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Zygier Case Revealed: In Failing to Penetrate Iran and Hezbollah, He Exposed Israeli Spies in Lebanon

Ronen Bergman's Yediot expose about Ben Zygier

Ronen Bergman’s Yediot expose about Ben Zygier

Ronen Bergman, Israel’s leading intelligence correspondent published a new report in Der Spiegel today (this is a teaser and here a summary–in German) that details the cause of Ben Zygier’s arrest.  I have confirmed through my own Israeli source that Bergman’s account of Zygier’s fate is correct.

According to Bergman, Zygier was dispatched to Europe in 2005, two years after he began his Mossad training and shortly after completing it, to recruit agents within companies that did business with Iran.  Another Der Spiegel reporter has already revealed that one of the companies was located in Milan.  Bergman claims that Zygier penetrated the company by taking a job as head of Accounts Payable.  Zygier had no previous experience in the field, but picked up the routine quickly.  However, he quickly lost motivation and almost cost the company the loss of one of its biggest clients.  As a result, he was fired.

Zygier never succeeded in penetrating Iran.  After two and a half years in Europe, the agency brought him home to a Mossad desk job.  His new job embittered and frustrated him.  He then decided to take a study leave (an arrangement provided in the standard Mossad contract).   Study leaves usually do not provide for entering programs outside Israel.  But the agency permitted him to do so.  Bergman claims Zygier enrolled in law school, but all previous testimony I’ve read says it was business school.

One of the Israeli bloggers who’s written most extensively about Zygier is Yehuda Bello.  I read his account (Hebrew) and found it to be dramatic, detailed, and vivid.  For that reason, I thought it read like fiction.  But Bello did get some key details of the Australian portion of this story correct.  Bergman adds much more.

ziad al homsi

Prominent Lebanese politician and Israeli spy, Ziad al-Homsi, betrayed by Ben Zygier

After enrolling, the Mossad discovered that Hezbollah had identified a Mossad agent at the school.  It appears that Zygier himself was the source of the leak.  He either befriended or was befriended by a source to whom he revealed that he was a Mossad agent whose assignment dealt with Iran.  He also revealed false information to the source, saying he’d been to Iran and had been sent to other Middle Eastern countries by the organization.

The Australian intelligence agency discovered this and was angered that the Mossad had sent an agent who was active on Australian soil.  As a result, Zygier was summoned back to Israel.  His explanations of his conduct were unsatisfactory and the case was handed to the Shin Bet.  In the course of this investigation, it discovered that while he was on desk assignment in Israel, in an attempt to prove himself worthy of being returned to the field, he established contact with a Hezbollah agent in a Balkan country.  He attempted to “turn” the agent to work for Israel.  But instead of leveraging information from the Hezbollah operative, Zygier himself revealed information to him.  This information was used by Lebanese security to identity two high level spies who were working for Israel and captured with telecommunication and encryption devices.  One of them was a prominent politician in the Hariri camp.

In 2009, Haaretz reporter Amos Harel wrote (Hebrew) a heavily censored article about the spy catastrophe in Lebanon.  He used the term Eysek Bish (“Bad Business”) which is the colloquial phrase used to describe one of the Mossad’s most disastrous failures (also known as the Lavon Affair).  In other words, the Lebanese mess was a major setback for Israeli efforts to penetrate Hezbollah.  Former Haaretz editor, Hanoch Marmari, revealed this (Hebrew) in his own piece published by Seventh Eye.

Given all of this, it’s much easier to understand the tragedy that befell Ben Zygier and why he may’ve killed himself in prison.  It’s a huge burden to know that you not only let your country down, but that your actions led to the imprisonment of Israeli intelligence sources.  In light of this, the severity of his actions become more understandable.

This English-language report summarizes the account of the Israeli spy ring Zygier compromised.  Here is a later report that summarizes the account of a number of other exposed spy rings.

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{ 66 comments… add one }
  • Shraga Elam March 24, 2013, 3:30 AM

    Bergman is anything else but reliable and BTW Esek Habish wasn’t done by the Mossad but by AMAN. This fact is really easy to check and doesn’t need some insider: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavon_Affair

    • Dana March 24, 2013, 10:39 AM

      The wikipedia article was heavily edited by the very people with a stake to edit out certain facts. There’s an army of israeli and zionist Jews whose job it is to act as the wikipedia “clean team”. While not entirely untruthful, the edited entries are air-brushed to serve the more palatable version to the world. Since you chose to bring up wikipedia on this matter, I will assume you have your reasons and we will attribute to your comment(s) what credibility they deserve.

      • Shraga Elam March 24, 2013, 11:23 AM

        Dana, You may believe whatever you want to. The sole reason I quoted Wikipedia was to prove that in the Esek Habish it was AMAN involved and not the Mossad. This is a well documented fact and no sane person will claim something different.

    • Richard Silverstein March 24, 2013, 12:35 PM

      I stand corrected. I wrote the post very quickly and this was one of the facts I added from memory rather than first researching it. Thanks for the correction.

  • Joel March 24, 2013, 5:58 AM

    [comment deleted for comment rule violation–comments must make a argument of substance related to the post]

  • Daniel March 24, 2013, 6:02 AM

    Very interesting.

    • But not very believable March 24, 2013, 8:02 PM

      Imagine you were a spook.

      Now, imagine that you attempt to convince a rival spook Over To Your Side by giving over *your* secrets *to* him.

      Think about it: you are attempting to “turn” someone by exposing your breathtaking incompetence to him.

      Which – du’oh! – isn’t likely to engender any confidence from that wannabe confidant.

      It really just beggars belief that anyone with any training in spycraft would be that hopeless.

      Isn’t it much more likely that Zygier was handing Israeli secrets over to that Hezbollah spook because he had already been recruited by Hezbollah?

      As in: Zygier wasn’t an incompetent Mossad agent. He was a competent Hezbollah agent. And that dude wasn’t being approached *by* Zygier, he was Zygier’s *handler*.

      That makes much more sense.

      • demize! March 25, 2013, 3:10 PM

        Imagine you are some Sch**ck on the internet who fancies himself Sherlock Holmes… This is called damage control, the recruitment wont be to easy knowing they off their own agents. All the Pollard bs in the world wont get another potential agent in the door.

  • Aryeh March 24, 2013, 6:36 AM

    At least in Hebrew there is a distinction between the Lavon affair (“Haparashah”) which derived from the “Eseq Bish” but not the event itself. This is nitpicking, to be sure, but I’m only mentioning it because I’m assuming Harel’s allusion is intended to draw parallels between Zygier and Avri Elad (the adventurous character, the hostile neighbor state, the solitary confinement, etc.) which are not as emphasized when diverting the attention to the Lavon affair, i.e. the political aftermath of the EB.

    • Shraga Elam March 24, 2013, 8:22 AM

      If there is any similarity with an older affaire, I’d rather compare it with the Manbar scandal.
      Ronen’s story sounds for many reasons like pure fiction and isn’t logical.

    • Richard Silverstein March 24, 2013, 12:34 PM

      Thanks for the “nitpicking.” It’s quite all right as I’m not as familiar in every nuance with Israeli history going back to the 50s.

      • Shraga Elam March 24, 2013, 11:29 PM

        This wasn’t just a “nuance” of the Israeli history. This was one of the largest affairs mainly in the ’60s, Therefore it was called then “The Affair”.

        • Richard Silverstein March 25, 2013, 2:06 AM

          The “nuance” I referred to was my mistaken statement that the Mossad arranged it & your correction it was Aman. That’s all I meant.

  • pabelmont March 24, 2013, 6:59 AM

    If Z committed suicide, it was after learning how serious his own misdeeds were seen by Mossad/Shin-Bet. If he was killed, his killers were presumably those who (in the other reading) were teaching him the seriousness of his misdeeds. Not much of a difference. And I don’t care. Maybe some people do care.

    The Hariri name appeared above, and makes me wonder if any of this is connected to (or sheds any light on) the Hariri assassination.

    • Dana March 24, 2013, 10:56 AM

      One of the conjectures I read is that the truth and the means for the haririr assassination started leaking out as collateral of the arrests of Mossad’s agents. While they themselves may have been involved only peripherally in the planning of the assassination, some of the agents arrested – especially the ones high placed politically – provided cover to the official” story about hezbollah’s involvement.

      Note that just about the ONLY piece of evidence pointing in a direction related to hezbollah were cell phone records from the day of the assassination. It is hardly a coincidence that some of the arrested spies were communication officials, and at least one or more may have had a hand in “arranging” the call records so they point in the desired direction. .

      Those who have been and are in lebanon will be able to verify that there’s hardly anyone there – no matter how lowly or high a citizen – who doesn’t know that the assassination was a false flag operation planned by Mossad but executed by locals, for the most part.

      No, I don’t have proof. If I did i would be in trouble, no? what I do have is high plausibility of the scenario with israeli intelligence as the master mind of the murder. It’s not just the qui bene part of it. It’s the fact that after so much investigation and finger pointing, the public is not the wiser and just about everyone gave up on arresting and/or bringing to “justice’ the perpetrators as fingered by the bought and paid for UN commission. If there was any fire behind that smoke, we can rest assured that the noise for accountability by hezbollah would be deafening. The noise isn’t there because the case is not only flimsy but by now, Hezbollah has no doubt secured the confessions of the malfeasants – including means and methods – and probably has a few trump cards it can threaten to unveil should the noises get any louder.

      So the compromising of mossad’s agents had truly devastating consequences for the agency. It not only lost trusted agents it took years to cultivate but has exposed Israel to credible accusations of having been the mastermind behind Hariri’s murder. If Zygier had anything to do with that exposure, however inadvartently – he is no doubt being much praised in certain corridors as an agent for justice – divine or otherwise.

      • Oui March 24, 2013, 12:03 PM

        In my earlier comment about Ben Zygier, my suspicion was a link to the Hariri bombing massacre in Beirut in 2005 …

        Sorry, not the Mavi Marmara, this would not be embarrasing enough. Israel’s national security at risk would mean Lebanon/Hezbollah/Syria/Iran … think of assassinations carried out in Lebanon. Ben Allen – lawyer – telecom – spy network – false evidence/witnesses – STL investigation – Hariri bombing. Look at the 2010 timeline of the STL investigation in Lebanon. See also the early 2010 reporting by Jason Koutsoukis: ASIO targets new spy suspects.

        I’m with you all the way Dana. The Israeli spynetwork in telecom enabled the Mossad to cover tracks after the Hariri bombing. My suspicion is also the bombing was executed with the involvement of locals, however the Mossad went along for the piggy-back ride, nothing here to see! Move along …

        Rafic Hariri and Saudi Prince Alaweed were in tough competition (and bribery) for telecom contracts in Lebanon. The prince had ties to local Sunni extremists. I never quite understood the role of the prince behind the political scene in the country. The goal of Al Sham is closer due to the Sunni led opposition forces in Syria, with backing from Qatar and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. The protector of Hariri was King Fahd where the crown-prince was the protector of Alaweed.

        • Dana March 24, 2013, 10:18 PM

          first dibs to you Oui. i didn’t catch that comment on the hariri case before. Also, interesting about Rafic and the prince. Lebanese politics is really convoluted. Maybe a bit too much so for the israelis who are trying to tweak local salafists to generate conflicts, and sometimes it kind of blows up in their face..

      • Joel March 24, 2013, 12:27 PM

        [insulting other commenters is a comment rule violation–you stand on the cusp of losing your commenting privileges]

  • Uri Breitman March 24, 2013, 9:16 AM

    Even if the report is true, and Ben Zygier has exposed top-level sources in Lebanon – his secret arrest was still a scandal. The Israeli public deserves to know what the Mossad is doing in his name. Every kid in Lebanon knows that Israel is using spies to get information about Hezbollah, so the facts do not come as a surprise.
    If Ben Zygier did stupid things in his career, the Mossad will have to clean its dirty laundery in the public eye, or decide to leave him alone. Secret trials, leading to secret suicides, are the biggest NO-NO we can think of, as citizens.

    • Dana March 24, 2013, 11:07 AM

      Uri, see my theory above as to the likely reasons there was absolutely no possibility of providing Ben Zygier a public trial, and even a private trial would have been dangerous because of the possibility of leaks. If it was just an accidental exposure of lebanese agents, as you say, that would not exactly come as a shock to anyone in Israel, and Zygier would be seen as primarily negligent and perhaps, as Bello likes to point out, a victim of his own over-zealous tendency to bravura. If, however, there was a high likelihood that any public or even private trial would bring to light information that can implicate the Mossad in the planning – and masterminding the execution – of the Hariri murder, then it doesn’t matter that Zygier’s ‘crime’ did or did not merit the treatment he was given; the paramount concern in keeping him hidden and under wraps is that he himself came to know the truth about haririr and, no matter his intentions of keeping those revelations secret – the potential blow-back is severe enough to where Zygier’s life is dispensable.

  • lydda March 24, 2013, 9:52 AM

    Why are you making apologies for the zionists? I guess you too can’t be trusted!!

    • Richard Silverstein March 24, 2013, 12:41 PM

      I guess not. I’m nothing but a tool of Zionist colonial oppressors! Glad you found me out.

      • lydda March 24, 2013, 5:42 PM

        You too believe in the superior chosen ones. Otherwise, why care more about that Zygier that the thousands of Palestinians children your fellow Jews have killed in the name of your god?

        • Richard Silverstein March 25, 2013, 2:12 AM

          @Lydda: No, sorry I don’t believe Jews are “chosen ones.” Sorry to burst your anti-Semitic bubble. As for who I care about: I care about Israelis and Palestinians. I care about justice. If injustice is done to a Palestinian or an Israeli, I care about it equally.

          No one kills anyone in the name of “my God.” I don’t recognize settlers or Israeli extremists as speaking on behalf of Judaism, at least not as I practice it.

          • Oui March 25, 2013, 4:08 AM

            As a non-religious person, I admire the Jewish people for its teachings of righteousness with a social conscience. I believe that is the foundation of Christian principles. Even Jesus wrestled with Orthodoxy and interpretation in the reality of everyday life, living under Roman occupation.

        • Deïr Yassin March 26, 2013, 1:17 PM

          “Lydda” – maybe a female name, maybe referring to the town of Lydda: Lod in Hebrew/al-Ludd in Arabic (cf. the ethnic cleansing of Lydda and Ramleh) – is really ignorant when he/she writes “in the name of your god”.

          I’ve never met a Palestinian (if that’s what he/she tries to indicate by the pen name) who doesn’t know that Jews, Christians and Muslims share the same and only God, and that ‘Allah’ (has no plural) simply means God in Arabic, a word also used by Arabic-speaking Jews. Maybe “Lydda” is actually a member of the KKK …

          • Dana March 26, 2013, 9:07 PM

            Deir Yassin, see my comment about the [im]poster “Lydda” in the other thread.

  • Fred Plester March 24, 2013, 10:10 AM

    If this account is true, and also assuming that it’s the full story if it is, then in effect Zygier was arrested and jailed because Mossad’s management of a rookie agent was extremely slack. If he made some mistakes, then they should have tightened supervision over him, rather than relax it completely until disaster ensued, which is what they seem to have done.

    Giving essentially amateur sources in the enemy camp an encryption device, of any form, is like handing over a death sentence with rope attached. Could have been found without Zygier’s input.

  • Doesn't sound very credible March 24, 2013, 2:47 PM

    Richard: “He attempted to “turn” the agent to work for Israel. But instead of leveraging information from the Hezbollah operative, Zygier himself revealed information to him.”

    Hmmmm, does that sound credible to you? Or even half-way credible?

    Sure, I can believe that a spy may attempt to turn another spy, and do so without prior authorization.

    Maybe they succeed, and maybe they fail, but the attempt itself may be worth a go.

    But one thing you would never try is to “turn” someone by blabbing *your* secrets to *him*. What is that ever going to achieve other than to impress upon him that “Whoah! Who is this idiot? Why would I ever want to work for him?”.

    All that gumpf may simply be a way of placing all the blame on Zygier because – du’oh! – the alternative is too painful to admit.

    Because maybe, just maybe, the very first time Zygier and his Hezbollah friend met that dude introduced himself with “Hello, my name is Ahmed, I’ve been assigned as your handler”.

    • Shraga Elam March 25, 2013, 2:28 AM

      Why should Zygier know the identity of the Israeli spies by the Hizballah?
      The real story is very simple: Zygier was suspected that he leaked info to the Australian authorities, but he was innocent. The Mossad isn’t capable of admitting this and Zygier had to die in order that this grave mistake will come out.
      Is it coincidence that his death prevented a good lawyer (A. Feldman) from getting the file?
      Now Feldman doesn’t talk anymore. Why?

      • Not sure I follow the logic March 25, 2013, 5:32 AM

        Shraga: “Zygier was suspected that he leaked info to the Australian authorities,”

        What info could he leak to ASIO that would be so henious that Mossad would kill him?

        Shraga: “but he was innocent”

        In which case Mossad is guilty of nothing more than mounting a witchhunt against an innocent man.

        Big whoopie. Hardly worth killing someone over….

        “The Mossad isn’t capable of admitting this ”

        Admitting what, exactly? That they held unwarrented suspicious towards an innocent man?

        Big whoopie. Hardly worth killing someone over….

        “and Zygier had to die in order that this grave mistake will come out”

        I’m still not seeing a “grave mistake”, let alone one worth killing to hide.

        At worse, all you have insinuated is that Mossad held unwarranted suspicions regarding a man who was innocent of any wrongdoing.

        Again, big whoopie.

        Mossad is a spy agency, it is SUPPOSED to be paranoid and suspicious, and it would be par for the course for that paranioa and suspicion to fall upon an innocent man.

        Yeah….. and? Why is that worth killing arresting anybody, much less killing them?

        Send him out to collect unpaid parking fines, or send him out as the Resident Agent for the Falkland Islands.
        Heck, simply sack him and tell him to go back to Oz.

      • marc b. March 25, 2013, 7:26 AM

        shraga, sometimes the simplest solution isn’t the correct one. mossad was mistaken about zygier leaking intel to australia, so they had to kill him/drive him to suicide? if that were the case, the past 60 years would be littered with dead mossad agents.

        • Fred Plester March 26, 2013, 1:33 PM

          If not exactly littered with dead Mossad agents, the past sixty years are indeed littered with dead and ruined people who were coerced or duped into working for Mossad in some way. They don’t even need to make a mistake.

      • Doesn't sound very credible March 25, 2013, 2:15 PM

        Shraga: “The real story is very simple: Zygier was suspected that he leaked info to the Australian authorities, but he was innocent.”

        You are suggesting that Shin Bet killed someone to spare Mossad the embarrassment of admitting that they had harboured unwarranted suspicions regarding an innocent man.

        That’s nonsense. All Mossad would have to do is to say: “We Have Our Reasons. I can’t tell your what those reasons are – state security, you understand – but trust me on this; they are good reasons.”

        Shagrat: “The Mossad isn’t capable of admitting this and Zygier had to die in order that this grave mistake will come out.”

        Admitting *what*, exactly?

        That they had suspicions about Zygier but no matter how hard they looked they came up empty?

        See above: you don’t need to kill to cover that up, certainly not in Israel. Just mutter that: you have your reasons and, no, I’m not telling you what those reasons are. State security, you understand……

        • Shraga Elam March 25, 2013, 11:57 PM

          Usually people are not killed in Israel to cover up some secret, but there were some casesä like Israel Kastner, that there are many convincing indications that he was killed by the Shin Beth.
          Zygier was jailed and not killed immediately. The killing followed obviously some unplanned escalation like the involvement of Avigdor Feldman. Isn’t it strange that 1-2 days after Feldman had visited (Zygier had shown no signs of depression or any other suicidal intentions) and had been supposed to get his file, all of a sudden Zygier died (“was suicided”)?
          Doesn’t it look like somebody wanted, for whatever reason, to prevent Feldman for getting the file?
          Isn’t it strange that the allegedly “weak” Zygier wasn’t ready to admit his guilt?
          Isn’t it strange that the Mossad was so eager to get a plea bargain (some say that Zygier was offered 2 years, but even Bergman claims that it were 10 years)?
          Will somebody who had withstand the pressure commit a suicide immediately after meeting a new lawyer and without getting an answer?
          Isn’t it strange that Zygier was capable to commit a suicide in this cell?
          Isn’t it strange that the death circumstances of Zygier were investigated for such a long time and only less than half of the report (that recommended further investigation) was released?
          Isn’t it strange that shortly after the report was given to the family ABC broadcasted its story?

          • Still doesn't sound very credible March 26, 2013, 12:28 AM

            Shraga: “Usually people are not killed in Israel to cover up some secret”

            But what’s this Big Secret that you keep alluding to?

            Because I’ll be honest there is no Big Secret in any of your posts.

            All you have come up with is this: Mossad *suspected* Zygier, and then got all gosh-darned embarrassed when Shin Bet couldn’t find nothin’ on him. So they killed him to hide the fact that they had nothin’ on him.

            Shraga: “some unplanned escalation like the involvement of Avigdor Feldman.”

            !!!!!

            Again, escalation of *what*, exactly?

            Because apparently it’s this: Mossad once thought that Zygier was Guilty of Something and then Shin Bet decided that oooops, he wasn’t actually guilty of anything……. at which point one or other of them decided to kill Zygier before he could tell Feldman that this is all a witchhunt.

            Shit, man, that’s no reason to kill anybody.

            All Mossad and/or Shin Bet needs to do is shout: Don’t Listen To Him! We Could Tell You Stuff About Zygier That Will Turn Your Shit White, but we can’t because It’s A State Secret!

          • Dana March 26, 2013, 3:04 PM

            Shraga, I tend to agree with your questions and raise you one:

            Isn’t it strange that Rudd the ex-Australian PM arrived in israel right about the time feldman visited Zygier, leaving on the 16th?

            Oh, but it had nothing to do with Zygier. Why, nothing at all….

            The 1000lbs gorilla in the room is the Australian connection. Twice their intelligence ASIO spilled beans to reporters – first in october 2009, then later again in September 2012.

            Now, isn’t it strange that Australia’s intelligence, supposedly a staunch ally that works “hand-in-hand’ with israel decided to expose the story?

            And isn’t the catatonic state of Zygier’s family in Australia, in fact, the entire jewish establishment community, strange as well? why wouldn’t they rally to Ben’s cause, at least take him off the hook some? or is that what Ronen’s story is about?

            Something is not right in more than one place, I say, and there’s for sure more than meets the eye.

            Again, any theory or conjecture that doesn’t account for this is bound to be incomplete.

  • shachalnur March 24, 2013, 6:11 PM

    Weel ,that’s settled than.
    Zygier ,an inexperienced kid,sent to infiltrate companies in Germany doing bussiness with Iran as his first assignment,was a traitor.
    And you believe this rubbish,Zygier can’t speak anymore,good riddance,right?
    If a Mossad agent goes off the rails ,the Mossad will take of that themselves,not Shin Bet or Ramle prison.
    Total psy-op.
    Your source isn’t Mossad,and it’s better to stay away from anybody claiming to be Mossad,as they serve masters you don’t wanna know.
    Mossad and Shin Bet will never collaborate.
    “Nothing is more dangerous than sincere ignorance,and conscientious stupidity. ”
    Martin L. King jr.

    • Richard Silverstein March 24, 2013, 8:53 PM

      I don’t believe Zygier was a traitor. Only that he was in way over his head, that he was mentally unstable, had delusions of self importance, and was unsuitable for the job.

      Please avoid all the ominous warnings & comments on my sources. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • shachalnur March 24, 2013, 9:42 PM

        The whole story is a fake.
        An Aussie boy infiltrating Iran and Hezbollah,after living in israel?
        You think the Irani are idiots?
        That’s not how Mossad works,that’s not what they use blue -eyed Aussie boys for.
        He was Mossad,did something damaging to Israel and started talking.
        Shin Bet failed to keep him alive.
        The rest is spin and damage control.
        If he was unsuitable for the job,they wouldn’t have given him a task that even the most expierienced agents would have trouble with.
        I know nothing about your sources,the warning about staying away from Mossad is a general one.

  • Dana March 24, 2013, 10:37 PM

    I have to agree with some people here that at least parts of the story as Der Spiegel supposedly tells it (and we haven’t seen yet the whole story, just summaries, right?) don’t add up. For those who think Zygier was “turned’ for real, i ask – what’s the motivation? what’s the psychology behind a dedicated zionist Australian suddenly changing sides? so that part somehow doesn’t wash and I gather Yehuda bello doesn’t believe it either.

    But there’s even more here than meets the eye. bello claims that Zygier in Milano was not our Ben Alon/Zygier, but one who adopted the Zygier persona and got cover for it from the “real” Zygier, on Mossad’s instructions. For some reason this claim seems plausible, maybe because Ben Zygier, Mr. x’ was already a trained lawyer – what would he be doing as head of “Accounts payable”? in what universe does a law degree – from Australia of all places – qualify one to handle accounts? It’s OK to tell stories and to invent cover tales, but for crying out loud, there has to be at least a shred of plausibility here! Bello claims to have spoken with many people and family members who knew Zygier over the years he was supposed to be in Europe, and found some things that did not add up. There are claims that maya his wife, never called him (Ben) when he was supposedly in Europe. He always called here, even complaining about the weather in Europe. Others claim to have met him both in Australia and in England. Of course, all these friends and relatives could be lying. But the one thing I am not buying is the role as Accounts manager. If it was a normal company, this just isn’t likely, based on everything I know about lawyers and accountants.

    The other part that doesn’t add up (ie, we have no idea really what happened) is the role of the Australian spy agencies. Something brought Zygier to their attention and something caused someone(s) there to disclose details to a reporter in 2009. Now what reason would there be for a spy agency (ASIO) to leak information to a reporter on the understanding that he will go and dig stuff up? when does an intelligence agency do that? remember – this happened in 2009 – BEFORE the Dubai murder.

    Conclusion, we’ll get to read no doubt more when the full der spiegel story comes out. But from the bits in the summaries provided (both hebrew and English) something is still way not adding up.

    • Just pointing out one reason March 25, 2013, 2:34 PM

      “Now what reason would there be for a spy agency (ASIO) to leak information to a reporter on the understanding that he will go and dig stuff up?”

      Apparently there was an agreement between ASIO and Mossad that they would not shit in each other’s nest, in which case Zygier’s (re)appearance in Melbourne could have been taken by ASIO as evidence that Mossad was reneging on that deal.

      They could then do one of two things:
      a) Complain directly to Mossad, with the typical Zionist over-reaction and feigned outrage
      or
      b) quietly blow Zygier’s cover to a reporter, hey-don’t-blame-us-he-worked-it-out-himself.

      Apparently they chose option (b), thereby avoiding any tiresome Israeli hissy-fit.

      • Dana March 26, 2013, 3:08 PM

        OK, on b) but ASIO must have been seriously peeved to have resorted to this leak – and more than once, as the abc story showed. Now, what happened or didn’t happen in the second half of 2012 that caused ASIO to really flip and let the whole thing out of the bag, so to speak? that abc story would not have seen the light of day if ASIO did not want it to. So it’s not just Zygier showing up in Mebourn. There must have been a heck of a lot more than that going on.

    • Fred Plester March 26, 2013, 1:39 PM

      I think it might be worth going back to the question of just how many prisoner Xs there are?

      It occurs to me that the only awkward fact which Zygier could have discovered after his arrest, would be the answer to that question, and that really would be information which the Israeli state couldn’t allow out.

    • Therese March 28, 2013, 3:43 AM

      Dana, you make excellent points, and I agree with your analysis. The key issues go back to 2009, and also, I wonder why the facts about his death were revealed, and at that particular time. The idea that Ben could have been running a ‘rogue operation’ do not seem credible, and I am surprised that this article is given any degree of credence.

  • stevieb March 25, 2013, 9:47 AM

    Sounds like a load of rubbish, to me…

  • I'm still struggling with one aspect of this explanation March 25, 2013, 2:23 PM

    It’s this: how is it that a Mossad agent who was working the German/Iran angle before being moved to a dead-end desk job would have in his possession the names of two of Mossad’s most prized Lebanese agents?

    Isn’t the first rule of tradecraft this: compartmentalize, need-to-know, hold the names close to your chest, etc., etc.

    Otherwise we are left with the impression of a Mickey-Mouse Organization that leaves the names of super-secret spies lying around the office for anyone to see; an organization that doesn’t raise an eyebrow when one of its less-than-stellar agents just gets it in his head to toddle off to the Balkans (!!!!) without any good reason for him going.

    • Richard Silverstein March 25, 2013, 10:14 PM

      Part of the Yediot article by Bergman which I didn’t translate or summarize noted that the three formerly distinct units of Mossad–Keshet, Tsomet (& I forget the 3rd) used to be walled off from each other. But lately they’ve broken down those walls and personnel from each unit are assigned to the other units as liaisons. That’s precisely how Zygier knew about the spies. He likely would’ve received the intelligence the spies were offering & been responsible for analyzing it.

      • Oui March 26, 2013, 12:06 AM

        Meir Dagan’s shake-up of the spy agency – 2005 : Divisions Tsomet – Tevel – Kesaria – Nevior (Keshet)
        Organigram MOSSAD [French]

        • Shraga Elam March 26, 2013, 4:21 AM

          Interesting articles. But nowhere I could read that an operator like Zygier could had access to the whole system or detailed information about operations that he wasn’t directly involved in them.
          Every “user” in almost every organization has only a limited access.

      • Shraga Elam March 26, 2013, 12:10 AM

        Bergman’s claim doesn’t sound logical and convincing. Even if it is true, what is recently and it doesn’t mean that a person is capable to see all the information and even if he does, he is likely to leave “footprints”.
        Bergman’s fairy tale stinks and requires a large portion of naivety and trust in this person.
        The joint media operation with the Spiegel and the SMH sounds like a typical disinformation campaign inspired by secret services.
        Why e.g. neither Fairfax nor Der Spiegel ever has published the name of the Italian company?
        I won in Australia the Gold Walkley Award for Excellent journalism (something like the US Pulitzer ), which is very respected in Australia. I offered people I know at the SMH and ABC to follow some aspects which are easy to be investigated and haven’t been yet covered. Still I couldn’t come through. Isn’t it strange?

        • Richard Silverstein March 26, 2013, 12:23 AM

          @Shraga Elam: The only way the journalists could get the owner of the Milan company to talk at all is by agreeing not to name his company. If they did name it, it would destroy the company & its reputation. They felt it was more important to get the information the owner gave them & not name him, than to name the company and lose the information the owner had about Zygier.

          • Shraga Elam March 26, 2013, 12:52 AM

            This might be true for the new articles, but why Der Spiegel didn’t publish company name in the first article? It was declared at that time the the company doesn’t want to talk to the journalists. Why Jason K. hasn’t published the name of the company in all his articles/interviews since 2010?
            Why no Italian journalist has published the name of the company?
            This is rather unusual. Is there an international gag order?

          • Richard Silverstein March 26, 2013, 1:58 AM

            @Shraga Elam: I answered your question here. The company did indeed talk to Jason after much negotiation, which is why the reporter had so much information on Zygier’s failure at his job there.

        • Oui March 26, 2013, 3:45 AM

          Kudos to you, excellent work.

          • Shraga Elam March 26, 2013, 5:56 AM

            Thanks

        • Oui March 26, 2013, 6:27 AM

          Basically I agree.

          The Israeli intelligence community is closing its ranks through information by “sources” and friendly journalists. See my other comments. From the start of the ABC Australian article opening the Prisoner X case, fingers have pointed at numerous treacherous acts: talked to ASIO – member of Dubai assassin team – blew operation Mossad Italian front company – link to Mavi Marmara – Australian passports – Iran operation and lately the Hezbollah exposure spy network in Lebanon. I have refuted all these assertions from the beginning as not credible. With Dana I would speculate an exposure close to the Mossad operation in Lebanon and the Hariri assassination. In the past I have written often about this topic and lately because the Neocon plan to overthrow Assad in Syria is near to completion with a role for the same players since 2005.

          The Ronen Bergman article so very unlikely to be truthful … could the unmasked spies have been Ali Jarrah and Adib Alam instead? Oui on March 25, 2013 at 8:46 AM

  • Oui March 26, 2013, 4:58 AM

    Haaretz article by Amos Harel – Nov. 21, 2011

    In 2007, for instance, when Ali-Reza Asgari, a brigadier general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran, disappeared in Turkey, it was assumed that he was either killed or defected. The Iranian government began a painstaking review … It didn’t take long before the U.S., Britain and Israel began losing contact with some of their Iranian spies.

    Nasrallah’s spy-hunters unit began methodically searching for spies in Hezbollah’s midst. To find them, Hezbollah examined cellphone data looking for anomalies. The analysis identified cellphones that, for instance, were used rarely or always from specific locations and only for a short period of time. Then it came down to old-fashioned, shoe-leather detective work: Who in that area had information that might be worth selling to the enemy?

    The effort took years but eventually Hezbollah, and later the Lebanese government, began making arrests. By one estimate, 100 Israeli assets were apprehended as the news made headlines across the region in 2009. Some of those suspected Israeli spies worked for telecommunications companies and served in the military.

    This is conform previous Lebanese articles, boasting of electronic and technical advances to unmask extensive Israeli spy network. Ronen Bergman has excellent contacts within intelligence community, but won’t shun propaganda to serve the same masters.

    It’s NOT about the two intelligence assets named in story.

  • Shraga Elam March 26, 2013, 4:17 PM

    Dana, I don’t think that Zygier’s family is inactive. I’m convinced that the first ABC report was inspired by them after they were not very happy with the result of the report about Ben Zygier’s death. I’m sure that their lawyer, Avigdor Feldman talked to the media only after they told him to do so. No lawyer on earth is supposed to do something like this without the consent of his client/s.
    Still because they are Zionists they are probably afraid of the Mossad respectively have an internal conflict concerning attacking Israel.a In the case of Nahoum Manbar, who was titled by Netanyahu as the biggest traitor in the Israeli history, his French wife Francine couldn’t care less and she gave a big public fight. Besides, she liked the publicity. She was right in doing so and obviously saved Nahoum’s life by doing so.
    Zygier’s family should have consulted another lawyer from the beginning, who should have told them, like Zichroni and other involved lawyers told Francine Manbar to publish the fact that her husband was arrested, etc.
    It is anyway interesting to compare both cases. I can say that Nahoum’s Israeli friends (I talked with him several times as he was allowed to phone from jail after a while and he used to call also other journalists) were not impressed by the Mossad and didn’t believe a word that they were told. The good friends were convinced that Manbar was innocent of the charges thrown at him (also in the media).
    I believe that Ben Zygier was also innocent, but didn’t have such a family and friends like Manbar, who had been very well connected before he was arrested.

    • Dana March 26, 2013, 9:29 PM

      Shraga, you may be right about Zygier’s family, at least the Australian one. not sure about the israeli family. His wife is originally from England, I believe i read that somewhere, but perhaps was too young and unsavvy to know that in israel the rule of the game is to fight fire with fire.

      Out of curiosity – what’s your take about yehuda bello’s angles? he believes for example that Zygier was originally under hime arrest in march 4 and was remanded to prison only on march 10. He has brought up a court paper as proof, and seems to rely quite a bit on court records 9such as the official accusation). Bello also keeps claiming that it wasn’t THE Ben Zygier who worked at the company in Milano. Do you think he is part of the semi-official “clean up the story” team? it’s funny – in israel suddenly everybody and his brother was a friend of someone close to Ben Zygier.

      Another comment regarding that Milano company. Strange that they would be so quick to hire someone into ‘accounting’ who, by their own claims was not skilled in that area. Even stranger that no one is naming that company which has apparently undergone amazing metamorphosis – from one “founded as cover” to subsidiary of larger European company to now, an established company that is perfectly above board. If anyone has any information, or just theories about what that company might be, I’d appreciate hearing about it. Can’t be that man candidatesy, right?

      In any case, I can understand why Koutsoukis did not name that company in 2010 – perhaps that was the condition of the leak – he also did not name the three australian-israelis. I still am curious as to what happened in 2009 that caused ASIO to leak all this information to a journalist. Unless, of course, our reporter Jason is not telling the truth about the time frame and the leak was much later – sometime AFTER the Dubai debacle.

      • Shraga Elam March 28, 2013, 4:35 AM

        Dana, I haven’t enough knowledge to judge Bello and basically it is possible that at the beginning Zygier was just put under home arrest. Then the impulsive and brutal Meir Dagan lost his patience and overreacted, just as in another case that I know of from the same period (the person involved wasn’t arrested, but massively maltreated by Dagan and his friends, although he gave them a very important info).
        It is very interesting that Bello found Zygier in Pipl (see in my blog entry:
        http://shraga-elam.blogspot.ch/2013/02/why-was-ben-zygier-suicided.html ).
        I don’t buy the accountant stuff. It is obvious that Jason K. has too good relationships with ASIO, that wasn’t interested in exposing the whole Mossad operation, but send a warning: “we know what you are doing, so give us more details about it and be more cooperative.”
        There seems to be an international secret operation, I’d say against Iran and therefore many secret services told their friends/associates in the mainstream media not to expose the name of the company.
        It is interesting that the name wasn’t exposed in Iran either, although it is known for sure to the involved persons/organizations.
        My explanation for this: either some high Iranian officials were bribed by Zygier & Co. and/or the affair is embarrassing for some other reason.

        • Shraga Elam March 28, 2013, 5:25 AM

          Dana, As you read Hebrew here is a link to Bello’s newest piece:
          http://benhateva.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/75999/
          He also thinks that Bergman tells fairy tales. This is BTW so obvious that one should ask what are the interests of Der Spiegel, SMH and also Richard, who supports them very passionately.
          Are they just naive?

          • Dana March 28, 2013, 12:55 PM

            thanks for the comments, Shraga. I tend to agree with you – and Oui, who posted here + many others who follow the tales of ‘x’ in Israel, that the story in der Spiegel is a bit of a psy-op. One can’t help but notice all those annonymous sources who were quoted. For example, the CEO of the mystery Milano company – or the ‘government official”. in what universe would they be interested in doing anything other than take themselves off the hook,whatever hook they or the entities they represent are on? the story about ben Zygier as a bad employee sounds totally contrived. Now, why would one trained in AUstralian law be a GOOD employee in an accounting department/ money laundering? acting as consiglieri? that part of the story and the disclosure of those particular hezbollah spies smell funny. You noted me theorize about the information ‘x’ had being connected to israel’s role in the Hariri assassination (Qui apparently had suggested it earlier). As i noted, it will be hard to find a single lebanese who doesn’t believe it was primarily israel’s doing (with the help of carefully selected locals of course) as a false flag operation. The danger to israel is that ben Zygier came to know about that and perhaps spilled some beans to someone, who is now in a position to blackmail whoever. the bigger danger is that tales of one false flag can lead to others, and there are a few more of those lurking about. Now that would be indeed the kind of big booboo that would put the pressure on both mossad and shin bet to never let Zygier out as a free person no matter how far down in time. Furthermore, it is only the danger of these kind of damaging revelations that would cause Ben to die suddenly so soon after feldman’s visit, and Rudd’s pop-up appearance in Israel.

            As for Richard – you need to be fair – he seems to be pretty open about what’s really happened and it is his prerogative to give accounts of those articles and fish around using his own sources. I am using my own sources, and can assure you that the stories vary as many “sources” (cf individuals) there are who all seem to be “in the know”. That’s what’s so crazy about israel – it’s a place where everyone claims to sniff out everything while telling you not only that their own sense of smell is superior but then have the chuzpah to tell everyone else that to go sniff elsewhere, while agreeing “it” stinks to high heaven. Richard writes more forcefully than others and speculates with the best of them – I did not see him claiming to actually “know” more on this particular case, and, if he did, he really would be in trouble. I mean, these agencies of which we speak are not exactly shy about doing “their business’ are they? Whether an israeli reporter like Ronen bergman, an Australian like jason Koutsoukis or a blogger like richard Silverstein, they all know that when dealing with mafiosi, a degree of caution is well advised. Which is why I wouldn’t claim I know anything about which Milano company it is exactly, though anyone can find out just how short the list is.

          • Oui March 28, 2013, 5:59 PM
          • Richard Silverstein March 28, 2013, 7:50 PM

            @Shraga Elam: Describing me as supporting Ronen Bergman’s reporting “very passionately” is both false and unfair. I’ve portrayed Bergman’s reporting in this case as credible. But I’ve noted there are contrary narratives, some of them credible as well.

            I have not been afraid to criticize Bergman’s reporting when I found it to be little more than cheerleading. In fact, a post I wrote about his NYT Magazine interview with Ehud Barak on Iran led to Bergman disowning me essentially; refusing to have anything further to do with me. Why would I support such a person “passionately?”

  • Oui April 4, 2013, 12:01 AM

    Ronen Bergman speaks to ABC News Breakfast about Ben Zygier and his “investigative” work for the Der Spiegel article.

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