Mossad, IDF ‘resisted order’ to prepare for Iran war in 2010

Ehud Barak and Gabi AshkenaziBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
The heads of Israel’s army and main spy agency resisted an order issued by the Israeli Prime Minister to prepare for an all-out military attack on Iranian nuclear installations in 2010, according to a report aired today. According to Monday’s edition of Uvda (Fact), a popular investigative program on Israel’s Channel 2 television, the command to prepare for an attack was given by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak. The two men delivered the order to a meeting of senior cabinet ministers, telling them that the Israeli military’s preparedness level would be elevated to ‘P plus’, effective immediately. According to Uvda, ‘P plus’ meant that the Israeli armed forces should prepare to take military action at a moment’s notice. However, the then-Director of Israeli spy agency Mossad, Meir Dagan, who was present at the meeting, asked to speak and, according to Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, which said it has seen the Uvda program, “came out sharply” against both Netanyahu and Barak. He told those present that elevating the military preparedness to ‘P plus’ was something that technically could only be decided at a meeting of Israel’s Political-Security Cabinet. Also known as “the inner cabinet”, the group, which consists of over a dozen Ministers and is led by the Prime Minister, is tasked with outlining and implementing Israel’s foreign and defense policy. Dagan told the two men that “only the [inner] cabinet is authorized to decide this” and warned them that they were “likely to make an illegal decision to go to war”. Dagan’s objection was later reinforced when General Gabi Ashkenazi, then-leader of the Israel Defense Forces, told the Prime Minister that the Israeli army was not ready to elevate its preparedness level to a ‘P plus’. Read more of this post

White House silent on rumors of ‘alarming’ info about Iran nukes

The White House has refused comment on news from Israel that a recent American intelligence report contains “explosive” new findings on Iran’s nuclear program. Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz said yesterday that, according to Israel’s Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran is currently “being passed around senior [government] offices” in the United States. Speaking on Thursday on government-owned Israel Radio, Barak said that the new NIE has brought American estimates on Iran’s nuclear program “closer to the Israeli position”. The NIE is a classified report, produced annually, that presents the consensus view of the US Intelligence Community on critical issues affecting American national security. Notably, a series of recent NIE reports have consistently argued that the Iranian government remains essentially indecisive about whether to militarize its nuclear program. IntelNews regulars may recall that, according to The New York Times, Israel’s primary external intelligence agency, the Mossad, is in broad agreement with the premise of recent American NIEs. Like its American equivalent, the CIA, the Israeli agency does not believe that Iran’s nuclear program has been militarized at this point. There is, however, one crucial difference between American and Israeli estimates on the subject: namely Tel Aviv’s view that the Iranian nuclear program should be militarily confronted regardless of Tehran’s future policy goals. According to Barak, the new American intelligence report contains “alarming […] information” that Iran has achieved “surprising, notable progress” on the research and development stage of its nuclear program. Read more of this post

Mossad gave us no terror warning before blast, says Bulgaria -updated

Burgas, BulgariaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
Bulgarian authorities received no warning from Israeli intelligence prior to yesterday’s bombing in eastern Bulgaria, which killed at least seven and injured over 30 Israeli tourists. The bomb blast occurred outside the main airport building in the Black Sea resort town of Burgas. Less than an hour earlier, Air Bulgaria flight 392, which had departed from Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, had landed at the Burgas International Airport, carrying nearly two hundred Israeli tourists. The latter were boarding three buses scheduled to transport them to various hotels in Burgas, when one of them was ripped apart by a blast —most likely caused by an explosive device placed in the vehicle’s storage compartment a suicide bomber. Reports from Bulgaria and Israel said last night that at least two of the injured were in critical condition and could die soon. Speaking to local media gathered at the site of the blast, Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev said that Israeli intelligence services had provided no warning of a planned attack inside the country. Plevneliev said that members of Bulgaria’s security apparatus met a month ago with officials from the Mossad, Israel’s primary external intelligence agency, but received “no warning of an expected attack”. Earlier this year, it was reported that the Bulgarian intelligence services had uncovered a plot by Lebanese militant group Hezobllah to strike Israel-linked targets in Bulgarian capital Sofia. Last January, Israel had asked Bulgaria to increase security provisions for Israeli tourists, after a suspicious package was found on a tour bus carrying Israeli holidaymakers from Turkey into Bulgaria. Ironically, Dan Shenar, head of security at the Israeli Transportation Ministry, said at the time that security measures were excellent in Bulgarian airports, but “the situation is not the same outside them”. Read more of this post

Comment: Did Israel assassinate senior Hamas official in Syria?

The leadership of Hamas has accused Israel of assassinating one of its senior officials in Syria last Wednesday. The Palestinian militant group, which controls the Gaza Strip, announced late last week that the charred body of Kamel Ranaja had been found in his half-burned apartment in Syrian capital Damascus. Ranaja, known informally as Nizar Abu Mujhad, was said to have replaced the post of the late Hamas weapons procurer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Al-Mabhouh was killed in 2010 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, most likely by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. Citing French news agency Agence France Presse, Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz quoted an unnamed Hamas official as saying that “a group of people entered [Ranaja’s] home […] and killed him”, adding that “according to the information that we have gathered, the Mossad is behind the attack”. Reports from Reuters published in the British press suggest that Ranaja’s charred body “bore signs of torture” and that it had been dismembered. There are also suggestions that the group that attacked the Hamas official’s apartment took with them an unspecified volume of documents and computer files before setting the place on fire.

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Israel ‘not to warn US’ on Iran attack, says US intelligence official

White House National Security Adviser Tom DonilonBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | |
The Israeli government has reportedly decided not to forewarn the United States if and when it decides to launch military strikes against Iran’s nuclear energy program. Citing a US intelligence insider, the Associated Press reported on Monday that American officials have been given the message “in a series of private, top-level” meetings with senior Israeli leaders. Tel-Aviv’s decision not to notify Washington about a possible attack on Tehran has been allegedly communicated to US officials by none other than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak. The US intelligence official, who tipped off the Associated Press anonymously, said that the two men have been relaying the same message to a host of American officials who have visited Israel in the past several weeks. The officials include the US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, as well as several senior American lawmakers. The intelligence source told The Associated Press that Tel Aviv’s decision to keep its cards on Iran close to its chest was solidified following a series of meetings last week between the Israeli leadership and White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon (pictured). The American official relayed to Netanyahu, Barak and others, the opinion of the White House that a military attack on Iran would be both dangerous and counterproductive. This appears to have further alarmed the Israeli leadership, which last week chastised the United States for voicing criticism of a possible Israeli military attack on Iran, arguing that this criticism effectively “served Iran’s interests”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #683

Lech WalesaBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►Walesa scorns new claims he was communist informant. Poland’s former President and Solidarity founder Lech Walesa has brushed off new claims that crucial documents concerning his alleged collaboration with Poland’s communist secret services may be stored in the Polish parliament’s archives. “I know that if there are any papers on me that are unknown, they are only toilet paper”, he said in an interview with Polish television network TVN. Rumors and accusations that Walesa, an anti-communist union leader was in fact a secret communist informant have been circulating for years in Poland.
►►Israeli embassy in Singapore dismisses Barak assassination plot. The Israeli embassy in Singapore confirmed Friday that Defense Minister Ehud Barak had visited the city-state, but dismissed reports of an assassination plot targeting him. Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida wrote recently that Barak had been targeted for assassination by three members of a Hezbollah militant cell during his trip to Singapore from February 12-15.
►►Moves to question Turkish spy chiefs quashed. State prosecutors have abandoned an attempt to question Turkey’s spy chiefs over past secret contacts with Kurdish militants, after government moves to curb their investigation of the intelligence agency (MİT). State media said on Monday that prosecutors lifted an order summoning MİT head Hakan Fidan. Nice to be reminded who is really in charge in 21st-century ‘democratic’ Turkey.

News you may have missed #651

Chris VanekerBy IAN ALLEN | |
►►Israel defense minister forbids spy official’s lecture. Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak has refused to allow the head of research for Military Intelligence, Brigadier General Itai Baron, to lecture at the annual conference of Israel’s ambassadors unless the lecture is deemed ‘unclassified’. The conference deals with diplomatic and security issues and public affairs, and the lectures are given by senior Israeli government and military officials.
►►CIA agrees to look into OSINT FOIA request. Open Source Works, which is the CIA’s in-house open source analysis component, is devoted to intelligence analysis of unclassified, open source information. Oddly enough, the directive that established Open Source Works is classified. But in an abrupt reversal, the CIA said that it will process a Freedom of Information Act request by intelligence historian Jeffrey Richelson for documents pertaining to Open Source Works.
►►Dutch former pilot convicted of espionage. A court in The Hague has sentenced former F-16 pilot Chris Vaneker to five years in jail after finding him guilty of selling state secrets to a Russian diplomat. Vaneker wanted half-a-million euros for the information he was trying to sell to the military attaché at the Russian embassy in The Hague. The pilot and the Russian diplomat were arrested in March.

Attacking Iran ‘a stupid idea’ says Mossad ex-chief

Meir Dagan

Meir Dagan

The former director of Israel’s Mossad spy agency has described the option of a military attack by Israel on Iran’s nuclear installations as “the stupidest thing I have ever heard”. Meir Dagan, who led the Mossad from 2002 until January of this year, was speaking publicly for the first time since his retirement, at a conference held at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. He told conference participants that any military action against Iran would be “patently illegal under international law” and that it would probably not achieve its goals, since Iranian nuclear installations are deliberately dispersed in locations across that vast country. Consequently, the widespread nature of the attack could lead to a prolonged war, “the kind of thing where we know how it starts, but not how it will end”, said Dagan. His comments found their way to the front pages of most Israeli newspapers over the weekend, and were headlined in television and radio station news programs, prompting responses by several former and acting Israeli officials. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #406

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Israeli Navy insiders deplore Gaza flotilla raid

Mike Eldar

Mike Eldar

A day after a former Mossad officer described last week’s Israeli raid on a fleet of Gaza-bound aid ships as “stupid”, former and current Israeli Navy insiders have strongly criticized the bloody operation. Speaking from Israel, Mike Eldar, a 20-year veteran of an elite Israeli Navy special missions unit, said the only explanation for the Israel Defense Forces’ attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla was “stupidity [and] super egos”. He was echoing the words of former Mossad case officer Victor Ostrovsky, who last week described the raid as an act that was “so stupid it is stupefying”. The operation, carried by the IDF’s elite Shayetet 13 amphibious unit, resulted in the deaths of nine and the injuries of over 60 flotilla passengers. Elgar added that the botched raid’s result “made no sense”, considering that there must have been Mossad agents on board the ships, and that the IDF “had at least two weeks to prepare, with lots of practice”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #0276

  • CIA mum on Panetta’s trip to Israel. Politico’s Laura Rozen reports that the CIA director met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and Mossad chief Meir Dagan. But nobody in Washington or Jerusalem will say precisely what was discussed. Why is it that every time Panetta flies to Israel, it has to be a covert visit?
  • CIA raises language requirements for senior staff. “Under the new policy”, said CIA director Leon Panetta, “promotions to SIS [Senior Intelligence Service] for most analysts and operations officers will be contingent on demonstrating foreign language competency. If an officer is promoted to SIS and does not meet the foreign language requirement within one year, he or she will return to their previous, lower grade”.

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News you may have missed #0228

  • Irish nationalists planting honey traps on British troops? The Belfast Telegraph reports that British Army personnel have been “warned about the recruitment by dissidents of attractive females to identify soldiers at popular nightspots and lure them into ambushes” in Northern Ireland. This is highly unnecessary. Usually British troops in the North are easily identifiable by their haircuts, accents, even by their choice of beer!
  • Egyptian spy chief meets Israeli defense minister. Ehud Barak and Omar Suleiman, director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Services, met in Jerusalem on Sunday. The meeting included a “private 30-minute session” between the two men (and the eavesdroppers on either side, presumably –ed.).
  • Terror suspect David Headley was ‘rogue US secret agent’. The London Times has woken up to the rumors circulating about David Headley, a full month after Indian media began reporting them, and nearly three weeks after intelNews alerted its readers. Nice of them to catch up.

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CIA silent on rumors of Panetta’s secret visit to Israel

Several news outlets have pointed to The London Times as the source of the revelation that CIA Director Leon Panetta secretly visited Israel earlier this moth. In reality, the source of the report is not The Times, but Israel National Radio, which aired the news early on Thursday morning. The report was promptly picked up by Agence France Presse (AFP) and issued in French and English later on the same day. According to AFP, US President Barack Obama sent Panetta to Jerusalem in search of high-level assurances from the new Israeli government of President Benjamin Netanyahu, that Israel “would not launch a surprise strike on Iran”. The same report stated that Panetta received assurances from both President Netanyahu and Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, that “Israel does not intend to surprise the US on Iran”. It is important to note that the Israelis’ assurances pertain solely to their obligation to notify Washington prior to launching a strike on Tehran, and in no way rule out such an attack. Therefore they fall significantly short of US requirements. Read more of this post

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