Middle East Intelligence Bulletin
Jointly published by the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon and the Middle East Forum
  Vol. 1   No. 9

September 1999 


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Intelligence Briefs

Berri Assails Role of "Secret Service Agents" in Lebanon (14 August)
Hezbollah Collaborators Photograph IDF Officers to Brief Assassination Squads (15 August)
Hezbollah Military Chief Assassinated (16 August)
Reports of an Abortive Coup Attempt in Syria (20 August)
China Signs Deal to Upgrade Iran's Anti-ship Missiles (21 August)
Iraq Plotted to Kill Dissident in London (22 August)
Lebanese Security Forces Uncover Israeli Intelligence Network (24 August)
Berri, Hariri, Jumblatt Reportedly Forming Islamic "Lebanese Front" (24 August)
More violence in Ain al-Hilweh (29 August)
NSC Report Says Iraq is Still Developing Weapons of Mass Destruction (2 September)
Saudi Arabia in Financial Straits (3 September)
Cooperation between Hamas and Islamic Jihad Has Increased (9 September)
CIA: Iran Will Probably Have Intercontinental Missiles by 2015 (9 September)
Iraq Executes 26 "Terrorists" (10 September)
Assad Appoints Negotiating Team for Talks with Israel (14 September)

Berri Assails Role of "Secret Service Agents" in Lebanon
14 August 1999

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri vehemently criticized the involvement of security forces in Lebanese politics today and called upon intellectuals to find solutions to the country's economic and social problems. "I'm worried that Lebanon may become a country where secret service agents become more respected than creative writers," said Berri. "I'm also worried by Lebanon's reluctance to encourage the public involvement of intellectuals and artists," he added.

Hezbollah Collaborators Photograph IDF Officers to Brief Assassination Squads
15 August 1999

Sources in Israel said that a major Hezbollah informant network, uncovered in the village of 'Ayta al-Sha'b in the western sector of the security zone two weeks ago, had collected names and photographs of Israeli Defense Force (IDF) commanders to be used in briefing assassination squads. Dozens of explosive charges were also uncovered.

Hezbollah Military Chief Assassinated
16 August 1999

Hezbollah military chief Ali Dib (alias Khodr Salame) was killed when his armored BMW was destroyed by a remote control bomb east of Sidon. While the head of Israel's armed forces, Shaul Mofaz, denied Israeli responsibility for the assassination, there are several indications to the contrary. According to several eyewitnesses, Israeli aircraft flew over the area immediately prior to the blast. Shortly after the bomb detonated, residents of northern Israel were told to go to bomb shelters in anticipation of Katyusha rocket attacks by Hezbollah. Since 1996, Dib has escaped several assassination attempts, one of which killed his sister, Khadija, in the Jieh district south of Beirut.

Reports of an Abortive Coup Attempt in Syria
20 August 1999

According to today's issue of the Paris-based Arabic Weekly al-Watan al-Arabi, Syrian President Hafez Assad canceled his visit to Rabat to attend the funeral of King Hassan II in July after American intelligence agents informed him that a coup would be launched in his absence.1

China Signs Deal to Upgrade Iran's Anti-ship Missiles
21 August 1999

According to a report today in The Washington Times, China recently signed an $11 million to upgrade Iran's FL-10 anti-ship cruise missiles. The missiles will be adapted by the Chinese to fire from attack helicopters and patrol boats which could threaten U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf. Clinton administration officials received intelligence reports about this development last month, but have not publicly commented on the deal, which appears to violate a 1998 promise by Beijing not to provide Iran with cruise missile technology.

Iraq Plotted to Kill Dissident in London
22 August 1999

In an exclusive interview published today in The Telegraph, a former Iraqi general living in London said that the Iraqi government recently tried to pressure him into assassinating Dr. Ayad Alawi, the head of the Iraqi National Accord. Gen. Mohammed Ali Ghani said that he received a phone call from Saddam's henchmen. "They had my daughter, and they wanted me to kill Alawi," Ghani told the newspaper. "They put my daughter on the phone. She was terrified, and was crying . . . Then they told me I must help them or she would suffer terribly. Either I killed the doctor, or my daughter died." Ghani, a former commander in Iraq's Republican Guard, did not comply with the demands, but has since distanced himself from the Iraqi opposition.

Lebanese Security Forces Uncover Israeli Intelligence Network
24 August 1999

The Lebanese daily newspaper al-Safir reported today that Lebanese security forces recently uncovered an Israeli intelligence network that monitored Hezbollah bases and military movements in southern Lebanon. Security forces declined to name any suspects. It is believed that the network was exposed after the arrest in early August of a Lebanese construction worker who subsequently confessed to working for Israeli intelligence.

Berri, Hariri, Jumblatt Reportedly Forming Islamic "Lebanese Front"
25 August 1999

An-Nahar reported today : "A parliamentary source said that quick efforts were being made by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, former Prime minister Rafic Hariri and MP Walid Jumblatt to form an Islamic 'Lebanese Front.' The source sees strong evidence of a sectarian mobilization in Jumblatt's festival in Mukhtara, Hariri's rally in Khiara and the upcoming Berri-sponsored gathering in remembrance of Imam Musa As-Sadr."

More Violence in Ain al-Hilweh
29 August 1999

Three people in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in Sidon, Lebanon, were wounded in a grenade attack against an office of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement. Although no one claimed responsibility for the attack, most speculation centered on the Sunni fundamentalist group Esbat al-Ansar, Fatah's main rival for control of the camp, which has assassinated a number of Fatah officials in recent years.

NSC Report Says Iraq is Still Developing Weapons of Mass Destruction
2 September 1999

According to an article published today in the Washington Times, the White House National Security Council recently sent a report to congress indicating that Iraq is continuing its efforts to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. "We are concerned by activity at Iraqi sites known to be capable of producing [weapons of mass destruction] and long-range ballistic missiles, as well as by Iraq's long-established covert procurement activity that could include dual-use items with [weapons] applications," the report said. The report is at variance with previous claims by administration officials--State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said in July that "we have no reason to believe there have been significant efforts to reconstitute their weapons of mass destruction program."

Saudi Arabia in Financial Straits
3 September 1999

According to economic statistics published by Janes Information Group, Saudi Arabia's financial situation has declined to the lowest point in decades. Wheras the Kingdom had an estimated $200 billion in reserves in 1992, its debt has now reached 104% of its GDP--12 percent of its budget now goes to debt-servicing. During the same period, per capita income in Saudi Arabia plunged from around $18,000 to $7,000.

Cooperation between Hamas and Islamic Jihad Has Increased
9 September 1999

According to an article in Israel Line today, Israeli security officials have obtained information from the interrogation of Islamic Jihad members captured three weeks ago indicating that cooperation between Hamas and Islamic Jihad has greatly increased. The two rival movements are now believed to be coordinating their planning of terrorist attacks.

CIA: Iran Will Probably Have Intercontinental Missiles by 2015
9 September 1999

According to a CIA report released today, Iran will likely be able to hit the United States with intercontinental missiles within 15 years. The report said that it is "probable" that Iran will acquire ballistic missiles by 2015 and "possible" for Iraq to do so. The report added that U.S. military and defense firms are working to develop means of giving limited protection to U.S. cities against ballistic missiles.

Iraq Executes 26 "Terrorists"
10 September 1999

According to opposition sources, 26 prisoners held in Iraq's Abu Ghareeb prison were executed today. The prisoners had been convicted in June of "terrorist acts" against security officials in the provinces of Babel, al-Basra and al-Qadeseyah.

Assad Appoints Negotiating Team for Talks with Israel
14 September 1999

The Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot reported today that Syrian President Hafez Assad has chosen Gen. Asef Shawkat, the head of Syrian security services, to lead negotiations over security arrangements on the Golan Heights in upcoming peace negotiations with Israel. Syria's ambassador to Washington, Walid Mualem, was appointed to lead the "diplomatic" negotiating team. The paper added that Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara will soon be appointed as deputy prime minister for foreign affairs and will coordinate between the Syrian negotiating team and Assad.

  1 "limatha algha al-ra'is al-suriy ziyaratihi li rabat faja'atan? tafasil muhawala inqilab did al-Asad," al-Watan al-Arabi, 20 August 1999.

1999 Middle East Intelligence Bulletin. All rights reserved.

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