Newsletter 01/11/13
  • Newsletter 01/11/13

  • 1/11/2013 12:00 AM

  • Embassy Update: U.S. Banks' Websites Hacked by Iran; Panetta Gives Thanks and Assurances to Barak; Diplomats Vote in Israeli Elections; Snow in Israel

    January 11, 2013

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    In This Issue
    U.S. Banks' Websites Hacked by Iran
    7 Years of Incitement from Hamas TV
    Panetta Thanks, Assures Barak
    Diplomats Vote in Israeli Elections
    Rare Winter Storm Pummels Israel

    In Other News

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    Attacks on U.S. Banks' Websites Seen as Work of Iran

    Sophisticated hacking attacks on U.S. banks in recent months have distinctive qualities that are leading investigators to believe Iran may be behind the assault on the private financial records of Americans', reports NPR.


    At least nine U.S. financial institutions have been hit since September, endangering the financial system millions of Americans rely on. Part of what makes them suspicious is that they seem calculated not to steal account data or money, but instead to disrupt the banking system.


    "There is no doubt within the U.S. government that Iran is behind these attacks," said former Commerce and State Department official James A. Lewis.


    The distributed denial of service attacks, which seek to overload an online system's ability to respond to requests, targeted Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Capital One, among others.


    NPR's Tom Gjelten reports, "A group calling itself the al-Qassam cyber fighters has taken credit for the attacks, but the radical group could be just a front. In its latest posting, the group says: 'Rulers and officials of American banks must expect our massive attacks! From now on, none will be safe.'"



    Iran Spy Network 30,000 Strong


    Iran's intelligence service includes 30,000 people who are engaged in covert and clandestine activities that range from spying to stealing technology to terrorist bombings and assassination, according to a Pentagon report in the Washington Free Beacon.


    The report concluded that Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) is "one of the largest and most dynamic intelligence agencies in the Middle East."


    The ministry actively supports Iran's radical Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) that has been involved in horrific terrorist bombings from Argentina to Lebanon, according to the report produced by the Pentagon's Irregular Warfare Support Program.


    Iranian activities in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela have raised alarm among U.S. government officials.


    The effort appears part of "Iran's strategy of establishing a presence in the backyard of the United States for purposes of expanding Shi'a and revolutionary ideology, establishing networks for intelligence and covert operations, and waging asymmetrical warfare against the United States," the report said.


    See also...

    Seven Years of Incitement from Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV 

    Seven years ago, Hamas launched its own television station: Al-Aqsa TV. The station quickly became a highly-effective propaganda tool, which Hamas continues to use to preach its message of hatred of the West, Jews and Israel.


    Through Al-Aqsa TV, Hamas broadcasts a variety of programming, including sermons, political speeches and children's shows that inspire Gazan youth to become suicide bombers when they grow up.


    Farfour "Martyred" by Israelis in Final Episonde


    Sec. Panetta Gives Thanks and Assurances to DM Barak


    U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barack that the Defense Department appreciated his commitment to strong bilateral ties, according to UPI.


    Panetta met in Washington with Barack to express appreciation for the Israeli leader's commitment to security and a strong bilateral relationship.


    Panetta announced this week he was retiring as Secretary of Defense. He also served as director of the CIA. Barak is also set to retire in the coming weeks.


    Pentagon Press Secretary George Little provided the following readout:


    "Secretary Panetta met with Israel Minister of Defense Ehud Barak today and reiterated the strong U.S. commitment to Israel's security and the strong U.S.-Israel defense relationship. The secretary commended Minister Barak on his tireless efforts in advancing the U.S.-Israel strategic relationship. The secretary and Barak discussed a range of issues and expressed their commitment to ensuring continued cooperation on many important regional issues -- particularly Syria, Iran, and Gaza. Secretary Panetta thanked Minister Barak for his friendship and his continued commitment to the relationship. This is the 11th time that the two have met since Secretary Panetta took office." 



    (photo via Haaretz)
    Diplomats Vote in Israeli Elections

    Elections in Israel will be held on January 22, but diplomats posted around the world cast their ballots on Thursday, January 10. 

    Elections to the 19th Knesset have officially begun with more than 4,000 Israeli diplomats and other official representatives of the State of Israel stationed all around the world placing their vote.
    Ninety-five polling stations are located in embassies and consulates from Wellington in New Zealand to Los Angeles. A total of 10 ballots are stationed in the US, the largest one in New York with more than 600 eligible voters. 
    Ambassador Michael Oren casted his vote Thursday morning in the polling station located at the Embassy of Israel, where 192 Israelis are eligible to vote. 
    At the end of the election process, all envelops will be sent to Jerusalem, where they will be guarded in a safe until Election Day. On January 22, after the polls close in Israel, the votes of diplomats and representatives abroad will be counted together with the votes of the general Israeli public.




    See also...

    Let It Snow: Rare Winter Storm Pummels the Holy Land


    Snow and hail began falling in the Jerusalem area and continued to fall in the north of the country, reports the Jewish Daily Forward.


    Areas of the West Bank, including Hebron and Ramallah were also blanketed in snow.


    The snow in Jerusalem is expected to accumulate, and residents have been requested to avoid going out unless absolutely necessary. Mayor Nir Barkat also called on visitors ready to converge on Jerusalem to witness the rare snowfall to wait until it stopped falling.


    Schools in areas throughout the country were closed over fears of dangerous travel due to the snow, continued flooding and loss of electricity.


    At least three feet of snow fell on Mount Hermon as snow continued to fall heavily in Israel's north.

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