|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] News not getting enough press
|I just don't really see this getting enough ainstream press and I'm
passing this along, because frankly, we might be looking at a Cuban isle
crisis type serenerio real soon
Iran's 'Nightmare Scenarios' Are Mulled in Washington American
Intelligence Analysts Work Overtime as Israel Sends Signals
By ELI LAKE, Staff Reporter of the Sun June 24, 2008
WASHINGTON â€” An attack on the U.S. 5th Fleet, exploding Saudi oil
refineries, and a Hezbollah operation against a soft target in the
Americas, Asia, or Europe. These are scenarios America's intelligence
analysts are now poring over as Israel signals its preparedness to deal
with Iran's race for the A-bomb.
Click to enlarge image >
Fuga jets from the Israeli Air Force fly over Tel Aviv during a the
celebration of Israel's 60th Independence Day on May 8.
The disclosure Friday in the New York Times of Israel's aerial training
mission earlier this month over the Greek Mediterranean prompted America's
intelligence chiefs to task analysts with developing contingency plans â€”
or what one called "nightmare scenarios" â€” if the Israelis were to send
their F-15s and F-16s to Iran's known nuclear enrichment facilities. While
the training exercise was known at the time to American intelligence, the
fact that Israel and America chose to make the mission public escalated
the already high tensions between Tehran and Jerusalem.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei,
speaking on Al-Arabiya television over the weekend, said an Israeli
attack on Iran's enrichment facilities would turn the Middle East into
a "ball of fire." Interviews with current and former national security
officials in America suggest that Washington and its allies in the Middle
East are bracing for unconventional and conventional attacks from Iran
in response to such an Israeli action.
Possible scenarios include:
* A terrorist attack on the Saudi oil port of Ras Tanura, an export
point for oil bound for Asia. Saudi and American officials have in
the past disrupted Al Qaeda plots on the facility, such as an attack
on the Abqaiq oil processing plant near Dammam, Saudi Arabia, that
killed two guards. * A naval assault on the U.S. 5th Fleet in the
Persian Gulf. Iran still has warships equipped with Russian-designed
Shkval torpedoes that it could fire at American vessels. Another
possible attack would be suicide boat sorties similar to the one
that bombed the USS Cole. * The commencement of a new round in the
war between Hezbollah and Israel, with Hezbollah firing its Shihab
missiles into Haifa and possibly the northern suburbs of Tel Aviv.
* Hezbollah or Iranian intelligence terrorist operations on soft
targets, such as shopping malls and community centers, in third
countries and possibly even America. * A renewed effort to stir an
uprising in Iraq through Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army or the special
groups controlled by Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
While Europe, America, and other allies increase economic and diplomatic
pressure on Iran, Israel is privately making it clear that it seeks to
prevent Iran from even testing a nuclear device, as North Korea did in
2006. Most Western intelligence agencies agree that Iran's enrichment
tests at Natanz have increased the odds of Iran mastering the technology
necessary to create a test explosion.
In February, the director of national intelligence, Admiral John Michael
McConnell, told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
that Iran could be between six and 12 months away from mastering the
technology needed for a nuclear device but not a warhead or bomb. Later
in that hearing, he conceded that weapons analysts differ on the matter,
providing a range of dates for nuclear fuel cycle mastery between 2010 and
2015, and adding that America's knowledge of the matter was incomplete.
The former deputy commissioner for counterterrorism for the New York
City Police Department, Michael Sheehan, said his office had prepared
for an Iranian response in New York the last time "there was a lot of
saber-rattling on this," in 2005. He outlines some of his thinking in his
new book, "Crush the Cell: How to Defeat Terrorism Without Terrorizing
In an interview, Mr. Sheehan said: "We very much considered how would
the Iranians potentially respond to an American or Israeli attack. My
thinking then and now is that Iran, in my view, is very rational. They
will react in a very carefully and considered way, and I believe they
will react with some sort of direct action by Iranian intelligence
services or through a surrogate like Hezbollah."
Mr. Sheehan, who also served as one of President Clinton's ambassadors
for counterterrorism, said that both the FBI and the NYPD have
expelled Iranian intelligence officials from New York. He said he
would not disclose details of possible targets considered in 2005, and
he stressed that the faction of Hezbollah that carries out attacks in
foreign countries, such as Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia or the Jewish
Cultural Center in Buenos Aires, is controlled by Iranian intelligence
and not the political party and militia in Lebanon known as Hezbollah.
Asked whether Iran would attack the U.S. 5th Fleet, Mr. Sheehan suggested
that the Iranians would be beaten, noting that the Navy would be on
the highest alert should Israel attack Iran. A former chief of the
Iran-Hezbollah office at the FBI's counterterrorism division, Kenneth
Piernick, yesterday said he would guess that the Iranians would attack
targets in the Persian Gulf.
"It seems to me the Iranians would have a greater power thrust closer
to their borders. Our folks in Iraq and the Gulf will have their hands
full. The Strait of Hormuz would be a target. They have made their
demonstrations there in the past," he said. He added: "I would imagine
my former colleagues are looking at Hezbollah's capabilities, but I have
been away from the bureau for too long to speak on that now."
Mr. Piernick left the FBI in 2002.
In the past, Admiral McConnell has testified that Hezbollah has operatives
in America. The network from Hezbollah was first disclosed in a series
of federal prosecutions against the group's illicit fund raising. In some
cases, individuals who were primarily raising money for the organization
were found to have trained with the organization at the Bekaa Valley
A former senior counterterrorism official for both Presidents Clinton and
Bush, Roger Cressey, said yesterday that it might not be in Hezbollah's
interest to do Iran's retaliatory bidding. "As much as Iran is Hezbollah's
state patron, it is unclear whether Hezbollah would take operations
at the behest of Iran inside the United States," he said. "That is not
necessarily in Hezbollah's state interest right now."
A more likely scenario, Mr. Cressey said, would involve Hezbollah
operatives attempting to terrorize softer targets in South America,
Europe, or East Asia.
"There are other targets they could hit," he said. "You can't discount
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"> I'm an engineer. I choose the best tool for the job, politics be
damned.< You must be a stupid engineer then, because politcs and
technology have been attached at the hip since the 1st dynasty in
Ancient Egypt. I guess you missed that one."
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