A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Weeks Ending Sept. 4, 2014
August 29, 2014 Briefs
- US delivers emergency weapons shipment to Lebanon
The first US emergency shipment of weapons was displayed at a Beirut military base Friday, as part of a US plan to bolster military forces to combat the growing Islamist extremist threat. On display were M16-A4 assault rifles, mortars and anti-tank missiles.
- Britain raises terror threat level to severe
UK Home Secretary Theresa May said Friday that raising the threat level from “substantial” to “severe” means that a terror attack on the UK is “highly likely” though short of “imminent.” Prime Minister David Cameron said at least 500 people had traveled from the UK "to fight in Syria and potentially Iraq," representing a "greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before".
- New US sanctions for those abetting Iran’s nuclear program
The US has sanctioned more than 25 businesses, banks and individuals charged with helping Iran expand its nuclear program, supporting terrorism and aiding Tehran in evading existing sanctions.
- Islamic State beheads Kurdish prisoner. Video threatens US
The video with the hashtag “2nd Message to America” showed the execution by decapitation of a Kurdish soldier and threatened to behead the entire group of 15 captured Peshmerga if Kurdistan continues to cooperate with the United States. It was released hours after 300 Syrian soldiers were filmed running through the desert in their underwear and shot dead.
August 30, 2014 Briefs
- Putin notes that Russia is a leading nuclear power
President Vladimir Putin commented Friday: “… no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers.” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned that the "already dangerous situation" in Ukraine may be slipping out of control.
- Anti-Israel UK MP George Galloway assaulted on London Street
The notorious anti-Israel British lawmaker was taken to hospital with a broken jaw Saturday after he was attacked on a street in London by an assailant heard shouting “something about the Holocaust.” He was arrested at the scene. Galloway was earlier interviewed under caution by the police for declaring his constituency of Bradford “an Israel-free zone" and urged a boycott on Israeli goods, services, academics and tourists.
- Saudi King Abdullah: Islamists soon in Europe and America
Saudi King Abdullah warned the West Saturday: “Terrorism at this time is an evil force that must be fought with wisdom and speed. And if neglected I'm sure after a month it will arrive in Europe and a month after that in America."
Amid a lengthening trail of Al Qaeda atrocities, world leaders call on each other to “stamp the evil out”
30 Aug. US Secretary of State John Kerry called Saturday, Aug. 30 for a “coalition of nations… to stamp out the disease of the Islamic state group,” following President Barack Obama highly-criticized denial of a strategy. British premier David Cameron revealed that Al Qaeda executed the attack on the Jewish museum of Brussels. Western leaders wax eloquent on the Islamist peril, but prefer to fight it at leisure through “allies” and “coalitions. Friday, IS released another indescribable video showing the beheading of a Kurdish soldier, hashtagged “2nd Message to America,” shortly after 300 Syrian prisoners were executed by firing squads.
While IS flashed those barbaric scenes across the world media Thursday, Aug. 28, by Al Qaeda’s Sinai branch, Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, attracted scant notice when it beheaded four people alleged to have collaborated with Israel. For the same charge, Hamas last week summarily executed 29 people without trial – three of them women, and seven in a public square.
August 31, 2014 Briefs
- All Philippine Golan peacekeepers safe, Fijis’ location unknown
The UN says all 70 Philippine Golan observers are safe. Forty fled Saturday night after a seven-hour shootout with the Nusra Front. The first group of 34 Filipino troops was rescued earlier and crossed the border into Israel. The 44 Fijian observers seized last week are being held at an unknown location by the Islamists.
- Sgt. Shahar Shalev dies of wounds in the Gaza operation
Paratroop Sgt. Shahar Shalev, 20, from Alonei Bashan, died Sunday of the severe wounds he sustained in battle in the southern Gazan town of Khan Younes. Sgt. Shalev was the 72nd casualty of Operation Defensive Edge against Hamas.
Israel downed a drone over Golan after it was identified as a Hizballah Ababil 2
31 Aug. debkafile reports exclusively that the UAV an Israeli Patriot battery shot down Sunday Aug. 31 over Quneitra on the Golan was launched by Hizballah. The Iran-made Ababail 2 was on a photography and intelligence-gathering mission over the Golan battleground, where the Syrian army and rebels are fighting over the Quneitra crossing and over Israel’s military deployment on the border. It is estimated that Hizballah was not preparing to join the battle, but rather concerned in case the rebels beat back Syrian troops and broke through from northern Golan to Mt. Hermon and southern Lebanon.
September 1, 2014 Briefs
- Putin proposes “statehood” for separatist Ukraine regions
The term “statehood” used by Russian President Vladimir Putin in relation to eastern Ukraine raises his challenge to Kiev and the West, rather than his backing down in the face of the EU’s threat of new sanctions in a week’s time.
- The US urges Israel to reverse new West Bank land appropriation
The US has urged Israel to reverse its appropriation of 1,000 acres of land for possible settlement construction near Bethlehem on the West Bank. Israel radio said the appropriation was taken in response to the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teenagers by Hamas militants in the area in June, which sparked the seven-week war in Gaza. Last year, bids were invited for building 1,000 housing units at the appropriated site to be known as Gevaot.
Egyptian troops hunt Hamas rocket teams in Sinai
1 Sept. The Egyptian military are scouring northern and central Sinai for Hamas and Islamic Jihad rocket squads and the launching sites they have buried beneath the desert surface, according to debkafile’s exclusive sources. They turn out to have established an elaborate rocket launching network in Sinai in the week before the Aug. 26 ceasefire in Gaza – both as a second front against Israel and as a lever, in case the Cairo negotiations later this month failed to meet their terms for a deal. But those talks are stalled for now by profound Palestinian inter-faction feuding.
September 2, 2014 Briefs
- Palestinians injured trying to run over Israel soldiers on West Bank
A vehicle packed with eight Palestinians on their way home from illegal jobs in Israel tried to crash into the Israeli soldiers and border guards manning a roadblock near Qalqiya in the northern West Bank. None had work permits. The soldiers shot at the racing vehicle, injuring at least two of the Palestinians seriously. An Israeli passerby was also hurt.
- Saudi Arabia arrests 88 alleged plotters of attacks at home and abroad
The Saudi interior ministry offered no information about the plots except to say that attacks were planned inside and outside the kingdom.
- Russia to update strategy against NATO’s crisis response force plan
On the eve of a NATO summit on Ukraine, A Kremlin adviser said Moscow plans to alter its military strategy as a result of the Ukraine crisis and NATO’s presence in eastern Europe. The updated strategy, he said, would reflect deteriorating relations with the US and respond to NATO’s plans to deploy crisis response forces to Eastern Europe close to Russian borders.
- Gantz: The Gaza war is over, but Hamas may restart the fight
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz warned in a special order of the day Tuesday that Hamas may still go back to fighting Israel. Hamas aggression “did not take us by surprise,” he said. Our air, ground and sea forces fought with great strength and flexibility and maximum respect for human life and battle ethics – in contrast to ”the enemy’s cynical and brutal use of civilians as human shields.”
- Terrorists kill 11 Egyptian troops near Gaza border
A roadside bomb killed 11 Egyptian policemen, including an officer, who were traveling in an armored vehicle through the northern Sinai village of el-Wefaq near the Gaza border.
- Police recommend former IDF chief Ashkenazi’s indictment
The police have advised the State Attorney to approve the indictment of former Chief of Staff Gaby Ashkenazi and five of his colleagues in connection with the allegation against Boaz Harpaz of forging document to wrongfully influence former Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s choice of army chief. The former chief of staff is accused of illegally passing confidential information and breach of trust.
Al Qaeda wraps up plans for major 9/11 anniversary strikes. New undetectable explosive may be used
2 Sept. According to credible Saudi, British and Australian intelligence, Al Qaeda’s IS and AQAP in Yemen have plans ready to roll out coordinated terrorist operations around the 13th anniversary of 9/11 – first in the Mid East and Europe and later in the US. debkafile: They may be using a secret undetectable explosive developed in Yemen by Al Qaeda’s top bomb-maker, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri. This novel explosive may even have been surgically implanted in the bodies of Western suicide jihadists, able to travel on US or European passports to their target destinations.
September 3, 204 Briefs
- Israel outlaws Islamic State of Iraq and Levant – ISIS
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon Wednesday signed a formal decree outlawing the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant aka ISIS, ISIL or IS. Association with the group is illegal and its meetings banned anywhere in Israel. debkafile: The defense minister acted after a rash of black al Qaeda flags appeared on Israeli-Arab rooftops in different parts of the country.
- Al Qaeda Sinai beheads 9 alleged “collaborators with Israel”
The Sinai branch of Al Qaeda, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis released a video Wednesday showing the execution by decapitation of 9 people accused of collaborating with Israel.
- Cameron says UK will not pay IS ransom for Hostages
UK Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament Wednesday that his government will not pay ransom to free a British hostage threatened with beheading after two American journalists suffered that fate, both at the hands of an executioner with a British accent. He spoke the day after an IS video showed the beheading of Steven Sotloff, 31, who held dual US-Israeli nationality.
Syria forces ranged for major counteroffensive to dislodge rebels from Quneitra. High tension on Golan
3 Sept. Soldiers of the Syrian army’s 7th Division and tanks were poised Wednesday, Sept. 3 for an all-out offensive in the coming hours against rebels holding parts of Quneitra, debkafile reports. The Syrians may move their tanks into the battle zone, in defiance of Israel’s caution via the UN that they would be infringing ceasefire agreements and incur IDF counteraction. Damascus counts on Israel being deterred from striking Syrian forces fighting Syrian Islamists after the wave of revulsion from the beheading of the Jewish American journalist Steven Sotloff by Iraqi Islamists.
September 4, 204 Briefs
- Ukraine, IS and extraordinary security at NATO summit in Wales
The Celtic Manor hotel near Newport in Wales hosts the two-day NATO summit which began Thursday with the participation of 61 world leaders. Their agenda is topped by two intractable crises: Ukraine and the Islamic State menace. As NATO leaders leveled critical remarks at Moscow, pro-Russian separatists began shelling the outskirts of the key Sea of Azov port of Mariupol.
- An Israel Tamuz destroys a Syrian artillery position on Golan
Roughly an hour after a Syrian shell flew over the Israeli Golan Thursday, the IDF destroyed its source, a Syrian artillery position, with a well-aimed Tamuz rocket. debkafile: The army waited for permission from civilian authority before hitting back. The decision took into account that Syrian rebels are under heavy Syrian pressure to recover Quneitra, and the destruction of a Syrian army position would help relieve some of that pressure.
- India uneasy over new Al Qaeda branch in South Asia
In a move to steal the thunder of the Al Qaeda’s Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the group’s chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri announced Wednesday the launch of Qaedat al-Jihad, to operate in India, Burma, Bangladesh and Kashmir.