BBC Exposes Abusisi Kidnapping Story
Gabriel Gatehouse, a BBC foreign correspondent, has delved deeply into the Abubisi story for a major documentary report (download podcast) on his kidnapping by Israel and trial for alleged security offenses. I’m proud to say that Gatehouse came upon the story through my own reporting on this. Though I’m disappointed he wasn’t able to credit my work, or the fact that I secured Abusisi’s Shabak interrogation transcript for him, in the documentary. Story of my life.
But the important thing is that Gatehouse has gone to all the places that are critical to this story and interviewed almost all the key players in Ukraine, Gaza, and Israel. This is the sort of hard reportorial work that an Israeli journalist should’ve done long ago. So credit to the BBC and Gatehouse for doing their jobs as journalists to uncover shady, nasty dealings by the Ukrainian and Israeli security services.
Gatehouse does a good job of probing and dismantling the Israeli narrative involving Abusisi, doing so in that deliberate, careful way good British journalists have. He also brings new insight to the Gaza portion of this story by noting that Hamas offered strange, halting support to Abusisi throughout his ordeal. Through his interviews with Hamas representatives, Gatehouse advances a theory I first proposed here a week or so ago, that Hamas actually wanted to punish Abusisi for having the nerve to seek to abandon both Gaza and the group’s blandishments to join its resistance efforts. This theory is borne out by Gatehouse’s interview with Hamas’ deputy foreign minister who studiously avoids denying (or confirming) that Abusisi was involved with Hamas. You’d think that a movement that wished to protect one of its citizens would know whether Abusisi was involved with the group or not. I smell something not quite right.
In my post last week, I suggested that Hamas recruited Abusisi and he refused the approaches or he refused to become more involved than he already might’ve been. In the prison interrogation transcripts, Abusisi confirms as much and documents specific threats to physically harm himself and his family if he tries to leave Gaza. Given that Hamas did so, it’s quite easy to believe that Abusisi’s defiance in leaving for the Ukraine would’ve enraged the group leading possibly to its betrayal of him to the Israelis.
It seems quite far-fetched to believe that the Shabak would’ve known much about Abusisi or cared unless they’d been tipped off that a big fish had just gotten away from Gaza. Though he unfortunately did not include this key part of the theoretical puzzle in the documentary, Gatehouse likely believes, and I agree, that Hamas likely tipped off the Shabak (likely through some sort of intermediary source) that not only was Abusisi a big cheese rocket scientist, but that he knew the whereabouts of Gilad Shalit.
The only problem: Abusisi knows nothing about either. Which would mean that if Hamas gave him up, they gave up nothing; and that the Shabak has been “had.” The only problem: a hard-working civil engineer and father of six children stands to pay for this intrigue with several decades of his life in an Israeli prison. This is an example of the cynicism of this game played by both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s a “great game” except for the individuals caught up in it who are made to pay for the machinations of both sides against the other.
One other addendum to Gatehouse’s piece. He interviewed Haaretz’s Yossi Melman about the Abusisi case. Melman appeared to confirm implicitly that there was no legitimate reason for kidnapping Abusisi that corresponds to any publicly announced reason by Israel or any other party. He does concede that kidnapping Abusisi might’ve been considered in order to use him as a “bargaining chip” to gain the release of Gilad Shalit. But this presumes that Abusisi, who was trying to flee Gaza permanently, would be a desirable person for Hamas to retrieve. I’ve seen no evidence of this at all.
Melman also makes one important historical error when he states that Israel has only kidnapped two people from foreign soil and brought them back to Israel for trial. He is correct when he mentions Eichmann and Mordechai Vanunu as two of those figures. But he leaves out Alexander Israel, an IDF officer who was kidnapped in Europe in the 1950s and returned to Israel when suspected of passing on secrets to the Egyptians. The problem was the doctor who sedated Israel on the plane, gave him a sedative overdose and killed him. This was the same doctor who performed the same function on Mossad’s behalf in the capture of Eichmann. I’m surprised that Melman would’ve forgotten this story.
I’m proud to say that without reporting and research first published here, this BBC documentary either would never have aired or would’ve looked substantially different that it does. I only hope it puts pressure on Israel to drop the charges against Abusisi and end this horrible charade. Please consider supporting my work by clicking that Paypal button in the sidebar.
10 thoughts on “BBC Exposes Abusisi Kidnapping Story – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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The BBC has posted a written article to accompany the podcast: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14529749
If the article is the summary of the podcast that I read last night, it’s not very good or complete. The podcast is far more thorough. But thanks for mentioning it.
Interesting story Richard, I think you are dead on about Hamas selling him out because he didn’t want to work with them. Letting the right details slip to Israeli Intelligence would make him a big target and waste Israeli resources while they chase him.
1. “good British journalists” ~ Mr BBC seemed curiously disinterested in clarifying whether the Ukrainian authorities were complicit in this kidnapping (a.k.a. ‘extraordinary rendition’) or, if not, why they raise no noise about it in the aftermath? Hoping to maintain their own impunity for similar practices, British state organs always manage to implicitly propagate this tone of acquiescence to politically approved state crimes ~ I call it en passant psychomassage of the purblind subjects.
2. After recognising this story involves “shady, nasty dealings by … Israeli security services”, you then credit the ‘transcripts’ they freely concoct to incriminate the victim as good coin ~ is that simply to feed a pet conspiracy theory you are nursing, or genuine naïveté?
3. “Gatehouse likely believes … that Hamas likely” ~ tendentious and speculative mind-reading compounded with more speculation makes a pretty shaky basis for the grand unifying CT here, even if you do chime in to agree with yourself, whereas Occam’s Razor would sooner suggest that, on principle, no Hamas official would impart any information to a British Spy, and much less to one who barges in with the arrogant and cocky tone of this young plum.
4. Yossi Melman is a ‘key player’ ~ that is news!
5. “I only hope [this story] puts pressure on Israel to drop the charges against Abusisi” ~ this statement rings hollow.
Overall, I’d say this was a poor effort, Mr Silverstein ~ you must try harder [to tarnish Hamas].
Hey, we’ve got a Hamas apologist among us. How nice for a change when we’re so used to pro Israel apologists.
Gatehouse got more and better information about the Ukrainian portion of the kidnapping than any other journalist has. Stop your whining and carping and just read for God’s sake. You’ve got a hard on for Hamas and everything anyone does or say that points a finger at them is just plain mean & rotten.
So Gatehouse is a “British spy” is he? Just as Alan Johnston the BBC reporter kidnapped by Palestinians for months was? I suppose you support such activities by some of your less savory friends in Gaza?
By the way, I got Gabriel Gatehouse those transcripts and both he and I know that they’ve been censored by the Shabak to obfuscate any torture or other information which would portray the intelligence agency in a bad light or help Abusisi’s cause. Gatehouse notes that Abusisi’s lawyers say that whatever is in the transcripts was likely obtained under torture. His listeners are intelligent enough to put that together w. all the other Israeli lies he’s uncovered to discredit the claim that Abusisi did most of the things of which he’s charged.
When you can find a better, more credible journalist willing to take the time & effort to report this story, let me know. Till then, we’ve got Gatehouse’s very creditable effort.
I don’t like Yossi Melman any more than you do, but the fact is that in his Israeli sphere he is a key player.
1. I note your shrill tone and thin-skinned reaction to legitimate critique of your ‘work product’. How amusingly vain ‘we’ are!
2. “hard on … Hamas apologist”
~ LOL, du calme, Ricardo; throwing tantrums neither defends nor improves the specious wackelbau of which you are so proud.
3. “Gatehouse got more … about the Ukrainian portion of the kidnapping than any other”
~ That may be so, but remains beside the point that he is careful NOT to share it with his subjects.
4. “Stop your whining and carping and just read for God’s sake”
~ Poor baby, must issue diktat [thumping fists of rage on keyboard] that readers suspend disbelief and gratefully swallow whole any extrusion being peddled. What a crying shame [Rivers of Babylon?] it’s not working “;0))
5. “everything anyone does or say that points a finger at [Hamas] is just plain mean & rotten”
~ This pretend-to-be-wood-and-hide-amongst-trees tactic is straight from the Lazybird Schul of Law Guide to Faux-Argumentation. Highly unimpressive!
6. “So Gatehouse is a ‘British spy’ is he?”
~ Yes, from Hamas’ POV that would be an eminently prudent assumption to make. Bet your boots that, after a decade of mental embedding in the ‘World War of Terror’, most Establishment [western] hacks wandering abroad amongst targeted resisting populations have been thoroughly co-opted into collaboration one way or another with ‘their’ Heimat Gestapo chums.
7. “I suppose you support such activities”
~ I support the right to self-defense by any individual or group under aggression. The morality of how they exercise it must, I think, be judged within its own frame of reference, not that which it suits the hypocritical aggressor to impose. When you are on the receiving end of a creeping genocide, then you may be qualified as a judge and move to Gaza Ghetto to help arbitrate on resistance tactics.
8. “both [Mr BBC] and I know … those transcripts”
~ Woah there, Horse! Unless you were personally present during interrogations with a tape-recorder, you do not know the scripts you were supplied *are* transcripts at all, as opposed to, for example, expeditious fiction blended with assorted ‘intelligence’ pointers from other sources to create a veneer of authenticity. If that’s the case, issues of censorship and torture are moot. But, apparently for the sake of your precious CT, you are willing to rely on selected snippets of a wholly unreliable document from a certified corrupt source.
9. “His listeners are intelligent enough to put that together w. all the other Israeli lies he’s uncovered to discredit the claim that Abusisi did most of the things of which he’s charged.”
~ Here you insinuate there is credible evidence for some charge against the hostage. Please identify it and publish the ‘evidence’ therefor, as I for one do not trust your judgement on the matter.
10. “[a] credible journalist[‘s] very creditable effort”
~ [your] Credulity =/= [his] Credibility
11. Yossi Melman is a cheap conduit pimping whatever effluvia suits his paymasters. Would it ever occur that you [and Mr BBC] are very possibly the ones being played by such characters?
Your comment is so over the top that I half wonder whether you’re not a right wing troll in drag. Likening Gatehouse to a “Heimat Gestapo chum” was a nice touch.
You didn’t answer my challenge about the kidnapping of the BBC Gaza correspondent, but I presume the fact that you ducked it means you support that little crime. Very nice. Remind me the next time you’re kidnapped somewhere in the world to ignore your pleas for help. Actually, if your kidnapping would help the cause I’m sure you’d be all in favor of it.
As for the Abusisi transcripts, of course they may be doctored or entirely fraudulent. But they’re the record we have to go on currently & since that’s so, Gatehouse and I are engaged in debunking it to the greatest extent we can. If we can disprove the record that the Shabak puts forward as truth, then we will have sabotaged its case much more conclusively then if we merely claim the transcript is a pure concoction. BTW, if his lawyer believed the transcript was a pure invention he would’ve said so. I’m in touch with him regularly & in fact will ask him specifically about this. But believe me he would’ve said what you’re claiming if there was any truth in it. But that’s even beside the pt. Even if Abusisi said everything in the transcript it doesn’t make him guilty of anything.
Gatehouse & I have done so far more than you on behalf of Abusisi. This is confirmed by statements of thanks from his brother and wife. Or do you claim they are fiction as well? Can you show us the muckraking journalism you’ve published on the subject?
This is a lie. I have NEVER insinuated that there is any credible evidence for any charge against Abusisi. In fact, I now really do believe you’re a very sophisticated troll.
As for Melman, I know him personally, have communicated with him, & my problems with his work & criticism of it are much deeper & more specific than even yours. I’ve written critically of Melman here a number of times. What’s pathetic about you is that you don’t even realize that at least on this point we agree. Your need to poke needles far outdoes yr willingness to listen & read & research before you criticize.
Since you appear to need to drone on, I’m going to moderate future comments. Your discussion on this subject is done. You may comment elsewhere as long as you respect the comment rules. Excessive snark & personal insults are comment rule violations. I mention this since it seems to be yr stock in trade. The rest is up to you.
Haaretz’s Melman is not the most credible source for intelligence matters. He normally recycles second-hand info, frequently gleaned from the web.
Dear Mr Silverstein,
1. Be assured, I am not ‘trolling’ you or this blog, but questioning some assumptions and implications inherent in your writing which led you to publish a [IMHO] shaky CT possibly quite prejudicial to the best interests of the unfortunate Mr Abusisi. While you may not appreciate the attentions of a devil’s advocate, such things needs must be tested sooner rather than later, purely to limit any potential damage to his case/interests.
2. I did not liken Gatehouse to the “Heimat Gestapo” ~ this term refers to the ‘Western’ government intelligence-services-types who co-opt/coerce collaboration from mentally embedded [i.e. carefully conditioned] foreign correspondents. ‘Chum’ was meant ironically, as involuntary relationships based on fear are usually unpleasantly unilateral.
3. I comprehensively answered your trivial pursuits challenge question re. Johnston. It seems you did not [care to] comprehend my answer ~ in any case, you are welcome to presume whatever you please in this regard.
4. I am happy to hear the scope of your debunking of the ‘transcript’ has widened to include the fundamental possibility that the thing is a wholesale confection. Best of luck with that either way! [PS: If it were my case, I would not presume my lawyer cannot be fooled by state-sponsored fakery].
5. I don’t want to discourage your efforts and genuinely applaud any assistance you do provide, but I think a ‘muckraking’ approach is insufficiently serious, not corresponding to the extreme jeopardy this man faces.
6. ‘insinuate’ was carelessly over-pointed, as I accept you did not intend this ~ but that sentence can be read as containing an inculpatory converse implication.
7. Thanks for the reference to your take on Melman. We may tend to agree who/what he is, but I don’t understand why it gets your heckles up that I state my view of him?
8. I regret if my style in causing you to think on things you may [subconsciously] prefer to neglect has offended to such an extent that you block the thinking. To avoid this, I will dial down the ‘snark and needles’ you identified.
9. It was Confucius, I believe, who first opined:
“Die schärfsten Kritiker der Elche / waren früher selber welche”
“The bitterest critics of the elks / were formerly themselves ones”
I prefer you “dialed down.” I can take the criticism, but the needles tend to be a bit sharp when they penetrate the skin. Besides that, you’re more than welcome to the conversation.
I don’t think I had a problem with what you wrote about Melman. He is pretty much what you say, though he periodically does have good sources & is worth paying some attention to. For example, if you read between the lines of his interview w. Gatehouse you’ll find that NOW Abusisi is a nothing for Mossad, which doesn’t mean that at one time he wasn’t a something. In other words, that a major error was made or that Mossad was fooled into kidnapping him.