Saturday, May 31, 2008


News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
IAEA "Alarmed" by Iran's Nuclear Weapons Work
Inspectors from the UN atomic watchdog are "alarmed" that Iran has in its possession a document describing the process for making what could be the core of a nuclear weapon, a Western diplomat said Thursday. The 15-page document describes the process of machining uranium metal into two hemispheres of the kind used in nuclear warheads. At a closed-door meeting with diplomats, the International Atomic Energy Agency's chief for inspections, Olli Heinonen, revealed that the agency had gathered intelligence from around ten countries suggesting Iran was engaged in weaponization studies in the past. "The term he used for this document was 'alarming.' He essentially said there was no reason why a country would need to possess such a document unless they wanted to produce uranium hemispheres for a nuclear weapon," the diplomat said. (AFP)

Iran in Secret Talks with Al-Qaeda, U.S. Officials Say - Jonathan Karl Senior U.S. officials say that in recent months there have been secret contacts between the Iranian government and the leadership of al-Qaeda. The contacts are on the status of high-level al-Qaeda operatives who have been under house arrest in Iran since 2003. Intelligence analysts say the group in Iran includes al-Qaeda's management council, or "shura," and numbers about two dozen militants, including Egyptian Saif al-Adel, al-Qaeda spokesman Suliman abu Ghaith and some of bin Laden's relatives, including two of his sons, Saad and Hamza. Adel is on the FBI list of Most Wanted Terrorists and is a suspect in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The State Department has put a $5 million bounty on his head. U.S. officials say one reason they have not raised the issue of turning these al-Qaeda figures over to their native countries for interrogation and trial more publicly is that they believe Iran has largely kept them under control since 2003. "It's been a status quo that leaves these people, some of whom are quite important, essentially on ice," said a U.S. official. One senior U.S. official said, "al-Qaeda [is] very much interested in trying to get these guys released and back in the fold...with Iran playing strategic games knowing that al-Qaeda is ultimately their enemy." (ABC News)

U.S. Cites Big Gains Against Al-Qaeda - Joby WarrickCIA Director Michael V. Hayden, in an interview this week, portrayed al-Qaeda as essentially defeated in Iraq and Saudi Arabia and on the defensive throughout much of the rest of the world, including in its presumed haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. In a strikingly upbeat assessment, the CIA chief cited major gains against al-Qaeda's allies in the Middle East and an increasingly successful campaign to destabilize the group's core leadership. While cautioning that al-Qaeda remains a serious threat, Hayden said Osama bin Laden is losing the battle for hearts and minds in the Islamic world and has largely forfeited his ability to exploit the Iraq war to recruit adherents. Ticking down a list of accomplishments, he said: "Near strategic defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Near strategic defeat for al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. Significant setbacks for al-Qaeda globally - and here I'm going to use the word 'ideologically' - as a lot of the Islamic world pushes back on their form of Islam." (Washington Post)

See also The Unraveling: The Jihadist Revolt Against Bin Laden - Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank (New Republic)

News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

Syrian Source: Israel Did Not Ask Us to Sever Ties with Iran -

Roee Nahmias Israel did not ask Syria to sever its ties with Iran, the London-based Asharq Alawsat reported Friday, quoting a Syrian source involved in the indirect Syrian-Israeli negotiations. The source said that "serious progress has been made in the talks," adding that both sides were on the verge of launching direct talks. According to the source, the next round of talks is expected to deal with "the fundamental issues" and that the regional issues, including ties between Syria and Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas, were postponed to future talks. (Ynet News)

Lebanese Terrorist in Possible Prisoner Swap Vows to Return to Jihad - Roni ShakedLebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, whom Israel has agreed to free as part of a possible prisoner swap deal with Hizbullah, has vowed to continue engaging in terror after his release. Kuntar, jailed 29 years ago after murdering Haran family members and a police officer during a terror attack on Nahariya, made the promise in a letter to Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. (Ynet News)

See also Samir Kuntar's Bloody Deeds - Adam KredoA member of the Palestine Liberation Front, Samir Kuntar and four others sailed under cover of night from south Lebanon to Nahariya on April 22, 1979. The group murdered police officer Eliahu Shahar after he stumbled upon the gang. The men then entered an apartment building and broke into the Haran family's apartment, taking them hostage. Kuntar shot Danny Haran at close range and threw his body into the sea to make sure he died. He then bashed four-year-old Einat Haran's head on rocks and with the butt of his rifle, killing her instantly. Haran's wife, Smadar, hid with her two-year-old daughter Yael in a crawl space above the couple's bedroom. Smadar tried to muffle the girl's cries, and accidentally smothered her. In a 2003 article in the Washington Post, she recalled: "I will never forget the joy and the hatred in [the terrorists'] voices as they swaggered about hunting for us, firing their guns and throwing grenades....As I lay there, I remembered my mother telling me how she had hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust. 'This is just like what happened to my mother,' I thought." (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian Rocket Lands near Negev Synagogue Thursday - Shmulik HadadPalestinians in Gaza fired five Kassam rockets at Israel Thursday. One rocket landed dangerously close to a synagogue in a kibbutz, damaging the building. "This was a very close call; we could have had many casualties," one of the community's residents said. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. (Ynet News) See also

Palestinian Rocket Slams into Israel Home ThursdayA Kassam rocket fired from Gaza hit a house in the Sha'ar Hanegev region Thursday afternoon, damaging an exterior wall. Also Thursday, two young Sderot girls, aged three and nine, were lightly injured when they fell as they ran to find shelter during a rocket attack. (Jerusalem Post)

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