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Ben Zygier’s Betrayal Led to Worst Mossad Debacle in Decades

Jason Koutsoukis has published a follow-up piece to Ronen Bergman’s, which I posted about yesterday.  He and Bergman cooperated together on a piece for Der Spiegel which either has just come out or is about to.  Koutsoukis reveals much information not included in the Yediot piece of yesterday.  I imagine Bergman’s piece, which is four times longer, will expand knowledge of this case even further.

In his Sydney Morning Herald story, he establishes that Zygier from his teenage years, like many Jewish children involved in Zionist youth groups, intended to make aliyah to Israel.  He would’ve been filled with the heady exploits of the IDF and Israel’s storied intelligence agency, the Mossad.  After arriving in Israel and seeing that newspaper ad recruiting agents for the Mossad, Zygier would’ve been intrigued.  He would’ve seen it as a chance to prove his loyalty and devotion to his new homeland.  It also would’ve intrigued him as a chance to prove his manhood and make a mark for himself in life.

Once he completed the extensive training course, he was sent to Europe to infiltrate a number of companies doing extensive commercial trade with the Arab world.  He worked for one such company in Milan, which had no idea of his affiliation.  Though he mastered his job quickly, he never came close to learning the company’s secrets and penetrating any trading network with Iran, though this had been his assignment.  He remained with this company for 18 months until he was fired for losing the company one of its major clients.  Zygier worked for at least one other such company, perhaps more, having no more success.

As I wrote yesterday, he was called home and assigned a desk job in the portion of Mossad called Tsomet, which involved primarily intelligence analysis.  Because he must’ve felt a sense of failure as a result of the European venture, and because of his frustration with a back office position, Zygier decided to freelance.  Without knowledge of his superiors, he made contact with a Hezbollah agent having the intent of “turning” him for the Mossad.  He even traveled to Eastern Europe and met with him.  But the Hezbollah operative was far more skilled at his job than Zygier.

When the Arab demanded proof of his bona fides as a Mossad agent, Zygier offered him intelligence about Israel’s spy network in Lebanon.  While Bergman and Koutsoukis each present this as a good-faith attempt by Zygier to prove to his bosses that he had what it took to return to being a field operative, it’s possible this was a deliberate betrayal by Zygier.  If it was, it would be even more embarrassing to the Mossad.

As a result of Zygier’s failed effort, two high-level Lebanese officials were exposed.  Afterward, even more Israeli spies were identified by Lebanese intelligence, though it’s not clear that these further exposures resulted from what Zygier started.  This put Israel in the dark as far as knowing the intentions of one of its most implacable enemies, Hezbollah.  All this happened just as a major civil war was beginning in Syria, in which Hezbollah might play a major role.

Koutsoukis’ article reveals the extraordinary lengths to which the Mossad went to recruit these agents.  In order to put off any suspicion of Israeli involvement, Ziad al Homsi was approached in his village by a Chinese who claimed he represented the City of Beijing.  The town mayor was invited, supposedly by the Chinese city government to a trade fair there.  That was followed by another trip to Bangkok at which the Mossad revealed itself and its true intent.  They sweetened the offer with a $100,000 payment to him to spy for them.  This, of course, means that Israel maintains a well-developed network in these cities and uses these countries to recruit its agents.  I can’t imagine that this will go over well with either of these governments.  That is, unless the Chinese knew about and implicitly condoned the activity because of some prior arrangement/quid pro quo between the two.

There are many reasons Israel clamped down hard on this scandal and refused to allow word of it to leak.  Perhaps primary, is that this would’ve been the first time a Mossad agent would’ve deliberately betrayed Israeli intelligence assets.  Such betrayal, even if accidental, would pierce the agency’s reputation of fierce loyalty and impenetrable discretion.

Another primary motive would’ve been to eliminate any questioning of the Mossad’s recruitment methods.  How would a needy, unstable, grandiose individual who wasn’t even able to keep a secret accepted into the Mossad?  Compare the abject failure of this incident to the heroic exploits and bravery chronicled in story after story of Mossad derring-do.  It just wouldn’t do to have such embarrassment circulating with Mossad’s name and reputation attached.

The secrecy has worked its desired effect.  Even though it has now been exposed and we have a much clearer picture of what happened, there is no clamor for anyone’s head to roll.  There is no call for boards of inquiry to examine how this could’ve happened and prevent it from happening again.  Meir Dagan’s reputation remains intact.

This is the impact of secrecy and the national security state.  Citizens are denied their right to know what’s done in their name.  These same citizens accept this bargain as the price of protecting them from unsavory enemies.  Meanwhile, the intelligence agencies are allowed to make such egregious errors and no one is called to account.  Though harm may be done to Israel and its reputation in the process, everyone accepts it as the price of doing business in this so-called nasty part of the world.

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{ 48 comments… add one }
  • Guy March 25, 2013, 1:02 AM

    I am confused. Since when is Silverstein opposed to betraying?

    I thought his whole career is devoted to promoting betrayal!

    • Richard Silverstein March 25, 2013, 2:04 AM

      I am confused.

      You are indeed.

      • bluto March 25, 2013, 6:21 AM

        Are professional (ie, paid) hasbara agents permanently assigned to certain sites so they have the same clutch of eggs to sit on?

        It’s like paparazzi that specialize on ‘certain celebrities’ – ha

  • Oui March 25, 2013, 3:53 AM

    Putting a lid on the Ben Zygier story, is he made the fall-guy for the Mossad mess-up with its agents in Lebanon? Listening to interview with Koutsoukis, the reporter all of a sudden has spoken to higher-ups in Israeli intelligence. “It was definitely a suicide, there was no foul play.” Hmmm.

    Koutsoukis has now worked conjunction with Der Spiegel reporters (Ronen Bergman?) in this follow-up story. Nice to received uncensored Israel intelligence from a “deep throat”source. How (un)likely is it in a compartmentalized Mossad agency that a junior agent knows the names of two prominent Israeli spies in Lebanon?

    Perhaps we shouldn’t be too gullible to believe the Ronen Bergman story.

    • shachalnur March 25, 2013, 7:41 PM

      Agreed.

  • pabelmont March 25, 2013, 5:00 AM

    “While Bergman and Koutsoukis each present this as a good-faith attempt by Zygier to prove to his bosses that he had what it took to return to being a field operative, it’s possible this was a deliberate betrayal by Zygier. If it was, it would be even more embarrassing to the Mossad.”

    I guess Mossad s/b embarrassed whenever an agent, whether by mistake or deliberately, betrays Mossad (or Israel). They should have been more careful, not entrusted ANY secret info to someone before they knew with super-human assurance he would not deliver the secret info (like, you know, his boss’s name) to anyone unauthorized to know it.

    But how is Mossad supposed to know who will deliberately betray it? Why is this MORE EMBARRASSING to Mossad?

    Also on the subject of EMBARRASSMENT TO( MOSSAD, See:
    http://warincontext.org/2013/03/23/sector404-and-anonymous-join-forces-to-attack-mossad/

  • Not sure I follow the logic March 25, 2013, 5:21 AM

    Richard: ….”it’s possible this was a deliberate betrayal by Zygier”.

    Indeed, very possible, in which case Zygier was a HEZBOLLAH double-agent, and not just a gullible, incompetent MOSSAD agent.

    Hold that thought…..

    Richard: “As a result of Zygier’s failed effort,”….

    Ahem.

    If Zygier was deliberately betraying Mossad by giving intel to Hezbollah (see above) then his efforts didn’t “fail”, they were a resounding “success” for his bosses.

    You know….. Hezbollah.

    His only “failure” was that Mossad eventually discovered that they had a Hezbollah mole inside their organization.

    • Richard Silverstein March 25, 2013, 1:59 PM

      So what would be his motives for betraying the Mossad & a country he’d worshipped since youth? That part doesn’t make sense to me.

      • Not sure I follow the logic March 25, 2013, 7:45 PM

        Richard: “So what would be his motives for betraying the Mossad & a country he’d worshipped since youth?”

        Question: What was Pollard’s motive for betraying the US Navy and the country that he called home?
        Answer: Money.

        Richard: “That part doesn’t make sense to me.”

        Oh, sure, it doesn’t make sense that someone would betray an organization that he had once admired, and a country that he had worshipped.

        Sure, it doesn’t make sense to anyone who still holds those views. Agreed.

        But if everything always “made sense” then there would never be any traitors.
        Yet, clearly, every country no matter how chaste, virtuous, venal or plain out’n’out evil has had to deal with treachery.

        It happens, and that it doesn’t make sense to *you* does not necessarily mean that it didn’t make sense to *Zygier*.

        After all, this entire story hinges upon Zygier being:
        a) Not all there, and
        b) Smarting over a perceived slight.

        Well, OK, maybe that’s more of a motivation towards treachery than you (or I, or anyone else) would think “sensible”.
        But, heh, maybe that was more than enough for Zygier.

        • Richard Silverstein March 25, 2013, 9:54 PM

          @Not sure I follow the logic: Pollard’s case & Zygier’s are quite different. Pollard was actually a true blue Zionist is the same way Zygier was. So Pollard’s spying was on behalf of Israel, which is where his primary allegiance was. He had no allegiance to the U.S. despite being a U.S. citizen.

          • Not sure I follow the logic March 26, 2013, 12:11 AM

            Richard: “Pollard’s case & Zygier’s are quite different.”

            Oh, sure, they are different in the details.

            But consider this concept: would *you* ever betray US secrets to a foreign power merely because they make an appeal to your tribal loyalties?

            Because I know that I wouldn’t, and I would regard anyone who did to be Not Right In The Head.

            Richard: “Pollard was actually a true blue Zionist is the same way Zygier was. He had no allegiance to the U.S. despite being a U.S. citizen.”

            But that’s the rub, and that’s precisely where Pollard’s case relates to this one.

            Pollard was *supposed* to have an allegiance to the USA, because it is *expected* of a US citizen that they will be loyal to the Good Ol’ USofA.

            Yet Pollard confounded that expectation by, indeed, turning traitor to his country.

            Likewise, Zygier was *supposed* to have a allegiance to the state of Israel, precisely because that’s *expected* of everyone who makes aliyah.

            But why is it so bizarre to accept the notion that maybe, juuuust maybe, in Zygier’s case that *expectation* was ill-founded, that perhaps he has only a tenuous grasp of “allegiance”?

            Pollard clearly had a cock-eyed concept of where his loyalties lay, and there is no question that this was a flaw that was exploited by A Foreign Power.

            Why is it so outrageous to think that Zygier might also have a whacko-crazy grasp of the concept of loyalty?
            Or that such a flaw could not be exploited by A Foreign Power.

            After all, consider this paraphrase: So what would be Benedict Arnold’s motives for betraying the revolutionary army & a country he’d fought for so brilliantly?

            That the hero of Saratoga would betray his country wouldn’t make ANY sense.

            Yet betray it he did.

          • Richard Silverstein March 26, 2013, 12:20 AM

            Benedict Arnold’s case is quite different. He was an incredibly ambitious, brilliant man with a taste for the ladies and the high life. When he wasn’t recognized & promoted as he’d expected by the Americans, he went to the highest bidder: the Brits. His loyalty was to himself.

            I believe that both Pollard’s and Zygier’s loyalty was to Israel. Though even Pollard was more complicated and sold secrets to others besides Israel. Zygier, in terms of loyalty wasn’t as complicated. His loyalty was to Israel.

            Though your theory is possible, I don’t believe Zygier knowingly betrayed Israel or intended to do so. I’d certainly be open to evidence that contradicted this view. I don’t think we know the whole story yet nor do we understand motivations fully.

          • Not sure I follow the logic March 26, 2013, 11:29 PM

            Richard: “Benedict Arnold’s case is quite different. ”

            Well, sure, of course; the details are going to be different, and the motivations that can drive a man to treachery number beyond measure.

            But the core concept is this: Arnold’s loyalty to the revolution was as a given, so much so that he was beyond all suspicion, which is precisely why he was given command of West Point.

            Yet he plotted to betray that trust, and n.o.b.o.d.y. suspected him until an incriminating note was found in the pocket of a British army officer.

            The very *notion* that this decorated officer could betray the revolution was unthinkable.
            Indeed, it was as unthinkable as the notion that an Australian Zionist would make aliyah to Israel and then betray that country.

            Richard: “Zygier, in terms of loyalty wasn’t as complicated. ”

            Well, heck, you simply don’t *know* that.

            He may have been a very “complicated man” indeed, and not at all in A Good Way but in the “Whoah! That dude gives me the heebie-geebies!” way.

            The story of his life has been reported in very broad brushstrokes…… so far ….. and far, far too many assumptions are being made about his motivations based upon little more than stereotypes regarding Jews Who Make Aliyah.

            Remember: the best traitors are those that you would never, ever, ever suspect being capable of treachery.

        • Joel March 26, 2013, 11:43 PM

          ““So what would be his motives for betraying the Mossad & a country he’d worshipped since youth?”

          If Zygier committed high treason than I seriously doubt that he’d have been offered the 10-20 plea deal that he eventually accepted.

          Also, I recall Zygier’s last attorney stating that the charges Zygier faced were ‘not grievous’.

      • Eric Fowler March 25, 2013, 9:32 PM

        Revenge, perhaps.

        You can parse this story a lot of different ways. You have given us one interpretation; another is that Zygier was stymied in his career (or disillusioned, or greedy, or horny … ) and deliberately spilled the beans.

        The part that doesn’t fit with Zygier being a wannabe is that they arrested and “suicided” him. If he was just delusional about “helping” Mossad by shooting off his mouth, well, there are better and less drastic ways to stop that. And his status as a Mossad member made his life worth a little bit in the eyes of his captors, but if he *deliberately* betrayed his mates, well, then ….

        Eric

  • bluto March 25, 2013, 6:23 AM

    This is such a fascinating story. As the story broke I remember a number of knowledgeable sources (including the Australian journalists) who said it was likely we never would find out the impenetrable Mossad was really trying to cover up.

    Having Mossad out in the open is delicious – it’s like having AIPAC out in the open

  • Oui March 25, 2013, 8:46 AM

    The Ronen Bergman article so very unlikely to be truthful … could the unmasked spies have been Ali Jarrah and Adib Alam instead?

    Latest alleged Israeli spy a prominent pro-Hariri politician

    BEIRUT (LA Times) May 18, 2009 – The weekend arrest of a municipal official in the central Bekaa suspected of spying for Israel has sparked a political controversy ahead of Lebanon’s hotly contested June elections.

    Ziad Homsi, the deputy mayor of the Saadnayel municipality and its former mayor, was arrested by security forces, triggering demonstrations by local citizens, with friends and relatives of the detained briefly trying to block the Beirut-Damascus highway.

    Local media reported that Homsi was the media coordinator of the Future Movement’s central Bekaa election office, but in a statement released later by the Future Movement, a leading party in the March 14 government, denied that Homsi belonged to the party or played any official role in its electoral campaign.

    Homsi is the 13th suspect detained on suspicion of spying for Israel since the arrest of a collection of alleged cells – one headed by a former Lebanese general – in April. Mohammad Bassam, arrested after the 2006 summer war, was sentenced by a military tribunal to ten years in prison for “collaborating” with the Israel.

    As-Safir, the Lebanese daily closest to Hezbollah, published a detailed report on the investigation as well as information on the specific roles of the accused. According to the paper, Israel reactivated several longstanding “sleeper cells” in 2007, reestablishing relations with former agents Ali Jarrah and Brig. Gen. Adib Alam, who were tasked with recruiting more spies by placing employment ads. The agents also were asked to gather information on Hezbollah and Syria.

    Although Israel does not comment on specific cases, the Mossad’s former Beirut station chief, Eliezer Tsafrir, recently told pan-Arab Daily Al Hayat that agents were “fully aware that the Mossad did not buy them a life insurance policy.”

    “They are aware of the possibility of being caught,” he said, adding that all Israel “can do at this point is recruit more agents.”

    AFP: Lebanon jails telecom ‘spy’

    (Dec. 22, 2011) – Lebanese authorities in 2009 launched a national crackdown on alleged Israeli spy rings. Lebanon and Israel remain technically in a state of war and convicted spies could face the death penalty. More than 100 people have been arrested on suspicion of collaborating with the Israeli spy agency Mossad, including an army general, members of the security forces and telecom employees.

    Release of Ziad al-Homsi, accused of collaborating with Israel

    (May 31, 2012) – The Military Court of Cassation, headed by Judge Alice Chebtine, issued a verdict stipulating the release of Ziad Al-Homsi, accused of collaborating with Israel, after serving his three-year sentence.

    Lebanese in Shock Over Arrest of an Accused Spy Ali al-Jarrah (Feb. 2009)

  • shachalnur March 25, 2013, 10:18 AM

    Ben Zygier was recruted by Mossad,allegedly.
    Ben was a failure as an agent,allegedly.
    Ben gave names to Hezbollah,allegedly.
    Ben ,after failing in Europe,knew the names of israeli agents in Lebanon,allegedly.
    His family was cooperating with Mossad,allegedly.
    Ben was in Ramle prison ,isolated for his crime,allegedly.
    Ben commited suicide,allegedly.
    This rogue mossad agent was taken care of by the Shin bet,allegedly.
    The journalists telling the “true” story in the press,are allowed to do so by the Israeli censors,allegedly.
    Let’s blame an(allged) Mossad mess-up in Lebanon on an inexperienced dead Aussie Jew.
    An alleged mossad agent messes up and Shin bet let’s him commit alledged suicide in an anti-suicide cel.
    This is one big psy-op and Mr.Silverstein is unwittingly helping this lie to spread.

    • Daniel March 25, 2013, 10:56 AM

      Then what, exactly, are you suggesting actually happened?

      • shachalnur March 25, 2013, 6:37 PM

        Exactly ,nobody knows,only dead Ben.
        I do know it’s not the first time Mossad is doing operations that Israel is not (completely)aware of.
        But adressing that subject is tabu on this sight,even when the evidence is overwhelming.(the bomb in Argentina exploded on the third floor,not on the street outside)
        I think Ben got upset ,after he was sent on a mission that involved the killing of children,and he was not aware of this beforehand.
        It’s called “compartimentalization”,and it’s frustrating ,but neccesary,believe me..
        The story that this “failed” agent was allowed to study in Australia,while being a Mossad agent in Israel ,is rubbish.
        In short,I think he wanted out,talked to Shin Be about his former occupationt,a whole show was made to keep him alive,but his former employer got to him anyway.
        Question to mr. Silverstein; How many former Shin Bet chiefs got to the Knesset and higher,and how many former Mossad chiefs had a public function after their spook carriere?

    • lydda March 25, 2013, 11:24 AM

      This fits very well in an alleged country created by an alleged nation…..

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

        Isn’t it remarkable how closely your benighted ideology mirrors that of Palestine-deniers. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you were a deliberate trollish figment of such a person’s imagination.

      • lydda March 25, 2013, 3:17 PM

        Rather than insult me why don’t you explain your 20 blog entries for one chosen one whereas the ration of blog entries to Palestinians killed by your fellow chosen ones is 1000 dead people per blog entry?

        • Richard Silverstein March 25, 2013, 5:06 PM

          Why don’t you realize you either don’t know how to count or you’re an ignorant anti-Semite? The usual rant is that I hate Israel and that I only post material demeaning to or critical of Israel. I enjoy in a perverse way having commenters like you just to prove that there is hate on the far-left as well.

          You might also want to reconsider using University of Illinois-Chicago computers to disseminate anti-Semitic views. And if you don’t understand why your views are anti-Semitic, you might want to take a course on the subject. You’d learn something, though I realize that may not be your first priority for your university education.

          I can’t think the University telecommunication policy would favor such usage.

          • lydda March 25, 2013, 5:28 PM

            Where have you learned intimidation and threats?

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

            Really. Threats? Are you daft? As for intimidation–I’d say that someone who spouts anti-Semitic nonsense has no right to accuse anyone else of intimidation. Anti-Semitism, like all hate speech, is the ultimate intimidation.

          • Marcos March 25, 2013, 7:19 PM

            Well done Richard! You neutered Lydda and silenced her ignorant mouth. I think many who are critical of Israel far too often accept or pay no mind comtributers from the hateful far left into their camps. Thank you for maintaining integrity. Lydda thought that she was getting a free pass…

          • Richard Silverstein March 25, 2013, 10:01 PM

            I’d prefer not to think of it as neutering anyone. She’s free to express her views elsewhere. If she can’t respect the rules here, she won’t be commenting here.

        • dana March 25, 2013, 5:50 PM

          Richard, lydda is a plant. Real anti-semites don’t talk this way. If something looks like it doesn’t add up it’s because there’s nothing to add. Something tells me this individual’s posts do not come from a heart that bleeds for palestinians. No need to get too upset except that the purpose of the poster is to put a stake in your blog’s comment section that can later be used to say that vampires be there thus implicate you by association. At this point banning the commenter may be the best option. Not to worry – no one will think of you less for that, certainly no real palestinian or sympathizer.

          • shachalnur March 25, 2013, 6:23 PM

            [comment deleted]

          • Dana March 25, 2013, 7:48 PM

            shachalnur, FYI, I have nothing but respect for Prof. Sand’s work (in fact, I just finished reading his last book “The Invention of the land of Israel” and can confirm much of what he had to say about the nature and vagaries of an Israeli education). here i was merely commenting on the likelihood that the commenter “lydda’ shows clear signs of being a ‘cyber false flag”. That is my expression for someone who is not what they claim to be. Something doesn’t smell right about this poster’s protestations of insufficient attention being paid to palestinian suffering on this particular blog, and following these two particular entries about one, Ben Zygier. The off-tone interspersed with allusions to “Goldman sachs” out of the blue pretty much clinches it’s a pretender.

          • shachalnur March 25, 2013, 8:15 PM

            [comment deleted--off topic]

          • Richard Silverstein March 25, 2013, 10:07 PM

            @dana: Yes, it smells like a David Brotsky/JIDF style bit of attempted sabotage. Shachalnur strikes as possibly going in that direction as well, though I can’t really tell what his deal is.

          • Deïr Yassin March 26, 2013, 10:22 AM

            @ Dana
            There’s a even newer book out by Shlomo Sand, just published in French a couple of weeks ago. I don’t even know if it’s out in Hebrew yet.The translation is “How I stopped being a Jew. An Israeli point of view”. He’s discussing the fact that Israel considers itself the State of the Jews – all Jews no matter where they live – and not the State of its citizens. I’m looking forward to hearing him next week, he’s a very charismatic and passionate person.

      • shachalnur March 25, 2013, 7:23 PM

        [comment deleted--off-topic borderline anti-Semitic; your comments are now moderated. Only ones that respect the comment rules will be published]

    • Richard Silverstein March 25, 2013, 2:14 PM

      @Schhalnur: Israeli censors would NOT allow the full story to be told, which is why Bergman had to publish in Der Spiegel.

      • shachalnur March 25, 2013, 6:13 PM

        Ronen Bergman is writing for Yediot Aharonot,an Israeli newspaper,and he is Israeli.
        That means that he falls under the Israeli(Military) censorship,never mind where it’s published.
        Shin Bet lets him write this “true” story as a psy-op.
        If an israeli journalist would go around Israeli censorship by publishing in a foreign newspaper or magazine ,he will go to jail,or can’t go back and will have to move to the Bolivian jungle,like Ruben Schossen.
        If Israeli censorship could be circumvented by publishing abroad ,everybody would do it.

        • Richard Silverstein March 25, 2013, 10:05 PM

          Not true. Only the very short article he published in Yediot was under military censorship. He will be (or has) published an article 10 times longer in Der Spiegel that will not be under censorship, which is why he’s publishing it there. You don’t know anything about how journalism in Israel interacts with censorship.

  • Tom Griffin March 25, 2013, 1:19 PM

    It seems to me that this story systematically minimizes the significance of the Zygier case for Mossad:

    -It minimizes the significance of Zygier’s activities in Italy by stating that the Milan company was not a front and that Zygier was unsuccessful there.

    -It minimizes his operational role by stating that he got a desk job in 2007. (Its interesting in this respect that a lot of seemingly reputable sources suggest that Tzomet has an intelligence-gathering role as well as an analysis one).

    -It minimises the significance of his return to Australia by stating he was on leave, countering any suggestion that he was trying to recruit Middle East students as has been suggested in some reports.

    -It minimises the significance of the ASIO investigation which became public around the same time he was recalled to Israel, on this account, a pure coincidence.

    An alternative hypothesis, might be one in line with the earlier Australian reporting, that he was operational in Australia and that he talked to ASIO, and that Mossad our now trying to cover their over-reaction in the light of his death?

    This would be in line with this ABC report, appararently based on ASIO sources:
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-02-18/zygier-arrested-after-leaking-mossad-work-to-asio-sources/4525640

    • Dana March 25, 2013, 8:12 PM

      I tend to agree that big parts of this story are a psy-ops. Once it comes out in full, I’ll be able to better judge what the purpose of it is. Like all stories, there are aspects that are true. But the tone is what counts. there may indeed be a purpose of taking Mossad “off the hook” (perhaps for “over-reacting, perhaps for deflecting criticism about the manner in which ben was suicided, ever so conveniently). Most likely, there is some damage-control operation going on vis-a-vis ASIO. One of the things that happened in the ben Zygier case is that there was political pressure in Australia to keep aspects of this story under wraps, no doubt at the behest of the jewish establishment there. But the facts remains: ASIO leaked a sotry to jason Koutsoukis in late 2009, a story complete with phone numbers and the name of that company in Milano (anyone knows what company that was? I have my suspicions – there are not that many to choose from). here is the sequesnce: on december 11, Zygier’s second daughter is born. Sometime between December 12 and13 Avigdor Feldman interviews Zygier and requests the file. On december 14, ex-PM Rudd arrived in israel from Australia and on Dec 15 2010, Zygier supposedly hangs himself. On the same day feldman calls his contact “yossi” at ayalon, requesting the file, and is told he doesn’t need it any longer since his client is dead. Paul Rudd leaves israel on the 16th. it is not until the 23rd that Zygier’s body is flown back to Australi at the request of his family there. I doubt Rudd’s sudden arrival in israel is not connected to the Zygier affaire.

      I guess what i am saying is that the entire affaire and its many leads are connected somehow through ASIO, and a conflict they were having with other agencies in Australia including ASIS and the foreign office. Any story that seems to take them off the hook as an involved party can’t be all true.

      Overall, i still believe that Zygier knew something he wasn’t supposed to about the Hariri assassination and the Mossad’s involvement in it (see also Qui). He may have even told someone, and because he had credibility being a mossad member this could be a major disaster, so the mossad swooped in to keep Zygier under wraps. That’s why we get these disclosures about Zygier blurting out the names of mossad operatives in lebanon. This part may or may not have been true, but it is probably a diversion, designed to deflect the conversation to directions other than the one a whole lot less convenient for israeli intelligence. the one thing we can all agree with is that there was a debacle for mossad and that Zygier was involved in it sufficiently so that he had to be silenced kind of permanently.

      However, that being said, i await the to see the tone if not the substance of the der Spiegel article before making my determination of which way the deflection is pointing. Stay tuned?

      • shachalnur March 25, 2013, 8:27 PM

        Maybe mr. Silverstein should (try to )write a story about what exactly Shin Bet is and does,and what is and does Mossad.
        What is the history of these two organizations,where are they autonomous ,where do they overlap.
        The idea that mossad is “international spying” and Shin Bet is inside Israel is ,and was ,not true.
        All Internet spying is now done by Shabak,does that mean Mossad is not?
        Every botched intelligence operation by Israel coming out into MSM is always a mess up between Shin bet and Mossad.
        Shin bet and mossad are not working together,never did.
        Israel is upgrading Shabak like crazy,because theyr’re behind and don’t trust the mossad anymore.
        With mr. Silverstein’s contacts it shouldn’t be too difficult to make a coherent story.
        i can do it as well,but the comment rules are too strict,and i don’t like being censored,especially in times where the truth is a scarce good.
        Difficult times for everybody,and many,many lies.

      • Tom Griffin March 26, 2013, 5:14 AM

        Could it be significant that Zygier’s alleged assignment to a desk job in Tzomet (which again does seem to be an agent-running branch) would be around the time the former head of Tzomet resigned as Deputy head of Mossad:

        “In recent years N. excelled in two particular tasks he was assigned – the diplomatic efforts against Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and intelligence on Hezbollah.”
        http://www.haaretz.com/news/mossad-deputy-chief-n-quits-after-spat-with-boss-dagan-1.223953

        Note that Yossi Melman reported in 2005:
        “most of Dagan’s damage was felt by Tzomet. He thought it was possible to recruit agents via quick “lite” methods, and did not understand that such an approach would lead to a weak product. As a result, relations between him and N., the head of Tzomet, were damaged, and now N. is about to become his deputy.”
        http://www.haaretz.com/news/mossad-deputy-chief-n-quits-after-spat-with-boss-dagan-1.223953

        One can’t help wondering whether Zygier’s operations were an example of ‘lite’ methods. Also was the idea of Tzomet as a pure analysis branch just a slip by Koutsoukis or was it part of an attempt to to convince him that Zygier was not supposed to be running agents after his recall.

  • Arie Brand March 26, 2013, 4:30 AM

    In the Ronen Bergman story I saw on Australian television B. heavily emphasized that Zygier was not guilty of treason only gross incompetence. Is incompetence a criminal offence in Israel ?

    • Oui March 26, 2013, 5:15 AM

      Coloring the story to serve the audience. See my other comments. This indicates once more, Ronen Bergman is a tool of the Israeli intelligence community used for damage control. Like it’s made clear, MOSSAD are (should be) masters in deceit. Even within their own ranks, deceit has led to many disasters. I understand Shin Bet is far superior and has outwitted Mossad on effective infiltration of Hamas and Palestinian Authority within OT.

  • lally March 27, 2013, 4:36 PM

    Well, the Der Spiegel piece finally came out and added little to nothing worthwhile except to claim that Nasrallah was personally involved in the debacle that may or may not have happened as portrayed. Like any of the contributors or their sources would know what in the hell Nasrallah’s personal involvement would be. They wish….. Someone got snookered in Beirut once again. The Lebanese are, after all, specialists in agreeable duplicity.

    Skepticism about the veracity of this tale is coming from many angles and sources that don’t share either ideologies or POVs. Conflicting politics aside, too many people are seeing swiss cheese in the particular areas they know something about, be it questionable operational details from the Israeli security perspective to the realities of the Lebanese situation; including the highly questionable claims about the importance of the 2 (among over 100) Israeli assets caught up in the extensive round-ups.

    BTW, is more than likely that US taxpayer bucks paid for the technology that trapped communications between Lebanese traitors and their Israeli handlers in the North. It was provided to the ISF (Hariri/US allied) and meant to be utilized against Hezbollah. As it turns out though, the ISF, Lebanese military intelligence all collaborated in the spy roundups. Reportedly, some US Congress members were verklepmt over the notion that their generosity to a potential loyal Sunni militia would result in wounding our very special friend’s interests in the Levant.

    At the very least as someone (Dana?) on an earlier thread pointed out, what professional business concern would willingly choose to hire a complete novice to head up Accounts Payable?

    Perversely, it’s the extent of this elaborate & sloppy effort points to some very desperate need to put curious hunters off the scent. Not so fast there, me buckos.

    • Oui March 28, 2013, 12:02 AM

      Precisely.

    • Dana March 28, 2013, 1:09 PM

      Agree as well. Tx for the credit.

      Much can however be learnt from the details of the diversion operation. Obviously they are throwing us some light popcorn to chew on in the [vain] hope that we’ll forgo the sausage dangling just in front of us (no. I don’t like sausage but would rather know it has that horse meat in it).

  • Elisabeth March 25, 2013, 10:03 AM

    yuk!

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