Welcome! Our goal at Winds of Change.NET is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. In addition, we also have our in-depth Iraq Report today.
- The Information War. Charles Johnson reports on the bias of the Associated Press reporting in Mosul. Belmont Club, in a series of posts, analyzes the actions of an AP photographer during the murder of Iraqi election workers on Haifa Street (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4). Powerline believes the AP has actually admitted to a relationship with terrorists.
- Stratfor says the Saudi attack on the US consulate was intended to be far more complex. See a quick synopsis inside, or follow the link if you have a STRATFOR membership.
- The United States is stepping up its espionage against Israel, according to Middle East Newsline, which paints a picture of a remarkably frayed relationship between the USA and the Jewish state. Recently, the United States demanded that Israel basically confiscate Chinese aircraft that were sent to Israel for maintenance and upgrades. More inside...
Other Topics Today Include:
Iranian air defense, US-approved EU-Iran trade talks, US surveillance of Iranian agents, Hamas gains in the West Bank Palestinian elections, the arrest of two senior members of Zarqawi's group, charity assets frozen, thawing Turkish-Syrian relations, the dangers of a dress code for Federal Air Marshals, EU demands Maoist rebels in Nepal negotiate, low-level tribal uprising in Baluchistan, army coup in the Philippines, Spain arrests more terrorists, violence threatened in Kosovo over war-crimes indictments, and more...
Stratfor has learned from reliable counterterrorism sources that the Dec. 6 attack against the U. S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was intended to be far more complex. As the attack played out, five gunmen entered the compound's outer wall through a gate that opened to allow a vehicle to pass, and then engaged Saudi and U. S. security forces in sporadic gunbattles. Ultimately the attack failed because the gunmen were unable to penetrate consular security.
Inner circles of the intelligence and security community now theorize that a second cell was to have attacked the compound from the rear, but that the cell somehow was disrupted a week or so prior to the attack. The five-member cell that staged the unsuccessful attack apparently never knew it was supposed to have backup. This suggests that a high degree of operational security is built into al Qaeda's structure in the kingdom.
"There's been concern that Israel would pull a surprise on the United States with either an offensive against Hizbullah in Lebanon or a massive attack on the Gaza Strip," a diplomatic source said. "Washington doesn't want to be surprised and would rather know this information in advance and first hand."
The sources said the result has been increased U.S. satellite monitoring of Israel to determine military movements, import and export of weapons, weapons tests and construction of housing in Israeli communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They said the United States has also expanded the interception of signals communications from Israeli government and military facilities.
The U.S. effort was said to have been prompted by Israel's air attack on a Palestinian base outside Damascus in 2003. The sources said the U.S. intelligence community, despite the Bush administration's muted response, was alarmed by the Israeli attack and warned that this could mark a policy to undermine the regime of President Bashar Assad.
The most recent demonstration of heightened U.S. intelligence collection on Israel took place last month. On Nov. 10, a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine entered Israel's territorial waters off the coast of Haifa and spent several hours monitoring Israel's Navy and other facilities. The sources said the U.S. naval intrusion angered Israeli leaders. They said that over the last few weeks, Israel quietly sent a tough message to the United States that demanded a halt in espionage missions inside Israeli territorial waters.
The Israeli message stressed that its military quickly identified and tracked the U.S. nuclear submarine, the sources said. But the General Staff refrained from ordering an attack on the asset of a friendly nation.
"The Israeli message hinted that the next time could be different," a diplomatic source, familiar with the episode, said.
The sources said intelligence relations between Israel and the United States have been strained since the 2003 war in Iraq. U.S. officials have complained several times of violations of Israeli pledges regarding such issues as defense relations with China and aggressive Israeli information collection in the United States."
A bit of perspective: these kinds of frictions aren't unheard-of between allies. Still, it's useful background to keep in mind as you watch Middle Easern events.
- Iran's Air Force has been alerted to defend Iranian nuclear facilities from SFOs - suspicious flying objects.
- The European Union and Iran will conduct trade talks, with American approval.
- The US is intensely surveilling suspected Iranian agents on US soil.
THE MIDDLE EAST
- Israel is buying two more nuclear-warhead armable submarines from Germany (Dolphin-class), bringing its total to five.
- Hamas makes significant gains in Palestinian municipal elections, challenging Fatah's grip on power.
- U.S. Marines arrested two senior members of Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq in the city of Ramadi.
- The assets of the Saudi Islamic Movement For Reforms have been frozen due to ties with al Qaeda. This is the same group responsible for the failed demonstrations in Saudi Arabia.
- Turkish-Syrian relations are thawing because both countries are opposed to any form of resurgent Kurdish nationalism. They've signed a free trade accord.
AMERICAN DOMESTIC SECURITY
- No more al Qaeda cells in the United States? Take two grains of salt...
- Interested Participant looks at the dangers of imposing a dress code on Federal Air Marshals.
- Hitting the Khartoum regime where it hurts, a brand-new rebel group seized a Sudanese oilfield.
ASIA & AUSTRALIA
- Maoist violence has claimed ten more lives in Nepal. The EU is demanding that the Maoists respond positively to a government offer of negotiations and dialog.
- Pakistan's ambassador to the United States boldly lays out what the U.S. must do to retain Pakistan as a partner in the War on Terror: more money, more weapons and forget about AQ Khan.
- The Baloch Liberation Army appears to have taken seriously the central Pakistani government's threat to pacify the region, and have launched an attack on federal Frontier Corps troops, killing four soldiers. The deaths are evidence of a continuing low-level tribal uprising in the Baluchistan province.
- Vague rumors of army coup plots continue to rile the Philippines.
- Al Qaeda is planning attacks on London's New Year celebrations, it emerges.
- Spanish authorities have arrested and are questioning four men for involvement in the gang that provided explosives to the Madrid attackers. Three of them were caught in a large-scale (hundreds of law enforcement agents) sting as they tried to procure more explosives for a future attack.
- According to court testimony, the bombing of the French oil tanker Limburg in Octobor of 2002 was carried out by a group of Yemenis with close ties to al Qaeda.
- France extends the investigation of the finances of the bin Laden family.
- Major violence and turbulence are being predicted if Kosovo's new prime minister is indicted by the Hague over his role as a Kosovo Liberation Army commander, as seems quite likely.
THE GLOBAL WAR
- John Robb defines the Systempunkt, the point of weakness exploited by "Global Guerrillas" (international terrorists), and demonstrates how the Systempunkt was found against contractor Contrack International in Iraq and forced the corporation to withdraw.
We try to close on a lighter note if possible.
- A Mexican state ruled by the PRI has outlawed indoor nudity in private homes.
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