Morning Report: January 29, 2007

Killers strike in Israel and Iraq, but the good guys are striking back with a major terror bust. A specter is haunting Europe. And a high-tech aircraft has some surprising limitations.

Pigua in Eilat. A terrorist killed three innocent Israelis in Eilat on Monday. Debka:
'Israeli military and security chiefs fear first Palestinian suicide bombing in Eilat, which killed 3 Israelis Monday, signals deadly new wave funded from Tehran and Damascus. The bomber, Mohamed Faisal al-Siksik, 21, from Gaza, blew himself up in a bakery in the Red Sea resort of Eilat Monday, Jan. 29, killing the two proprietors and a third Israeli. This was the first such attack the holiday paradise has ever experienced. DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources report that the next wave of suicide attacks is expected to be mounted from Gaza and Sinai by the Palestinian Jihad Islami in conjunction with local al Qaeda cells with funding from Tehran and Damascus. Although two Palestinian groups – Jihad Islami and Fatah-al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed the attack, DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources disclosed it was in fact the first joint operation of the third group, the Army of Believers – an al Qaeda cover name – and Jihad Islami of the new anti-Israel terror offensive. A senior Israeli officer familiar with the Israeli-Egyptian Sinai border region told DEBKAfile after the Eilat attack: “Olmert and Peretz have missed the train. Their policy of military restraint in the face of Qassam missile attacks and a terrorist build-up has given the most violent elements free rein to get set for a fresh, well-organized assault.” Some attacks may also come from the sea. He stressed: “It’s no use expecting the Egyptians to secure the Sinai border. Since Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip 15 months ago, the Egyptian-Gazan-Israeli borders are a highway for smugglers of terrorists, missiles, explosives and traffickers of every kind. The IDF is the only force capable of putting a stop to this traffic and suppressing the collaboration between Hamas, Jihad Islami, Fatah-al Aqsa Brigades and al Qaeda. Unfortunately, its hands are tied by the government.”'

Arutz Sheva:
For the first time, a suicide terrorist detonated himself in the southern port city of Eilat. After he hitchhiked to the city, the man who innocently drove him called the police - but too late.

Three Jews were murdered, and five people were treated for shock.

Initial reports implied that the explosion inside a small bakery in Eilat around 9:45 AM was caused by a gas canister explosion. However, shortly after 10:30, the police abruptly issued an announcement saying that it was the work of an Arab suicide terrorist. The police announced that the murderer had entered the bakery carrying a large bag and detonated himself. Three dead were reported, in addition to the terrorist himself.

The Al Aksa Brigades of Fatah - an arm of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization - and Islamic Jihad have claimed joint responsibility for the murderous attack. In general, Fatah's Al Aksa Brigades has shared responsibility with Islamic Jihad for the terror attacks against Israel over the past two years.

MK Levy urges response: 'National Union-NRP MK Yitzhak Levy urged Israel to react to the suicide bombing attack in Eilat, saying the government policy of restraint is a failure. "I believe that the government is erring by acting with restraint. We need to set a price tag for attacks like this," he said.' Eilat's mayor responds: 'Meir Yitzhak Halevi, mayor of Eilat, called the fact that suicide bombers had managed to infiltrate the city "very disturbing," and said that he hoped that city officials would soon have all the information necessary to address the threat.' Internal security minister cites infiltration: 'Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said Monday afternoon that the bomber who killed three Eilat residents in a suicide attack on Monday morning had infiltrated Israel from Egypt, echoing the conclusion of all of the Israeli intelligence agencies.' A reservist who gave the terrorist a ride became suspicious: 'An Israeli reservist who gave a ride to Muhammed Faisal al-Saksak, the suicide bomber who killed three people in Eilat on Monday morning, said Monday evening that he had suspected al-Saksak was up to something, but that he could do nothing until the terrorist got out of the car. Lt.-Col. (res.) Yossi Voltinski said in an interview with Channel 10 that he had told the man to get out before reaching his destination. "Still, unfortunately, he succeeded in his plot," Voltinski lamented. "He succeeded in killing innocent people, and I don't feel good about that."' IRIS: 'The southern resort city of Eilat has had its first suicide bombing, thanks to the decision of Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert to turn over Gaza to Islamists. Precisely as I predicted the terrorist strategy was two-pronged: arm Gaza and then use that base to move terror into Israel. In this case, the suicide bomber apparently travelled from Gaza across the now open border to Egypt, and then through the desert border into Israel.' (various)

Terrorists continue murdering in Iraq. CENTCOM: 'FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq – Fifteen Iraqis were killed in two vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks in a New Baghdad commercial district Jan. 27. The first attack, at approximately 12:12 p.m., killed 11 Iraqis and wounded 30 more, including two Iraqi police officers. Small arms fire broke out immediately following the explosion but stopped after Iraqi police arrived on the scene. The second attack, minutes later, killed four Iraqis and wounded 20 more. Fire trucks arrived and starting treating victims. The wounded in both attacks were taken by Iraqi emergency personnel to nearby hospitals.' (CENTCOM)

Coalition forces capture suspected terrorists. CENTCOM: 'BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition Forces captured 21 suspected terrorists including a senior al-Qaida in Iraq courier, an improvised explosives devices cell leader and a foreign fighter facilitator during operations Sunday morning around Iraq. In Baghdad, Coalition Forces captured three individuals with ties to senior al-Qaida in Iraq leadership. During operations in Karmah, Coalition Forces captured 11 suspected terrorists including a high-level al-Qaida courier who is a known associate of multiple senior al-Qaida in Iraq personnel. He is also known for facilitating the movement of multiple senior al-Qaida personnel in the region.' (CENTCOM)

Update on Iraqi-led operation in Najaf. Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail:
Iraqi security forces, backed by American tanks and air support, attacked what appears to be a mixed group of Sunni insurgents and a Shia end-times cult known as the "Soldiers of Heaven." The battle occurred in the suburbs and orchards north of Najaf. "Police Colonel Ali Nomas said 250 militants had been killed," reported Reuters. "The political source said up to 1,000 had been involved. An army source said they wore camouflage and appeared well organised." They were also believed to have possessed anti-arircraft missiles.

Later counts put the number of enemy fighters killed at up to 350, with a minimal loss to Iraqi and U.S. troops. Three Iraqi soldiers were killed and 21 wounded, five police were killed and 19 wounded, and two U.S. soldiers were killed when their helicopter was downed. The leader of the Shia cult, Ahmed Hassani al-Yemeni "who claimed to be the Mahdi, a messiah-like figure in Islam," was killed during the fighting, which lasted over 24 hours. ...

An American military intelligence informed us the early indications are that the Omar Brigade, al-Qaeda in Iraq's unit designated to slaughter Shia, was involved in the fighting. Al-Qaeda in Iraq would have a vested interest in causing mass casualties of Shia during the pilgrimage to Karbala for the festival of Ashura. Over 11,000 Iraqi Army and police have been deployed to Karbala to provide security for the event. ...

Read the rest for more great intel, and links. (TFR)

Anti-Semitic acts in Europe rose in 2006. Ha'Aretz: 'The number of anti-Semitic incidents rose significantly in Europe last year, according to a joint study released Sunday by the Jewish Agency's Forum for the Coordination of the Struggle Against Anti-Semitism, the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office. Figures for anti-Semitic acts in Germany, Austria and the Scandinavian countries increased dramatically in 2006, the study said. The study indicated that 360 incidents were registered in France in 2006 (compared to 300 in 2005), 312 in Britain (compared to 321), some 300 in Russia (250), 83 in Austria (50) and 53 in Scandinavia (35). The study shows an increase of 60% in anti-Semitic incidents in the Berlin area, though figures were not provided for Germany as a whole.' (Ha'Aretz)

And if that doesn't work, they can install a Morse Code key. The Standard: 'There's no denying it, the F-22 is the most advanced fighter in the world. Stealthy, maneuverable, and lethal, it is without rival. Still, there may yet be a few kinks to work out. First, Defense Tech reports that the F-22, unlike many older fighters, was built without the ability to send data. Hard to believe, but F-22 pilots need to pass on all information through the comm system. Defense Tech's David Axe: "I asked the Raptor jockeys at Virginia's Langley Air Force Base about this last year and they shifted uncomfortably in their seats while feeding me some line about how voice comms work just fine." Axe says a fix is in the works. But according to Aviation Week & Space Technology (via Defense News), the F-22 is also having problems receiving data. ...' Read the rest at the link. (Standard)

Commentary. As of this morning, I'm officially dropping my former policy of not reporting terror attacks unless they are unusual in some way. From now on, all terror attacks get reported.

My original reasoning was that I didn't want to play the MSM's game by giving you a steady stream of demoralizing, bad news. I figured that if a car bomb killed fifteen people in Baghdad this morning, you had probably already heard about it from the news and didn't need to hear it again from me. I could concentrate on providing the information that went unreported in the media.

But terror attacks are certainly part of the reality in the Middle East, and I don't want to create the idea that I'm ignoring them or selectively reporting them. Better you should get the whole picture. And anyway, why should I give you a reason to watch CNN?

Dreams Into Lightning and its Morning Report feature aim, first and foremost, to inform. My goal is to provide you with a collection of information that will help you understand the world better. If you're reading this, I assume you are capable of handling the information.

Regarding today's attack in Israel, a Stratfor analysis (subscription) echoes the view of A7 and others that the bombing was a rushed or botched affair - that is, the killer had intended to detonate in a more crowded location, but became concerned that he would be apprehended soon, and so chose a target of opportunity - resulting in fewer innocent deaths than the terrorist might have wished. According to Stratfor, "The bomber struck at approximately 9:40 a.m. local time, missing the morning rush hour -- and thus an opportunity to kill or maim a greater number of people. In addition, rather than striking an area crowded with tourists, he hit a bakery in a residential area."

I'll post more information as it becomes available.