Morning Report: September 15, 2006

Secrets, journeys, and a death. Thoughts about secret airplanes and undercover operations make today's report, while two Middle Eastern bloggers post from a big city in America ... and freedom activists mourn the passing of one of Europe's bravest warriors.

Oriana Fallaci dies. The Belmont Club remembers: 'A few months ago, a friend in Manhattan attended to what must have been one of her last public appearances. By then she was 76 and very sick of cancer. And still she spoke, through the written word and at small gatherings. And this time I paid attention, not to a woman in the autumn of her beauty, but to a warrior in the fullness of her strength.' Read the full post at the link. Jeremayakovka: 'That her mere body, wracked of late with cancer, has perished means little compared to the relentlessness with which she chastised a dead Europe and exhorted its would-be savoir step-children, America and Israel, to carry on the fight -- our fight -- for civilization. Fallaci's voice was a restless and rambunctious rebuke to all our intellectuals who have gone deaf, dumb and/or mute in the face of the calamitous threat of Islam.' (Belmont Club, JMK)

A look at Area 51. Joe Katzman at Winds of Change: '"Area 51" in Nevada, USA has been the stuff of myth and legend. Known world-wide as the birthplace and testing ground of famous planes like the U-2 Dragon Lady, SR-71 Blackbird, F-117 Nighthawk, and other "black program" aircraft, it has also been the subject of wilder UFO rumours and speculation by people who watch too many X-Files episodes. In the October 2006 issue of Popular Science, noted "black project" researcher Bill Sweetman pieces together "The Top-Secret Warplanes of Area 51." It covers some of the projects he believes to be underway there, based on patent filings, budget holes, and unfilled niches in the USA's arsenal. Comes complete with concept art pictures, which is always nice.' Here's the Popular Science link. (Winds of Change)

Zeyad wants to be a part of it. Healing Iraq is spreading the news: Zeyad has arrived in New York. 'I finally made it to New York. Arriving last week at JFK, the 13-hour trip was uneventful: leaving a sunny Amman at 10:30 am, sleeping through most of the flight, waking up and asked by a flight attendant to fill out a couple of forms for “non-citizens” (my first taste of the ton of paperwork that was to follow later) and arriving at a rainy and chilly New York at 4 pm.' Read the post to learn about Zeyad's experiences with US Customs (and a good guy named Bob). A revelation: 'My first impression about America? It’s not at all what it appears like through Hollywood (well, perhaps just a little bit!).' No word on whether he'll meet up with Silly Bahraini Girl ... but her attention seems to be focused elsewhere. (Healing Iraq, SBG)

ThreatsWatch on Syria attack. ThreatsWatch: 'lmost immediately after the attack occurred, the finger pointing began. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood claimed that Assad’s usual suspects were behind the attack while some within the Syrian regime suggested that America herself was behind the attacks. Interestingly, few give much credence to the independent capabilities of Jund al-Sham, the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group - once led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - that claimed responsibility. ... n the other hand, is it not possible that the Syrian faction of Jund al-Sham is so heavily infiltrated by Syrian intelligence that the Syrian infiltrator(s) know of planned attacks - if not plan and/or even approve them - alerting Syrian intelligence long before hand?' (ThreatsWatch)

Leading Al-Qaeda in Iraq figure reported slain. The Intelligence Summit: 'A leading figure in al-Qaeda in Iraq - possibly the group's number two - has been killed by security forces, the Iraqi interior ministry said Thursday. It identified the slain man as Abu Jaafar al-Liby, saying he was right hand man to the terror group's new leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri. Director of operations Brigadier Abdul-Karim Khalaf said Iraqi forces had killed Liby along with four militants several days ago, and captured two others alive. Eleven days ago, the authorities announced the arrest of man they called al-Qaeda's second-in-command in Iraq - identifying him as Hamed Juma Faris al Suaidi and linking him to the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra in February. No details were given of where he was arrested.' (AKI via TIS)

Debka: Al-Qaeda preparing for Lebanon attack. Debka: 'Al Qaeda appears to be preparing a large-scale terrorist attack on Israeli and UNIFIL forces in South Lebanon. According to some Western and Lebanese intelligence sources, al Qaeda has named veteran Abu Rush al-Miqati, 56, an old Middle East hand, to organize the attack. Lebanese interior minister Ahmad Fatfat reports 13 al Qaeda cells are operating in Lebanon and are being mustered for the attack. The Italian defense minister Arturo Parisi, who visited Italian forces at Ras a Maroun in South Lebanon, reminded them that al Qaeda’s Ayman Zawahiri this week stated that UNIFIL forces in Lebanon faced attack as “enemies of Islam.” Parisi said he was not surprised by al Qaeda’s message and warned the soldiers their mission could be “long, risky, costly and difficult.” But we are here, he said, to defend the security of Israel and strengthen Lebanon’s ability to control its territory. “We know the terrorists are not on our side.” Italy has agreed to send up to 3,000 soldiers to Lebanon, making it the biggest contributor to the UN`s force there.' (Debka)

Commentary. It's hard to know what is behind the Administration's confusing signals about Iran. One possibility, though, is that President Bush and his team are simply waiting for the right moment to strike. At least, it's what I'd do: continue making ambiguous statements, while noting each and every time when the Iranian regime has done something aggressive and unacceptable - and let them think they can keep getting away with it. In other words, I think the Chief is biding his time while preparing to make his move on his own schedule - not the enemy's.

Advanced weapons systems may be among the things that need to fall into place if we are going to successfully take on the mullahs in Tehran. In April 2004, I wrote this post mostly tongue-in-cheek, but it would not surprise me if some of our more sophisticated "black" aircraft have been mistaken for UFOs. In the case of Iran - which we know to be a technologically sophisticated adversary - it would pay to invest the extra time and resources.

I posted at Kesher Talk that there seem to be some encouraging signs coming from Europe. The strong presence in Lebanon of troops from Oriana Fallaci's homeland - tasked with defending the security of Israel - is, perhaps, further reason to hope.