News you may have missed #0246 (CIA bombing edition)

  • Analysis: Strike on CIA base tests US assessment of al-Qaeda. The militant group appears to have achieved a new level of sophistication and may not be as weakened as US officials had thought.
  • Photo of CIA suicide bomber published. Qatar-based Arabic news network Al Jazeera has published a photograph of Jordanian doctor Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, 36, who last month killed at least 7 CIA agents in Khost, Afghanistan.
  • Al-Qaida CIA bomber was furious over Gaza war. Suicide bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi was furious over Israel’s Gaza offensive, the London-based Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported on Thursday, citing the man’s sister.
  • Analysis: The view from Jordan on CIA’s deaths in Khost. For Jordan, far more embarrassing than its role in the Khost suicide bombing, is its connection with the CIA, which while relatively well-known before, has now been put out in the public sphere for all to see –especially the Arab street.
  • London Arabic newspaper visits home of CIA bomber. The Jordanian authorities have imposed a security cordon around al-Balawi’s family home, which is located in the residential al-Nuzha district, close to the Jabal al-Hussein Palestinian refugee camp in the Jordanian capital of Amman. But a London-based Arabic-language newspaper correspondent managed to visit the location and speak with the bomber’s family members and neighbors.

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Analysis: The changing landscape of communications intelligence

Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen have authored a new scholarly paper on communications intelligence, focusing specifically on the use of telephony intelligence in the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza conflict. The paper, entitled Cell Wars: The Changing Landscape of Communications Intelligence, is available (.pdf) on the website of the Research Institute on European and American Studies. We argue that the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza conflict featured a series of innovative approaches to communications intelligence, which included utilizing civilian telephone networks to achieve tactical and psychological objectives. The “cell war” between the IDF and Hamas is indicative of an ongoing global struggle between asymmetrical insurgents and state actors to control large-scale telecommunications structures. “Cell wars” have been taking place for quite some time in Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria, and several other nations, including the United States. Read more of this post

Presidential Guard member convicted of espionage in West Bank

The Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank has announced a death sentence against a former member of the Presidential Guard who is said to have spied for Israel. Palestinian Authority prosecutors accused the unnamed 28-year-old man, resident of Hebron, of supplying sensitive information to Israeli intelligence agents since being recruited as an informant in 1997. The prosecution said that the information supplied to Israeli agents by the former Presidential Guard member resulted in –among other things– the capture by Israel’s Security Agency (Shin Bet) of Rateb Abayet and Adnan Abayat, both commanders of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the secular armed wing of Fatah. Read more of this post

South Africa pressed to cut diplomatic, intelligence ties with Israel

After Venezuela and Bolivia, which last week cut off diplomatic relations with Israel in protest of the Jewish state’s invasion of Gaza, the government of South Africa has come under pressure to do likewise. The powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) urged the governing African National Congress (ANC) to “cease all relations with Israel and close down the Israeli embassy in Pretoria”. The organization also called on the governing party to expel “Israeli security agencies and Mossad” operatives from the country. Although it is unclear whether COSATU’s call will influence South Africa’s official relations with Israel, it will be difficult for the ANC to ignore it completely, especially with Jacob Zuma now at its helm. Read more of this post

Hamas map discovery shows advanced preparations for ground war

The increasingly sophisticated deception and propaganda operations by all sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been extensively detailed in the relevant specialized literature. But if the recent revelation by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) of a Hamas urban warfare map is indeed genuine, it signifies well-timed anticipation by the Palestinian faction of Israel’s current offensive in the Gaza Strip. The map, which was allegedly discovered by IDF paratroopers in Beit Lahia, north of Gaza, is said to portray a detailed diagram of the al-Atatra neighborhood, with locations of booby traps. The latter include the use of dolls to lure IDF soldiers, with the intention of killing or –more beneficially from Hamas’ strategic viewpoint– kidnapping them. Read more of this post

Comment: Carter confirms IDF broke June 2008 truce

On December 29, I explained the fact –well-known within Israel– that it was the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), not Hamas, which broke the June 2008 truce brokered by Egypt. Specifically, I mentioned the November 4, 2008, illegal incursion into Gaza by a sizeable IDF team, reportedly to take out a “strip tunnel intended for terror attack”, which unilaterally broke the truce. Israel has offered no proof for its justification of the incursion, either domestically or internationally. The Israeli press has long recognized that it was after this unilateral breaking of the ceasefire by the IDF that “[t]he fragile five-month truce began to unravel”. On November 13, Ha’aretz noted that it was in response to this action that Hamas forces resumed their rocket fire against Israeli settlements. It has now come to my attention that a January 8, 2009, article in The Washington Post by former US President Jimmy Carter has also pointed out this fact. Read more of this post

Hamas-IDF cell phone war continues

Since the beginning of the ongoing war in Gaza, IntelNews has frequently reported on the peculiar cell phone war that has been taking place between Palestinian group Hamas and the IDF, the Israel Defense Forces. Specifically, the IDF and Israeli intelligence appear to be randomly calling cell phones belonging to Gaza residents with messages prompting them to evacuate Hamas-affiliated targets. The tactic appears to have resulted in a backlash for the IDF, as Gazans receiving these calls often rush to roofs of potential target buildings in efforts to prevent the attacks. Moreover, Hamas seems to be employing a similar tactic to warn Israeli cell phone subscribers that Qassam rockets will fall “on all cities” and that “shelters [will] not protect” them. It now looks like Hamas is employing the cell phone trick to cause confusion in the ranks of IDF reservists. Israeli newspaper Ha’aretzi is reporting that Israeli reservists waiting to be called into action are receiving “numerous fictitious […] ’emergency call for duty’ messages” on their mobile phones. Read more of this post

Hamas copies Israel’s random phone call tactic

Hamas message

Hamas message

IntelNews has been reporting in recent days that Israeli intelligence are placing random calls to cell phones of Gaza residents prompting them to evacuate Hamas-affiliated targets. We also reported that this technique, which Israel also employed in Lebanon and Syria during the last couple of years, seems to have resulted in a backlash for the Israeli Defense Forces, as Gaza residents receiving these random calls often rush to the roofs of potential target buildings in efforts to prevent the attacks. It now appears that Hamas, the Palestinian group in charge of the Gaza strip, is employing a similar tactic to warn Israeli cell phone subscribers that Qassam rockets will fall “on all cities” and that “shelters [will] not protect” them. Read more of this post

Gaza civilians ignoring IDF cell phone warnings

Nizar Rayan

Nizar Rayan

IntelNews has reported in recent days that Israeli intelligence are employing cell phones to warn Gazan civilians that they may killed if located nearby Hamas-affiliated targets. Specifically, an undisclosed number of Gaza residents have been receiving “unusual phone calls” with an automated request in Arabic “that they and their families leave their homes as soon as possible for their own safety”. It now appears this technique has resulted in a backlash for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), as Gaza residents receiving such calls often rush to the roofs of potential target buildings in efforts to prevent the attacks. An article in The Australian reports that “in some cases, [Gaza] residents have gone up to the roof to show themselves to circling aircraft and succeeded in preventing the attack”. Read more of this post

Israel using cell phones to caution Gazans

Palestine cell phone

IDF calling

On December 4 we reported that the Israeli intelligence services appeared to be calling thousands of seemingly random telephone subscribers in Syria with automated messages in Arabic, inquiring about missing Israeli soldiers and offering a multimillion dollar reward. It now appears that Israeli agents are again employing cell phones, this time to warn Palestinian civilians in the Gaza strip that they may become targets if they live nearby Hamas-affiliated facilities. An article in The Australian reports that an undisclosed number of Gaza residents have been receiving “unusual phone calls” during the past three days, with an automated request in Arabic “that they and their families leave their homes as soon as possible for their own safety”. The male voice is said to identify itself as representing the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Read more of this post

Analysis: Behind Israel’s Attack on Gaza

In contrast to the vague international protestations by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about Israel’s “right to self-defense”, the domestic Israeli press has been extremely candid about the reasons behind Israel’s ongoing attack on the Gazan population. On Sunday, the country’s most respected newspaper, Ha’aretz, published a detailed account of what it described as the Israeli government’s “[l]ong-term preparation, careful gathering of information, secret discussions, operational deception and the misleading of the public” which lie behind the latest onslaught against the imprisoned Palestinian population. Read Article →

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