Thursday, March 07, 2013

7-Mar-13: With the traveling season getting underway, we are being warned of security threats from outside and from within

[Image Source]
You can place to one side the threat posed by Iran's nuclear weaponry campaign and you would still be left with the reality that the Islamic Republic takes a prominent place right at the top of the list of existential security threats to the whole world. As we have noted here repeatedly, its extreme hostility to Israel and Israelis makes it a particular concern for us.

As a state sponsor of terrorist activity, Iran stands behind the steady growth in Islamist extremist threats throughout the world. It openly delivers weapons systems to avowedly militaristic terrorist organizations including Hezbollah, Hamas and several other Palestinian Arab terrorist groups.

How openly?

If you visit an Iranian-language website called Sepahnews, you can see a report there (translated to English here) quoting a speech by the deputy commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Hossain Salami, boasting that
“the secret soldiers of the Revolution” and their branches in Lebanon and Gaza have brought about “historical failures” for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Salami said that prior to the revolution the “Zionist regime” — a term Iran uses instead of Israel —  were able to easily contend with Arab countries. However, Salami added that after the Islamic Revolution [of 1979], the hidden forces and their branches in Lebanon and Gaza caused “historical failures” for the IDF and “disbanded” Western forces. Iran’s military has repeatedly emphasized its role in arming terror groups in Gaza. Salami praised Iran’s “martyrs”, saying that if it were not for them, Iran would now be an occupied country... [Iran Military News]
Directly via its own agents and less directly via its clients, Iran is implicated in a wave of attacks against multiple civilian targets during the past two years including:
The festival season of Passover is almost here. Israelis tend to travel at this time of year, and that makes it an appropriate time for publicizing what is known about identified security threats to their welfare. 

The Jerusalem Post carries an article by Yaakov Katz today ("Shi'ite terror network targeting Israelis overseas") which warns about terror attacks being plotted by the Iranian Quds Force (Reuters describes this as "an elite unit of the Revolutionary Guards with a special focus on military operations outside Iran", while Wikipedia says it is responsible for "exporting" Iran's Islamic revolution and for the regime's "extraterritorial operations") and its Hezbollah allies. 

The source of the warnings is Israel's National Security Council counter-terrorism bureau. The warnings refer to 27 different tourist destinations, and include travel alerts of varying severity. The official Hebrew-language list of countries with travel advisories is here. The major concerns are with
  • Egypt's Sinai Peninsula: "Very high, concrete threat level, and the bureau is urging Israelis to stay away from the area due to a plethora of intelligence leads pointing to kidnapping plots and terrorist threats."
  • Turkey, Kenya, Nigeria and Azerbaijan: “Ongoing potential threat” category, which is the third most severe warning type.
  • There is a concern, as well, that the Iran-back Hezbollah forces have put in place terror infrastructures in Cyprus, Greece, Crete and Bulgaria. Times of Israeli points out that these are all favorite destinations for Israeli tourists.
The bureau says it is not telling Israelis to stay at home but to be aware and concerned. Those of us staying home have some things to think about too. Haaretz says two Israeli Arabs from Kafr Kana were sentenced yesterday (Wednesday) to prison sentences in the framework of a plea bargain for terrorism offences. The Nazareth District Court sentenced Mohammed Assad, 22, and Amir Assad, 31, to 6.5 years and 6 years respectively .
They were arrested in December 2011 on suspicion of contacting Hamas operatives who were planning terrorist attacks inside Israel. Amir Assad confessed to being in contact with a Hamas operative from Hebron who asked for his help in bringing explosive belts into Israel, and agreed to help in any way. Mohammed Assad confessed to aiding various Hamas terrorists from the territories in procuring weapons, gathering intelligence on places where soldiers gathered and in recruiting other Israeli Arabs. He was asked to establish a Hamas military cell comprising Israeli Arabs. [Haaretz]
It's not called paranoia when you have persuasive evidence that your enemies really are out to get you.

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