Tehran is bent on military action to settle scores with Israel and the United States whom it suspects of planting the malignant Stuxnet cyber worm in the computer systems of its nuclear, military and strategic infrastructure, debkafile's military and US sources report. The timeline of this attack revolves around the state visit to Lebanon President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has scheduled for Oct. 13-14, during which he will tour the Israeli border. Preying heavily on Iran too are the personal sanctions the United States has just imposed on its top military brass and ministers.
All this will no doubt come up in Syrian President Bashar Assad's talks with Iranian leaders during his visit to Tehran Saturday, Oct. 2.
In its latest issue, DEBKA-Net-Weekly reported Friday, Oct. 1 that when Assad and Ahmadinejad last met in Damascus on Sept. 18, three days after the malworm surfaced, the Iranian president warned that his country wouldf retaliate for the cyber attack by military means. Its allies, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas were advised to prepare for Israel taking the opportunity to attack them.
A few days later, Syrian sources leaked word that during that first encounter, Assad had urged Ahmadinejad to postpone his trip to Lebanon. They did not explain why.
However, Friday, Oct. 1, Syrian and Lebanese sources disclosed that Israel's northern border units had been placed on an elevated level of preparedness. The IDF spokesman did not deny the report, only pointing out that Israeli units on the borders with Lebanon and Syria had been on a high alert for some time and were keeping close watch on developments.
Aware of the incendiary tensions building up in its vicinity, Damascus is clearly taking pains to maintain a safe distance from any impending military conflagrations involving Iran, the United States and Israel.
Washington got involved when Wednesday, Sept. 29, President Barack Obama signed an executive order imposing sanctions on eight top Iranian officials, accusing them of serious human rights abuses, including the killing, torture, beating and rape of Iranian citizens since the country's disputed 2009 presidential election.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly noted thatthis was the firsttimeWashingtonhad singled out top-flight Iranian military and security personages for personal penalties and imposed them without reference to Iran's nuclear program.
Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, was additionally branded a criminal who should stand trial for murder. Also covered by this charges wereHeydar Moslehi, Minister of Intelligence, Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, Interior Minister in charge of Iranian security and intelligence services, and Gen. Hossein Taeb, Deputy IRGC commander and head of the corps intelligence.
Obama only signed the sanctions order this week, whereas the eight officials' crimes occurred more than a year ago in the wake of their crackdown on political opponents who charged the regime with falsifying the election. It would seem therefore that the US president acted with the intention of further dividing Iran's leaders and adding to the perplexity and demoralization besetting them over their powerlessness to bring the destructive cyber worm under control.
The severity of the personal charges Washington brought against these Iranian powerhouses and their timing were certainly not lost on interested parties in the region. debkafile's Iranian sources do not believe the Islamic regime can afford to let Washington's blunt assault on it’s the mainstays of its power go unchallenged.
The New York Times, followed by several other Western media and computer security specialists, this week reported a clue they believed they had found pointing to Israel as the source of the cyber attack on Iran: The word "myrtus" -Latin for the myrtle tree was found embedded in the Staxnet code. They pointed out that the Hebrew for myrtle, Hadas, resembles Hadassah, the birth name of the Jewish Queen Esther of ancient Persia who is depicted in the Book of Esther as persuading the king to pre-empt an attack on the Jewish population.
debkafile has an alternative interpretation: Branches of Hadas or myrtle are one of the Four Species featuring in Jewish ritual for Succoth, the Feast of Tabernacles, which occurred this year on Sept 22-29.