WorldNetDaily, June 25, 2004


by Herb Keinon and Agencies

Israel needs to seriously begin discussing ways of ridding the Middle East of nuclear weapons even if it is unwilling to acknowledge that it possesses such weapons, Mohamed El-Baradei - director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) -- said Sunday.

A senior Israeli diplomatic official responded to El-Baradei's statement by saying that Israel "has no intention of changing its policy."

Israel's nuclear policy over the last half-century has been one of ambiguity, neither confirming nor denying nuclear capability. The country has consistently said only that it will not be the first country to introduce nuclear weapons into the region.

One government official said that when El-Baradei visits, he will be told politely that while Iran is continuing in its attempts to gain a nuclear capability, and soon after Libya developed a weapons of mass destruction capability under the nose of the international community, "it is not exactly the time to play around with your deterrence."

Speaking in Moscow ahead of his planned visit to Israel this week, El-Baradei said that Israel should sign onto the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Though Israel is not a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty - which gives the IAEA powers to inspect nuclear programs - it is a member of the agency.

"We need ... to rid the Middle East of all weapons of mass destruction," he said.

"Israel agrees with that, but they say it has to be ... after peace agreements," Reuters quoted ElBaradei as saying. "My proposal is maybe we need to start to have a parallel dialogue on security at the same time when we're working on the peace process." El-Baradei said this issue would be on the top of his agenda when he meets Israeli officials this week.

He said that a dialogue would help reduce widespread frustration in the Middle East "about what is seen to be a security imbalance."

El-Baradei said it was a "given" that Israel has a nuclear capability, if not nuclear weapons. "So whether they would like to come in the open, whether they maintain ... ambiguity, it's for them to decide," El-Baradei said.

"As long as you continue to have countries dangling a cigarette from their mouth, you cannot tell everybody not to smoke with a high degree of credibility," El-Baradei said.

El-Baradei has visited Israel in 1998, and before that in 1996 and 1992.

Israel neither confirms nor denies it has nuclear weapons, and refuses to discuss such allegations. International experts estimate the country holds 200 or more weapons.

In April, El- Baradei said "Nuclear deterrence or nuclear weapons [are] deeply ingrained in the Israeli psychology. They think... that as long as many people, individuals [and] groups continue to talk about the destruction of Israel, they just simply cannot afford to give up the nuclear option in the absence of a comprehensive peace accepted by the people of the region."


Monday, June 28, 2004


An IDF soldier was killed and five IDF soldiers were injured as a result of an explosion in an IDF post in Gush Katif last night.

An IDF soldier was killed, an IDF soldier was seriously injured, an IDF soldier was moderately injured and three IDF soldiers were lightly injured as a result of an explosion activated by the use of an underground tunnel dug under an IDF post near the Gush- Katif junction, in the central Gaza strip, yesterday evening June 27, 2004.

The families of the soldiers have been notified.

An initial inquiry points to the fact that the explosion occurred as a result of an underground tunnel; dug by Palestinian terrorists. The tunnel was than filled with a large amount of explosives which were used to target the IDF soldiers inside the post.

Rescue teams arriving at the scene quickly evacuated the Soldiers to a nearby hospital.

During the entire rescue efforts and the attempted evacuation of the soldiers the rescue forces came under heavy Palestinian fire.


Friday, June 25, 2004


[IMRA: The unilateral decision to reward the Saudis for their cooperation by breaking a promise to Israel and endangering the Jewish State's security (see below) is a clear warning against trading security for "security arrangements"]

The new commander of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Eliezer Shkeidi, was asked: "The Saudis deployed F-15 aircraft at the Tabuq airfield, minutes from the Israeli border, contrary to agreements. Does this disturb you?"

Shkeidi: "I am very disturbed. They were moved to Tabuq in violation of all agreements and decisions taken when they bought the F-15s....Again, this returns us to the distance between capabilities and intentions. And intentions in our region can change quickly."

"U.S. concessions to Saudi Arabia in return for its cooperation over Iraq were fairly modest, officials said. The most significant military concession was ending a 25-year-old restriction barring the Saudi air force from using the Tabuk airfield as a base for F-15 fighter planes purchased from the United States. The Israeli government had long objected to Saudi F-15s flying in and out of Tabuk, from which Israel would be within easy striking distance. "


The Jerusalem Post, June 27, 2004


by Arieh O'Sullivan

Palestinian terror groups will make an effort in the near future to rebuild their operational basis following recent successful IDF operations in Nablus and elsewhere in the West Bank, a senior officer of the IDF's General Staff said Sunday.

The officer added that the planned disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip and four isolated settlements in the northern West Bank would increase the groups' efforts to reorganize their structures, Army Radio reported.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz warned Sunday against Israeli over-confidence. "Saturday's killing of terror leaders in Nablus was another factor in lowering the level of terror. However, we cannot rest on our laurels. We need to continue applying harsh pressure on the terrorists," Mofaz said.

The Fatah Al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigades vowed to avenge the killing on Saturday of its Nablus military wing head Nayef Abu Sharkh, who was shot along with five other Palestinians -- all senior members of the Islamic Jihad and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The terror group, with close links to PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, declared a three-day mourning period in Nablus for Sharkh and his companions. It also promised an "earthquake" of vengeance on Israel.

Sharkh was reportedly appointed to the post just two months ago. He was behind the suicide attack in Nave Sha'anan that killed 23 people and has been on the most wanted list since the beginning of the latest conflict almost four years ago.

IDF troops, operating in Nablus since Thursday, arrived at the terrorists hiding place, in which the five were holed up, following intelligence gained from an armed Palestinian captured earlier.

Paratroopers in determined operations against terrorist infrastructure in the Nablus Casbah killed nine Palestinian gunmen.

There were no serious IDF casualties, but seven soldiers were treated for smoke inhalation after a storeroom with explosives they found caught fire, the army said.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon praised the raid as an "impressive success" in Israel's war on terror.

Qurei calls operation 'barbaric'

Speaking in Ramallah, PA Prime Minister Ahemd Qurei called the raid a "criminal, barbaric act."

Abu Mahmoud, an al-Aksa spokesman, said his group would retaliate.

"This crime shows that Israel is continuing its strategy of killings and assassinations against all the Palestinians," he said.

"The revenge will come like an earthquake for the state of Israel, maybe hitting the citizens, maybe the soldiers, maybe the government. But at the right time and the right place they will be hit," he said.

During the operation, IDF troops swept through the Casbah, blowing open doors or using sledgehammers to knock them down. Palestinian reports said soldier sealed some alleys with cement blocks and barbed wire to trap the fugitives inside. The army's curfew on the city, in place since the operation began early Thursday, was lifted on Sunday.

The terrorists killed include Jafer al-Massari, the commander of Hamas' military wing (Izzadin al-Kassam) and Fadi Bagit, the commander of the Islamic Jihad's al-Quds Platoons.

The three were in a secret tunnel behind a bathroom wall, military sources said. One wounded survivor was captured and taken in for medical treatment and interrogation. Paratroopers came upon the hidden room as a result of an earlier clash with two gunmen in the Casbah. The troops shot dead one of the gunmen. The other escaped but was observed fleeing into what he thought was a hideaway.

When the troops approached they discovered a secret room and called on those hiding inside to surrender. When they refused soldiers tossed inside hand grenades and opened fire with machine guns. It was not clear if the Palestinians fired back.

Military sources said that besides the five bodies and the wounded Palestinian, soldiers found inside the hidden room a number of bombs and weapons. A fire began and some soldiers suffered from the smoke and were treated.

Nablus -- the Palestinian terror capital

"Nablus continues to be the 'Palestinian terror capital' that knows how to produce attacks daily," said Lt.-Col Itzik, commander of the 101st paratrooper battalion.

Haruv battalion commander Lt.-Col. Nochi said operating very slowly to prevent any casualties.

"The Casbah is a very central focus point from which terror attacks are launched against Israel," Lt.-Col. Nochi told reporters.

The IDF distributed leaflets to the city's residents. "These terrorists are only a source of suffering and trouble for the people of Nablus who want to live their lives in dignity," the leaflet said.

According to Lt.-Col. Nochi, they have witnessed local residents and merchants confronting the fugitives not to seek sanctuary with them and disrupt their lives.


Los Angeles Times, June 24, 2004


By Douglas Frantz, Times Staff Writer,1,3092028.story?coll=la-home-headlines
[With thanks to ]

ISTANBUL - International investigators are examining whether Syria acquired nuclear technology and expertise through the black market network operated by rogue Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, according to a U.S. official and Western diplomats.

Intelligence reports found that Khan and some associates visited Syria in the late 1990s and later held clandestine meetings with Syrian nuclear officials in Iran, said Western diplomats from a U.S. ally. Concerns were heightened after an experimental U.S. electronic eavesdropping device recently picked up signals indicating that Syria was operating centrifuges, which enrich uranium for possible use in nuclear weapons.

Khan, who helped Pakistan develop its nuclear arsenal, has admitted selling advanced centrifuge technology and expertise to Iran, Libya and North Korea over two decades. The extent of his ring's operations remains unknown, but diplomats said that if Syria has centrifuges they would undoubtedly have come from Khan's network.

Inspectors from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, are investigating whether sales were made to other countries as they reconstruct what officials consider the worst nuclear proliferation network in history.

A senior European diplomat familiar with the IAEA inquiry said Syria was on the list of suspected customers, but he said the agency has not found evidence that Khan visited Syria or sold technology to it.

The Syrian representative to the IAEA in Vienna did not respond to written questions submitted on Tuesday. In the past, Syrian officials have dismissed accusations that the country is pursuing nuclear weapons. The IAEA declined to comment and a spokeswoman for the State Department said, "We are unable to comment on any of these questions, because they are all of an intelligence nature."

Other Western diplomats and some U.S. officials cautioned that the information linking Syria to Khan's network is not conclusive. Even if Khan had contact with Syria, they said there is no evidence that Damascus bought centrifuges or other nuclear technology from him.

Since admitting his dealings with some countries earlier this year, Khan has been cooperating with Pakistani authorities, who are sharing some information with the IAEA and U.S.

A senior U.S. official said Khan has not denied contacts with other governments, though the official said the Pakistani scientist said sales were made only to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Khan's network involved middlemen and suppliers in Europe, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The network offered advanced centrifuge machines, components and designs as well as training for operating the machines. Libya also acquired blueprints for a nuclear bomb.

The ring operated for more than a decade before it was exposed earlier this year when Libya turned over Pakistani-supplied centrifuge components and related documents as part of an agreement to abandon its nuclear weapons program brokered by the U.S. and Britain.

Even before the scope of Khan's operations became public, the Central Intelligence Agency had raised alarms about Syria's interest in nuclear weapons and hinted at its possible efforts to acquire technology on the black market.

"Broader access to foreign expertise provides opportunities to expand its indigenous capabilities and we are looking at Syrian nuclear intentions with growing concern," said an unclassified report submitted to Congress by the CIA in mid-2003.

Syria maintains one of the Middle East's largest arsenals of ballistic missiles, developed in cooperation with North Korea and other countries. Analysts also believe Syria possesses chemical and biological weapons.

The information about its possible nuclear ambitions is more vague. The Western diplomats who described the links between Syria and Khan's network said the Pakistani scientist gave several lectures on nuclear materials in late 1997 and early 1998 in Damascus.

Beginning in 2001, they said, Khan's meetings with the Syrians were held inIran because of Syria's concerns that its contacts with the Pakistani scientist would be exposed. They said three scientists from Khan's research laboratory in Pakistan accompanied him.

The diplomats said the meetings were part of a program intended to help Syria develop nuclear weapons.

The diplomats spoke on the condition that neither they nor their country of origin be identified because of the sensitive nature of the information and the means used to gather it. Centrifuges spin at enormous speeds to transform uranium gas into enriched uranium for reactors or bombs.

Thousands of machines are necessary to produce large amounts of enriched uranium, but even a small number would give off a distinct signal, experts said.

The senior U.S. official, who also insisted on anonymity because of the nature of the information, said an experimental electronic monitoring device had picked up the distinctive pattern of centrifuges operating in Syria in recent months. The official declined to provide any details and said the U.S. has only suspicions that the technology came from Khan's network.

Reuters news agency reported in early May that the U.S. had information that Syria was operating centrifuges. But the report said there was a division within the Bush administration over the accuracy of the information.

Some administration officials have pushed for tough action against Syria because of its ties to extremists and likely pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Other officials have argued for a softer course because Damascus has cooperated on terrorism issues.

Under pressure from Congress, President Bush applied economic sanctions on Syria on May 11 because of what he said was its support of terrorism and interference in U.S. efforts to create stability in Iraq.


Saturday, June 26, 2004


WASHINGTON [MENL] -- The CIA has determined that Syria has maintained the operational arms of leading Islamic insurgency groups based in Damascus.

Officials said the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that the regime of President Bashar Assad has stopped the propaganda arms of Islamic and Palestinian insurgency groups from operating in Damascus. They includeHamas, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.

But the CIA has determined that groups deemed by the State Department as terrorists continue to plan and carry out operations from Damascus. Officials said much of the funding for attacks by Hamas, Jihad and Hizbullah either stemmed or were transferred through Syria.

In 2003, the FBI disrupted several Hizbullah cells in the United States, including operations in Charlotte, N.C. and Detroit. In all, 12 people admitted to working for Hizbullah and raising money for the organization through bank fraud, cigarette smuggling and other offenses.


A DEBKA Report


By Prof. Paul Eidelberg

The following is abstracted from DEBKA-Net-Weekly report. DEBKA's intelligence and military sources report that Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz and army chief Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon have compiled and presented an updated intelligence evaluation of the security situation in the Gaza Strip and within the Palestinian terrorist organizations.

According to the Mofaz-Yaalon report, radical Palestinian groups operating in the Egyptian border district of Rafah, Khan Younis and Deir al-Balakh, and financed by Iran and Saudi Arabia, have been purchasing fresh supplies of weapons and explosives and establishing new terrorist networks for their next major objective: an operational master-plan for subjecting the September 2005 evacuation of Israeli settlements and positions to heavy Palestinian fire at a high cost in blood.

They are preparing massive Katyusha rocket barrages to slam into the settlements as squads of suicide bombers crowd in and blow themselves up alongside settler families packed and ready to leave. Palestinian snipers are being trained to rain down fire on the settlements. Roads along the evacuation route will be lined with explosive charges. Gunmen armed with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades will wait in ambush as Gush Katif's 8,000 settlers pile into cars with their belongings and head out of Gaza.

Mofaz and Yaalon have described the Palestinian plan in detail to prime minister Ariel Sharon and evaluated the consequences of evacuation under this offensive: large numbers of homes will be destroyed instead of being dismantled and reassembled in the new communities awaiting the evacuees in the Negev and, worst of all, heavy casualties will be inflicted on the settlers and the soldiers called in to remove them. The cost could be hundreds of dead and wounded, they warned.

The two security chiefs also envisage the destruction of at least 100 of the estimated 2,500 trucks plying the roads in Gaza with people and their possessions by continuous mortar and RPG barrages. This will bring the Israeli pullout to a grinding halt. The army will be forced to abandon the evacuation and launch a major cleansing operation to reestablish control over Gaza's main arteries.

The scenes will be reminiscent of the nightmarish situation on Iraq's main roads in April, when Iraqi guerrilla forces, by daily attacks, halted the movement of US military and supply convoys between Baghdad and other cities, including flashpoint Fallujah, and between Amman, Jordan and Iraq. As the trucks went up in smoke, US troops escorting the convoys suffered heavy casualties and the insurgents took civilian drivers hostage.

Mofaz and Yaalon proposed a hard-hitting plan to avoid this unacceptable prospect. About two to three months before the evacuation, the army will occupy the three main Palestinian towns neighboring Gush Katif -- Rafah, Khan Younis and Deir al-Balakh, which represent about 40 percent of Gaza Strip territory.

DEBKA sources reveal that on June 21, Sharon briefed a group from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy led by former US peace envoy Dennis Ross on the Palestinian plan for turning the Gaza evacuation into a bloodbath and Egypt's refusal to help derail it. Sharon had hoped that Egypt would agree to [train a 30,000-man Palestinian army] in Gaza to prevent the anticipated blood bath. [DEBKA does not mention the fact that this Arab army would be deployed on the outskirts of Ashkelon!] Egypt responded by insisting on Israel's immediate cessation of all its military operations in the territory. Obviously this would undo any plans to pre-empt a Palestinian onslaught by taking control of the three Gazan towns. Evacuation under massive Palestinian fire would then become inevitable.

Egypt is not only against Israeli pre-emptive action in Gaza to make the evacuation safe; it also has no intention of preventing the tunnel-smuggling of weapons to Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza. This aspect of the Mofaz-Yaalon intelligence briefing was aired during their presentation to the prime minister.

* * *

The present writer can only conclude that it behooves the Jews in Gaza to be fully cognizant of the mortal dangers to which they will be exposed as a result of Sharon's disengagement plan.