Munich knew?

The Times of Israel headline:

Germany had a tip-off three weeks ahead of Munich massacre, Der Spiegel claims.


The detail:

Germany had a tip-off from a Palestinian informant in Beirut three weeks before the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre that Palestinians were planning an “incident” at the Games, a German news magazine charged Sunday.

The Foreign Ministry in Bonn took the tip-off sufficiently seriously to pass it on to the secret service in Munich and urge that “all possible security measures” be taken.

But the Munich authorities failed to act on the tip, which was passed on to Bonn by the German Embassy in Beirut, and have never acknowledged it in the ensuing 40 years, Der Spiegel said in a front-page story to be published Monday but made available online in German on Sunday.

Double Wow.

I am not sure which, if true, is worse: the failure to act, or the cover up.

Read the whole story here.

Burgas, Bulgaria

I have a pretty clear view of why a terrorist atrocity like Burgas happened; not the nuts and bolts of the attack, but the political context which, arguably, encourages or  tolerates or excuses it. For example, imagine the outrage if this had been a group of British tourists, or Americans. Somehow, Israelis – read Jews – are legitimate targets.  Nothing to see here. Move on. But I’m not in the right frame of mind to do justice to that post. Instead, while we wait for the investigation to (hopefully) bear fruit, there’s one piece of media coverage worth highlighting just now. It’s from

PM reveals: South Africa attack against Israelis thwarted

Following meeting with senior intelligence officials PM discloses that over 20 terror attacks abroad have been thwarted

In the past year Israel successfully prevented numerous terror attacks against Israeli targets abroad – most of which were not reported.

Yedioth Ahronoth reported Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday revealed never before published information about one of the foiled attacks. He said that an attack against Israelis was prevented in South Africa, but did not disclose any further details.

Netanyahu held a situation assessment attended by the IDF chief of staff, and heads of the Mossad and Shin Bet. The discussions dealt with the attack in Bulgaria and the situation in Syria.

A very senior defense official said that since May 2011 more than 20 terror attacks have been prevented, including in Azerbaijan (twice), Kenya, Turkey, Thailand Cyprus and Bulgaria (prevented at the beginning of the year) and in Turkey (an attempt to attack the Israeli Consul in Istanbul).

“Iranians and Hezbollah members are incarcerated in jails throughout the world, the senior security official said. “We don’t know how long the wave of terrorism will continue – it’s global.”

The official said that when a terror state that supports and organizes terror such as Iran joins forces with with an organization that is prepared to take the risks like Hezbollah, no country is safe from possible attacks.

“It is clear to us that this is not an isolated case,” he added. The official noted that Israel has intelligence information that ties the attack in Bulgaria to the attack that was prevented in Cyprus. In both cases the modus operandi was the same.

The official explained the reason why no travel advisory was issued for Burgas: “When we have information we announce it and when we don’t have information we don’t announce it,” he said.

“We felt that something was in the works but we could not connect it with a time or place. Therefore we did not issue an advisory.”

Good guide

From the current issue (1318) of Private Eye:

“Politicians and journalists are always going to mix informally, as well as formally…The guiding principle should be one I applied during my time as a journalist, told to me when I was a financial writer in the 1970s well before the days of FSA regulation. It was described as the Private Eye test: can you defend what you have said or done if it appeared in Private Eye, not that private contacts or conversations should appear in Private Eye, but could you defend yourself if they did. This always seemed to be me [to be to me] a good and workable guide.”

Witness statement to the Leveson inquiry from Peter Riddell, former political editor of the Times. The square bracketed editorial correction is mine.

Although this is Private Eye patting itself on the back, it’s well entitled to do so given the excellent investigative journalism it continues to practice. Long may this heroic work continue.

Three years

This past weekend marked the third anniversary of our aliyah and becoming Israeli citizens. Where has the time gone? Fortunately, there’s a pictorial record to refresh my memory:

We are still flying the flag.

Fear not

From chapter three:

Such dread was a large part of the post-9/11 decade.  A culture of
fear had created a culture of spending to control it, which, in
turn, had led to a belief that the government had to be able to
stop every single plot before it took place, regardless of whether
it involved one network of twenty terrorists or one single
deranged person.  This expectation propelled more spending and
even more zero-defect expectations.  There were tens of thousands
of unsolved murders in the United States by 2010, but few
newspapers ever blared this across their front pages or even tried
to investigate how their police departments had to failed to solve
them all over the years. But when it came to terrorism, newspaper and other media outlets amplified each mistake, which amplified the threat, which amplified the fear, which prompted more spending, and on and on and on.

Top Secret America by Dana Priest and William M Arkin, published by Back Bay. There’s a web site with more material here.

Looks to be interesting material about a debate that is badly overdue. And not just in the USA. There are elements of the UK security approach which have mimicked that of the USA, without stopping to question their relevance and suitability. Even in Israel, a discussion about these issues would be beneficial, though it is way down the list of pressing needs.

Thanks to Bruce Schneier.

Query for the publishers: why is this not available on the Kindle?