World

April 24, 2012

News Briefs April 24, 2012

Military chief: Israel increases covert operations

Israel’s military chief of staff says he has ordered his forces to step up covert operations in enemy countries.

Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz made the remarks April 22 in an interview published in Israel’s Yediot Ahronot daily.

“You almost won’t find a point in time where something isn’t happening somewhere in the world,” he said. “I am escalating all those special operations.”

Gantz did not identify any of the countries or give any further details.

He said 2012 is a critical year in the standoff between Israel and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Israel and much of the West believe Iran is close to nuclear weapons capability. Israel has hinted it may strike Iran if diplomacy and sanctions fail to halt its nuclear program. AP

 

Iran recovers data from spy drone

Iran claimed April 22 that it had recovered data from an American spy drone that went down in Iran last year, including information that the aircraft was used to spy on Osama bin Laden weeks before he was killed. Iran also said it was building a copy of the drone.

Similar unmanned surveillance planes have been used in Afghanistan for years and kept watch on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. But U.S. officials have said little about the history of the particular aircraft now in Iran’s possession.

Tehran, which has also been known to exaggerate its military and technological prowess, says it brought down the RQ-170 Sentinel, a top-secret drone equipped with stealth technology, and has flaunted the capture as a victory for Iran and a defeat for the United States.

The U.S. says the drone malfunctioned and downplayed any suggestion that Iran could mine the aircraft for sensitive information because of measures taken to limit the intelligence value of drones operating over hostile territory.

The drone went down in December in eastern Iran and was recovered by Iran almost completely intact. After initially saying only that a drone had been lost near the Afghan-Iran border, American officials eventually confirmed the plane was monitoring Iran’s military and nuclear facilities.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta April 23 dismissed the claims.

Panetta declined to provide any details, but said that “based on my experience … I would seriously question their ability to do what they say they have done.” AP

 




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