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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Confirmed: Israel behind Sudan airstrike; Saudis involved?

Time Magazine Jerusalem bureau chief Karl Vick claims to have confirmed that the IDF was behind the air strike on Wednesday at Port Sudan in which Hamas' chief arms procurement agent was allegedly killed.
And indeed the Israel Defense Force had nothing to say on Wednesday about the mysterious air strike just north of Port Sudan late Tuesday evening. But a senior military official privately confirmed the obvious. "It's not our first time there," the official told TIME, referring to a January 2009 airstrike that demolished an entire convoy near the Egyptian border, killing dozens. Both attacks took place on the preferred route for smuggling guns, missiles and mortars to the Gaza Strip and Hamas, the militant Islamist group that governs it. The route begins in Iran, a major sponsor of Hamas, runs by sea around the Arabian Peninsula to Port Sudan, then overland across the vast Sinai Desert. Somewhere along the way, according to a Western official speaking on condition of anonymity, an electronic device was attached to the shipment. Its signal guided the missile into the the vehicle as it moved north from the port Tuesday night. News reports quoted witnesses as hearing multiple explosions; secondary blasts would likely be the unidentified munition inside the car.

The Sinai has never been easily policed by Egyptian authorities,and has been even more wide-open since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak. (When a hierarchy slackens, the periphery loosens the most.) But Gilad signaled that things are tightening up, saying the military government that succeeded Mubarak is working closely with Israel on Sinai.

"We have intensive dialogue with Egyptian authorities and they are doing their best to rise to the challenges," he said. Indeed Gilad was downright ebullient about the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, referring admiringly to its "sophisticated use of power" and singling out Field Marshal Mohamad Hussain Tantawi, a close adviser to Mubarak. Israel's quite public worries about the course Egypt might take after Tahrir Square seemed a thing of the past, at least for now. "I must say I'm very much impressed by the stability of the Supreme Council," Gilad said. "I think they embody the best of Egypt."

Sudan may differ. To reach its territory, Israeli aircraft would have needed overflight permission from either Saudi Arabia or Egypt. Both border the Red Sea south of Israel, and neither is a fan of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Long experience with Egyptian meddling predisposes Khartoum to blame Cairo for a great deal, though on Wednesday its foreign minister was naming only Israel.

"This is absolutely an Israeli attack," Sudan's Foreign Minister Ali Karti told reporters. He found in the air strike evidence of a plot to keep Sudan on the State Department's list of countries that support terror.
Now wouldn't that be something if Israel had gotten permission to overfly Saudi Arabia on the way to the Sudan? JPost adds:

Israel assassinated a senior Hamas weapons smuggler late Tuesday night when it bombed a rental car in Sudan, the Al-Arabiya news channel reported on Wednesday, shedding light on the mysterious late-night air strike.

The station did not identify the two men who were killed in the strike but said that one of them was Sudanese and that the other was from another Arab country. Some reports have claimed that he was a senior Hamas operative responsible for smuggling weapons from Iran, Syria and Lebanon to the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian news source Ma'an reported an anonymous intelligence official as saying that one of the men killed in the recent attack was senior Hamas official Abdul Latif Al-Shaqr. The source added that the other man killed was a 'friend' of Shaqr's.

According to the source, Shaqr was the successor of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, the senior Hamas official who was assassinated in his hotel room in Dubai last year.

Private sources in Hamas have denied the claim that Shaqr was killed in the attack, Ma'an reported, and said that Shaqr is alive and well.

Shaqr, whose family live in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza, has been previously accused of smuggling weapons to Hamas in Gaza by the IDF, Ma'an reported, and of inheriting Mabhouh's position after he was killed.
I told you all last night that he had to be al-Mabhouh's successor!

And it turns out that a little birdie named Dirar Abu Sesi has started to sing.
On Thursday, Kuwaiti newspaper Al Jarida reported that jailed Gazan engineer Dirar Abu Sisi gave Israeli intelligence 'valuable information' that led to the attack on the arms smugglers. According to the source, Abu Sisi passed along the sensitive information to Israel during his remand since he was abducted by a train in Ukraine last month.

The source also told Al Jarida that Israel received valuable information on smuggling routes and cells operating from Sudan, through Egypt, and to Gaza, from a 'network' of southern Sudanese refugees who have migrated to Israel.

Read the whole thing.

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