1. Israel is accused of waging an assassination campaign
Israel is waging a covert assassination campaign across the Middle East in an effort to stop its key enemies co-ordinating their activities.
Israeli agents have been targeting meetings between members of Hamas and the leadership of the militant Hezbollah group, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
They are also suspected of recent killings in Dubai, Damascus and Beirut. While Israel’s Mossad spy agency has been suspected of staging assassinations across the world since the 1970s, it does not officially acknowledge or admit its activities.
The current spate of killings began in December when a “tourist bus” carrying Iranian officials and Hamas members exploded outside Damascus. The official report by Syria claimed that a tyre had exploded but photographs surfaced showing the charred remains of the vehicle — prompting speculation that a much larger explosion had taken place.
Several weeks later a meeting between members of Hamas, which controls Gaza, and their counterparts from Hezbollah in its southern Beirut stronghold in Lebanon was also attacked, resulting in several deaths.
Hamas had sought to cover up the incidents because it was embarrassed, a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah told The Times.
“There has been growing co-operation between Gaza and Iran. Israel can read the writing on the wall and they know that with the help of Iran, the Hamas Government in Gaza will become stronger and will fight better.
“But Israel is overstepping their boundaries. Other countries don’t want to become a killing field for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Most recently, the top Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was killed in Dubai on January 19, 2010. He is believed to have been poisoned by a woman who visited his room at the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel in Dubai.
Israeli officials said that Mabhouh had been a key figure in procuring Iranian-made longer-range rockets for Hamas that could be fired at targets in central Israel.
The exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has vowed revenge for Mabhouh’s death. He has also suggested that the current fighting between Hamas and Israel will become more regional. In an interview with the London-based al-Hayat newspaper, Mr Mashaal said that future wars with Israel would not be fought solely in the Gaza Strip.
Under the current Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, Israel is believed to have renewed efforts to kill high-level opponents. Only months after the former paratrooper assumed leadership of the intelligence service in October 2002, senior Hezbollah operatives in Lebanon began to be targeted. He was credited with ordering the killing of two relatively senior Hezbollah members who were killed in southern Beirut in July 2003 and August 2004.
More recently, Israel has been accused of planting a car bomb in Damascus that killed the top Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyah in February 2008. The Israeli Cabinet minister Daniel Herschkowitz last week praised the Mossad chief as one of the agency’s most successful leaders.
When asked about Mossad’s involvement in the Dubai slaying, Eli Yishai, the Interior Minister, smiled and said: “All the security services make, thank God, great efforts to safeguard the security of the state of Israel.”
While some countries are questioning whether Israel isn’t taking credit to increase the reputation of its defence establishment, other moderate Arab States are now describing the assassinations as a “covert war” between Israel and Hamas.
Diplomats said they were aware that covert Israeli operations had increased. “We watch their comings and goings; we are aware that there is more activity both on our ground and other countries in the region,” said an Egyptian diplomat. “They are trying to embroil us all in their conflict.”
Tensions between Israel and Hamas have remained high, despite the relative quiet that has ensued since the end of Israel’s offensive in Gaza last winter. Israeli troops were placed on alert yesterday after intelligence suggested that Hamas planned to abduct soldiers. Israel said this week that it had foiled a kidnapping in December by arresting the Hamas operative Slaman Abu Atik on the Israeli-Gaza border. He planned to enter Israel via Egypt, said the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service.
2. all that talk about the plane in the trench, etc. and now it’s 45 meters underwater… now that they squared away the black boxes
This issue, however, would raise a question of how to deal with the main parts of the plane which are still in place about 45 meters deep off the coast of Naameh south of Beirut. As-Safir newspaper on Monday quoted high-ranking official sources as saying that recovery of the main wreckage or moving it requires a decision by the international committee investigating the disaster. It said the committee is likely to take a decision in this regard on Monday or Tuesday after examining the data and pictures of the plane taken underwater.
3. Debka file — it was al qaeda that blew the plane up, but everyone’s too shy to say so.
Evidence has reached debkafile’s counter-terror sources that the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 which crashed after takeoff from Beirut on January 25, killing all 92 aboard, was blown up in mid-air. This was an al-Qaeda operation timed for one month to the day after its failed attempt to destroy an American Northwest airliner bound for Detroit.
It is becoming clear that either a bomb was planted on the Ethiopian flight with a timer or a passenger acted as suicide bomber.
Western security agencies in the Middle East involved in combating al Qaeda believe that its planners picked on the Ethiopian flight for more than one reason apart from the date: They had been tipped off that a group of French undercover agents, including Maria Sanchez Pietton, wife of the French ambassador to Beirut, and top Hizballah operatives, including secretary general Hassan Nasrallah, would be aboard.
Mme Pietton lost her life in the crash, while the Hizballah travelers were saved by switching to another flight at the last minute.
The first bodies recovered from the Mediterranean off the Lebanese town of Naama showed all the hallmarks of explosion victims: They were found strapped to their seats with their heads, hands and feet blown off and scattered, typical effects of an explosive blast.
Eye-witnesses at the time heard a loud explosion and saw the plane enveloped in a ball of fire as it gained altitude after takeoff from Beirut international airport. Both France and Hizballah have denied they were targets.
Lebanese officials, led by prime minister Saad Hariri, have spent two weeks trying to hide the fact that the Ethiopian airline disaster was caused by terror. But Lebanese health minister Jawad Khalifeh gave the game away by a slip of the tongue Tuesday, Feb. 9: “The plane exploded during flight and the cabin, as well as the bodies of those on board, were dispersed into the sea, in different locations,” he said, trying to explain why some of the corpses were found dismembered. He then tried to correct himself by saying he “didn’t mean a military explosion.”
More confirmation of a terrorist hand behind the attack is found in the deep involvement of US intelligence, including the FBI, in the investigation of the disaster from the first moment. The US survey ship Ocean Alert was dispatched to the area of the crash and dropped a miniature submarine into the depths to retrieve fragments of the airliner from the seabed.
A US intelligence and naval headquarters was set up at Beirut harbor to coordinate the salvage of the plane from the sea. Treating the crash as terror-related, Washington ordered the plane to be reconstructed from recovered fragments to establish the site of the explosion and its cause.
US officials are also shy of discussing the case in public and admitting the crash was caused by an act of terror. It took place on January 25, shortly after President Barack Obama said “Al-Qaeda has been weakened.” In an address to the American people to calm their anxieties after the Nigerian would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had failed to detonate explosives carried in his underwear.
Al Qaeda’s success in blowing a civilian airliner out of the sky over the Middle East proved the opposite. It therefore became the subject of a comprehensive cover-up, joined by France. Before the black box, recovered Tuesday, had even been examined, French sources announced that human error by the pilot was the cause of the Ethiopian airliner crash.
debkafile’s counter-terror sources recall a previous al Qaeda attack on a civilian airliner in the Middle East.
Six years ago, on January 8, 2004, an Egyptian charter blew up after takeoff at Sharm al-Sheikh for Cairo, killing all 148 French citizens aboard on their way back to Paris from a Red Sea vacation.
Neither Cairo nor Paris ever admitted that the disaster was caused by terrorists
4. samson blinded — this guy is very funny. he’s dead serious but he’s very funny.
Debka suggested that the Ethiopian airliner’s crash near Lebanon was a terrorist act. Possible, yes, though the plane could explode for innocuous reasons, too.
But we see no basis for the conclusion of Al Qaeda’s involvement. Al Qaeda had no good reason to bomb a plane which carried Nasrallah and other Hezbollah leaders. They changed their tickets at the last minute.
A possibility that Al Qaeda tipped Hezbollah people to change the plane also does not hold. They would rather call off the bombing rather than risk leaking their plans. Hezbollah would inform the Ethiopians about the plan, since the terrorist group depends on Ethiopia for arms trafficking. Al Qaeda had no incentive to blow an Ethiopian jet at all.
Bombing plot against Nasrallah might suggest Israeli involvement, but it is our long-standing policy to avoid huge collateral damage.