Did 'Prisoner X' Sabotage MIA Rescue Mission?
Alleged Australian-Israeli Mossad agent Ben Zygier, known as “Prisoner X”, unwittingly sabotaged a top-secret espionage operation aimed at bringing home the bodies of Israeli soldiers missing in Lebanon, a report said Tuesday.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), which broke the story in February of Zygier's arrest, detention and suicide in a Tel Aviv jail, said his recklessness forced Mossad to abort the sophisticated mission.
The mission would have reportedly meant closure to a 30-year campaign for the return of the remains of three tank crewmen who were captured and killed by Syrian forces during the 1982 Lebanon war, ABC reported.
They were identified as Zachary Baumel, Yehuda Katz and Tzvi Feldman, who died in Lebanon's Bekka Valley.
The broadcaster interviewed a Lebanese man, Ziad Al Homsi, a former commander of Lebanese forces in the Bekka Valley, who said he was recruited by Mossad in 2007 after being lured to China for a convention.
In Beijing he was contacted by a Syrian named George Attar, who claimed his brother in Europe was working to return the remains of missing Israeli solders.
Al Homsi said he suspected Mossad was involved, which was confirmed over five trips to Thailand to meet with other operatives.
"After one year of meeting with them, at the last meeting they informed me about the location of the corpses, exactly where they were," he maintained.
Al Homsi was expected to arrange to dig up the remains and leave them for someone else, according to the report. However, the mission was exposed after Lebanese intelligence sources were told Al Homsi was an informer.
The broadcaster said Zygier, who was raised in Melbourne but moved to Israel about a decade before his death, was responsible for blowing his cover.
Al Homsi was arrested by Lebanese special forces and accused of spying for Mossad.
He was jailed for 15 years but released after three, and now claims he was a double agent working for Lebanon which wanted to find the remains to use them as bargaining chip with Israel over the release of Arab prisoners.
Zygier was arrested in January 2010 by Israel's internal security service Shin Bet and found dead in his supposedly suicide-proof cell in December 2010 at the age of 34.