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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
October 31, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Huge Explosion Reported at Syrian Air Defense Base - Ilan Ben Zion (Times of Israel)
    A Syrian air defense base near the coastal city of Latakia was reportedly destroyed Wednesday after an explosion.

Report: Ayatollah Khamenei's Illness Raises Fear of Power Struggle - Hugh Tomlinson (The Times-UK)
    Concerns are growing in Iran about the health of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country's Supreme Leader, amid fears of a power vacuum at a critical moment for the Islamic Republic.
    Ayatollah Khamenei, 74, has not been seen in public for three weeks. Reports suggest he has had a relapse of a chronic illness.

Asia's Iran Oil Imports Fall - Osamu Tsukimori and Yuka Obayashi (Reuters)
    Asia's top buyers of Iranian crude have reduced purchases by 11.5% so far this year, and shipments are set to fall further.
    Asian buyers need to show the U.S. evidence of continuous reductions in purchases from Iran to qualify for a waiver from sanctions every six months.

European Diplomats Attend "Popular Resistance" Conference in West Bank (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
    European diplomats attended the PA-sponsored 8th Bil'in International Conference for Popular Resistance on Oct. 2-4, 2013, in the West Bank.
    John Gatt-Rutter, the EU representative to the PA, and Sir Vincent Fean, the British consul-general in Jerusalem, were both present.

The Islamic Terrorist Threat in Canada - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Since July 2012 there have been numerous cases of Canadian citizens involved in terrorist activity, or suspected of participating in terrorism, or enlisting with semi-military groups, some of which are affiliated with al-Qaeda in Syria.
    Here is a detailed list of 15 Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada, two individuals who resided in Canada for several years, and two unidentified individuals who may have been Canadian citizens involved in jihadi activity around the world.

U.S. Firm Buys Israeli Startup Soluto for $130M - Orr Hirschauge (Ha'aretz)
    Asurion Corp., a U.S. provider of technical support to the wireless phone industry, has snapped up Israeli startup Soluto for $130 million.
    Soluto is a cloud-based service that enables remote support for personal computers and mobile devices.
    The Israeli company, with 40 employees, will now operate as Asurion's research and development center.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Captured Video Details Iranian Involvement in Syria - Yalda Hakim
    In September, Syrian rebels captured video footage filmed by a cameraman embedded with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on the ground in Syria to support the Assad regime. Its authenticity has been verified by BBC experts. A Revolutionary Guards commander, Ismail Heydari, is featured.
        The footage shows the Iranians instructing and organizing a new pro-regime militia known as the National Defense Force, or NDF, many of whose members were trained in Iran. According to Heydari, the Revolutionary Guards also engage in behind-the-lines combat operations.
        "Either we target the places the rebels are with artillery or we target the routes they use with landmines or roadside bombs. And the third option is to do a commando raid. We do this quite often: we attack an area they are gathered in. We destroy them," Heydari said. The Revolutionary Guards commander was killed two days later. (BBC News)
  • Al-Qaeda Recruits Entering Syria from Safehouses in Turkey - Ruth Sherlock
    Hundreds of al-Qaeda recruits are being kept in safe houses in southern Turkey before being smuggled over the border to wage jihad in Syria. The network of hideouts is enabling a steady flow of foreign fighters - including Britons - to join the Syrian civil war.
        These foreign jihadists have now largely eclipsed the "moderate" wing of the rebel Free Syrian Army, which is supported by the West. Al-Qaeda's ability to use Turkish territory will raise questions about the role the NATO member is playing in Syria's civil war. (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • 30,000 Global Jihadists in Countries Bordering Israel - Alex Fishman
    More than 30,000 global jihadists are fighting in countries that border Israel. They all have one dream: to liberate the Arab world from heretic regimes, with the climax being the liberation of Jerusalem. Global jihadists are found throughout Syria, including the Deraa region, which is not far from the Israeli-Syrian-Jordanian border. The Egyptians estimate there are some 3,000 jihadists in Sinai. In Lebanon, several hundred Sunni Lebanese are operating under the auspices of Syrian global jihad groups. In Gaza as well there are a few hundred global jihadists. (Ynet News)
        See also Jihadists See Sinai as Next Frontier in War against U.S., Israel
    Senior figures linked to al-Qaeda are reported to be taking command of the jihadist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula. Israeli security chiefs now consider the region the center of "an independent jihadist network." Western officials estimate "at least several hundred jihadists, some of whom are from Yemen and Somalia, are operating in Sinai." The Egyptians allege there are Algerians and Libyans there too.
        Jihadist veteran Mohamed Jamal al-Kashef, who was captured in Cairo in October 2012, told his Egyptian interrogators: "We consider Sinai the next frontier of conflict with the Zionists and the Americans."  (UPI)
  • Hamas Facing Anti-Government Demonstrations in Gaza - Zvi Bar'el
    The Tamarod Gaza movement, its name copied from the Egyptian youth protest movement that instigated the recent coup there, is organizing mass demonstrations on Nov. 11, the anniversary of Yasser Arafat's death.
        Tamarod Gaza spokeswoman Hind al-Arabi told Egypt's Dream TV that the movement intends to topple the Hamas government, mainly due to its oppressive measures and because it has become "a protective agent helping Israel." Walls in Gaza are now filled with graffiti calling for an end to Hamas rule, while Palestinian media in the West Bank report Gazans' dissatisfaction with the Hamas regime and their loss of personal security.
        Last week the heads of the security forces in Gaza met with senior Hamas political figures to discuss ways to combat Tamarod Gaza. Interior Minister Fathi Hamad, who is in charge of domestic security, called for assassinating the group's leaders. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Need for Speed in Negotiations with Iran - Simon Henderson and Olli Heinonen
    Despite public statements suggesting progress in talks between the P5+1 and Iran, the actual advances so far appear to be limited to atmospherics. Ceasing production of enriched uranium and stopping the installation of more centrifuges would be an important initial indication of good faith. Equally important would be a changed attitude toward verification. This goes hand in hand with verification of the military-related questions the IAEA has raised since 2004, as well as concerns over the plutonium-capable IR-40 heavy-water reactor at Arak, which is steadily approaching its commissioning.
        Any concessions granted to Iran, such as allowing it to enrich uranium at all, would soon be demanded by other countries that have previously been denied those rights. Indeed, rewarding Iran in this way for noncompliance with its nonproliferation commitments would seem indulgent.
        Washington needs to negotiate expeditiously, achieving tangible progress that defangs Iran and eases the fears of U.S. allies. Simon Henderson is a fellow at The Washington Institute. Olli Heinonen is a senior fellow with the Belfer Center at Harvard University's Kennedy School and a former deputy director-general for safeguards at the IAEA. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
        See also Once Iran's Arak Heavy-Water Reactor Is Operable, Bombing It Risks a Catastrophic Release of Radioactivity -  Karl Vick (TIME)
  • America's Withdrawal from the Middle East - Lee Smith
    A U.S. deal with Iran, when taken together with America's withdrawal from the Middle East, means the end of the Arab-Israeli peace process. As the Arab allies of the U.S. - from Jordan and Egypt to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council states - no longer enjoy the luxury of being able to count on the U.S. to protect their national interests, they'll have to do it themselves.
        For Washington's Arab partners who are most concerned about Iran, like Saudi Arabia, in the wake of a bad American deal with Rouhani, the Israelis may come in quite handy as the only local power capable of standing up to a nuclear-armed Iran or stopping the Iranian nuclear program in its tracks. What's clear is that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is presently the least important and least bloody conflict in the region, after the Syrian civil war, the Libyan civil war, Iraq's violent partition, and Egypt's military crack-down. (Tablet)
  • A Cultural Gulf Between Israel and Palestine - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The gathering at the PA government compound in Ramallah was festive as people welcomed the convicted terrorist murderers who were set free by Israel this week as part of the deal that got the Palestinians to agree to peace talks. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas proudly held their hands aloft in a victory gesture. By contrast, the mood in Israel was somber as the relatives of the people who had been killed mourned anew.
        This "emotional gulf" is indicative of a vast cultural divide between these two peoples that explains the absence of peace. The Palestinian president did his utmost to identify his political fortunes with people who had stabbed, shot, and blown up Jews in cold blood. As long as the Palestinians honor murderers, there is no reason to believe they are willing to end the conflict. (Commentary)

IDF Strategy Aims to Shorten Duration of Future Wars - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)

  • The Israel Air Force (IAF) is revamping air operations to support a 10-fold increase in the number of targets it can detect and destroy, Brig. Gen. Amikam Norkin, the Air Force's chief of air operations, said in an interview. The aim is to shorten the duration of future wars.
  • Perhaps the biggest driver of the Expanding Attack Capacity (EAC) program is significant improvements in sensor-to-shooter capabilities. By mating persistent intelligence collection with precision weapons, the IAF expects to generate an exponential number of new, time-sensitive targets during each day of future fights. Norkin noted that the 1,500 targets attacked in Israel's November 2012, eight-day operation in Gaza doubled the number of targets attacked in the 34-day 2006 Lebanon War.
  • Despite the destruction of 120 rocket launchers in the last Lebanon war, Norkin said the IDF realizes it can no longer waste time and assets going after individual launchers.
  • Under the new concept, Israel will focus on "hurting the enemy where it hurts the most," Norkin said, referring to leadership, commanders and significant war-fighting assets. "We need to push [the enemy] to the point where he doesn't want to shoot his rockets and missiles," he said.

        See also 200,000 Rockets Aimed at Israel - Yaakov Lappin
    One out of every 10 homes in Lebanon now has a rocket launcher or Hizbullah weapons stored in it, Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan said. Civilian homes are constructed in southern Lebanon in a way that allows the roof to open up for the firing of a rocket at Israel. He said the number of rockets and missiles possessed by Hizbullah, Syria, Iran, Hamas and Islamic Jihad add up to 200,000.
        Giora Eiland, former head of Israel's National Security Council, said, "In 2006, we tried to do something impossible by hitting rocket launchers." "If war does break out, treating Lebanon as an enemy would end the conflict in three days, not three weeks," Eiland predicted. "This entails bombing bridges and other state-affiliated targets."  (Gatestone Institute)

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