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Bush Warns On Iran, Ahmadinejad Scoffs

On the heels of French president Nicolas Sarkozy's warning of "an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran," US President George Bush had harsh words for Iran in a speech Tuesday, calling the regime "the world's leading supporter of terrorism." President Bush said that a nuclear Iran would put the Middle East "under a shadow of nuclear holocaust," and reiterated that he had "authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran's murderous activities."

In Baghdad on Tuesday, US forces arrested an Iranian delegation that is reported to have included "an embassy staffer and six members of a delegation from Iran's Electricity Ministry." Military sources said that several "were observed to have weapons in their cars, none of them had the appropriate permits, so all were detained." They were released Wednesday.

In verbal response to President Bush, Iranian president Ahmadinejad said that Iran is prepared to fill an emerging Mideast 'power vacuum'. He said, "I can tell you there will be a power vacuum in the region. We are ready with other regional countries, such as Saudi Arabia, and the people of Iraq to fill this vacuum."

The former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander also scoffed at a potential American designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization, saying it would be "highly unlikely that the American government will take such an illogical approach ... it would be a joke I guess."

Bhutto Outlines Version of Musharraf 'Agreement'

In a television interview, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto revealed what she described as details of a deal with Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf that would allow her to return both to Pakistan and to Pakistani government. She outlined an agreement and remained steadfast that she is not interested in playing the part of a political puppet. “So we’re not trying to bail out a military dictator by saying we will come there on your terms. What we are seeking is a compromise that could help bring about a stable, democratic, civilian order,” Ms Bhutto said on PBS’s NewsHour With Jim Lehrer. “What we’re negotiating for are certain changes that will empower the parliament to take on the militants,” she said.

With Pakistan under more US pressure to combat the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri cautioned lawmakers in the Pak Senate that Pakistan could not afford to make the United States its enemy, though "red lines" had been drawn for other nations to recognize.

Meanwhile, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has his own sights set on a similar return, but Musharraf has not entertained the thought of talks with Sharif. Sharif continues to run into legal obstacles that have largely been removed and/or pushed aside for Bhutto during her ongoing talks with Musharraf on a power-sharing arrangement. The reluctant Musharraf increasingly has little domestic choice, but talks with Sharif have been a non-starter, as Sharif is suspected of ties to bin Laden and other Islamist groups inside Pakistan.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades Call Off IDF Truce

In the West Bank, declared the truce with IDF soldiers over and announced in a distributed leaflet, "We call on all our members who handed over their weapons to the Palestinian security forces to report to their commanders so that they can be issued new weapons."

Israel had issued an amnesty to al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades militants in the understanding that they turn their weapons over to Abbas' Palestinian Authority. But after IDF soldiers reportedly arrested two al-Aqsa members who were on the amnesty list, the leaflet announcing the end of the truce appeared.

The leaflet also read, "We call on all our members to display caution and not to be deceived by the so-called amnesty from Israel. We will no longer honor the agreements that were reached with Israel over the issue of the wanted men. We won't hand over our guns. This is a lie designed to split the Palestinian resistance."

Sanctions Questioned As IAEA, Iran Agree

Ahead of what US Envoy to the IAEA Schulte says is a thrid round of UNSC resolutions, Iran has agreed to a timetable with the IAEA that would chart progress on unresolved nuclear issues with Tehran. While the IAEA's Ollie Heinonen called it a "milestone" and Iran's Javad Vaeedi said it was "very concrete progress," Schulte called it a "smokescreen" to "take the attention from its continued development of bomb-making capabilities."

However, the Jerusalem Post reported Israeli officials as "doubtful" that any additional round of UN sanctions would be dealt Iran. One official said that, while the economic have had an impact on Iran, "without Russia or China, it is doubtful that the UN will succeed in passing another round of sanctions."

Pakistan Releases al-Qaeda Tech Facilitator

Back with his family now in Karachi, Pakistan has released suspected al-Qaeda operative Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan. Khan was believed to have facilitated encrypted e-mail communications between al-Qaeda leadership and cells in Africa, the Middle East and Great Britain. Tracing his communications reportedly resulted in arrests worldwide. The Pakistani government did not explain the release.

Pakistan's DAWN newspaper reported that Khan "has also been linked with terror plots in the US and Britain, and to the arrests of suspects in Britain."

IG Release Critical of IC, Tenet on 9/11 failures

Released Tuesday was a previously classified executive summary of the June 2005 report by the Office of the Inspector General regarding intelligence practices regarding al-Qaeda leading up to the 9/11 attacks. The summary, now two years old, was very critical of former DCI George Tenet and the Intelligence Community, particularly regarding communications, process and operations management. Tenet "did not use all of his authorities in leading the Intelligence Community's strategic effort against Usama bin Laden," read the document.

Tenet issued a written statement timed to coincide with the expected release of the IG's intelligence Report Executive Summary. Citing intelligence challenges experienced in the 1990's, Tenet said that the "IG fails to understand how intensely I pushed the counterterrorism issue" because the IG did not interview him or policymakers on the matter.

Taliban Cancels Second Pakistani Truce Deal

Following the recent scrapping of the North Waziristan 'peace deal' between Musharraf and the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance there, the Taliban have now also voiced the similar accords in South Waziristan, the Taliban and al-Qaeda's first major sanctuary ceded by Pakistan. A spokesman for Taliban leader Baitullah Mahsud declared, "The advance movement of the Pakistan army in our area is a violation of the agreement."

Observers have held that the Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies had violated the terms of the agreements since their 2005 (South Waziristan) and 2006 (North Waziristan) inceptions, particularly by sending Taliban fighters on cross-border raids into Afghanistan. Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah, who re-organized in Pakistan, was killed in Afghanistan earlier this year.

In North Waziristan, where the accord has been discarded for weeks, a Pakistani military spokesman said that Pakistani gunships executed a series of attacks on 'militant' positions near Miranshah, the North Waziristan capital. Pakistan's Daily Times reported Major General Waheed Arshad saying, “The attack was launched after credible reports that foreign elements were using the compounds as hideouts. We have credible information that the two compounds have been destroyed and 15 miscreants, including 10 Uzbeks, have been killed in the strike."

In the province of Tank, The Daily Times also reported that "talks between local militants and a jirga comprising elders of the area for the release of 15 abducted Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel have succeeded, and the release of the first five is expected within a few days, with the rest to follow soon after. South Waziristan MNA Maulana Merajuddin told reporters that militants had agreed to release the soldiers unconditionally as a gesture of solidarity with the army."

31 al-Qaeda Captured At Iraq Meeting

Iraqi Security Forces and U.S. Special Forces detained 31 at an al-Qaeda in Iraq meeting that was raided on Thursday, August 17. Multi-National Force - Iraq reported that Iraqi civilians in the area provided the tip that led to the large capture in Sayafiyah, Iraq. MNF-I reported that individuals targeted in this specific raid "have been connected to multiple improvised explosive device attacks, weapons smuggling, kidnapping, extra judicial killings and are believed to be responsible for the displacement of hundreds of Shiites."

Elsewhere, south of Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch said that forces under his command are tracking about 50 members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps in their area. While much focus is put on knocking down al-Qaeda in the area, Maj. Gen. Lynch said of the Iranian IRGC forces, "We know they're here and we target them as well." He went on to explain, "They go back and forth. There's a porous border."

NYPD Report Studies Domestic Terror, Radicalization Process

On the heels of last week's radiological alert in New York City, the New York Police Department's Intelligence Division has produced a report on the domestic terrorism threat that NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said is a domestic augment to the recent National Intelligence Estimate.

The key benefit within the report to agencies and professionals is said to be an insight into the radicalization process of young Muslim men in the United States as immigrants - legal or illegal - and citizen converts. It reportedly looks at the US prison systems, local public mosques, the Internet and universities among other localized "radicalization incubators" that are "rife with extremist rhetoric."Kelly said, "Hopefully, the better we're informed about this process, the more likely we'll be to detect and disrupt it."

The Internet is a key tool for terrorist groups in the recruiting, radicalization and training of young jihadists both in the United States and worldwide. Commissioner Kelly said to that end, "The Internet is the new Afghanistan. It is the de facto training ground. It's an area of concern."

Appearing on Fox News, Dr. Walid Phares said that it is important to note that the report correctly identifies that the radicalization process typically instills the anger in potential domestic jihadists and not the other way around. It would be wrong to conclude, he asserted, that the typical radicalization process is one where an already angry, disaffected Muslim in America then seeks out "radicalization incubators."

EU Calls for Engaging Hamas Draw Criticism

Hamas draws encouragement from European calls for Europe, Israel and Fatah to engage the terrorist group in talks. "The new voices we are hearing in Europe are an admission that the policy of boycotting the Hamas government was a mistake," said Muhammed al-Madhoun, a senior aide to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, quoted by the Jerusalem Post.

But Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni warned that such engagement is a grave mistake. "I know that it looks tempting, and I know that the international community is eager to see a kind of an understanding between Hamas and Fatah. This is wrong. This is a mistake -- big mistake, huge," she said. Livni added, "Hamas is a terrorist organization. The requirements of the international community are and were clear. I believe that any compromise with terror, any compromise with these extremists, can lead to undermining the new [West Bank] government in the Palestinian Authority."

In the West Bank's Ramallah, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas issued a decree excluding Hamas from upcoming Palestinian elections and further altered election law to require candidates in presidential and legislative elections "to respect the political program of the PLO."

Iran's IRGC, Quds Force To Be Designated By Executive Order

President Bush has decided to sign an order to block the assets of the Iranian Quds Force, part of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and tasked with "exporting the revolution." Quds Force is central to Iran's support for Hizballah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organizations. Report's the New York Sun, "The designation under a new executive order created to list organizations and people sabotaging Iraq's government has been cleared by the National Security Council."

The Washington Post quoted a US official who characterized the intent behind the order in saying, "It makes clear to everyone who the IRGC and their related businesses really are. It removes the excuses for doing business with these people."

Another official said, "It would basically declare open season on these guys," a reference to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps' (IRGC) support for "all the bad actors" in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, such as Hizballah and Hamas.

Al-Qaeda Redeploys From Camps to Edges of Tribal Areas

While Pakistan's Prime Minister has not ruled out an imposition of a state of emergency, the Taliban and al-Qaeda appear to not simply have abandoned the 28 Waziristan training camps, but instead have apparently executed and offensive redeployment from their central strongholds to beyond the edges of already-controlled Pakistani territory. The move appears an attempt to challenge the deployed Pakistani army in areas beyond its strongholds rather than within. It could be an attempted expansion or simply an attempt to divert the Pakistani military from encroaching full-force into its stronghold areas.

The LA Times reports Pakistani military characterizations of engagements with the trained Islamists describe that "insurgents often seize the offensive, mounting sophisticated attacks on troop convoys and military checkpoints." Pakistani military operations have netted no known top-level al-Qaeda terrorists, but "Pakistan's government says dead combatants have included some lower-level Al Qaeda members."

Across the border in Afghanistan, the Taliban freed 2 South Korean hostages who were among the more than 20 taken hostage. Two male hostages have been murdered by the Taliban captors and 19 remain captive - including 16 more women. Following the precedent of exchanging hostages for imprisoned fighters, established when 5 were exchanged for an Italian journalist earlier in the year, the Taliban seeks now 19 fighters in prison in exchange for the remaining South Koreans.

Pipe Bombs Arrests Amid al-Qaeda Cell Concerns In US

U.S. and British officials are concerned that an al-Qaeda cell may be loose in the United States as information is gleaned from recent intelligence gathered after the recent bombing attempts in London and the attack at the Glasgow Airport in Scotland.

As the New York Sun summarizes, "E-mail addresses for American individuals were found on the same password-protected e-mail chains used by the United Kingdom plotters to communicate with Qaeda handlers in Europe, a counterterrorism official told The New York Sun yesterday. The American and German intelligence community now believe the secure e-mail chains used in the United Kingdom plot have provided a window into an operational Qaeda network in several countries."

These revelations come as two Arab foreign nationals who were found to have pipe bombs found in their trunk were charged in South Carolina near the Naval Weapons Station at Goose Creek. The Navy facility stores nuclear weapons and is also the site of the U.S. Naval Consolidated Brig where enemy combatants have been held. Ahmed Abda Sherf Mohamed from Kuwait and Yousef Samir Megahed from Egypt are both in the US legally and students at the University of South Florida. Mohamed signed an affidavit stating that he made the pipe bombs from materials he purchased at Wal-Mart.

Iran Arming Iraqi Militias Via Chinese Arms Purchases

As Lt. General Ray Odierno states that Iran-armed Shi'a militias are behind 3/4 of the attacks in and around baghdad that have killed Americans, noted China analyst John Tkacik, Jr. reports that China is a principle weapons source for the Iranians arming the Iraqi militias.

Tkacik wrote that "according to a knowledgeable Bush administration official, "vast amounts" of Chinese-made large caliber sniper rifles, "millions of rounds" of ammunition, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and "IED [improvised explosive device] components" have been convoyed from Iran into Iraq and to the Taliban in Afghanistan."

He adds that "Some items show Iran has made "urgent" requests for "vast amounts" of Chinese-made sniper rifles, apparently exact copies of the Austrian-made Steyr-Mannlicher HS50."

300 Fatah Terrorists Accept Israeli Amnesty Deal

An offer of amnesty from Israel was accepted by more than 300 members of Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in the West Bank. Over the weekend, a senior Palestinian security official said that, since the amnesty offer last month, "more than 300 Al Aqsa gunmen have surrendered their weapons and pledged to refrain from violence."

In Gaza, the IDF's attacks on terrorists continue, as three members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad were killed, two in an airstrike and one in a separate incident. Israel said the two killed in an airstrike were preparing for an attack on Israel. One of the vehicles destroyed, a truck, displayed several large secondary explosions indicating it was carrying explosives.

AQ Mastermind of al-Askaria Mosque Bombing Killed

In a US airstrike last Tuesday, the al-Qaeda mastermind of the February 2006 bombing of the al-Askari mosque in Samarra was killed and his successor later detained by Iraqi forces in operations north of Baghdad in the Samarra area. The bombing of the al-Askaria mosque in Samarra last year touched off a wave of Sunni-Shia sectarian violence that came to define the Iraq conflict for the whole of 2006.

But as US and Coalition security gains on the ground throughout Iraq continue to accumulate, the political situation surrounding the Iraqi government in Baghdad continues to be a concern. Iraqi PM al-Maliki refused to accept the resignations of all six cabinet members of the Sunni bloc, the Accordance Front. The members of the bloc quit the government last week. But Washington "downplayed the significance" of the Accordance Front's withdrawal from government. And, as the VOA article notes, they had already "been boycotting cabinet meetings since June to protest legal proceedings against Culture Minister Asad al-Hashimi, who is accused of arranging to have another politician killed."

In the United States, the House of Representatives approved the Defense Spending Bill, which funds Iraq operations through fiscal year 2008.

US Embassies Threatened In New al-Qaeda Video

The United States was threatened once again of attack "both at home and abroad" in a new al-Qaeda video released on the Internet and produced by al-Qaeda's as-Sahab media group. American al-Qaeda member Adam Gadahn (nom de guerre Azzan al-Amriki) spoke in English and appeared first approximately 58 minutes into the 77-minute production, which also includes warning and denunciation from al-Qaeda #2 Ayman al-Zawahiri.

In one of Gadahn's 'segments,' he says, "Years of bitter trial and experience have revealed the danger (embassies) pose and shown that the only way to deal with them when they refuse to leave of their own accord is to expel them by force." Al-Qaeda's most prominent English speaker in their video propaganda releases, Gadahn stumbled on his words more than once and could be seen looking away from the camera, possibly at cue cards for reference.

The video is titled "Will of Martyr Hafiz Usman (Who carried out the Martyrdom operation against the American Consulate at the Gate of Islam, Karachi)," and most of its contents are recordings of his will and testament before he blew himself up in the 2006 bombing which killed U.S. diplomat David Foy in Karachi. It contains fairly extensive footage of the making of the car bomb and its components.

One analyst described the video release as "a documentary that has strategic value for al-Qaeda's Information Operations campaign in Pakistan." It is the full video release expected after al-Qaeda announced that America is in store for a 'big surprise'.

Increased 'Vigilance' By DC Capitol Police

Capitol Police have increased security in response to a potential threat from al-Qaeda which may target government buildings in Washington, DC.

At the Capitol Building, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer said, "Given the world situation and recently released snippet from al-Qaida threatening to attack Washington, we're just being a tad more vigilant if that's possible. Although, if you're ready for a four-alarm fire at any time, it's hard to be more vigilant."

The additional security at the nation's capital stems from concern related to the imagery used in the al-Qaeda-attributed Internet message and their known strategic interest in attacking Washington, DC again. At the same time, a DC delegate was reassured by the Capitol Police that there was no known specific threat to Washington that could be concretely discerned. As Gainer said, "There's a lot of different chatter out there. The problem everybody has is, what's real and what isn't." Diligent vigilance is in order, and that is what the Capitol Police are executing.

Burned Glasgow Terrorist Dies

The Glasgow Evening Times that Kafeel Ahmed, who suffered burns over 90% of his body in his attempted attack on the Glasgow Airport, has died in the hospital, having never regained consciousness. Four others remain detained in connection with the Glasgow and London attempted terrorist attacks.

Ahmed was an Indian Muslim who attempted attempted the Glasgow bombing with an Iraqi Muslim and medical doctor, Bilal Abdullah. Abdullah has been charged with conspiracy in Britain.

US Casualties Drop and Weapons Cache Seizures Increase Dramatically

Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno indicated that US troop fatalities in Iraq have dropped sharply in July from May, in both total numbers and those attributed to IED attacks. He was however cautious not to tout the key statistic as 'the' sign that the corner has been turned in Iraq, saying "It's an initial positive sign, but I would argue I need a bit more time to make an assessment of whether it's a true trend or not."

Some additional details contributing to this were provided in a White House Press Briefing by Tony Snow, who noted that "The number of tips received by Iraqis each month has nearly quadrupled from the spring of 2006 to the spring of 2007, from 6,000 to 23,000."

Because of this increase in cooperation from local Iraqis in confronting al-Qaeda and other extremist groups, the number of weapons caches seized in Iraq has increased dramatically, already at 3,700 in the first 7 months of 2007. Only 2,726 terrorist and insurgent weapons caches were removed from circulation in all 2006.

General Petraeus warns cautiously that al-Qaeda still posses the capability to inflict mass casualties through spectacular attacks, such as car bombs. Yet, even that number (car bomb attacks) is down significantly in recent weeks as al-Qaeda is being denied freedom of operation and movement throughout much of the surrounding provinces and Baghdad itself.

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