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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
February 14, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Assad's Forces Used Nerve Gas in Homs - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    Capt. Abd al-Salam Ahmed Abdul Razek, who served in Syria's chemical warfare administration, told Al-Arabiya that the Syrian military used nerve gas to assist forces in their raids on the city of Homs.
    He said the nerve gas was used under the supervision of Russian and Iranian experts.

Heaving Shelling Continues in Syrian City of Homs (AP-Washington Post)
    Syrian government forces renewed their assault on the rebellious city of Homs on Tuesday in what activists described as the heaviest shelling in days.
    Syrian troops have been shelling Homs for more than a week and hundreds are believed to have been killed since last Saturday.

U.S.: Syrian Elite Looking to Leave (AP-Washington Post)
    The State Department says it has information the Syrian elite are looking for help from the opposition Syrian National Council in getting cash and relatives out of the country.
    Two U.S. officials said Friday that one Assad family member has moved large amounts of money out of the country and that a senior member of Assad's national security circle has very recently left the country and appears to have settled abroad.

The Saudis Will Want the Bomb, Too - Michael J. Totten (PJMedia)
    It's no secret that Saudi Arabia will want nuclear weapons if Iran gets them. There's an interesting angle here that hardly anyone seems to notice.
    Israel is supposedly the mortal enemy of the Arabs. Right? So how come no Arab state bothered getting nuclear weapons after Israel acquired the bomb?
    Either the Arab war against Israel is less serious than the conventional wisdom would have it, the Arab-Persian conflict is more serious than the conventional wisdom would have it, or both.

Israel's Anti-Missile Alert System Will Warn Chileans of Tsunamis - Moriya Ben-Yosef (Israel Defense)
    The Israeli company eVigilo recently completed installing a warning system in Chile to alert Chileans of approaching tsunamis directly to their cellphones.
    The system is based on the National Message system originally developed for the IDF's Home Front Command.

Video: See the Israeli Armor Factory that Saves American Lives (U.S. Embassy-Tel Aviv)
    On Jan. 30, U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shapiro visited the Plasan factory at Kibbutz Sasa which makes vehicle and body armor that has saved the lives of countless American troops.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Bombers Target Israeli Diplomats in India, Georgia
    Unidentified bombers attacked staff at Israeli embassies in India and Georgia on Monday. In New Delhi, Tal Koren, the wife of Israel's defense attache, was injured by shrapnel, along with three Indians. Delhi police commissioner B. K. Gupta said an eyewitness "saw a person on a motorcycle sticking some kind of device on the back of the car." A blast followed and the car burst into flames.
        Meanwhile, Shota Utiashvili, a spokesman for the Georgian Interior Ministry, confirmed that a bomb was affixed to the car of an employee of the Israeli embassy in Tbilisi. "The police successfully defused it before it went off."  (New York Times)
        See also Netanyahu: Iran Behind Attacks on Israeli Diplomats - Barak Ravid and Jonathan Lis
    Iran is behind a car bomb attack on Israeli officials in India as well as a thwarted attack in Tbilisi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday. "Iran is behind these attacks; it is the largest exporter of terrorism in the world."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Iranian Wounded by Own Bomb near Bangkok's Embassy District (MSNBC)
  • Supertanker Owners Halt Oil Trade with Iran - Isaac Arnsdorf
    Overseas Shipholding Group, based in New York, said Feb. 10 that the 45 supertankers from seven owners in which its carriers trade will no longer go to Iran. Nova Tankers A/S and Frontline, with a combined 93 vessels, said Feb. 9 and 11 they won't ship Iranian crude.
        The EU embargo on Iranian oil includes ship insurance. About 95% of the tanker fleet is insured under rules governed by European law. "It's the insurance that's completed the ban on trading with Iran," said Per Mansson, the managing director of Norocean Stockholm AB, which handles tanker charters. (Bloomberg)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Envoy's Wife Spotted Terrorist - Aviel Magnezi
    Tal Yehoshua Koren, the Israeli diplomat's wife wounded in Monday's blast in New Delhi, apparently spotted the terrorist moments before the attack, managed to get out of her car, and evacuated herself to hospital despite her injury. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Leader in Iran: No Compromise, Only Armed Resistance
    Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Monday in Iran, the "gun is our only response to the Zionist regime. In time, we have come to understand that we can obtain our goals only through fighting and armed resistance and no compromise should be made with the enemy."
        Last week, Al-Quds reported that high-level officials in Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait had advised Haniyeh not to visit Iran, and that "Haniyeh's visit to Tehran will have consequences."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran's Measure of Desperation - Jackson Diehl
    If Iran or its proxies were responsible for the attack on an Israeli diplomat in New Delhi on Monday, it will be another indication that the Iranian leadership is willing to take desperate risks in striking back against its enemies. Last year, many analysts refused to believe at first that Iran's Revolutionary Guard would have tried to sponsor a bombing in a Washington restaurant to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Now Tehran is accused of attempting to kill an Israeli diplomat in the capital of a country that is one of the few remaining purchasers of its oil, and which has been resisting Western pressure for sanctions. That Iran would risk a strike in such a sensitive place suggests that its leaders are panicked. (Washington Post)
  • Free Syrian Army Is All that Stands between Civilians and Tanks - Richard Spencer
    The last straw for Capt. Abu Mahmoud came when 13 of his fellow officers were lined up and shot by a Syrian firing squad. They had been identified as potential deserters and were executed just in case, he said. He is now with the Free Syrian Army on the front line of the battle for Homs, a helpless spectator as the Syrian tanks and artillery drop round after round of shell fire onto the defenseless citizens of the Homs neighborhoods Bab al-Amr and Khalidiya.
        Capt. Abu Mahmoud is now marshalling defenses of the liberated area between Homs and the Lebanese border. The Free Syrian Army managed to turn it into a regime-free area last week. After months of demonstrations, arrests and shootings, gradually a group of respected citizens in the area took the shape of an informal civilian council led by Dr. Abbas, a dentist. Dr. Abbas reckons that this pocket of land contains 110-120,000 people.
        He insists that the uprising is not sectarian: "We just want democracy, we don't care whether people are Sunni, or Alawite or Shia, or Christian." He also adds that the Shia villages in the area are a problem because of their links with Hizbullah in Lebanon, which is backed by the Assads. "We have had 40 years of it," Dr. Abbas said. "Forty years of security running our lives."
        Abu Mahmoud admits that they are short of weapons - in reality, they have only a few light arms and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Dr. Abbas snorts imperiously when asked if he is afraid. "We are not doing it for ourselves. We are doing it for our sons, so they can have a future," he said. "We will never let him [Assad] rule us again like he did before."  (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Rebels Defy Assad by Carving Out Their Slice of a Free Syria - Richard Spencer
    On Thursday, after a day-long battle, the rebels in a town near Homs managed to seize a police station and barracks of the Mukhabarat, the military intelligence. They blasted rocket propelled grenades at the buildings until the sides caved in. While the assaults on the cities might suggest the Syrian army is heading to victory in the semi-war, this area tells a different story, at least for now.
        After Friday prayers, the men of the town went in a procession from their mosques, funneling in to the main road in a huge column. A boy in a red bandana led the slogans. "Down with Bashar," he started off. "Thank you Allah," was the refrain from the hundreds if not thousands of men, boys and a small contingent of teenage girls following. "We want freedom!" Old women hurled rice and confetti from the upper stories of houses as the procession passed like a wedding. (Telegraph-UK)
  • The Saudi King's Hypocrisy - Editorial
    Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah on Friday delivered an angry speech denouncing the UN Security Council's failure to act on Syria. That same day, the Saudi ruler's security forces were firing on protesters near the eastern town of Qatif. Meanwhile, the regime's diplomats were arranging for the swift deportation from Malaysia of a fugitive Saudi journalist who fled the country after tweets he authored about the prophet Muhammad led to demands for his arrest and execution.
        Of course the violence in Syria is far greater than that of Saudi Arabia. But brains, justice, morals and fairness are in short supply not only in Assad's Damascus but in the royal palaces of Riyadh as well. (Washington Post)

The Iranian Threat to New York City - Mitchell D. Silber (Wall Street Journal)

  • On Monday, Israeli embassy workers in the capital cities of India and Georgia were targeted in terrorist attacks that Israeli officials believe were planned and carried out by Iran and its client, the militant group Hizbullah.
  • Iran's next target could well be on American soil. In Senate testimony last month, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated that Iranian officials "are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime."
  • He cited the plot directed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to assassinate the Saudi ambassador by blowing up a Washington, D.C., restaurant - potentially killing hundreds of Americans in the process.
  • Hizbullah has been tied to failed attacks in 2009 against Israeli and Jewish interests in Azerbaijan, Egypt and Turkey, and last month in Bangkok.
  • In 2004, two security guards attached to the Iranian mission to the UN were sent home after being caught conducting surveillance of city subways and landmarks.
  • In 2008, two Staten Island men pleaded guilty to providing material support to Hizbullah. In Philadelphia, 26 people were indicted in federal court in 2009 for conspiring to provide material support to the terrorist group. At least 18 other Hizbullah-related cases have been brought in federal courts across the U.S. since 2000.

    The writer is director of intelligence analysis for the New York City Police Department.

        See also Warning Iran Against Hitting "Soft" American Targets - Alan M. Dershowitz (Wall Street Journal)

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