In the past 48 hours, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Turkey have alerted Washington to intelligence reports of Iranian Al Qods Brigades operatives heading their way for attacks on oil installations and American targets. The alert was accompanied by a query about how the US intended to respond to the approaching menace.
Reporting this, DEBKAfile’s intelligence and counterterrorism sources say the information relayed to Washington was more detailed and specific than the customary tip-off.
Tuesday, Jan. 17, a US spokesman accused Tehran of deepening its involvement in the Syrian conflict. For the second time in a week, Washington disclosed that Al Qods commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani had visited Damascus recently, confirming Iranian arms shipments for ensuring President Bashar Assad’s victory over the uprising against him.
DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report that another part of Soleimani’s Damascus mission was to synchronize the Al Qods cells’ strikes across the Middle East – in Turkey, Lebanon, Gaza and Sinai – with the tempo of Assad’s crackdown on protest. He also dealt with setting up terrorist attacks against Israeli targets.
A US spokesman said: “We are confident that he was received at the highest levels of the Syrian government, including by President Assad.”
Four months ago, in October 2011, the US accused Soleimani of a hatching a conspiracy to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington.
Tuesday night, the Turkish Security General Directorate-EGM put all the country’s 81 districts on guard for the expected arrival of Al Qods operatives to stir up mass unrest against the Erdogan government and attack the US embassy and provincial consulates-general.
Their arrival, said the EGM notice, would be coordinated with the infiltration of Hizballah terrorist teams to Turkey.
DEBKAfile’s sources in Ankara believe Tehran is kicking off its first round of Middle East terrorist operations in Turkey as punishment for consenting to the installation of a US radar station on its soil for the NATO shield against incoming Iranian missile attacks, in defiance of Iran’s warnings. The Erdogan government is also being penalized for actively supporting Syrian resistance to the Assad regime, especially the Free Syrian Army-SFA.
When Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani visited Ankara Jan. 12, he delivered a last warning to the Turkish government to desist from both steps, although the visit was officially billed as focusing on the resumption of nuclear negotiations between Iran and the five powers plus Germany. Larijani’s talks clearly ended in disagreement, judging by his parting shot: “We’ve got our ways of doing things.”
A senior counterterrorism source told DEBKAfile sources on Wednesday, Jan. 18 that the Iranians are setting Turkey up as an example to show the US and their Middle East antagonists what they can expect when Tehran lets the Al Qods Brigades loose against them.
According to the information relayed to Washington by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Al Qods has been placed on the ready for action, such as blowing up oil fields, oil pipelines and oil export terminals. Some of its cells are already present among the two countries’ Shiite populations in the guise of longtime Saudi and Kuwaiti nationals of Iranian descent; others to be dropped by sea on the Saudi and Kuwaiti coasts.