Mystery of the Arctic Sea, 8/20
The Telegraph reports Intelligence leaks indicating that the hijacking was done by Mossad (not a peep from Debkafile!) and was done to prevent an unauthorized shipment of advanced Russian air defense missiles from reaching Iran.
Mystery has surrounded the ship, officially carrying a cargo of timber worth Â£1.3 million from Finland to Algeria, since its crew first reported a boarding in Swedish waters on July 24 after a raid by 10 armed English-speaking men posing as anti-narcotics police officers.
It was eventually recovered off the coast of west Africa on August 17. Russia has since charged eight men from Estonia, Latvia and Russia with kidnapping and piracy.
Russian officials have said the alleged pirates demanded a $1.5 million ransom but speculation has grown that the freighter was carrying contraband cargo.
Israeli and Russian security sources have questioned The Kremlin’s official explanation, instead arguing that the ship was carrying S-300 missiles, Russia’s most advanced anti-aircraft weapon, while undergoing repairs in the Russian port of Kaliningrad, a notorious Baltic smuggling base.
According to reports, Mossad is said to have briefed the Russian government that the shipment had been sold by former military officers linked to the black market, and Russia then dispatched a naval rescue mission. Those who believe Mossad was involved point to a visit to Moscow by Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, the day after the Arctic Sea was recovered.
Crew members of the Arctic Sea have since told Russian news reporters that they have been told not to disclose “state secrets” further fuelling the speculation.
A Russian military source told The Sunday Times: â€œThe official version is ridiculous and was given to allow the Kremlin to save face.
â€œIâ€™ve spoken to people close to the investigation and theyâ€™ve pretty much confirmed Mossadâ€™s involvement. Itâ€™s laughable to believe all this fuss was over a load of timber. Iâ€™m not alone in believing that it was carrying weapons to Iran.â€
Russian news agency RT News (Moscow) has the same story on this 4:42 video