Commentary and analyses on terrorism, intelligence, security, and military and political affairs in the Middle East.
London counter-terrorism police detained three more individuals Saturday night suspected of conspiracy to murder in relation to the terrorist slaying of a British soldier in Woolwich, southeast London, last Wednesday. No details were released.
Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed Saturday night, May 25, to expand his movement’s military role in the Syrian civil war and muster tens of thousands of volunteers. Al Qaeda fighters were streaming into Syria, and Israel planned more attacks, he warned. debkafile: His words denote Hizballah's plunge deeper into the Syrian war and an oath to fight for Assad to the end. The issue is no longer, as Israeli officials insist, keeping advanced Iranian weapons out of Hizballah's hands, but its freeing Syrian forces to fight Israel.
The soldier was injured but will survive. He was patrolling the business area of western Paris Saturday when a bearded man, about 30, wearing an Arab-style garment under his jacket stabbed him in the neck.
The assailant fled the scene and is being sought by the police. The soldier was on duty as part of France’s Vigipirate anti-terrorist surveillance plan.
The Paris attack occurred four days after two Islamist terrorists hacked a British soldier to death on a London street.
Straight after Israel’s air strike over Damascus on May 5, the Syrian government tried to disable the computers regulating Haifa’s water system, Prof. Yitzhak Ben Israel, head of the National Research and Development Council, revealed Saturday. The attempt failed. Turning to the Iranian nuclear program, Ben Israel dismissed the notion of a red line since, he said, the Iranians are already only months away from the capacity to build a nuclear bomb.
Hizballah Dep. Secy Sheikh Naim Qassem says President Bashar Assad is serious about opening a front against Israel from the Golan. It only remains to be done. “Syria has the capabilities for this," he said. "But if necessary, we’ll help.” Qassem also warned Europe against the drive of some members to list Hizballah’s military arm as a terrorist organization.
Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade told reporters Friday that the Nigerian army had destroyed a number of well-equipped camps in the northeast used by the Islamist group Boko Haram to coordinate their attacks on local communities. This was its biggest campaign to date against the terrorists. On May 14, the president passed security control to the military after declaring a state of emergency in the three northeaster states.
More than 2,000 people have died in violence in Nigeria since Boko Haram launched its insurgency in 2009 to overthrow the Nigerian government and create an Islamic state – possibly with al Qaeda backing.
A friend of Michael Adebolajo, one of the two terrorists who slaughtered a British soldier in Woolwich last week, told BBC Newsnight Friday that Adebolajo had rejected an attempt by the MI5 security service’s to recruit him about half a year before the attack. The BBC could not obtain confirmation of this claim.
After the interview, the friend, Abu Nusaybah, was arrested at the BBC by the London Metropolitan police Counter-Terrorism Branch “in relation to suspected terrorism offences” and search warrants were executed at two homes in east London.
The arrest was not directly related to the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, the police said.
Earlier, the identity of the second killer was released. He was named as Michael Adebowale, 22, born in Nigeria and immigrated to Britain as a child.
Senior political figures hastened to offer assurances that what MI5 knew about Adebolajo and Adebowale before Wednesday’s attack would be thoroughly investigated by MI5 itself, and by a parliamentary committee.
UK Police took the two passengers off the plane which had been diverted to Stansted airport charging them with “invasion of the aircraft." The episode began Friday, when two RAF Typhoon fighter jets were scrambled to escort a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft flying from Lahore which was ordered to change course from Manchester airport and fly out over the North Sea. The plane with 279 passengers aboard was then permitted to land at Stansted near London. The Defense Ministry said the decision was taken for security reasons. It was later reported that the plane asked Machnester control tower for assistance due to “two disruptive passengers". It was denied that the diverted plan was subject to a terrorist attack.
A foreign ministry spokesman in Moscow said Friday that Syria has agreed in principle to participate in the conference that Russia and the US have proposed next month in Geneva. But he said it is impossible to set a date yet because it is not clear who will speak for the Syrian opposition. DEBKAfile: The main obstacle to setting a date is the Russian and Syrian demand to invite Iran and the Obama administration’s difficulty in reaching a decision.
Syrian rebels claimed to have downed an Iranian plane landing at Damascus airport Thursday and suspected of carrying weapons and ammunition for the Syrian army. They released a video they said showed the plane crashing and exploding upon landing after being hit by an anti-aircraft weapon. The claim denied by Syrian state media could not be independently verified.
Iran has crafted a web of subterfuge for obtaining from China the cash for buying the finished nuclear bombs and for concealing their transport to Iran by supertankers.
Al Qaeda-Iraq has relocated to Syria and completed its merger with Jabhat al-Nusra. They control key areas of eastern Syria including a producing oil field and access to the Jordanian border and are posed to serve as a counterweight to the Shiite Hizballah.
Israeli leaders play down the approaching menace of the Syrian-Hizballah war of attrition backed by Tehran. Bt Prime Minister Netanyahu has set up a war room in his Jerusalem office for keeping track.
The Obama administration has maneuvered itself out of a major role in reaching a political solution to the Syrian conflict. Bashar is building on his battlefield successes to demand a key role in any settlement.
A Digest of debkafile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in Week Ending May 23, 2013
The British anti-terrorist unit has arrested a man and a woman, both 29, on suspicion of conspiracy in the murder Wednesday of a British soldier in the London district of Woolwich. The two Islamists who hacked him to death shouting Alahu Akbar are UK born and of Nigerian descent. Their victim has been named as Drummer Lee Rigby, 25, of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. One of his killers was identified as Michael Adebolajo, 28, who grew up in East London and attended Greenwich University.
The UK government first ordered British soldiers at home not to wear uniform in public, then an hour later, reversed itself and said they should behave normally.
The two Islamist terrorists who hacked a British soldier to death on a London street Wednesday, May 22, chanting Allahu Akbar, were born in Britain of Nigerian descent and known to British security authorities. Motivated by revenge for Moslem deaths in Afghanistan, they selected as their victim a soldier from the Woolwich barracks who had served there. One terrorist was identified as Michael Adebolajo, 28, a convert to Islam and self-appointed Muslim street preacher from a stand near the barracks and the site of the murder.
Some Israeli defense strategists still refuse to admit that Bashar Assad, Hassan Nasrallah and Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei are pulling ahead in the Syrian war - contrary to their hopes that defeat would snap their bonds.
This uncertain assessment gives Assad and Nasrallah the gift of the initiative at war.
Tuesday, May 21, after an exchange of fire on the Golan, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said: “Last night we destroyed a Syrian army position which fired on an Israeli patrol.” Damascus earlier took responsibility for the attack and threatened to strike back for Israeli reprisals.
Shortly after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pledged Sunday, May 19, to maintain Israeli operations in Syria against advanced Iranian weapons for the Lebanese Hizballah, Syrian troops and their Hizballah comrades captured Al-Qasayr, gaining command of the high road to Lebanon’s Hermel Mountains.
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