Blasts hit secret Iranian missile launching-pad for US, Israeli targets
DEBKAfile Special Report October 15, 2010, 1:12 PM (GMT+02:00)
Tags: Imam Ali Base Iran Shehab-3
Aerial view of Imam Ali base with tunnel opening
A top-secret Iranian military installation was struck by a triple blast Tues. Oct. 12 the day before Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Lebanon. debkafile's military and intelligence sources report the site held most of the Shehab-3 medium-range missile launchers Iran had stocked for striking US forces in Iraq and Israel in the event of war - some set to deliver triple warheads (tri-conic nosecones).
The 18 soldiers officially reported killed in the blasts and 14 injured belonged to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) main missile arm, the Al-Hadid Brigades.
The Imam Ali Base where the explosion occurred is situated in lofty Zagros mountain country near the town of Khorramabad in the western Iranian province of Lorestan. This site was selected for an altitude which eases precise targeting and the difficulty of reaching it for air or ground attack. It lies 400 kilometers from Baghdad and primary American bases in central Iraq and 1,250 kilometers from Tel Aviv and central Israel. Both are well within the Shehab-3 missile's 1,800-2,500-kilometer operational range.
Our Iranian sources report that Tehran spent hundreds of millions to build one of the largest subterranean missile launching facilities of its kind in the Middle East or Europe. Burrowed under the Imam Ali Base is a whole network of wide tunnels deep underground. Somehow, a mysterious hand rigged three blasts in quick succession deep inside those tunnels, destroying a large number of launchers and causing enough damage to render the facility unfit for use.
In its official statement on the incident, Tehran denied it was the result of "a terrorist attack" and claimed the explosion "was caused by a nearby fire that spread to the munitions storage area of the base." In the same way, the regime went to great lengths to cover up the ravages wrought to their nuclear and military control systems by the Stuxnet virus - which is still at work.
In actual fact, debkafile's military sources report, Iran's missile arsenal and the Revolutionary Guards have also suffered a devastating blow. Worst of all, all their experts are a loss to account for the assailants' ability to penetrate one of Iran's most closely guarded bases and reach deep underground to blow up the missile launchers.
The number of casualties is believed to be greater than the figure given out by Tehran.
The soldiers' funerals took place Thursday, Oct. 14, as the same time as Ahmadinejad declared in South Lebanon that Israel was destined to "disappear." A few later, he ended his contentious two-day visit to Lebanon.
This week, Aviation Week discovered that the new intermediate-range BM-25 Musudan ballistic missile exhibited at the North Korean military parade Sunday Oct. 10 - at which Kim Jong-II also paraded his son and heir - bore a strong resemblance to the Iranian Shehab-3.
It is therefore possible that the explosions at the IRGC base in Lorestan Tuesday also sabotaged secret models of the Iran's latest road-mobile, liquid-fuel version of the Shehab-3 ballistic missile.
Report: Google Earth spots Scud missile base near Damascus
TEL AVIV — A Scud missile base has been detected near the Syrian capital.
Images captured by Google Earth have shown construction of several military bases throughout Syria. One of the Syrian bases, located near Damascus, was believed to contain short- and medium-range Scud-class ballstic missiles.
"The photographs also suggest that Hizbullah activists are being trained at the base on the use of Scuds," the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
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The satellite images of the Syrian bases were said to have been taken in March. One of the largest missile bases, surrounded by hills 400 meters high, was reported near Adra, about 25 kilometers northeast of Damascus.
Israeli analysts said the Google Earth images confirm reports of a Syrian missile buildup as well as training of Hizbullah. The images show what appears to be Scud B, the medium-range Scud C as well as a mobile launcher at Adra, a base that includes concrete tunnels.
Scud B was said to have a range of 300 kilometers. Scud C's range was reported at 550 kilometers.
Israeli and Arab media reports assert that Syria was providing Hizbullah with Scuds as well as the M-600 rocket. The M-600 was said to have a range of 300 kilometers.
Adra was identified as a key Syrian supply base for Hizbullah. Western intelligence sources said Iran deployed scores of military personnel at Adra to facilitate the flow of missiles and rockets to Hizbullah bases in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.
"The long-range missiles Syria recently gave to Hizbullah are just the tip of the iceberg," Israeli Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz, the head of military intelligence's research division, said in mid-2010. "Hizbullah already has thousands of rockets of all kinds and all ranges."
EXCLUSIVE: New Pakistani Taliban Operative Feared Inside U.S. After Times Square Failure
By Mike Levine & Jennifer Griffin
Published October 14, 2010
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Senior U.S. officials are concerned over recent intelligence indicating that the Pakistani Taliban, which orchestrated the failed Times Square bombing, may have successfully placed another operative inside the United States to launch a second attack, sources tell Fox News. Authorities, however, know very little about the potential operative or any possible plot.
"[We] don't know who it is and don't know where it is," one source said. "We know the guy's here, but don't know anything about him."
Based on the intelligence, authorities believe the Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, would have directed the individual to attempt another Times Square-style operation, but not necessarily in New York City.
A senior intelligence official said the threat stream's lack of specificity makes it nearly impossible for the counterterrorism community to defend against such an attack. Any possible threat, however, does not seem to be imminent, with a senior counterterrorism official saying he was "unaware" of any "imminent threats" against the U.S. homeland.
Nevertheless, the Pakistani Taliban has been looking to make up for its previous failure. Authorities believe the subject of the latest intelligence would use "a similar mechanism" and the "same modus operandi" employed by 31-year-old Faisal Shahzad in May, mostly "because it's easily accessible here," as one source put it.
In the months leading up to his attack, Shahzad purchased fertilizer, propane gas, fireworks and other components from stores in Connecticut and Pennsylvania. But the bomb he ultimately built and packed inside a sport utility vehicle did not detonate properly.
If someone successfully set off such a bomb, the effects would be "devastating," according to federal prosecutors. In June, FBI agents built and tested a device identical to Shahzad's, except this time they made sure the bomb actually detonated.
"Had the bombing played out as Shahzad had so carefully planned, the lives of numerous residents and visitors of the city would have been lost and countless others would have been forever traumatized," federal prosecutors said in court documents filed in the Shahzad case two weeks ago. "This is to say nothing of the significant economic and emotional impact a successful attack would have had on the entire nation."
Authorities are describing the latest threat as "credible but not specific," and they are "very nervous," according to the sources. It's unclear exactly when or how the intelligence was obtained, but one source said it was "corroborated" by authorities. Others were unable to say the intelligence had been corroborated.
"In many cases, intelligence we get ends up washing out," said the senior counterterrorism official, who would not specifically discuss or even confirm the latest intelligence.
It's also unclear when or how the operative would have entered the United States, but the recent intelligence says he would have been sent from Pakistan's tribal areas, where only months earlier associates of the Pakistani Taliban trained Shahzad to build and detonate bombs, according to the senior intelligence official.
After living in the United States for a decade and becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, Shahzad left for Pakistan in late 2009. He spent five months there before returning to Connecticut to prepare his attack.
As for the subject of the latest intelligence, he could be anywhere in the United States, and officials are not convinced he would necessarily target New York City.
"It's not surprising this day and age that an individual is residing in or traveled to the United States in hopes of pulling off some sort of attack," the senior counterterrorism official, speaking generally, said. "We are 'Target Number One' for terrorists, and it requires a constant vigilance."
In particular, federal officials have become increasingly concerned about U.S. citizens who, like Shahzad, "choose to serve as an operative for a foreign terrorist organization," as federal prosecutors put it.
In court documents filed in the Shahzad case, prosecutors said that "under the cover of their U.S. citizenship" such individuals can "travel freely around the world" and "can remain in the United States undetected."
In a video released by the Pakistani Taliban two months after the failed Times Square attack, Shahzad said it is "not difficult at all to wage an attack on the West, and specifically in the U.S."
"Get up and learn from me and make an effort," he said in the video, recorded eight months before its release. "Nothing is impossible if you just keep in mind that Allah is with you."
Still, senior U.S. officials said recently that even failed attacks like the Times Square plot can ultimately be successful in some ways.
"These smaller attacks -- even if unsuccessful -- may still generate significant publicity and therefore might have both a psychological and an economic impact," FBI Director Mueller said last week during an intelligence-reform conference organized by the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.
Two weeks earlier, the head of the National Counterterrorism Center, Michael Leiter, told a Senate hearing that "additional attempts by Al Qaeda affiliates ... to attack the U.S., particularly attempts in the homeland, could attract the attention of even more Western recruits, thereby increasing those groups' threat to the homeland." And despite some setbacks for the Pakistani Taliban, he said, the group has "time and time again proven its resilience and remains a very capable and determined enemy."
The recent intelligence regarding the Pakistani Taliban has no connection to the U.S. State Department's recent alert urging Americans to use caution when traveling to Europe. U.S. officials have emphasized that the intelligence leading to the travel alert did not indicate a direct threat to the U.S. homeland, but they have been careful not to rule out other threats or to address other threat information.
In fact, the senior intelligence official said there are five major threat streams -- three aimed at Europe and two aimed at the United States -- that U.S. authorities are following right now.
Asked about "the current threat environment here in the United States" during a press conference in Washington last week, Attorney General Eric Holder insisted the "threat screening that precipitated the [travel] alert is all directed at Europe."
"That does not mean, however, that we're letting our guard down with regard to the United States," he added. "We have certainly seen over the past year attempts by Al Qaeda or its affiliates to attack the United States. We saw that in Detroit [with the failed Christmas Day bombing]. We saw that in Times Square. And so we are mindful of the fact that the threat to our homeland is a continuing one."
In September, the State Department designated the Pakistani Taliban a foreign terrorist organization, saying the group "draws ideological guidance" from Al Qaeda and is "attempting to extend their bloody reach into the American homeland." Their primary goals are to topple the Pakistani government, force Pakistani troops out of areas along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, and to establish Islamic law in the region, according to U.S. officials.
In recent years, the Pakistani Taliban has carried out several attacks against U.S. interests overseas, including a deadly attack on a CIA base in Afghanistan, but the Times Square attempt was the group's first attack outside South Asia.
Last week, after pleading guilty to 10 terrorism-related counts, Shahzad was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the attempted bombing.
An FBI spokesman said he could not offer any information for this article, and spokesmen for the Department of Justice declined to comment.
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In: Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Middle East
Tags: iran, base, attacked, blast, debka, google, earth, damascus, scud, base, pakistan, terrorist, muslim, islam
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