October 6, 2010


Israel releases 1973 war papers to warn Syria, Hizballah: Hands off Beirut!

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 6, 2010, 10:42 AM (GMT+02:00)
Tags:  Israel   Lebanon   Syria 
Bashar Assad lays ground for Hizballah coup in Beirut

Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided to release the minutes of the deliberations on an air blitz against Damascus - held in Jerusalem before and during the Yom Kippur War 37 years ago - as a strong warning to Syrian President Bashar Assad, debkafile's military and intelligence sources reveal. Then, a decision to take out Damascus to halt the Syrian offensive was overruled. This time could be different: Bashar Assad regime's own centers of power could be at risk if Syria and Hizballah go through with their plan to overpower Beirut and topple Saad Hariri's sovereign government.
That is the message relayed by the October 1973 war papers released this week, which go beyond uncovering secret operational and intelligence decision-making and are  unusually wide-ranging.
In the hours leading up to the fateful moment on Oct. 6 1973, when the combined forces of Egypt and Syria caught Israel napping by a joint offensive (designed by their Russian sponsor), Israel's chief of staff, the late Lt. Gen. David Elazar, said to Prime Minister Golda Meir: In operational terms, we can wipe out the entire Syrian air force by 12:00 noon today. We need another 30 hours to destroy its missiles. Then, if they go on the offensive at 5 pm., our air force will be free to strike the Syrian army. To me, this is operational option is attractive.
Three days later, on Oct. 9, catastrophe stared Israel in the face: The IDF was in a bad way and taking casualties in the realm of hundreds dead and thousands injured; their defense lines in Sinai and the Golan had fallen and there was nothing in the way of the Syrian army going all the way to the Sea of Galilee and Tiberias.
In a closed meeting with Golda Meir, the iconic defense minister Moshe Dayan asked for permission to bomb Damascus. "Inside the city?" she asked. "Inside the city and its environs," he replied. "We have to break the Syrians," Dayan explained that he proposed to strike the Syrian General Command and infrastructure in Damascus. "We've done enough going around the fields (a reference to targets outside the Syrian capital). There are no more key targets left. Damascus is the only one. We can't promise the population won't be hurt."
Golda's permission was withheld.
debkafile's sources report that the decision to release these documents and the section relating to Syria was taken in Jerusalem after the Obama administration failed to prevent the two-day state visit to Lebanon by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad taking place on Oct. 13.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may not have been tough enough on this issue when she met Syrian foreign minister Walid Muallem in New York Monday, Sept. 27. Damascus also inferred from the tenor of that converstion that Washington would not interfere with a Syrian-Iranian-backed Hizballah attack on Lebanon's centers of power.
The 1973 war papers released in Jerusalem, revealing that Israel then was just hours away from an air blitz  against Damascus, was a message to Assad that Jerusalem was not aligned with the Americans in this.
The suspense ahead of the Ahmadinejad visit and its fallout continued to rise this week.
Tuesday, Oct. 5, U.S. sources told Kuwait's Al-Rai newspaper: There are international and Arab concerns over a potential assassination attempt against PM Saad Hariri.
That night, Damascus pressed ahead with its campaign to prepare Beirut for a Hizballah takeover by chipping away at Lebanese sovereignty and the authority of the Hariri government. Syria's chief military prosecutor issued summonses for four former Lebanese security officials to present themselves in Damascus and testify against three former officers, two Syrian and one Lebanese, who bore witness against Syria and Hizballah as complicit in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005.
This step followed the publication on Monday of a list of 33 Lebanese and international figures accused of conspiring in a plot to inculpate Syria for the murder.


Growing skepticism over US terror alert for Europe

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report October 5, 2010, 2:19 PM (GMT+02:00)
Tags:  Europe   France   US terror alert 
Paris on guard against only specific terror threat
debkafile's counter-terror sources specializing in al Qaeda are increasingly uncomfortable with and skeptical of the comprehensive, imprecise American terror alert embracing all of Europe that was issued Oct. 3 by the US State Department.  Our European and Middle East intelligence agencies anti anti-terror organs commented Tuesday, Oct. 5, that the blanket US call for US travelers to watch out for terrorist attacks in public places and tourist sites has little relation to their own data on existing terrorist threats.
Even the countries which have raised their level of terror alert, such as France, Japan and Sweden, have not received specific data from Washington confirming reports of an imminent attack. For instance, the "Kilowatt Group" for international cooperation among intelligence services on counterterrorism, which has the biggest data base on al Qaeda and international terrorist organizations, has not received any fresh updates on the US-sourced alert.
Furthermore, debkafile's sources stress, Israel's counter-terror center in Jerusalem has not issued  advisories about travel to Europe, threats to Jewish centers or danger in the continent's transport systems and airports which are frequented by Israeli tourists. Israel authorities, normally hypersensitive to any hint of terrorism, have not advised Israeli or Jewish institutions in Europe to raise their alert level like the Americans and the British.
Our intelligence sources, furthermore, cannot confirm that the suspected terrorists cited in the last few days as  sources of information for imminent attacks are actually in possession of this information or have any relevance to them.
From Sunday, Oct. 3, German intelligence and security services alone have made their doubts clear, after consulting with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Monday, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said thatGerman police and intelligence services have no concrete evidence that a terror attack is imminent."
Similar reservations have been heard in other European capitals. They find contradictions in the various reports from London, which maintained that Mumbai-style multiple terror attacks planned in Pakistan threatened the UK, France and Germany and other reports from Washington that the terrorists plan to strike simultaneously at five major European airports.
One high-placed source commented dryly to debkafile that these contradictions were another factor undermining the credibility of the American alert. He pointed out that if as was claimed the attackers had already arrived in Europe and were close to their targets, there was no point in intensifying US drone and helicopter strikes on terrorist bass in Pakistan's North Waziristan. Hihad groups don't operate like regular armies, he said. Once a network is launched against a target it can't be turned around and if fellow terrorists come to harm, they become more determined than ever to go through with their mission.
The only country which does face imminent terrorist action is France, but this has nothing to do with the alert issued by the State Department for the European continent at large or with the US offensive against al Qaeda and Taliban havens in northwest Pakistan.
French special forces and air units have for some weeks been fighting Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb - AQIM, whose tentacles have gripped Algeria, Morocco and countries of the Sahel and Sahara deserts. AQIM is trying to hit back on French soil by using Islamists of North African origin living in Europe.
Overnight Monday, Oct. 4, French anti-terror police swooped on Muslims suspected of being part of an Islamist cell in the southern towns of Marseille, Aubagne, Marignane and Bordeaux. Among the weapons they captured were automatic rifles and a quantity of explosives. Some of the cell members had undergone training on the Afghan-Pakistan border.
The arrests followed the detention on Saturday of a 28-year-old Algerian man, wanted by French police, at a train station in Naples, southern Italy. He was allegedly carrying a bomb-making kit and is suspected of being the head of the terror cell. France has filed for his extradition.