Israel said to be behind mystery airstrikes on Sudan

Port Sudan

Port Sudan

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Sudanese government officials revealed on Tuesday that Sudanese territory was hit thrice by foreign warplanes last January and February, killing hundreds. The airstrikes appeared to target convoys travelling in Sudan’s desert coastal region near Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast. The revelation was confirmed on Thursday by Fatih Mahmoud Awad, an official at Sudan’s Ministry of Transport, who claimed that the three airstrikes destroyed dozens of vehicles and killed “as many as 800 people”. Shortly afterwards, an Associated Press report cited Ali Youssef, a Sudanese official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who confirmed Awad’s revelations, but refused to speculate on the exact number of casualties. Interestingly, the Sudanese government did not disclose the airstrikes at the time, probably because it “was embarrassed to acknowledge that its sovereignty and air space could be violated so easily”, according to one observer. The question is who was behind the attacks. Read more of this post

Yemen Islamists sentenced for “illegal” Israel contacts

al-Haidari

al-Haidari

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On January 10, I reported on the arrests in Yemen of three individuals, who were accused by Yemen’s President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, of working for “an Islamist terrorist cell with links to Israeli intelligence”. Prosecutors told a Yemeni court that one of the arrestees, Bassam al-Haidari (a.k.a. Abu al-Ghaith), 26, communicated with Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert via email, offering to collaborate with Israeli authorities prior to the September 17, 2008, attack on the US Embassy in Yemen’s capital Sana’a. The intercepted emails allegedly show that al-Haidari wrote to Olmert “[w]e are the Organisation of Islamic Jihad and you are Jews, but you are honest, and we are ready to do anything”. The Yemeni government claims that Olmert (or, more likely, someone from Israeli intelligence who was forwarded al-Haidari’s message) actually wrote back telling al-Haidari “[w]e are ready to support you […] as an agent”. On Monday, a Yemeni court sentenced al-Haidari to death for “making illegal contact with the Zionist Jewish Israeli entity” (Yemen does not recognize Israel). Al-Haidari’s co-defendants, Imad al-Rimi, 23, and Ali al-Mahfal, 24, were given five-year and three-year prison terms. Speaking on behalf of Ehud Olmert, Mark Regev dismissed the Yemeni government’s allegations as “completely far-fetched”. However, as I explained last January, if true, Yemen’s accusations will not signify the first time that Israeli intelligence agencies have actively supported militant Islamist groups in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the three Yemeni defendants have vowed to appeal.

Analysis: Israel Lobby Ousts US Intelligence Nominee

Chas Freeman

Chas Freeman

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The near-hysterical reaction by Washington’s pro-Israel lobby against Charles “Chas” Freeman’s candidacy for National Intelligence Commission (NIC) Director has paid off. On Monday, Freeman, a State Department official with 44 years’ experience in the US diplomatic service, decided to withdraw his nomination to head the NIC –the government agency that works with the US intelligence community to compile national intelligence estimates. On February 26, Freeman, who was US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the 1990-1991 Gulf War, was nominated for the job by Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair. Blair had said the veteran diplomat would bring with him to the post “a wealth of knowledge and expertise in defense, diplomacy and intelligence”. But Freeman’s nomination was met almost immediately with vehement opposition from pro-Israeli lobby groups in Washington. Republican members of the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as at least ten House Representatives, began a vocal campaign to stop Freeman’s NIC candidacy. Chief among the pro-Israel lawmakers were two Jewish Democrats from New York, Senator Charles Schumer and Representative Steve Israel. Along with another usual suspect, “independent” Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman, they described Freeman as a “controversial” diplomat with “strong political opinions”, who “appear[s] inclined to lean against Israel” with “statements against Israel [that] were way over the top”. Read article →

Analysis: Why is Yemen Accusing Israel of Ties to Islamist Groups?

There is admittedly nothing new about the discovery of yet another Islamic militant cell in Yemen. Significant al-Qaeda presence has long been detected in that country. Eyebrows are bound to be raised, however, at news of a recent formal accusation by the Yemeni government that Israel offered to assist Islamist militants who had “prepared […] car bombs to attack governmental buildings and embassies”. Bizarrely, three Islamist militants arrested last week have been accused by Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh of working for “a terrorist cell with links to Israeli intelligence, [which] ha[s] been dismantled”. On January 10, a Yemeni court heard that one of the accused militants communicated with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert via email, offering to collaborate with Israeli authorities in 2008. These allegations may seem ludicrous, to say the least. However, if true, they will not signify the first time that Israeli intelligence agencies have actively supported militant Islamist groups in the Middle East. Surprised? Joseph Fitsanakis explains.