A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Weeks Ending Feb. 26, 2015

February 15, 2015 Briefs

  • ISIS-affiliated fighters seize important Libyan town of Sirte
    Sources in Libya and Italy report that ISIS-affiliated fighters Sunday took a large part of the Libyan Mediterranean port of Sirte and are now heading for Tripoli, the capital.
  • US House Speaker kept Netanyahu invitation from White House
    US House Speaker John Boehner told Fox Sunday that he deliberately avoided informing the White House about his invitation to Israel’s prime minister to address Congress on Iran on March 3. “I wanted to make sure there was no interference,” he said.

Two terrorist attacks leave two dead at Copenhagen café and synagogue

15 Feb. Two shooting attacks within 10 hours of each other left two civilians dead and five Danish police officers injured in Copenhagen Saturday, Feb. 14. After firing multiple shots at a meeting in support of freedom of speech with the Swedish artist Lars Vilks, the gunman killed Dan Uzan who was guarding the town’s main synagogue.

Egypt bombs ISIS targets in Libya after video shows 21 Copts beheaded. Ten Egyptians previously killed in Sinai

15 Feb. The Egyptian air force bombed Islamic State targets in Libya at dawn Mon. Feb. 16, hours after a video was released showing the mass beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians. debkafile: Six days earlier, an ISIS-affiliated Sinai group aired a clip depicting the beheadings of 10 alleged collaborators with Israeli and Egyptian intelligence.

February 16, 2015 Briefs

  • Thousands of Afghan, Pakistani Shiites in Hizballah’s advance on Golan
    The Iranian-backed “Operation Quneitra Martyrs” for the capture of the Golan brings Afghan and Pakistani Shiite fighters to an Israeli border for the first time, debkafile reveals. Some 2,000 of these fighters have joined an equal number of Hizballah troops spearheading a march on the Golan from southern Syria. Recruited from the Hazara and Zaynubian militias, Tehran plans to send them on to Lebanon for a second Iran-led front against Israel.

February 18, 2015 Briefs

  • Indian Prime Minister visits Israeli pavilion at Aero India air show in Bengaluru
    Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi Wednesday, Feb. 18, who opened the Aero India Air Show at the Yelahanka air base in Bengaluru, visited the Israeli pavilion and chatted with Moshe Ya’alon, the first Israeli defense minister to pay a formal visit to India. The most prominent items displayed are the Israel Aerospace Industries’ Bombardier Global 500 naval reconnaissance aircraft; Rafael’s C-DOME naval defense system based on Iron Dome technology; and Elbit’s Music series for defending civilian airliners against shoulder-carried missiles.
  • New IDF General Staff appointments
    Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon Wednesday approved the new Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott’s appointments to the IDF’s General Staff. Maj. Gen Eyal Zamir takes over as OC Southern Command.
  • Islamic State launches major offensive on Kurdish capital defenses
    Islamic State forces embark on a major assault on the security belt defending the Iraqi Kurdish Republic’s capital Irbil.
  • Damascus: Rebels confer with Israel on defending Quneitra
    debkafile: Even in stormy winter conditions, the Syrian army continued Wednesday to press forward with Iranian, Hizballah and imported Afghani and Pakistani Shiite forces towards the Golan and Israeli lines. Their first objective is the lofty rebel-held Tel al-Harra mountain fortress, whose fall would lay Quneitra open to attack.

Syrian “friendly fire” kills scores of Iranian, Hizballah soldiers in S. Syria heading for Golan

18 Feb. Scores of Iranian and Hizballah fighters and a Syrian general were killed by “friendly fire” from the Syrian army’s 9th Division’s artillery and missiles, Wednesday, Feb. 18, debkafile reports exclusively. They were pushing from S. Syria to the Golan.

A fake Iranian “defector” assassinated Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman

19 Feb. A special investigation conducted by debkafile has discovered that the Argentine-Jewish prosecutor Natalio Alberto Nisman, 51, was murdered on Jan. 18 by an Iranian agent, who had won his trust by posing as a defector under the assumed name of Abbas Haqiqat-Ju. His killer struck hours before Nisman showed the Argentine parliament evidence that President Cristina Kirchner had covered up Iran’s complicity in the country’s worst ever terrorist attack, the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish community center in which 85 people died. Nisman’s evidence had it been presented would have ultimately pinned the culpability on Iran.

February 20, 2015 Briefs

  • Netanyahu: IAEA finds Iran persisting in nuclear concealment
    The latest International Atomic Energy Agency Report confirms Iran is concealing its preparations for making nuclear weapons, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu noted Friday.
  • Three missing British teenage girls believe traveling to Syria
    Three schoolgirls from East London have traveled to Turkey with the intention of crossing the border into Syria and joining the Islamic State.
  • Mogadishu bomb blast kills 4, injures Somali Dep PM
    The deputy mayor and a Somali lawmaker were among the four people killed Friday by twin suicide bomb car explosions at the Central Hotel near the presidential palace in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. The deputy prime minister and other high officials were among those wounded.

February 21, 2015 Briefs

  • Iran airlifts thousands of Shiite fighters to boost Aleppo warfront through Latakia
    debkafile has revealed a large-scale Iranian airlift flying thousands of Shiite fighters to the Syrian Mediterranean port of Latakia to reinforce the Syrian forces defeated at rebel hands in Aleppo and save them from retreat. Their arrival seriously disturbs Israel’s army chiefs. They reckon Tehran would be just as prompt in sending reinforcements if the Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers leading the offensive to capture the Golan town of Quneitra opposite Israel’s lines faced a setback.

February 22, 2015 Briefs

  • Kurdish and Iraqi fighters paraded in cages by ISIS
    The new video released Sunday shows 16 Peshmerga fighters, two Iraqi army officers and three policemen from Kirkuk paraded in cages through Iraqi streets in orange clothes. They were captured on Jan. 31 when Kurdish fighters repelled a terrorist attack on Kirkuk. debkafile: The Islamist onslaught on Kirkuk went into its second week Sunday, defended only by ill-armed Kurdish militiamen.
  • Al Shabaab calls for mall attacks in US, UK and Canada
    Al Qaeda’s Somali affiliate Al Shabaab calls for attacks on busy “American and Jewish-owned” shopping centers in three countries: The Mall of America in Minnesota, US, Oxford St, in London, UK and Canada’s West Edmonton Mall.
  • Turkey evacuates 40 soldiers from historic tomb in Syria
    Forty Turkish military personnel guarding the historic tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the Ottoman Empire’s founder near Aleppo, were Sunday evacuated from Syria. debkafile: Ankara evacuated the site to prevent the tomb and its soldiers falling into ISIS hands.
  • Jerusalem Mayor stops Palestinian stabbing attack
    After several weeks without terrorist incidents in Jerusalem, an 18-year old Palestinian from the Ramallah district Sunday stabbed a passerby in the stomach on a Jerusalem street. As he looked for more victims, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat who was driving past jumped out with his bodyguard and tackled the terrorist, forcing him to drop the knife.
  • Israel buys another 14 US F-35 warplanes under new deal
    The transaction added another 14 F-35 warplanes to Israel’s purchasing list, with the option for an additional 17 aircraft, on top of the 19 placed on order in 2010. The new deal is worth $2.82bn – a valuable boost for the US air industry.

More US concessions demanded to save nuclear deal with Iran

22 Feb. If indeed the Obama administration has reached the limit of its concessions, the nuclear talks are doomed, since Iran won’t give way on centrifuges and enriched uranium stocks.

February 23, 2015 Briefs

  • US court finds Palestinian institutions liable for terrorist attacks in Israel
    A decade-long trial ended Monday in a landmark victory for the victims of Palestinian terror when a Federal New York District Court found the Palestinian Authority and PLO liable for knowingly supporting six terrorist attacks during the 2001-2004 intifada, in which Americans were among the thousands killed and injured. This was the first time an American court of law had held the PA directly responsible for acts of terrorism.
    The plaintiffs, 10 families comprising three dozen members, were awarded damages of $655.5 million. The court accepted the victims’ evidence that PA security men helped plan or carry out the deadly shootings and bombings of unarmed civilians and that the perpetrators continued to receive salaries and promotions from the Palestinian Authority.
    The PA in Ramallah reacted with fury to the jury’s decision, accusing Israeli “extremists” of exploiting the American court to undermine the two-state solution of the Mid East conflict.
  • Australian FM Julie Bishop to visit Iran
    Australian Foreign Minister July Bishop is set to visit Tehran in April, the second member of her government to visit the country in a decade. Her trip, backed by the White House, is seen as a potential game-changer in the war on Islamist extremism in the Middle East and an opening for resetting trade ties with Tehran. Bishop will also visit Baghdad and Riyadh.
  • Eminent US Sen. Lieberman: Congress must hear Netanyahu
    The Independent former Democratic Senator and Jewish-American leader Joseph Lieberman strongly urged all members of Congress to listen to what Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has to say on Iran next week. Congress haf the power to “declare war, raise and support armies and provide and maintain a Navy he pointed out and, “Netanyahu might say some things that will inform your exercise of those great powers.”
  • Americans would now send US ground forces against ISIS
    For the first time, a majority of Americans (57 pc) favor sending US ground troops into Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS – up from the October figures of 47 in favor and 46 opposed, according to a CBS News poll.
  • French aircraft strike ISIS in Iraq from Charles de Gaulle carrier
    Warplanes on the decks of French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle went into action against Islamic State targets in Iraq as soon as the vessel reached Bahrain waters Monday.

DarkNet: Thriving digital marketplace for crime

23 Feb. DarkNet is the hidden bottom floor of the legal, public worldwide web. Extensively used by sophisticated criminal organizations and spooks, it conducts a lively trade in stolen official data, false identities, fake credit cards, firearms and ammo, human traffic and biological and chemical weapons. Also found there are hard porno, materials for pedophiles and snuff videos. Espionage and law enforcement agencies pretend this traffic is out of their control, but debkafile’s cyber experts confirm that the US FBI and NSA are deep into its oversight.

February 24, 2015 Briefs

  • ISIS abducts 90 Assyrian Christians, including children
    ISIS raided villages of the ancient Assyrian Christian community outside the northeastern Syrian town of Tel Hmar in Hasaka province Monday. Some 90 civilians were taken captive including children. The region is divided between Islamic State and Kurdish control
  • US and Iranian officials report progress on nuclear deal
    "We made progress," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday of the nuclear negotiations with Iran, while Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the sides found "a better understanding” after the US was reported to have agreed to eventually up the permitted 6,500 centrifuges for uranium enrichment to 10,000. After the deal expired, therefore, Iran could theoretically ramp up enrichment to whatever level it wanted.

Israel stages warning passes against Syrian air intruders over Golan

24 Feb. Israeli fighter jets flew passes over the Golan Monday, Feb. 23 as a warning to Syrian helicopters and fighter planes to stop encroaching on the no-fly zone, in violation of standing Israeli-Syrian armistice agreements, debkafile reports. Syrian helicopters dropped at least 30 barrel bombs on Syrian rebel forces holding Quneitra, according to spotters. Their crews took no notice of the Israeli fighter jets and drones present at the time. However, Israel will not tolerate a repeat performance.

February 25, 2015 Briefs

  • Three Al Jazeera journalists arrested in Paris for flying drone
    Three Al-Jazeera TV journalists were arrested in Paris on Wednesday after flying a drone from a park on the edge of the city, a judicial source said. This may be the first break in the police investigation of mysterious drones sighted over central Paris landmarks in the last two nights.
  • Susan Rice: Netanyahu’s speech is destructive to relationship
    National Security Adviser Susan Rice sharply called Binyamin Netanyahu’s forthcoming speech on Iran to Congress “destructive to the relationship between the two countries. In an interview with Charlie Rose Tuesday night, she said: "What has happened over the last several weeks by virtue of the invitation that was issued by the speaker and the acceptance of it by Prime Minister Netanyahu two weeks before his elections is that on both sides there have been injected some degree of partisanship. It is not only unfortunate but it is also destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”
    Earlier, Secretary of State John Kerry said in reference to the prime minister: “…anybody running around right now jumping in to say, ‘Well we don’t like the deal,’ or this, or that doesn’t know what the deal is.”
    He was responding to Netanyahu’s remarks: "This agreement, if signed, will allow Iran to become a nuclear threshold state – meaning that, with the powers' consent, Iran will get a license to develop atom bombs – and this is a country which openly declares its intention to destroy the state of Israel. That is why I will go to Washington to speak before the U.S. Congress, because the U.S. Congress may be the last defense before it is signed.”
  • Democrats regret Netanyahu declined their invitation
    Senator Richard Durbin said Wednesday that he regretted that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu could not meet the Democratic Senators who had invited him to a close-door meeting next week. "We offered the Prime Minister an opportunity to balance the politically divisive invitation from Speaker (John) Boehner with a private meeting with Democrats who are committed to keeping the bipartisan support of Israel strong," Durbin said. "His refusal to meet is disappointing to those of us who have stood by Israel for decades." Netanyahu declined the invitation from Senators Durbin and Dianne Feinstein saying: “Though I greatly appreciate your kind invitation, I believe that accepting it at this time could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit.”

February 26, 2015 Briefs

  • Israel & Jordan sign fresh water, Red Sea, Dead Sea cooperation accord
    Fulfilling a historic vision, Israel and Jordan Thursday signed a bilateral agreement to exchange water and jointly funnel Red Sea brines to the shrinking Dead Sea. They will share the potable water produced by a future desalination plant in Aqaba, from which salty brines will be piped to the Dead Sea. In return for its portion of the desalinated water in the South, Israel will double its sales to Jordan of fresh water from the Sea of Galilee.
  • ISIS executioner Jihadi John identified as a Londoner
    The masked Islamic State executioner known as "Jihadi John" for his British accent has been named as Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born British man in his mid-20s from West London, who was known to UK security services, which did not disclose his name earlier for “operational reasons.” Emwazi first appeared in a video last August showing him murdering American journalist James Foley and in later beheadings of US journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker David Haines, British taxi driver Alan Henning, and American aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig. JIhadi John appears in those videos heavily masked and in a black robe.
  • Australian FM: More “young brides” are traveling to join ISIS
    Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop warned Thursday that 30 to 40 women were among at least 110 Australians who have traveled to the Middle East to fight with ISIS. In an ABC interview, she cited the case of 22-year-old Amira Karroum who left her Sydney home just before Christmas and died in fighting in Syria, and the case of three British girls. An estimated 550 women from across Europe have also traveled to join the jihadists – many either attracted to male foreign terrorist fighters, accompanying their partner, or actually looking for a husband. Bishop warned they faced a brutal regime that treated women appallingly.

Iran practices smashing US Gulf vessel along with nuclear talks

26 Feb. “Wiping out the American Navy in the Persian Gulf in a few hours,” was the object of the Revolutionary Guards naval exercise Wednesday, Feb. 25, according to guidelines laid down by Adm. Alli Fadavi, head of the Revolutionary Guards Navy, in a secret document, to which debkafile’s sources gained access. A replica of a US aircraft carrier was targeted as the symbol of US might – and not for the first time. On April 27, 2014, debkafile revealed Iran was building a mock-up of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier for its war games last year too.

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