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Skip to comments.Threat Matrix: December 2008
Posted on 12/01/2008 6:12:32 PM PST by nwctwx
Thank you WCG, what a beautiful sight!
New York Office Building used by Iranian regime, seized by Feds
By Walid Phares
December 21, 2008
The US Government seized control last Wednesday of a New York City office building partially owned by a company with ties to the Iranian government. The Treasury and Justice Departments move is aimed to end a flow of cash used to help Iran's program of nuclear weapons. The seizure is raising troubling questions.
The tower, situated on New York's Fifth Avenue, was built by an Iranian non-profit group in the 1970s. Federal officials say that the ownership of the building has evolved in an attempt to hide the stake held by an Iranian state-owned bank. The US alleges that Assa Corporation, which owns the building, is a front for Bank Melli, which facilitates the funding of nuclear materials for the Iranian regime. US authorities say that Bank Melli is involved in the Assa Corp. management of the Fifth Avenue facility. According to reports, rental income was sent back to Iran. But the designation does not interfere with the business and other activities of the tenants of 650 Fifth Avenue. In 2007, the Bush Administration froze Bank Melli's assets in the United States. The FBI seized two Assa's bank accounts holding $3.1 million.
According to Government sources Bank Melli handles funds for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran) and its Qods Forces, which in turn fund Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad as well as some activities of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
This move raised several national security questions in the media and within the counter terrorism community:
1) Can the ownership of a building in Manhattan by entities controlled by the Iranian regime lead to a potential use of the facility by Terrorists or - in more dramatic circumstances- to sneak a dirty bomb or a nuke?
2) Should we be surprised that the Iranian intelligence and agencies operate such a facility in New York or in other cities in the US?
In an interview with Fox News I made the several of the following points:
a. We shouldn't be surprised at all that the Iranian regime is trying to have access to such assets. Their strategy is to have as many of these assets in the U.S. The chain begins in Tehran where the tasked agencies try to build a map of similar locations in America for future potential operations.
b. The goal for such locations is multiple. The Terrorist component could include hideouts for operatives (as in Mumbai) or worse, a location to deploy dirty bombs or more.
c. The United States and other democracies have an open space for trade. Hence Iranian funded networks can own, co-own or manage these assets. These locations can be used by other elements than those who manages the locations.
d. Even though these types of assets can be used in the future, we need to keep in mind that its took some time for the preparation for 9/11 or Mumbai. Hence if the Iranian regime is indeed managing these assets now, it would be to have it handy when and if it needs to use them in the future.
e. The New York Law Enforcement agencies and authorities are among the best in the nation and worldwide. They do have an understanding of the enemy's strategies. Hence they are on top of it in as much as possible. But there is no fully secure system against Terrorism.
Thanks, O. When Wahlid Phares speaks, I listen.
Happy Hannuka, Kickin’ Kwanza, Festive Festivus to you......but mostly, a most blessed Christmas to you and yours.
I’ll probably be off line for a few days. Much family coming in. Mr. RR is at the airport right now picking up my sister from Kentucky. (four hours late) Many more trickling in tomorrow, Tuesday and Wednesday.
When I require sanity and solitude, I shall sneak in here to the computer room.....so keep the pings coming.
Thanks for the ping.
Russian S-300 anti-air weapon already delivered to Iran
December 18, 2008, 12:00 PM (GMT+02:00)
Russian S-300s on way to guarding Iran’s nuclear sites
Despite the efforts of US and Israeli leaders, Moscow has begun delivering the highly sophisticated medium-range air defense S-300 system to Iran for securing its nuclear and strategic sites against potential attack.
The RIA news agency reported Wednesday night, Dec. 18: “Moscow has earlier met its obligations to supply Tor-M1 (short-range) systems to Iran and is currently implementing its contract to deliver S-300 systems.”
Military sources disclose the S-300 deliveries began two weeks ago.
Their installation, coinciding with the return home of members of Iranian air defense officers from training in Russia, means that air or missile attacks on Iranian sites will henceforth be extremely difficult and carry a high price.
On 9th October, DEBKAfile’s Moscow sources reported that Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert failed in the key mission of his trip to persuade Russian leaders to refrain from selling this advanced weapon to Iran and Syria.
On July 9, US Secretary of State Robert Gates said: “Based on what I know, it’s highly unlikely that those air defense missiles would be in Iranian hands any time soon.” Clearly, Gates was misinformed, since five months on, those missiles are on their way to Iran.
While both the Bush administration and Israeli leaders insisted that a military option remained on the table if Iran persisted in its nuclear weapons program, neither took into account that Tehran was not deterred or standing idle.
This week, the Israeli defense ministry announced that Amos Gilead, a high official, would travel to Moscow Wednesday, Dec. 17 in a final bid to hold the Kremlin’s hand. But Olmert and defense minister Ehud Barak had missed another boat.
Military and intelligence sources report that after Iran, Moscow will install the S-300 in Syria, focusing on securing the Russian naval bases going up in the Mediterranean port of Tartous. By selling these countries top-line weaponry, Moscow is strengthening its military presence and influence in two Middle East countries of especial interest to the United States and Israel a tactic Soviet Russians employed in the Cold War.
US: Russia’s S-300 missile sale to Iran marks Israel’s decision point
December 23, 2008, 11:22 AM (GMT+02:00)
Russian SA-300 long-range anti-air missile in action
An American military intelligence official says Russia’s sale of S-300 long-range missiles to Iran presents a “decision point for Israel, since once the anti-aircraft system is in place it could deter any strike” against Iran’s nuclear sites. In this first gloomy statement, the American source did not rule out such a strike but implied it would be more difficult.
State department spokesman Robert Wood said Monday, Dec. 22: “We have repeatedly made clear that we would strongly oppose the sale of S-300.” US officials warned the missiles installed within Iran’s borders could reach American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and shift the Middle East military balance of power.
Military sources point to the confusion contrived by Moscow about the state of the consignment. Nonetheless, an American source said Tuesday: “The US believes it is taking place.” In Moscow, a “military-diplomatic source” said Monday the S-300 systems are being packed up and prepared for shipment to Iran: “S-300 air defense systems,” he added, “are expected to be delivered from the defense ministry’s warehouses.” The latter statement indicates that the missiles going to Iran are coming out of Russia’s own emergency stores and not waiting to come off production lines.
In response to media reports regarding the sale of S-300 systems to Iran, Vyacheslav Davidenko, spokesman of the Rosoboronexport arms exporters, said Monday without mentioning the missile by name: “At present exclusively defense systems, air defense systems fall within this category, are supplied to Iran,” adding: The Tor-M1 missile aid defense systems were earlier supplied to Iran.”
DEBKAfile’s military sources draw two conclusions from the Russian official’s comment: One, that Moscow first sold Tehran a short-range air defense system and is now following up with the long-range S-300 to round off the full range of its air defenses; and two, a sales pitch is advising the Arab regimes to count on Russia - rather than America - to look after their defensive requirements for important strategic sites just like Iran. The same message was conveyed by the gift of 10 MiG-29 fighter jets Moscow made to Lebanon earlier this month.
The Russian government’s actions refute the soothing assurance by its Tel Aviv ambassador who denied Moscow planned a missile transaction with Iran or had begun deliveries.
EL PASO -- A Lebanese man who was part of a complex federal investigation into a suspected U.S. terrorist network with ties to al-Qaida is in custody at the El Paso immigration detention center facing deportation, officials have confirmed.
According to court documents, Mohamad Kamal Elzahabi, 44, told the FBI he was a freedom fighter in 1988 and 1989 against the Soviets in Afghanistan, where he also attended a jihad military training camp, provided small-arms instruction and was a sniper.
Elaine Komis, spokeswoman for the Executive Office of Immigration Review in Falls Church, Va., said her office could not discuss anything about the case due to a "non-disclosure order" by the Department of Justice. She said that the Department of Homeland Security initiated the case, and that it's now up to the Justice Department to decide Elzahabi's immigration status.
Adelina Pruneda, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, in San Antonio, said Elzahabi is being held at the El Paso federal detention center. No other details, including his hearing date and name of his new lawyer, will be released as long as the non-disclosure order is in effect.
Elzahabi caught the attention of authorities in Canada, Minnesota, New York and Massachusetts, who learned he and three other men fought in Afghanistan and all became cab drivers in Boston. Elzahabi has continually denied he was part of a sleeper cell or terrorist group.
Thanks for the ping Oorang.
Unfortunately he is one of 1000’s of terrorists coming through our borders illegally.
Thanks for the ping, O. Ditto your sentiment WCG.
Latest on Gaza campaign. Israeli intelligence was very much spot on. Hamas rocket response dropped to near zero and currently is substantially lower than previous days. Rockets being used are even less accurate.
It seems the air strikes are switching from stratigic targets to those necessary to shape the battlefield for a ground assault.
Iran is being shown as impotent by the current operations. Hizzbolah in Lebanon is silent. The only thing sturring in Iran are a bunch of fat clerics who’d wet their pants if they faced real combat.
Thanks, ‘zilla. I imagine those “fat clerics” are squirming a bit.
No, the photos I saw still had them in Iran, trying to learn how to goose-step.
Thanks much for the update. My online time has been brief the past few days so I appreciate the synopsis.
Israeli news reports more rockets coming from gaza, however many are striking in the desert and away from people. IAF has nailed trucks carrying rockets to launch points - with multiple secondary explosions.
Sure do hope this isn't a Wag The Dog exercise for the Israeli elections....BZ on the IAF job so far in any case.
Agree. However, I've seen some disconnections between politics and the military at times. The strike on the Syrian nuclear facility for one. The fiasco in Lebanon a couple of years ago was micro managed by the politicos to provide cover for their illegal activity - which is in the open now. Finally, the IAF is going to hot and heavy on Hamas targets - and with great accuracy, definitely a well planned operation so far.
DUSHANBE -- Tajik authorities have arrested a local leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in Afghanistan, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports. The arrest follows a December decision by Tajik and Afghan security officials to cooperate in the arrest and extradition of wanted terrorist militants.
The IMU is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and other countries. According to Tajik spokesman Nozirzhon Buriev, IMU leader Anvarzhon Kaumov was transferred to Dushanbe to face trial for a string of attacks against police forces in northern Tajikistan last summer.
N. Korea May Conduct 2nd Nuclear Test
North Korea may raise the stakes with a threat to test-launch ballistic missiles or carry out a nuclear test early next year in line with the inauguration of the new United States government in a bid to get the upper hand in multilateral negotiations over its nuclear program, a report said Monday.
LONDON, Dec 28: Where is Al Qaeda going to hit next? tops a list of 14 key questions the Observer said would dominate the headlines in 2009 and concluded that the most likely next target would be the UK. However, before discussing the likely targets of Al Qaeda during the next year, Observer correspondent Jason Burke in his report claims that the terror organisation leadership itself was now on the run because of attacks from US drones in Pakistans tribal areas and also that Bin Laden was under attack from within the jihadi movement for failing to stage any major attack since 9/11.
The Al Qaeda leadership, said by security sources to comprise between 20 and 30 key figures, has been having a hard time of it recently. A concentration of attacks from unmanned American Predator drones in Pakistans western tribal zones has meant surviving has become as much of a priority as trying to organise spectacular militant attacks across the world aimed at radicalising and mobilising the worlds Muslim masses. These strikes have taken such a toll that Al Qaeda has launched a series of internal investigations aimed at finding the mole passing intelligence to the Americans.
Monmouth MP David Davies calls for arrest of all Al-Qaeda residents
Dec 29 2008
A WELSH MP yesterday called on the UK Government to either deport or arrest all British residents who appear on a United Nations list which names members and associates of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Monmouth Conservative MP David Davies, the only Welsh member of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, said he was shocked to see 15 British residents on the list. All but three are apparently free.
Mr Davies said: This is not a speculative list the UN is not known to exaggerate or make unfounded claims. These people have been named as involved with Al-Qaeda and I dont think they should be walking the streets of this country. Either they should be deported or locked up.
It is little consolation that none of those named are said to be living in Wales. I hope at the very least they are all under constant surveillance. If they do the slightest thing, they should be locked up for a very long time. Al-Qaeda, as we all know, is a very dangerous terrorist organisation responsible for the deaths of thousands of people. I intend to raise this matter in Parliament in the New Year.
The 15 British residents on the list, which can be seen online at www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/consolidatedlist.htm, are all named as associates of terror group Al-Qaeda. They are:
~Libya-born British citizen Ghuma Abdrabbah, living in Birmingham;
~Libya-born British citizen Abdulbasit Abdulrahim, living in London, said to have raised funds for the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group;
~Libya-born Abd Al-Rahman Al-Faqih, living in Birmingham;
~Saudi Arabian Dr Saad Rashed Mohammad Al-Faqih, living in London;
~Saudi Arabian Khalid Abd Al-Rahman Hamd Al-Fawaz, living in London;
~Syria-born British citizen Mohammed Al Ghabra, living in London;
~Egyptian Hani Al-Sayyid Al-Sebai, living in London;
~Gloucester-born Sajid Mohammed Badat, currently in prison in the UK after pleading guilty to planning to blow up an aircraft with a shoe bomb;
~Libyan Maftah Mohamed Elmabruk, living in London, said to have raised funds for the LIFG;
~Libya-born British citizen Abdelrazag Elsharif Elosta, living in London, said to have raised funds for the LIFG;
~Egyptian Al Sayyid Ahmed Fathi Hussein Eliwah, living in the UK with a UK passport;
~Egypt-born British citizen Mostafa Kamel Mostafa Ibrahim, better known as the radical cleric Abu Hamza, in jail after being convicted on 11 charges, including six of soliciting to murder;
~Libya-born British citizen Abdulbaqi Mohammed Khaled, living in Birmingham;
~Jordanian national Uthman Omar Mahmoud, better known as the radical cleric Abu Qatada, currently in prison in the UK after breaching bail conditions relating to his appeal against deportation. Wanted on terrorism charges in Algeria, the United States, Belgium, Spain, France, Germany, Italy and Jordan;
~Libyan Tahir Nasuf, living in Manchester.
The list also includes six organisations with bases in the UK:
Weather and distraction by the calls for a cease fire has allowed Hamas to regroup and pull out rockets not destroyed in the initial attacks. Hamas is using its longer range rockets and is back to about 70-100 per day. Though inaccurate, psychologically effective. Israel stands at a cross roads. If they launch a ground operation, they will face internation scorn (though only Iran has really voiced support for Hamas). If they don’t, they will be shown as weak and afraid - an act that will embolden Hamas and Hezbollah. A half way effort will cause excessive Israeli combat casualities - further demoralizing the country and causing a greater leadership crisis at a time where they must consider their response to Iran’s nuclear potentials.
See y'all in 2009.
Israel’s truly “at a crossroad”.
May or may not be held responsible for starting this fight, but da** well better not back away from this chance to finish at least a part of it.
Have a happy (or at least as tolerable as you can make it) New Year.
I’m off to take the grandkids to the movies, then sip hot chocolate with ‘em at midnight. Good stuff.
Enjoy those grandkids!
Wow, far more exciting than my nite (which will probably find me in bed by 9 asleep)
A Canadian citizen who was stopped at the Peace Bridge while trying to enter this country was charged Monday with conspiring to spy for his native Iraq under Saddam Hussein. The Justice Department criminal complaint accuses Mouyad Mahmoud Darwish, 47, of accepting payment from Iraqi government officials and intelligence officers for his information.
Darwish, who lived and worked in Maryland at the time, beginning in 2000 passed along secrets that included the news that the American military was training Iraqi volunteers in this country. Darwish and a co-conspirator who pleaded guilty are among at least a dozen people charged by the Justice Department since the American invasion of Iraq with spying on behalf of the Iraqi government or its intelligence agency under Saddam, federal authorities said.
Darwish was arrested on an FBI warrant last Wednesday at the border crossing in Buffalo. He is scheduled to appear today in U. S. District Court here. A Justice Department spokesman did not know Monday whether Darwish has a lawyer. After today, any future proceedings will take place in Maryland, said William J. Hochul Jr., chief of the National Security Division in the U. S. attorneys office in Buffalo.
Stowaways caught in LA
December 30, 2008
Two stowaways onboard a container ship were apprehended at the Port of Los Angeles. A joint federal team from the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection was mobilized early Sunday to investigate a report of stowaways on a vessel en route to the port. The Coast Guard had been notified that two stowaways were discovered on the LA-bound container ship Zenit during an earlier port call. The stowaways were reported to be Nigerian nationals.
At approximately 6:30 a.m. Sunday the vessel was boarded by officers from the Coast Guard Cutter Halibut, a boarding team from the Maritime Safety and Security Team and Customs agents. The group took custody of the suspected stowaways and removed them from the ship.
Security chiefs in London are extremely concerned that Israels actions in Palestine will provoke a furious response by Islamic extremists based in the UK, with 4,000 active terrorists identified by a former head of the Met.
With the death toll in Gaza reaching 340 London has been put on a "high state of alert" following the violent clashes outside of the Israeli Embassy in Kensington and the worrying statistic that 4,000 terrorism suspects are active in the UK. Lord Stevens the head of the Met disclosed the figure that up to 4,000 terrorism suspects are active in the UK, and stated that police and MI5 were "still too under funded and undermanned to cope with the task they face in the decades to come. And that's how long this will last."
Security chiefs in London are concerned that the escalation of violence in Gaza with the prospects of a ground offensive by the IDF could provoke a violent response by Arab and Muslim Londoners with minority elements influenced by Al-Qaeda plotting reprisal attacks in London. MI5 have outlined the possible security threats posed by Al Qaeda:
IDF prepares for major Gaza battle: Israeli forces are ready to embark on a ground assault in Gaza, a senior military officer told Ynet Wednesday, adding that "anyone who thinks we'll be conducting ourselves gently is wrong." "Hamas has indeed prepared for this, but so did we," the IDF official said.
IDF officers say they are closely familiar with Hamas' military buildup but add that troops are prepared for the mission ahead. Ever since the Second Lebanon War, the IDF has been engaged in intensive training sessions and preparations ahead of a possible clash in the Strip. A ground assault on Gaza will be a challenge, yet military officials are saying loud and clear: "We're ready."
In recent years, Hamas has been engaged in a military buildup ahead of a possible IDF incursion. IDF officials familiar with the group's efforts say the organization comprises more than 15,000 troops, including Special Forces members and intelligence personnel. Hamas' army has been built in a hierarchical manner, and includes divisions, regiments, and platoons. The group's forces underwent an orderly training program, with some Hamas members sent for training in Syria and Iran. Moreover, Gaza Strip tunnels, some of which were destroyed in IDF bombings in recent days, have been used for smuggling in large quantities of explosives, the IDF says. The weapons that poured into Gaza include anti-tank rockets.
Hamas 'surprises' for IDF? Army officials say IDF troops should be expecting "nature reserves," similarly to what soldiers encountered in Lebanon while fighting Hizbullah. Hamas is believed to have prepared numerous underground sites containing various weapons. Military officials estimate that similarly to Hizbullah, which had some "surprises" for the IDF during the Second Lebanon War, Hamas may also be in possession of arms that Israel has no knowledge of.
"During the confrontation, Hamas will attempt to operate in an orderly manner and utilize many types of arms, such as explosive devices, snipers, and cells that will attempt to hit our forces," an IDF officer said. "We prepared in terms of protective equipment and also engaged in training exercises in order to address these threats.
The IDF's first challenge in case of a ground assault will likely be in the form of roadside bombs aimed at targeting tanks and armored vehicles. Hamas is believed to have dug pits in many Gaza roads and placed powerful explosive devices underground before covering them with cement. However, the Air Force's massive assault in the early days of Operation Cast Lead damaged dozens of Hamas facilities and may undermine the group's efforts.
Ping for a Happy and safe New Year to everyone!!
As Clock Strikes 12, U.S. Hands Iraq Control of Green Zone
When the clock struck midnight on Wednesday, the U.S. returned the palace to the Iraqi government and relinquished formal control over the Green Zone, a heavily fortified six-square-mile enclave on the Tigris River where key U.S. and Iraqi bureaucracies are situated.
The handover is a sign of the shrinking footprint and influence of the United States in a country where it has lost thousands of lives and spent billions of dollars. For many Iraqis, the handover represents a significant step forward in their gradual reassertion of dominion over their own affairs.
“On January 1, we are going to control this,” Adnan Karim, 22, an Iraqi soldier manning a checkpoint at one of the entrances to the Green Zone, said, beaming. “The U.S. will be here just as observers. It’s a matter of pride.” .....
The Woman the Mullahs Fear
With Gaza conflict, cyberattacks come too
Shadow of Iran Looms Large Over Gaza
More video from Fort Lauderdale: “Allahu Akbar,” chaos and intimidation
Russia: Church bells offend Muslims
New Administration Inspires Hope for Full Access to Statue
Nine Muslim passengers ordered off US plane, children too
Yet another CAIR press release run as a “news” story by one of their faithful propaganda outlets.
(I’m just going to self-censor any further comment to keep from getting banned. This crap went past getting on my last nerve years ago.)
I hear you. ;-)
Here’s a bit of an update before it disappears from the web:
‘Safety’ Remark Gets Muslim Family Kicked Off Plane
An unnamed source told MyFOXDC.com that they overheard one member of the family talking about the safest place to sit on a plane if a bomb was on board, though the family denied the word “bomb” was ever used.
Teen trained to be suicide bomber feels tricked
Son of Hamas Leader Gives Glimpse Into Terror Organization
Unofficial Hamas Website Calls on Muslims to Employ WMDs against Jews, Target Non-Jews Supporting Zionists
Dig It!... Obama’s Terrorist Pal Bill Ayers Is Now a HuffPo Blogger
The State of Jihad: 2008
Thanks to Cindy for the ping:
Summary of Overnight Events, 03 January 2009
IDF SPOKESPERSON.com via INTERNET-HAGANAH.com ^ | Januar 3, 2009 | n/a
Catherine Herridge was reporting on FOX news of an increase in terrorist chatter. Chatter indicates that the terrorists want to hit US and Israel.
(I know - what a shocker - eh?)