Israel’s embassies throughout the world are secured by the Shin Bet. An Israeli agent (Hebrew) was walking through Brussels with his son when he spied a man of “Eastern-looking features” with what he suspected was a concealed weapon. Since his young son was with him, he did nothing except take a picture of the suspect. He ran to the nearest embassy employee’s residence, reported the incident, raised an alarm that put the entire embassy staff in lockdown, left his son with those in the residence, and returned to seek the suspect. By then, the latter had disappeared.
The pictures were distributed via the Belgian media under the heading “anti-Semitic killer.” The next day, the man, 22 year old Asim Abbasi, reported himself to the police. He was the son of a Pakistani (EU) embassy administrative employee, who’d served there for four years. The “weapon” was a cricket bat which he’d covered with his sweater to protect it from the rain. He had been on the way to a cricket practice when the Shabak agent had spied him:
“I wrapped my bat in my sweatshirt because it was raining and if it is wet I can’t play the ball properly,” he said.
As a result of the incident, Pakistan fired the employee for damaging the country’s reputation in Belgium. Pakistan is also sensitive to Belgian suffering due to last summer’s Jewish museum terror attack. It gave him and his six other family members a week to return to Pakistan:
“We got a call from the embassy saying give us your passports,” said Mr Abassi.
“We’ve lost the privilege of living in Belgium. I’ve lost my education. I’ve lost everything.”
No Israeli apology has been forthcoming. The Belgian police, who trusted the warnings of an overeager Shin Bet agent (BIG mistake), have not apologized. The Pakistani embassy refused to comment.
Israeli media has now reported that the alarm was first raised by Israeli security, though it didn’t report the agent was with the Shin Bet. This adds another black eye to the agency, which has already suffered a bad hit from its altercation with the IDF over the lead-up to Operation Protective Edge.
Those in the U.S. and the rest of the west who wish to tout the enhanced security reputation of Israel in world airports may want to remember this incident and treat it as a warning. The only suspicion that aroused the attention of this agent was the suspect had “eastern” features and seemed to be carrying something under his sweater. On the strength of this racial-profiling the lives of an entire innocent family have been disrupted and the reputation of Israeli intelligence has been damaged.
Add to this that the Shin Bet, which also provides the prime minister security in Israel routinely forces Arab journalists to disrobe before entering press events and parties, and you’ve got a nasty case of Israeli racism rearing its ugly head around the world.