Morning Report: April 12, 2005

Three suspected terrorists indicted. Dhiran Barot, Nadeem Tarmohammed and Qaisar Shaffi were indicted on charges of plotting terrorist actions against the New York Stock Exchange, the Citicorp Building in New York, the Prudential building in New Jersey, and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in the District of Columbia, according to news reports. The suspects are being held in Britain, where they were arrested last year. The 32-year-old Barot, a Briton of Indian descent who converted to Islam some years ago, was charged with possessing reconnaissance plans for US interests and notebooks containing information on explosives and poisons - material deemed "of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism." Barot is known variously as Abu Eisa al-Hindi, Abu Musa al-Hindi and Issa al-Britani, and is believed to have had close ties with Osama bin Laden. (CNN, MSNBC)

Wretchard: China and the poisoned pawn. Today's Belmont Club looks at the pros and cons, from Communist China's standpoint, of an "out of the blue" (OOTB) attack on Taiwan, versus a phased attack that would begin with a blockade and end with an invasion as a "coup de grace". Neither is a particularly attractive option for the Beijing regime: 'China's strategic choice then is between an OOTB pitting 5 or 6 lightly armed divisions against 12 Taiwanese to take advantage of surprise or to advance with a much larger force against up to 8 USN battlegroups. This is complicated by the fact that one US response to a Chinese blockade of Taiwan might include a counter-blockade of China's fuel imports. The growing Chinese dependence on Middle Eastern oil has a created a vulnerability that did not exist a decade ago.' Read the full analysis at the link. (Belmont Club)

Hezbollah drone penetrates Israeli airspace. Hezbollah flew another drone over Israel on Monday - the second such mission in five months. Debka reports: 'Israel confirms Hizballah drone penetrated Israeli airspace but reports it turned tail in seconds after air force fighters scrambled. According to Hizballah TV, unmanned spy vehicle photographed N. Israeli towns of Acre and Nahariya and returned to Lebanon undetected. DEBKAfile: Lebanese terrorist group timed action for Bush-Sharon talks in Texas Monday.' Ha'Aretz elaborates: 'The IDF said Hezbollah is resorting to gimmicks, because the political situation in the region does not permit it to carry out actual terror attacks. Hezbollah's television station Al-Manar reported last night that a drone had entered Israeli skies at 5:15 P.M. and had flown over the Nahariya, Acre and "18 other settlements in the territory of the Zionist enemy." Citizens in the Nahariya area detected the drone and reported it to police. The Air Force's anti-aircraft systems picked up the drone but did not fire rockets at it, and the F-16 planes did not hit it either. The Air Force admits an operational failure, which will be investigated. After the last incursion, in November 2004, the anti-aircraft systems were upgraded in the north. Yesterday's drone was apparently of the same make - Iranian - as the one flown in November. [Known as 'Mirsad-1' - aa.] Although capable of carrying explosives, Hezbollah has refrained from putting it to this use. IDF sources said the intelligence value of such a brief flight was limited. According to IDF officers, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah wants to prove capable of action against Israel, yet escalation in the north would not serve the interests of his patron, Syria, which is under international pressure to withdraw from Lebanon. Nasrallah is therefore opting for provocative acts with propaganda value.' (Debka, Ha'Aretz)