including the US secretary, welcomed Abu Mazen’s effort to form a national unity government with Hamas.

These are the terms of the secret Abbas-Haniyeh accord for a Hamas-Fatah unity government.

Mashaal is appointed deputy chairman of the PLO, the world Palestinian umbrella, which makes him PM Haniyeh’s superior. The PLO under the rule of the Abbas-Meshaal duo will be responsible for the Palestinian Authority’s security and foreign affairs. The Haniyeh government will be left with economy, transportation, health and education.

Meshaal’s presence in the supreme Palestinian body will open the way for Tehran, Damascus and Hizballah to hold sway over Palestinian affairs, including peace diplomacy.

The European Union and Olmert government have given the prospect of a Palestinian unity government a favorable reception, maintaining that it is the first step towards transforming Hamas from a terrorist to a political movement.

debkafile‘s sources further reveal that when Abu Mazen took off for New York, Meshaal had still not come around to endorsing the agreement. Hamas was also holding out for a bigger slice of government:


US Intelligence Director John Negroponte says Qaeda’s expansion in Lebanon, exploiting conflict there, is being taken seriously


23 September: This move cannot be ruled out, he said, despite the chasm between the Sunni Muslim al Qaeda and Lebanon’s Shiite Hizballah.

debkafile‘s counter-terror sources have uncovered the presence of active al Qaeda cells in Lebanon, located mainly in Palestinian refugee camps in Tripoli in the north and Sidon in the south. More recently, Hizballah’s military operations commander Imad Mughniyeh brokered a new operational pact between his organization and al Qaeda with Tehran’s blessing. Sectarian differences between the Shiite Hizballah and predominantly Sunni Muslim Palestinians have never barred their cooperation in Gaza and the West Bank.


Iran and Turkey Prepare for War in Iraqi Kurdistan


24 September: debkafile‘s exclusive military sources reveal that Turkish and Iranian air units as well as armored, paratroop, special operations and artillery forces are poised for an imminent coordinated invasion of the northern Iraqi autonomous province of Kurdistan.

Our sources pinpoint the target of the combined Iranian-Turkish offensive as the Quandil Mountains (see picture), where some 5,000 Kurdish rebels from Turkey and Iran, members of the PKK and PJAK respectively, are holed up.

A jittery Washington foresees a Turkish-Iranian military thrust quickly flaring into a comprehensive conflict and igniting flames that would envelop the whole of Iraqi Kurdistan as well as southern Turkey and Armenia.

Tehran is quite capable of using the opening for its expeditionary force to grab extensive parts of Kurdistan and strike a strategic foothold in northern Iraq.

Informed US officials would not be surprised if Turkey took the chance of seizing northern Iraqi oil fields centered on the oil-rich town of Kirkuk, the source of 40 percent of Iraq’s oil output.

To cool tempers and restrain the Turks, the US ambassador to Turkey, Ross Wilson, stood up in Ankara on Sept 19 and promised: “Northern Iraq won’t serve as a PKK base in the future.

For the Americans, the timing could not be more unfortunate. A possible US (and Israeli) plan to attack Iran’s nuclear installations at this time would be seriously hampered by the closure of Turkish and Kurdish air space to American and Israeli warplanes heading for Iran.


A terrorist plot to behead the Israeli ambassador in Oslo ends in her apology


26 September: Ambassador Miryam Shomrat set off a storm of criticism in Norway, led by Jewish leaders, when she criticized the royal house and government for failing to express sympathy with the Jewish community after a shooting attack on Oslo synagogue. She has apologized, after being reprimanded for bashing the royal house. Norway’s police believe the four men charged with the shooting, which left no casualties, also planned grenade attacks on the US and Israeli embassies. Ambassador Shomrat was especially targeted for assassination.


UN Force in Lebanon is defined more by what it cannot do than what it can


26 September: The United Nations force created to police southern Lebanon faces not only a threatening al Qaeda presence cheek by jowl, but endless handicaps in performing its mandated functions. They cannot set up checkpoints, search cars, homes or businesses or detain suspects. If they see a truck transporting missiles, for example (in violation of the UN arms embargo), they cannot stop it… because under their interpretation of the Security Council resolution (1701) that deployed them, they must first be authorized to take such action by the Lebanese army. After eight meetings, Israeli and UN representatives failed to agree Wednesday on the international troops’ rules of engagement and a date for a final Israeli pullout.

As for the demand to disarm Hizballah, local Shiites say “they will fight anybody who tries to take Hizballah’s weapons away. For the forces to remain welcome they must demonstrate they are there to protect the Lebanese from Israel – not to police the Lebanese on behalf of Israel.”


Shin Bet chief accuses Egypt of closing its eyes to Palestinian arms smuggling to Gaza


27 September: But debkafile reports the Palestinian volume is dwarfed by Hizballah’s illegal imports. Diskin informed the cabinet Wednesday, Sept 27, that since Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip, 19 tons of explosives have passed through Sinai to the Gaza Strip. “The Egyptians know who the smugglers are – we gave them intelligence – but they are doing nothing,” he said.

debkafile‘s military sources disclose that while Egypt helps the Palestinians move the tools of war into Gaza, the Syrians have established large arms dumps for the fresh war materiel incoming from Iran and Syria itself on the Syrian side of the Lebanese border. It can be moved over to any part of Lebanon in an instant. This device enables Damascus to keep Hizballah re-supplied while pretending to uphold the arms embargo ordered in Security Council resolution 1701.

Our sources reveal 25 of these large weapons stores have been located in Syrian army camps, air bases and security installations close to the Lebanese border. They contain miscellaneous missiles, including the latest models of surface-to-air and anti-tank rockets, all sorted and marked by type of weapon and the Hizballah units for which they are destined.

Syria is also topping up Hizballah’s war losses of ammunition and shells as well as mortars, machine guns, grenades, anti-tank missiles, explosives and automatic rifles.

The weapons supply situation for the Palestinians in the south and Hizballah in north means that both are in equipped with enough war materiel to open simultaneous fronts against Israel from both ends of the country.


Al Qaeda’s novel death technique: Detonating hundreds of simultaneous explosions through cell phone and Internet


27 September: debkafile‘s counter-terror sources report extreme concern among security services after the source of 350 multiple attacks in Bangladesh on Aug. 17, 2005, was traced to Tripoli, Lebanon

French counter-terror experts leading an international inquiry discovered that a facility, set up there by Abu Musab al Zarqawi, al Qaeda’s late Iraq commander, had developed the new design which works through Internet messengers like Skype or MSN.

Network-connected mobile phones can remotely detonate over the Internet simultaneous explosions hundreds of miles apart, anywhere on the world. This system, seen only in Bangladesh so far, is more complex than any used by al Qaeda before. A year ago, some 350 explosions in quick succession in 36 districts hit government facilities and hotels in Dhaka and 16 other Bangladeshi towns. One person was killed and 115 people injured.

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