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>Israel Faxx Extra
>JN Vol. 10, No. 95A, May 24, 2002
Fresh Mass-Casualty Terror Wave Plotted for Israel and US
By DEBKAfile via Gamla News Service
The word is out in the United States: Al-Qaeda, Hizbullah and the
Egyptian and Palestinian Islamic Jihad groups are about to strike.
US intelligence has been leaking information, based on fragmentary
intercepts of terrorist transmissions, of impending mass-casualty
attacks in the United States, Europe and the Arabian Peninsula,
including the Persian Gulf.
DEBKAfile's anti-terrorist sources add the Middle East, including
US military and civilian targets and Israel, to the list of
targets. In the words of Vice President Dick Cheney, "It is not a
question of if but when" the next terrorist attack - dwarfing
the Sept. 11 strikes in New York and Washington -- takes place.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld spoke to a Senate committee of
the inevitability of terrorists adding nuclear, biological and
chemical weapons to their arsenal, if they do not already possess
weapons of mass destruction. Syria, Iraq, Libya, North Korea stand
ready to supply them. Underlining US bioterrorism fears, the UN's
World Health Organization earlier this week reversed a
long-standing order to destroy the world's smallpox virus stocks by
the end of the year, to allow the manufacture of vaccines and
develop treatment for the deadly disease.
The world organization, which seems to be stuck in a pre-9/11 time
warp, did not reveal that it was effectively rubber-stamping the
secret manufacture of millions of batches of smallpox vaccine by
dozens of pharmaceutical factories worldwide. It is being done in
readiness for a biological terrorist attack, against which the US
government has ordered 500 million doses. Wednesday, May 22, the
House passed a $4.4 billion bill to strengthen the nation's
bioterrorism preparedness by stockpiling vaccines and boosting
imported food inspections.
DEBKAfile's intelligence sources cite spy agencies in the United
States, Britain, Russia and Israel as being convinced that sleeper
terrorist cells, directly run or supported by the Iranians,
Libyans, North Koreans, Syrians and Iraqis, have laid hands on
biological weapons, including smallpox.
On another ominous note, the FBI has issued the New York police
department with "general warnings" of terrorist attacks over the
weekend. Among the possible targets: the Statue of Liberty and
Brooklyn Bridge, which was briefly closed early on Wednesday
morning, May 22, in a bomb scare.
According to DEBKAfile's intelligence and counter-terrorism
sources, the terror talk emanates from three main sources:
A . Some is linked to the US administration's efforts to explain
away the failure of President Bush and the White House to share
with the American public warnings registered in August 2001 of
imminent terrorist attacks in the US. A month later, hijacked
airplanes toppled the World Trade Center and slammed into the
But additional information is flowing in - albeit generalized - on
the type, time and place of the next terrorist wave, including a
volume of intercepts that experts have not been able to decode
pointing to an attack on a massive scale. History is repeating
officialdom knows something big is in the works, but cannot tell
exactly where and when it will happen.
Even if Bush were to sound the alarm, it would be without
specifics, such as the nature of a threatened strike on the
Bridge and its outcome. (The bridge was marked as a target by Ramzi
Yousef and his gang in 1993. See the first article in the series
appearing on this page about what Presidents Clinton and Bush knew
about terrorist attacks).
B. Some of the alerts derive from al-Qaeda disinformation. Fear,
anxiety and confusion are the terrorist's most potent weapons. If
they cause millions of New Yorkers to shut themselves up at home
over the weekend or longer - as Israelis have been doing for months
- the harm to the economy will be tremendous. The terrorists will
have achieved one of their primary goals of seriously damaging New
York without resorting to a single violent attack.
C . Other threatening data is garnered from the field. It is a lot
more specific and pinpointed than A. and B. but the authorities are
releasing the details for fear of burning intelligence sources,
sowing popular panic and tying their own hands. But many
counter-terrorism experts confide to DEBKAfile that this approach
will have to be abandoned in the face of the seriousness and
potential scale of the coming wave of terrorist attacks.
Governments cannot combat terrorist organizations without matching
their exceptional flexibility.
The US administration and its anti-terrorist agencies take into
account that terrorists may set off a radiological bomb to
contaminate large urban districts, or other nuclear devices.
DEBKAfile's intelligence and counter-terrorism sources say
authorities in several countries are getting set for nuclear
terrorist attacks with casualties in the region of 10,000 or
Such preparations are underway in the main American cities,
especially in Washington, New York and Los Angeles. In Britain,
London and large cities in the north, such as Leeds and Manchester,
are being prepared for nuclear assault, as are Moscow, Tel Aviv and
other Israeli coastal cities. European cities, such as Milan, Paris
and Berlin, know they could be targeted.
According to the latest intelligence information in US and Israeli
hands, several dozen terrorists - if not more - have managed over
past few weeks to infiltrate the United States, prompting a wide
manhunt. Other international terrorist cells have reached Israel.
Neither the Americans nor the Israelis have captured any alive,
which leaves the information without direct verification.
Israel engaged some of those foreign cells for the first time in
close quarters combat in April, in the course of its large-scale
counter-terrorist Defensive Shield operation in the West Bank. None
survived battle, denying the intelligence authorities crucial
information about the composition of those terrorist cells, the
nationalities of their members, their weapons and tactics.
The conventional wisdom in the United States and Israel is that not
much time is left to figure it all out.
DEBKAfile's intelligence and counter-terrorism conclude from the
field investigations that Imad Mughniyeh, the
Iranian-Palestinian-Shi'ite Lebanese terror master, is the moving
force behind the terror wave in the making. He is widely believed
in the US intelligence community to have aided in planning the
Sept. 11 attacks.
Shortly before President Bush landed in Berlin Wednesday, May 22,
US authorities alerted Berlin and Austria to terrorist threats -
especially against tall buildings in the Austrian capital.
DEBKAfile's counter-terrorism experts stress that the terrorists
will not necessarily go into action as soon as they arrive at their
target destinations. They must first scout out local contacts and
pick up their weapons or explosives which will have been delivered
in the meantime.
DEBKAfile's intelligence sources can disclose that the Americans
recently set up a counter-terrorism base in Cyprus in an attempt to
track Mughniyeh's movements and those of his main operatives - but
According to the sources, the Americans and Israelis know that
Mughniyeh attended a summit meeting of top terrorist chiefs
convened in Lebanon in late April or early May. They met at the
Hizbullah's Husseini base in the Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley,
which is occupied by Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen. Present were
Iranian intelligence officers and the chiefs of the Lebanese
Hizbullah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and
the PFLP-General Command, including the group's operations officer
Jihad Jibril, who was subsequently assassinated in Beirut on
Monday, May 20 by a bomb planted in his car. Also there were the
heads of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and their
Although Mughniyeh is believed to be Iranian spiritual leader Ali
Khamenei's personal intelligence and terrorist officer, he was
known to have been a member of al-Qaeda's terrorist and operational
command, long before Sept. 11, also acting as liaison officer
between Khamenei and Osama bin Laden.
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