Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak gave Israel’s trade and industry minister Ehud Olmert some disturbing news on Tuesday, December 14, when the two countries signed an accord that grants certain Egyptian exports duty-free status in the United States.
The day before the Israeli minister’s arrival in Cairo, Egyptian security services arrested a group of Egyptian Islamic fundamentalists carrying out surveillance of the Israeli embassy in Cairo and monitoring the movements of Israeli diplomats and their families in the city. They told their interrogators that they took their orders from Iran.
Jerusalem was not bowled over by this friendly tip from the Egyptian president.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s counter-terrorism sources report that foreign intelligence services have been telling Israel since late November that Iranian spy teams are being rounded up outside Israeli missions in various parts of the world. The FBI nabbed one team watching Israeli consulates in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston. It was made up of Iranian Americans, Arab and Pakistani students – some of them US citizens, and all activists belonging to Muslim fundamentalist groups.
They knew quite well that Iranian intelligence had employed them to gather information for use in hostage taking or bombing attacks on the Israeli missions.
The notion of Tehran-instigated terrorist strikes in the middle of America’s main cities has struck alarm in US intelligence agencies and Homeland Security department. They could not have been planned without top-level sanction from spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or without the presence in America of an operational network. Although assigned with striking Israeli consulates, there is nothing to stop this network from expanding its mission to American strategic targets as well.
Of particular concern are the close ties Iranian intelligence has developed with al Qaeda cells based inside the Islamic republic. US intelligence sources have learned that Khamenei in person has created a new clandestine umbrella organization for bringing together as an arm of his bureau all the al Qaeda-linked groups and likeminded movements.
Iran and al Qaeda converge for terrorism
This organization is said to be plotting a major attack in the United States.
US intelligence experts believe that data gathered for Tehran by the captured Iranian surveillance team may well have reached al Qaeda.
In the light of this discovery, the FBI is now re-examining intelligence incoming over the past year on terrorist plots, including tip-offs on the plan by an Iranian-backed cell to hijack Canadian airliners and crash them into the Seabrook nuclear reactor in New Hampshire, only 40 miles (65 km) from Boston. This alert came from former top officials of the late Shah’s government. Their past reports have usually proved correct, especially on Tehran’s nuclear weapons policy and its instigation of global terror.
The attack on the nuclear reactor, which would have been the deadliest every carried out in North America, was originally scheduled for a date between November 23 and December 3, 2003. It was postponed until after this year’s presidential election.
Canadian authorities detained 19 of its suspected planners on formal immigration violations. Some had been taking flying lessons – emulating the Saudis who carried out the 9/11 attacks – and had flown an aircraft over an atomic power plant in Ontario.
According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence and counter-terrorism sources, al Qaeda teams have also been picked up in Brussels, Amsterdam, Madrid and the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo. The West European spy teams were comprised of members of the Lebanese terrorist group Hizballah.
The results of the US interrogation of the Iranian surveillance team have led Israeli intelligence and security chiefs to conclude that Tehran is preparing to stage synchronized terrorist strikes across America and other parts of the world. The captured team may even have acted as a decoy for deeply buried terrorist cells set up for a string of simultaneous assaults on Israeli or Jewish targets unconnected with Israeli diplomatic missions.
Israeli has accordingly put all its embassies, consulates and other missions, as well as airlines, shipping companies and overseas company offices on high terror alert. Security has also been stepped up at overseas Jewish institutions and schools.