Category Archive 'Mossad'

06 May 2018

How Israel Stole Iran’s Secret Nuclear Files

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Michael Daventry gives the inside scoop on the Intelligence coup of the century.

The spectacle of Benjamin Netanyahu barely able to contain his excitement as he paced back and forth around the stage, pointing out his props and slides, was remarkable enough.

But that was as nothing compared with what was truly remarkable — an intelligence coup that is already regarded as legendary.

The Israeli prime minister had just uncovered — literally, by pulling away dust sheets to reveal shelves of filing — the evidence that showed Iran had for years been engaged on a secret nuclear programme.

“Iran lied, big time,” Mr Netanyahu told a hastily-assembled room of journalists on Monday. “A few weeks ago, in a great intelligence achievement, Israel obtained half a ton of material”.

His presentation was closely coordinated with the United States, coming just days before President Trump decides whether to abandon the international deal that was said by its supporters to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Mr Netanyahu’s words were dramatic. But they barely came close to conveying the drama of the Mossad’s unprecedented operation.

The cache — containing tens of thousands of pages, many of them handwritten — was snatched by Mossad agents in a single night, from a ramshackle warehouse in a suburb south of Tehran, the Iranian capital. Sources say the building had been under constant surveillance by Israeli intelligence from the moment it was first discovered in February 2016 until the decision to act was taken.

That moment came one night in January this year.

This was not a data transfer of the kind that has made the Mission Impossible movies so thrilling. The documents were not copied onto a portable hard drive, nor transferred electronically back to Israel.

Every file and CD — weighing a collective half a ton — was transported physically in a single night.

And not one of Mossad’s “human assets” — Israeli agents and Iranian informants — was harmed in the operation, intelligence minister Yisrael Katz told Israeli radio on Tuesday.

It is no exaggeration to say that all of this happened under the Iranian government’s nose; Iran’s foreign ministry building was so close to the warehouse that the Mossad agents could have driven to it in the centre of Tehran in barely half an hour.

“This was a highly complex operation, over a long period of time, in a deeply hostile environment,” said James Sorene, chief executive of the Bicom think-tank.

“To remove so much physical material in such circumstances is nothing short of remarkable.

“When you consider it alongside Israel’s apparent ability to identify Iranian arms shipments to Syria as they leave Tehran, you can only conclude that the Iranian regime is severely compromised by the brilliance of Israeli intelligence.”

RTWT

19 Jan 2011

Stuxnet Was a Joint US-Israeli Project

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Anonymous official sources have spilled enough to the New York Times to allow it to put the pieces together (and to give an opportunity to US and Israeli Intelligence to take a few public bows and indulge in a bit of gloating at Iran’s expense). And, what do you know! it was another of those George W. Bush policies that Barack Obama decided to continue, just like detentions at Guantanamo.

The Dimona complex in the Negev desert is famous as the heavily guarded heart of Israel’s never-acknowledged nuclear arms program, where neat rows of factories make atomic fuel for the arsenal.

Over the past two years, according to intelligence and military experts familiar with its operations, Dimona has taken on a new, equally secret role — as a critical testing ground in a joint American and Israeli effort to undermine Iran’s efforts to make a bomb of its own.

Behind Dimona’s barbed wire, the experts say, Israel has spun nuclear centrifuges virtually identical to Iran’s at Natanz, where Iranian scientists are struggling to enrich uranium. They say Dimona tested the effectiveness of the Stuxnet computer worm, a destructive program that appears to have wiped out roughly a fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges and helped delay, though not destroy, Tehran’s ability to make its first nuclear arms.

“To check out the worm, you have to know the machines,” said an American expert on nuclear intelligence. “The reason the worm has been effective is that the Israelis tried it out.”

Though American and Israeli officials refuse to talk publicly about what goes on at Dimona, the operations there, as well as related efforts in the United States, are among the newest and strongest clues suggesting that the virus was designed as an American-Israeli project to sabotage the Iranian program. …

Many mysteries remain, chief among them, exactly who constructed a computer worm that appears to have several authors on several continents. But the digital trail is littered with intriguing bits of evidence.

In early 2008 the German company Siemens cooperated with one of the United States’ premier national laboratories, in Idaho, to identify the vulnerabilities of computer controllers that the company sells to operate industrial machinery around the world — and that American intelligence agencies have identified as key equipment in Iran’s enrichment facilities.

Siemens says that program was part of routine efforts to secure its products against cyberattacks. Nonetheless, it gave the Idaho National Laboratory — which is part of the Energy Department, responsible for America’s nuclear arms — the chance to identify well-hidden holes in the Siemens systems that were exploited the next year by Stuxnet.

The worm itself now appears to have included two major components. One was designed to send Iran’s nuclear centrifuges spinning wildly out of control. Another seems right out of the movies: The computer program also secretly recorded what normal operations at the nuclear plant looked like, then played those readings back to plant operators, like a pre-recorded security tape in a bank heist, so that it would appear that everything was operating normally while the centrifuges were actually tearing themselves apart.

The attacks were not fully successful: Some parts of Iran’s operations ground to a halt, while others survived, according to the reports of international nuclear inspectors. Nor is it clear the attacks are over: Some experts who have examined the code believe it contains the seeds for yet more versions and assaults. …

Israeli officials grin widely when asked about its effects. Mr. Obama’s chief strategist for combating weapons of mass destruction, Gary Samore, sidestepped a Stuxnet question at a recent conference about Iran, but added with a smile: “I’m glad to hear they are having troubles with their centrifuge machines, and the U.S. and its allies are doing everything we can to make it more complicated.”

In recent days, American officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity have said in interviews that they believe Iran’s setbacks have been underreported. That may explain why Mrs. Clinton provided her public assessment while traveling in the Middle East last week.

By the accounts of a number of computer scientists, nuclear enrichment experts and former officials, the covert race to create Stuxnet was a joint project between the Americans and the Israelis, with some help, knowing or unknowing, from the Germans and the British.

The project’s political origins can be found in the last months of the Bush administration. In January 2009, The New York Times reported that Mr. Bush authorized a covert program to undermine the electrical and computer systems around Natanz, Iran’s major enrichment center. President Obama, first briefed on the program even before taking office, sped it up, according to officials familiar with the administration’s Iran strategy. So did the Israelis, other officials said.

You can hear the champagne corks popping at Langley all the way out here in Fauquier County.

Read the whole thing.

04 Jan 2011

Saudi Security Forces Nab Mossad Agent Vulture

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Believed to be a photograph of notorious Israeli agent Vulture

Gil Ronen, at Israeli National News, indulges in a bit of what the late Edward Said would have pointed to as Orientalism: looking upon the worthy oriental gentlemen of the Middle East as distinctly different: primitive, irrational, superstitious, and backward compared to Westerners. How could anyone possibly believe that?

Saudi Arabian security forces have captured a vulture that was carrying a global positioning satellite (GPS) transmitter and a ring etched with the words “Tel Aviv University.” They suspect the bird of spying for Israel, Maariv-NRG reported Tuesday. The GPS and ring were connected to the bird as part of an long-term project by Israeli scientists that follows vultures’ location and altitude for research purposes.

The arrest of the vulture – whose identification code is R65 – comes several weeks after an Egyptian official voiced the suspicion that a shark that attacked tourists off the Sinai shore was also acting on behalf of Mossad. The incidents may reflect a growing irrational hysteria among Arabs surrounding Israel’s military prowess and the efficacy of its intelligence services, possibly fueled by the Stuxnet virus’ success.

18 Oct 2010

Covert War With Iran Continues

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Shehab-3 test firing from mobile launcher

First, some person or persons unknown introduced what Siemens is describing as “the most refined type of malware ever developed,” the Stuxnet worm, which attacks Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems used to control and monitor industrial processes into Iran’s nuclear facilities’ computers.

Stuxnet has the the capability to reprogram the programmable logic controllers (PLCs) which control the entire facility’s operation and monitor its safety and hide the changes.

So sophisticated was the new worm that it is believed it could only have been produced by a state defense organization.

HuffPo

Now, the Internet Mossad-mouthpiece, Debkafile is gleefully reporting that last Tuesday Iran lost most of its ballistic missile launchers in a series of mysterious blasts.

A top-secret Iranian military installation was struck by a triple blast Tues. Oct. 12 the day before Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Lebanon. debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report the site held most of the Shehab-3 medium-range missile launchers Iran had stocked for striking US forces in Iraq and Israel in the event of war – some set to deliver triple warheads (tri-conic nosecones).

The 18 soldiers officially reported killed in the blasts and 14 injured belonged to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) main missile arm, the Al-Hadid Brigades.

The Imam Ali Base where the explosion occurred is situated in lofty Zagros mountain country near the town of Khorramabad in the western Iranian province of Lorestan. This site was selected for an altitude which eases precise targeting and the difficulty of reaching it for air or ground attack. It lies 400 kilometers from Baghdad and primary American bases in central Iraq and 1,250 kilometers from Tel Aviv and central Israel. Both are well within the Shehab-3 missile’s 1,800-2,500-kilometer operational range.

Our Iranian sources report that Tehran spent hundreds of millions to build one of the largest subterranean missile launching facilities of its kind in the Middle East or Europe. Burrowed under the Imam Ali Base is a whole network of wide tunnels deep underground. Somehow, a mysterious hand rigged three blasts in quick succession deep inside those tunnels, destroying a large number of launchers and causing enough damage to render the facility unfit for use.

In its official statement on the incident, Tehran denied it was the result of “a terrorist attack” and claimed the explosion “was caused by a nearby fire that spread to the munitions storage area of the base.” In the same way, the regime went to great lengths to cover up the ravages wrought to their nuclear and military control systems by the Stuxnet virus – which is still at work.

In actual fact, debkafile’s military sources report, Iran’s missile arsenal and the Revolutionary Guards have also suffered a devastating blow. Worst of all, all their experts are a loss to account for the assailants’ ability to penetrate one of Iran’s most closely guarded bases and reach deep underground to blow up the missile launchers.

The number of casualties is believed to be greater than the figure given out by Tehran.

The Israeli intelligence service has apparently scored a second major devastating blow to Iran’s strategic capabilities.


Range of Sehab-3 missile

02 Sep 2010

Deputy Head of GRU Met With an Accident

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The late Major General Yuri Ivanov

Richard Silverstein, in Eurasia Review, points the finger at Mossad.

The Telegraph is reporting that Maj. Gen. Yuri Ivanov, deputy head of Russian intelligence service known as GRU, died in Syria recently. Speculation is rampant that he was assassinated. He had been staying in the northwestern Syrian resort of Tartous when he disappeared, with his body later hauled in by Turkish fishermen.

Here is some background on Ilanov:

    Major-General Yuri Ivanov, 52, was the deputy head of Russia’s foreign military intelligence arm known as GRU which is thought to operate the biggest network of foreign spies out of all of Russia’s clandestine intelligence services.

    …Reports have suggested he was on official business and the location where he is reported to have disappeared was only about fifty miles from a strategically vital Russian naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartus which is being expanded and upgraded to service and refuel ships from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. The facility is Russia’s only foothold in the Mediterranean Sea, and Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency, is known to be concerned that Moscow will use the upgraded facility as a base for spy ships and electronic espionage directed at the Middle East.

One wonders whether this is another variant of the U.S.S. Liberty episode in which Israel is warning the Russians not to stray too far into Israel’s business and its “sphere of influence.” I have written here about the possibility of an Israeli attack on Syria. Given this, the Mossad cannot have liked one of Russia’s top spies setting up a new base in Syria. Israel undoubtedly feels it has its hands full anticipating attacks by Hezbollah or Syria on its northern front. To add Russian mischief to the mix would be even more dangerous for Israeli interests.

The Guardian further adds that Ivanov was the architect of several spectacular assassinations of Chechen separatist leaders on foreign soil, one in Qatar. It seems perfect justice for Ivanov himself to have died in similar circumstances.

Of course, this is speculation. But given the dearth of facts, it seems credible speculation that awaits further confirmation or repudiation.

This incident recalls a not dissimilar one in 2008, in which a Syrian general and confidant of Pres. Assad was assassinated by a sniper while sunbathing at his southern Syrian coastal villa. In that case too, if I recall correctly, the Syrians originally reported that Gen. Suleiman died in a “swimming accident.” The general was Syria’s main liaison with Hezbollah and responsible for supplying it with sophisticated weaponry, and as such would’ve been a desirable Mossad target.

Furthermore, Israel, if it killed Ilanov, is sending Assad a message that it has penetrated his circle and those of his closest allies. No one is safe.

It’s difficult to see who else might have been responsible, but if Israel really did assassinate a very senior and important official of Russian military intelligence, that was certainly a bold and risky move. The Russians are decidedly not the United States. They believe absolutely in avenging this kind of thing, and the long knives will be out.

Intelligence services typically do not engage in killing one another’s officers for the obvious reason that retaliation is certainly within the capablities of the opposition and intelligence professionals are not eager to affix targets on their own backs.

If Mossad really killed the second-in-command of Russian military intelligence, there has to have been a very very good reason for such a drastic and dangerous step. And if it was Mossad, we can expect to see intelligence service gang war break out openly as a result.

21 Feb 2010

Mossad Hit Team in the Bedroom With the Current from the Lamp

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Al-Mabhouh approaches his room, a couple of tennis players just behind him.

Spite and malice time.

What do you do when a foreign intelligence service breezes into your capital, takes out a Hamas arms procurer, and disappears, leaving you with egg all over your face? If you are the security service of Dubai, you leak as many of the after the fact details of identities and tradecraft as you can to the international press. If you can’t stop them and you can’t catch them, at least, you can spill everything you know.

The Daily Mail, as the result, is able to publish the answers to the game of Clue being played by an amused international audience.

The hit squad behind the assassination of a Hamas commander in a Dubai hotel tried to make his death look like an accident by electrocuting him with a bedside lamp.

Police sources said the killers, who used fake British passports, tried to ‘induce the effects of a heart attack’ before smothering Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh with a pillow in his room.

It is understood that the lamp was taken apart and the wiring attached to a device that pulsed electricity into his body. …

[T]he fake British passports used by the killers had been secretly copied by Tel Aviv airport immigration officials.

The Israeli ambassador to London has been accused of ‘stonewalling’ all attempts to find out how the killers had the passports.

But the Foreign Office has been told that all six of the genuine passport holders – all residents in Israel – had their documents briefly taken away at the airport during routine checks.

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The London Times speculates that Meir Dagan’s job as head of Mossad may be in jeopardy as the result of the indignation of Western governments over the forged passports.

All the publicity is doubtless inconvenient, and Mossad will inevitably be obliged to lie low for a bit, avoiding the kind of Black Operations that would fuel the continuation of the Shocked, Shocked! meme, but in the long run a reputation for ruthlessness combined with competence, daring, and efficiency will not really do the state of Israel’s intelligence service much harm.

20 Feb 2010

Covert and Incorrect

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Paul Mirengoff, at Power Line, mocks the politically correct Pecksniffery on the part of certain Euopean powers about passports and the mysterious demise of Hamas weapons-runner Mahmoud-al-Mabhouh in Dubai at the hands of person or persons unknown.

Great Britain is unhappy that six of the 11 individuals thought to be part of the Mossad (or whomever) team used fake British passports bearing the names of Israeli citizens. Prime Minister Gordon Brown sniffed that “the British passport is an important document that has got to be held with care.” However, I’m confident that if the agents had possessed real British passports, they would have held them carefully.

The [Washington] Post also reports that Israeli citizens whose names appeared on the fake passports were “shocked to find themselves mentioned in the material released by the Dubai police.” No doubt. Israel’s position, though, is that “if there is concern about identity theft, those involved should consult a lawyer.” Always good advice.

But passport fraud and identity theft hardly exhaust the ways in which the slaying of Mabhouh affronts modern sensibilities. For example, the photos of the 11 suspects raise questions about the diversity of the team Mossad (or whomever) assembled. It includes only one woman (an attractive blond,naturally) and looks to be short on people of color.

There is also no indication that the team advised Mabhouh of his rights or offered him a chance to exculpate himself before he was killed. Indeed, from all that appears, no lawyer was present.

Finally, what about the carbon footprint of the operation? Did the team travel to Dubai in an energy efficient way? And how much electricity did they use once they arrived? Some reports say they used electricity to stun Mabhouh before killing him. Couldn’t he have been executed in a more energy efficient way?

A certain amount of nastiness is inevitable in today’s world. But this doesn’t mean that protocol, equal opportunity, and principles of good environmental stewardship should fall by the wayside.

19 Feb 2010

“Assuming, Just For the Sake of Argument…”

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The Jerusalem Post is defiantly sarcastic in its response to indignation over the presumptive Mossad use of forged passports.

The pigheaded refusal to acknowledge that sometimes the ends justify the means reflects Europe’s moral impoverishment.

Dahu Khalfan Tamim now has a world-class reputation for detective work. The head of the Dubai police swiftly determined that Hamas’s Mahmoud Mabhouh did not die of natural causes at the five-star Bustan Rotana Hotel on Jan. 20. He was assassinated.

Let’s for the sake of argument grant that Israel did away with Mabhouh; that he was not killed by Iran or over some intra-Palestinian dispute, and that clues pointing to Israeli culpability are genuine.

Mabhouh certainly deserved to be assassinated by Israel. Hamas declared war on Israel. And he co-founded its military wing and was personally involved in the (separate) 1989 killings of IDF soldiers Ilan Sa’adon and Avi Sasportas.

Mabhouh was a key link in the unlawful syndicate which delivers Iranian weapons to Gaza. He was apparently tasked with importing an arsenal that would make life hellish for Israelis living in metropolitan Tel Aviv. He was, perhaps, Hamas’s equivalent to Hizbullah’s Imad Mughniyeh, whose car blew up in Damascus two years ago.

You can tell a great deal about the moral compass and political leanings of a society by observing its reaction to the Mabhouh liquidation.

There is unease in Europe because the purported assassins identified by Dubai were travelling under forged French, German, Irish and British passports; and identities of Israelis with dual-citizenship were utilized.

Even The Times of London, whose editorial page has been sympathetic toward Israel, expressed chagrin over the affair, saying this country had shown poor regard for the “future security of British passport holders overseas.” Frankly, there is little reason to think that the tradecraft employed in this assassination – which we will not second guess at this stage – jeopardizes anyone.

Actually, what troubles us is the question of whose passport Mabhouh was traveling under and why he was allowed to enter neutral Dubai on gun-running business.

Of course, that’s not how the British see it. The BBC’s Jeremy Bowen warned that if Israel had used British passports for “nefarious” purposes – meaning sending Mabhouh to his Maker – Bowen expected, or would it be more accurate to say, hoped for, “a crisis” in relations betweenLondon and Jerusalem.

The Guardian quoted a Foreign Office mandarin as gloating: “Relations were in the freezer before this. They are in the deep freeze now.” The paper then grumbled about the British government’s “supine” response to the assassination, editorializing against the government’s proposal to lift the threat of lawfare. The Guardian wants visiting Israeli ministers to continue to worry about facing Palestinian-inspired “war crimes” charges.

With the British media delighting in the assassination-passport kerfuffle – a Daily Mail headline screamed: “Dragged into a Mossad murder plot” – Menzies Campell, a routinely anti-Israel elder of the Liberal Democrats, declared that “Israel has some explaining to do.”

An anyway beleaguered Prime Minister Gordon Brown intoned: “We have got to carry out a full investigation into this. The British passport is an important document that has got to be held with care.” Sentiments echoed by Opposition Leader David Cameron. …

Perhaps the shrill reaction in some (though certainly not all) British quarters is not rooted purely in anti-Israelism. Chances are that at least parts of the British intelligentsia and media would have reacted similarly if the man in that hotel room had been Osama bin Laden… or Adolf Eichmann.

One has to admire especially the delightfullly humorous, cat-ate-the-canary “Just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that Israel did away with Mabhouh” line. I bet that champagne corks are popping still in secluded rest and recreation facilities used by Mossad operatives obliged by circumstances to remain in hiding and out of the public eye.

Of course, the Jerusalem Post is perfectly correct. The British and European press ought to be editorializing piously about how naughty people who traffic in weapons used to attack innocent civilians need to expect to come to premature ends at the hands of persons unknown, instead of striking poses of feigned indignation over the profaned sanctity of travel identification documents.

18 Feb 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

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That Skull and Bones balloting box was not actually sold. Apparently, Christie’s withdrew it from the sale late last month, IvyGate reports, after receiving a mysterious “title claim.” The Russell Trust has plenty of lawyers.

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Hot Air (one of the most important conservative blogs) has been sold to Salem Communications. Congratulations and good luck.

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As part of the Carnival celebration, preceding the beginning of Lent, in the Spanish village of Laza, “Peliqueiros” or ancient tax collectors, are portrayed wearing warning cowbells and prepared to beat the villagers with sticks. 39 Carnival photos.

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Stratfor: Tradecraft in Dubai Assassination
3:14 video

17 Feb 2010

A Death in Dubai

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Some recent non-Irish visitors to Dubai

The New York Times admired the romantic plot line.

The murder was straight out of a cheap spy thriller. At least 11 professional assassins, some wearing wigs and fake beards, tracked a senior Hamas official to his Dubai hotel in January and killed him with cold precision, fleeing the country afterward on European passports, the Dubai police say.

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The Telegraph quoted the Irish government denying the legitimacy of several supposedly Irish passports, and provided details of the assassination.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior figure in the military wing of Hamas, was found dead in a hotel room on Jan 20. According to one report he was killed by a female assassin who entered his room by posing as a member of hotel staff, injected him with a drug that induced a heart attack and hung a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.

But other officers said he was strangled, probably after receiving an electric shock.

Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, blamed Israel’s Mossad intelligence service for the killing.

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It seems that the late al-Mabhouh played a key role in the smuggling of Iranian rockets to Gaza.

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27:27 Security camera footage of suspected assassins

Two figures in the assembled video have their faces digitized out, why?

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DEBKAfile is taking a vacation!

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the late Mahmoud-al-Mabhouh

07 Sep 2009

The Arctic Sea Mystery Unravels

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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 £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: “The official version is ridiculous and was given to allow the Kremlin to save face.

“I’ve spoken to people close to the investigation and they’ve pretty much confirmed Mossad’s involvement. It’s laughable to believe all this fuss was over a load of timber. I’m not alone in believing that it was carrying weapons to Iran.”


S-300PMU2 Favorit

Russian news agency RT News (Moscow) has the same story on this 4:42 video


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