* Hamas and the Moslem Brotherhood: Mossad was really behind the deadly Sinai attack carried out by Islamists
* Egyptians demand that U.S. release “the blind sheikh” convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing
* NY Times: Israel picked up phone chatter between Lebanon and Burgas (Bulgaria) before last month’s suicide bombing
* U.S. gymnast Aly Raisman: I chose “Hava Nagila” because the IOC refused to honor Munich victims
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1. New intel reveals Iran’s military nuclear program advancing faster than previously thought
2. Ugandan president: Israeli raid led to Amin’s fall. Will the same happen in Iran?
3. Is the Syrian civil war hindering a strike on Iran?
4. Saudi Arabia claims it would intercept Israeli planes en route to Iran
5. Iranian Vice President visits President Morsi in Cairo
6. Egyptian army and air force kill 20 in Sinai raids; no international condemnation
7. Hamas denounces Egypt’s “collective punishment”
8. Hamas and Egypt’s Moslem Brotherhood claim Mossad behind Sinai attack
9. Egyptians demand that the U.S. release “the blind sheikh”
10. Hamas PM’s brother-in-law reportedly treated at Tel Aviv hospital
11. Palestinian Authority sends funds to those affected by the violence in Syria
12. Israel stops “significant Hizbullah bomb plot”
13. NY Times: Israel picked up phone chatter between Lebanon and Burgas before bombing
14. Aly Raisman says she chose “Hava Nagila” because IOC refused to honor Munich victims
[Notes below by Tom Gross]
NEW INTELLIGENCE REVEALS IRANIAN MILITARY NUCLEAR PROGRAM ADVANCING FASTER THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT
The well-sourced journalist for the Israeli paper Ha’aretz, Chemi Shalev, reports that new intelligence information obtained by five Western countries, including Israel, indicates that Iran has made greater progress in developing components for a nuclear bomb than the West had previously realized.
Western diplomats said that the intelligence agencies of the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Israel all agree with this alarming new assessment.
This assessment was initially raised in February, when Iran refused to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the base at Parchin, where it is believed Iran is carrying out part of the research and development for the military aspect of its nuclear program.
Then, last month Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards has established a new team of 60 nuclear scientists to develop Iran’s military nuclear program at the Lavizan base near Tehran.
And on August 1, an American think tank, the Institute for Science and International Security, released a satellite photo of the Parchin base taken on July 25 showing, according to Western intelligence, that Iran is developing nuclear weapons there. According to researchers at the institute, the photos show that the Iranians have bulldozed a number of structures at the base and leveled the surrounding land, to erase evidence of nuclear activity at the site.
UGANDAN PRESIDENT: ISRAELI RAID LED TO AMIN’S FALL. WILL THE SAME HAPPEN REGARDING IRAN’S REGIME?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney when he visited Jerusalem last week that an Israeli or American military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities was likely to help topple the Iranian dictatorship, just as Israel’s 1976 Entebbe raid led to the downfall of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s said in 2005 that the Israeli raid to free over 100 hostages held at Entebbe led to Amin’s downfall three years later. “The operation strengthened Amin’s rivals because it revealed how vulnerable his regime was,” Museveni said.
IS THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR HINDERING A STRIKE ON IRAN?
Journalist and analyst Yaakov Lappin writes that “the loss of its major regional ally, Syria, might even induce it to speed up its nuclear program.”
Lappin (who is a subscriber to this list) adds that “an Israeli or American strike on Iran’s nuclear weapons program may be being held up by the raging Syrian war, and the unstable status of Syria’s chemical weapons”
“Syria possesses the Middle East’s largest stockpiles of chemical weapons, which include deadly VX nerve gas, sarin, and mustard gas. It has also developed an advanced Scud missile program to serve as a delivery mechanism. In addition, Damascus has a reported biological weapons program.
“There are several factors currently at play in Syria and the region indicating that the future of those weapons is uncertain -- a factor that could prompt military planners to push back a strike on Iran to ensure that resources are available to deal with these threats from Syria if necessary, including jihadi organizations of all stripes who could try to snatch these incredibly dangerous arms.”
SAUDI ARABIA CLAIMS IT WOULD INTERCEPT ISRAELI PLANES EN ROUTE TO IRAN
The mass-circulation Israeli paper Yediot Ahronot reports today that Saudi Arabia will not permit Israeli aircraft to cross its territory on the way to strike Iran. According to the paper, the Saudi message was passed to Jerusalem via Obama administration officials during recent talks in Jerusalem.
Senior Israeli officials reportedly see the message as a warning sign not just from Saudi Arabia, but from President Obama, for Israel not to launch a unilateral strike.
Saudi Arabia is supplied with U.S. military equipment and aircraft, leading to speculation that any Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities carried out in cooperation with the US, would involve flying through Saudi airspace.
Sunni Saudi Arabia is desperate for Shia Iran not to obtain nuclear weapons, but is also petrified of being involved in any military efforts to prevent them.
Israeli officials prefer that the U.S. lead, or be involved with, any possible strike on Iranian nuclear installations. Were Israel to act alone it is believed Israel would have to use at least 100 planes to strike Iran’s four main nuclear sites, and fly over 1,000 miles over hostile territory to reach them.
Last week, on a visit to Israel, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, said that “all options” were on the table for dealing with a potential Iranian nuclear weapon, including the military option, but he still wanted to give more time to see if diplomacy and sanctions could thwart Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
IRANIAN VICE PRESIDENT VISITS PRESIDENT MORSI IN CAIRO
On Tuesday, Iranian Vice President Hamid Baghaei became the first high-ranking Iranian government official to visit Egypt since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he believes that the election in Egypt of President Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, is part of “an Islamic awakening” across the region.
EGYPTIAN ARMY AND AIR FORCE KILL 20 IN SINAI RAIDS; NO INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNATION
The Egyptian army responded strongly against terrorist forces in the Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday, targeting the group believed to be responsible for Sunday’s attempted raid on Israel that left 16 Egyptian soldiers dead. In Sunday’s incident, the Israeli air force destroyed the terrorist’s vehicle once it had broken through the border into Israel, killing the four terrorists inside.
One of the terrorists killed, Ahmad Said Ismail, was among those responsible for the terror attack on the Israel-Egypt border on June 18, 2012, in which they shot dead an Israeli civilian. (The murdered Israeli civilian was Said Fashapshe, 36, an Israeli-Arab father of four from a kibbutz near Haifa, who was on a work job near the Egyptian border.)
Regarding Egypt’s response on Wednesday, an Egyptian spokesman said troops entered the village of Al-Toumah, and killed 20 people and destroyed vehicles. The soldiers were backed up by the first-time use of Egyptian air force jets since the 1973 Yom Kippur war against Israel.
There has been no international condemnation of Egypt’s killing of 20 people, nor questions about how many of those killed might have been civilians.
One can imagine that there would have been a markedly different international reaction had Israel responded in the same way.
HAMAS DENOUNCES EGYPT’S “COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT”
In a further response to Sunday’s attack, Egypt closed the Rafah border crossing with Gaza “indefinitely” and began sealing up smuggling tunnels.
The Hamas rulers in Gaza denounced the Egyptian move as collective punishment.
Hamas and other Palestinian groups denied Egyptian claims that terrorists from Gaza were involved in the attack, which resulted in the death of 16 Egyptian soldiers.
HAMAS AND EGYPT’S MOSLEM BROTHERHOOD, CLAIM MOSSAD BEHIND SINAI ATTACK
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood alleged that Israel’s Mossad intelligence service was behind Sunday’s attack by Islamist militants. Hardly anyone took these claims seriously, apart from a news anchor on BBC World Service radio.
The Muslim Brotherhood called for a “review” of the 1979 treaty between Egypt and Israel after accusing Mossad of being responsible for the attack.
A spokesman for Gaza’s Hamas government also blamed the Mossad, claiming the attack was an Israeli “attempt to tamper with Egyptian security and drive a wedge between the Egyptians and the residents of the Gaza Strip.”
“This is a despicable crime that only serves the interests of the Zionist enemy,” the Hamas spokesman said. “We believe that Israeli agents were behind the attack.”
Another Palestinian group, Al-Jama’ah Al-Islamiya, also claimed that Israeli “intelligence forces” were behind the attack.
Among related dispatches:
EGYPTIANS DEMAND THAT THE U.S. RELEASE “THE BLIND SHEIKH”
Islamist groups in Egypt have demanded that the U.S. release Omar Abd Al-Rahman, the so-called “blind sheikh” convicted in 1995 in America to life imprisonment for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York.
Al-Rahman came to prominence in the 1970’s when he issued a series of fatwas encouraging Egyptian Muslims to kill Christians. Following a short spell in an Egyptian prison, he moved to Pakistan where he befriended Al-Qaeda leaders Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri. He then moved to the United States in 1990 and was arrested in 1993 following the World Trade Center bombing. He was convicted in 1995.
In recent weeks, hundreds of Egyptians have been protesting and holding prayer sessions near the entrance to the American Embassy in Cairo, demanding Al-Rahman be released.
Many have said that future American-Egyptian ties should be conditional on the sheikh’s release.
HAMAS PM’S BROTHER-IN-LAW REPORTEDLY TREATED AT TEL AVIV HOSPITAL
Yediot Ahronot reports that the brother-in-law of Hamas’s Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, was given emergency cardiac treatment at Beilinson Hospital, near Tel Aviv, recently. He apparently suffered a heart attack that required more complicated care than that available in Gaza hospitals.
He was taken by ambulance along with his wife (Haniyeh’s sister) to the Tel Aviv hospital. He spent a week undergoing treatment there (at Israeli taxpayers’ expense) before his condition improved sufficiently for him and his wife to return to Gaza.
Ismail Haniyeh continues to attack Israel at every opportunity, and the terror group he heads does not recognize Israel’s right to exist. On Monday he led a mass prayer session outside the Egyptian Embassy in Gaza in solidarity with the victims of last weekend’s Islamist terror attack in Sinai. During the gathering, he joined the Muslim Brotherhood in accusing Israel of orchestrating the attack.
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY SENDS FUNDS TO THOSE AFFECTED BY THE VIOLENCE IN SYRIA
The Palestinian Authority – which claims it doesn’t have enough money even though it received billions in Western taxpayers’ money and stashes large sums away in foreign bank accounts – has sent hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to those caught up in the fighting in Syria.
Israel has also sent aid, as reported previously on this weblist.
ISRAEL STOPS “SIGNIFICANT HIZBULLAH BOMB PLOT”
Israeli security services have foiled a plot by the Iranian-backed Hizbullah terrorist organization to smuggle explosives from Lebanon into Israel and carry out a series of bomb attacks on Israelis.
Eleven suspects were formally charged in a Nazareth court on Wednesday. They were arrested last month but the case was kept secret until now while investigations were ongoing.
Those arrested came from the village of Ghajar, which straddles the Israeli border with Lebanon, and the city of Nazareth in northern Israel. They were carrying large amounts of explosives (together with operating systems and timers) which could have caused massive casualties.
NEW YORK TIMES: ISRAEL PICKED UP PHONE CHATTER BETWEEN LEBANON AND BURGAS BEFORE BOMBING
Citing anonymous intelligence sources, The New York Times reports that Israeli intelligence has evidence of extensive phone traffic between Lebanon and Burgas, Bulgaria, in the two months leading up to the July 18 suicide bombing at the Burgas airport which killed five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian bus driver.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly blamed Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hizbullah for the bombing, saying it was the latest in a series of attacks and attempted attacks on Israeli and other Jewish targets abroad orchestrated by Iran.
* For background, please see:
U.S. GYMNAST ALY RAISMAN SAYS SHE CHOSE “HAVA NAGILA” BECAUSE IOC REFUSED TO HONOR MUNICH VICTIMS
American gymnast Aly Raisman has said that she chose the music for her gold medal-winning floor routine at the London Olympics as a tribute to the victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics terror attack, according to a report in the (London) Daily Mail.
The 18-year-old added that the choice of Hava Nagila was also a response to the International Olympic Committee’s failure to commemorate the tragedy.
NBC commentator Bob Costas also criticized the IOC, and held his own moment of silence when Israeli athletes marched into the Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony.
For related dispatches to the above item please see:
* PA thanks IOC for refusing to honor Munich victims (& Abbas' role in the massacre)
[Notes above by Tom Gross]