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Israel Issues Global Terror Alert

Israeli Warning: 'Iran & Hizbollah Are Planning More Terror Attacks On Israeli & Jewish Targets Abroad'

'Israel Has Taken Appropriate Counter-Measures After Investigation Of Two Iranian Terrorists In Bangkok'

IsraCast Assessment: 'Iran Is Reacting To Mounting International Pressure By Launching Terror Spree; Danger Of Israel-Iran Confrontation Escalating Out Of Control

Iranian missiles (photo: MEHR)

Israel is bracing for a new round of Iranian and Hizbollah terror attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets world-wide. That was the message from the Counter-Terror Headquarters in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's bureau in Jerusalem. The global alert was issued after the flurry of Iranian terror attacks against Israeli diplomats in Georgia, Thailand and India. Analyst David Essing is of the view that while Tehran is retaliating for the international pressure on its nuclear weapons program, its spree of terror could trigger an even more dangerous escalation between Israel on one side and Iran and its Hizballah proxy on the other.

Iran's rampage of terror against Israel is far from over, in fact it may now escalate. After attacks in Thailand, Georgia and India, the Israeli travel alert leaves no doubt that Israelis abroad, not just high-profile diplomats, must be on guard. Moreover, the alert also warns that Jewish targets abroad may also be hit by Iranian or Hizbollah terrorists. This recalls the Iranian bombing of the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires seventeen years ago. Following its investigation, Argentina issued an arrest warrant for Iran's current Defense Minister Ahamad Vahidi, who was suspected of master-minding the atrocity that murdered eighty-five people. Vahidi is also on Interpol's wanted list.

Iran's embassies operate as terror bases...

Iran's current terror offensive is apparently in reaction to two factors: the mysterious explosions and targeted killing of Iranian scientists involved in the nuclear program and even more importantly to the tougher sanctions now being imposed on Tehran by the international community. Iran accuses Israel and the U.S. of responsibility for the assassinations - the U.S. has denied any involvement while Israel has kept mum. In any case, if Israel is responsible for 'surgical' attacks on the scientists, it can be said they were some of the prime movers in Iran's demonic drive for weapons to wipe Israel off the map. But if Iran and Hizbollah now try to kill and maim as many people as they can, such as in the Argentinian bombing, this would be a very dangerous escalation. In the recent terror attacks, no Israelis were killed or seriously injured - this was due to a 'work accident' in Bangkok when the explosives blew up prematurely in the terrorists' apartment.

In the other cases, the bomb blasts appeared to have been hastily prepared. But if the Iranians, in particular the Quds Force, are masters at executing terror atrocties what went wrong this time? It may be the order came down from high up to retaliate swiftly against Israel. Keep in mind that Hizballah's vaunted military commander Imad Mourghina, responsible for the killing of many Israelis, was assassinated by a car bomb in Syria in February of 2008. Hizballah chief Sheik Hassan Nasrallah blamed Israel and vowed to avenge his death. Nasrallah has just declared that senior Israeli officials would be targeted not simple diplomats or IDF soldiers. Their next attempt may be more carefully planned and they have the means in capital cities around th world. The Quds (Jerusalem) Force, a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, is known to have a permanent presence in Iranian embassies where it enjoys diplomatic immunity and exploits the diplomatic mail for its nefarious practices. In other words, Iran's embassies can operate as covert terror bases already in place.

Israel likely to hit back hard if...

If the most recent attacks had not been botched, the situation would be far graver than it is already. But if Israelis or Jews abroad are now murdered, it is difficult to imagine the Israeli government not hitting back hard amid the mounting crisis over Iran's nuclear weapons. (Lo and behold! Even UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the paragon of international diplomacy, has now deigned to declare that Iran's nuclear denials are 'unconvincing'.) But unless there is a turn for the worse, the recent terror attacks are still a side-show compared to the main event - the Iranian drive to produce a nuclear bomb.

Iran feeling the heat...

The Iranian Missile Range

In live TV coverage, President Mahmoud Achmadinejad unveiled his 'big nuclear achievement'- Iranian produced uranium rods for civilian reactors that previously had to be purchased abroad. Moscow has been supplying the rods on condition that the sensitive by-product of enriched uranium would be strictly monitored and shipped back to Russia. Now the implication is that this new source of enriched uranium will wind up in Iran's nuclear weapons project. However Defense Minister Ehud Barak played down the nuclear rods issue by saying the Iranian leader had pulled off a PR stunt - that it was a 'show' to convince the world that Iran's nuclear ambitions would not be halted in spite of the more severe sanctions. The conclusion is that Iran's hyped-up nuclear antics and the poorly planned terror attacks indicate that Tehran is feeling the heat. In addition, Iran has warned it would block the vital Strait of Hormuz, warned U.S. carrier groups not to return to the Persian Gulf and that it might cut off oil sales to six EU states before the EU embargo goes into effect this summer.

Tehran reacts recklessly under pressure...

However, IDF Gen.(res.) Amos Gilad cautions that although Iran appears to be acting recklessly this should not be misconstrued as if its leadership is running scared. On the contrary, it reflects that Iran strikes out blindly when under pressure. Consider this - if the Iranians behave so beligerently without nuclear weapons, how will they behave if they get their hands on a nuclear bomb, which they believe will make them immune to external threats.

Dennis Ross on military option...

America's Assessment: Dennis Ross, a former adviser on the Middle East to both Presidents Bush and Obama, assessed the current position in an interview with Haaretz. What was his opinion on the military option? 'It is an option for the U.S. President Obama was very clear on this when he said he was not taking any options off the table, and he means it. However he prefers that diplomacy do the job as does Israel. Israel did not want to be in a position where it's Israel versus Iran but the world against Iran. Israel's position is that crippling sanctions can work and this reflects the assessment that with the proper pressure it is possible to alter the Iran's behavior'.

But what about the reported differences between Washinton and Jerusalem over where the red line is on Iran's nuclear weapons program? Dennis Ross: 'I cannot say with 100% certainty why all those reports have cropped up now. Maybe part of it has to do with motivating the world to support the sanctions. And possibly to create the environment that if Israel goes it alone at some point, the world would have been prepared for it. But I don't think that will happen immediately. Even Defense Minister Barak has said this is far off and I think this reflects the situation'.

Netanyahu & Barak...

On a trip to Cyprus, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that the latest sanctions were still not working. The fact is that Iran is still advancing on its nuclear weapons with Achmadinejad showing off his new centrifuges for enriching uranium. But if the PM is still skeptical about sanctions, his defense minister appears a little more optimistic and letting the U.S. gambit run its course before the Israeli government thinks it's time to take action. And guess what? After Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, proposed another round of nuclear talks last October, the Iranians have now responded positively. Their last round broke down over a year ago in Turkey. This stalling tactic not only serves Tehran- it lets the EU off the hook from taking any more drastic action as long as the diplomatic dillydally continues.

David Essing

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