Authorities in Mauritania have exposed a major Israeli spy network comprising a member involved in the “bombing” of the Ethiopian plane which crashed into Lebanon’s territorial waters on January 25, 2010, a Mauritanian website has reported.
An Arab businessman heads the alleged Mossad network, elhourriya.net said.
A preliminary report on the Ethiopian plane which crashed off the Lebanese coast killing 90 people on board, including more than 50 Lebanese nationals, blamed “a series of errors on the part of the pilots who failed to take into account the signals emitted by the plane’s instruments,” a source close to the probe told Agence France Presse.
The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800 went down minutes after taking off from Beirut in bad weather on January 25, killing 83 passengers and seven crew. Lebanese officials have previously said that data recovered from the plane’s black box showed all instruments were working well until it plunged into the Mediterranean in a fierce storm.
The Israeli espionage network was allegedly busted after the arrest of Fares al-Banna, a Jordanian man of Palestinian origin, on charges of theft. Authorities found in his house a hand-written draft of a letter addressed to the Emirati embassy in Mauritania, the website claimed.
“I am Fares al-Banna, a Jordanian national who works for Israel’s Mossad. I took part in the operations of murdering (Hamas military commander Mahmoud) al-Mabhouh in Dubai and the bombing of the Ethiopian plane in Lebanon, which had a Hizbullah target on board,” Banna says in the alleged letter.
He asked the Mauritanian authorities not to hand him over to the Jordanian intelligence in return for giving important information about the cases of Mabhouh and the Ethiopian plane, and the Arab Mossad network in Mauritania, elhourriya.net added.
A Mauritanian journalist, who passed on the letter to the website, said he had earlier passed it on to Mauritania’s State Security Department, which launched a probe into the case. He also said he gave a copy to the Saudi ambassador in Mauritania, who showed interest in the case.
The journalist also met with the Emirati ambassador, who seemed to be indifferent to the information he heard, the website added.
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Authorities in the northwestern African country of Mauritania have allegedly busted an Israeli spy network linked to the 2010 assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. One of Mauridania’s leading daily newspapers, Al-Huriyeh, says that the spy ring, which allegedly consisted “businessmen and activists [from] several Arab nationalities”, was uncovered following the arrest of one of its members, identified as Fares al-Banna. A Jordanian citizen of Palestinian extraction, al-Banna was arrested for larceny, which eventually lead to a warrant issued for searching his premises. Upon searching his house, authorities reportedly found a handwritten letter, addressed to the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in Mauritanian capital Nouakchott, in which al-Banna claimed had been recruited by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. In the letter, al-Banna also claimed that he had participated in the January 2010 assassination of Hamas weapons procurer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. The letter also alleges that al-Banna helped Mossad carry out a bombing of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET409, which blew up in mid-air on January 24, 2010, five minutes after taking off from Beirut’s Rafiq Hariri International Airport, en route to Addis Ababa. Al-Huriyeh reports that al-Banna’s letter suggests the Mossad blew up the plane in order to kill one or more Hezbollah targets who were on board. The Mauritanian daily says that police officers who searched al-Banna’s home, as well as his office at a travel agents called “United Travel Services”, found several different passports containing his picture, “dozens of credit cards”, as well as a sophisticated device believed to be a transmitter of some kind. The paper also claims that Mauritanian authorities arrested more suspects connected with al-Banna, after “pursuing them” for several weeks “and monitoring their suspicious activities”. It is worth noting that Israel has had no diplomatic representation in Mauritania after June of 2009. The two countries had maintained diplomatic relations for more than a decade, until the Mauritanian government expelled all Israeli diplomats over the Jewish state’s invasion Gaza, in 2009. Relations between Nouakchott and Tel Aviv were completely terminated in 2010. Al Huriyeh claims that al-Banna’s letter was “brought to the attention” of the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, “who dismissed it”. There has been no comment on the subject by the Mauritanian government, Israel, or the United Arab Emirates.