Although most of the bombing attacks on Israeli diplomats this week missed their mark, Israel more understandably and Britain, less so, have been raising an uproar about Iran’s role as sponsor of terrorism, accusing Tehran of enlisting HIzballah and al Qaeda for a major offensive.
This is hard to explain given that Jerusalem and London were well aware that President Barack Obama’s stubborn effort to get nuclear talks with Iran restarted is about to bear fruit. (See the lead item in this issue).
Did they imagine they could deflect Obama from his dedication to diplomacy by smearing Iran?
Not likely, especially when the unfolding steps toward negotiations would quickly drown them out.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence and counter-terrorism sources have established that Jerusalem and London are not on the same page. Each is hoeing its own separate patch in relation to Iran.
Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu believes that the sole beneficiary of negotiations will be Iran which will drag them out to win another breathing space for finishing developing a nuclear weapon. He is therefore painting Tehran in the darkest colors as the villain behind the terrorist attacks on Israeli diplomats this week.
His problem is that Israel’s intelligence services were caught unprepared for the bomb attacks on Israeli targets in New Delhi, where an Israeli woman was injured by a magnetic bomb blast, Tbilisi and Bangkok, where the attacks failed, and Singapore, where Persian Gulf sources claimed a plot to assassinate Defense Minister Ehud Barak who was visiting the Air Show was foiled.
Israel expects sanctions to boost Iranian terrorism
Israeli security had been braced for Hizballah overseas operatives to make for Israeli targets in February to avenge the death in Damascus of their commander in chief Imad Moughniyeh four years ago.
It has been assumed in Jerusalem that just as the US, while entering into talks with Iran, would press on with military preparations should it become necessary to attack Iran’s military program and keep up the stiff sanctions, so too Iran would go for Israel wherever possible while avoiding harming Americans or Europeans.
On Thursday, Feb. 16, Vice Premier and Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon implied as much by warning that Iran would try and hit back at Israel in the coming days for sanctions imposed by America.
Israel should be prepared, he said, because the tougher the sanctions, the more painful Iranian attacks would be.
Nonetheless, Yaalon said, the US should go all the way with sanctions even if Israelis were put in danger.
The prime minister finds himself in a quandary: On the one hand, he must expose the hand behind the potential wave of terror against Israelis and, on the other, is constrained from going all out to punish the perpetrator.
Britain fears attacks on the London Olympics
On Wednesday and Thursday, 6, British security and intelligence sources spread the word that Tehran was cooperating with al Qaeda for a campaign against Western interests around the world and a spectacular attack in Europe was expected.
They suggested Iran and al-Qaeda might target the London Olympics, which opens in July.
“This is a warning to the West” said Anthony Skinner, the director of the political risk consultants Maplecroft. “It would be a significant development that would represent a massive upgrade in al-Qaeda’s capacity to strike.”
The British appear to be prompted by anger with the Americans for failing to extract from Iran in advance of nuclear talks a pledge not to commit terrorist attacks in the UK, and especially on the Olympic Games just six months away.
London is deeply concerned by the presence of the key al-Qaeda strategist, Mustafa Sit-Mariam, also known as Abu Musab al-Suri in Tehran.
Al-Suri, whom London has tabbed as the mastermind behind the July 7, 2005 suicide attacks on the London underground and bus systems which killed 52 people, was recently let out of a Damascus jail by President Bashar Assad. No sooner was he out, when Syrian and Iranian agents escorted him to Tehran.
Recent intelligence coming from counter-terrorism sources in London and other Western sources indicate he is deep in preparations for a summer campaign. He may focus on London where he maintains a network of sleeper cells.