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Who Bombed Ben-Menashe's House?

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Cross-posted from Consortium News


Ex-Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe standing before the wreckage of his destroyed home in Montreal on Dec. 5, 2012. (Photo by Robert Parry)

Montreal police are providing few details about their investigation into last Sunday night's fire-bombing of an upscale home belonging to ex-Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe, as authorities sift through both the evidence collected from the ashes and the wide array of possible suspects.

Indeed, when I spoke with a police spokesman on Friday, all he offered was an outdated statement from Monday about the city assessing the risk of the gutted structure before collecting evidence. However, by Friday, the building had been taken down; the arson squad had scoured the wreckage for residue of the bomb's accelerant; Ben-Menashe had been allowed to pick through the ashes looking for any personal items that might have survived; and the wreckage had been hauled away in dumpsters.

And, it appears that Ben-Menashe has risen again on the Israeli government's list of concerns. If the bomb had not dramatically disrupted his life on Sunday night, he was planning to fly to Washington on Monday and accompany a senior Israeli intelligence figure to an interview with me. This past week in interviews with me as he worked to rebuild his life, Ben-Menashe, 61, was reluctant to finger any specific suspect, but suggested that the attack may have originated with the Israeli government, which has viewed its former intelligence officer over the past two decades as something between an irritant and a threat.

The bombing not only prevented Ben-Menashe from making the trip, but he said it unnerved the other intelligence official who concluded that the attack was meant as a message from Israeli authorities to stay silent about the historical events that he was expected to discuss.

The fire also destroyed many of Ben-Menashe's documents, his home computer and his personal records, including his old and current passports which provided something of a chronology of his decades traveling the globe.

So, if the Israelis were behind the attack, they would have accomplished many of their goals: intimidating Ben-Menashe, shutting down possible new disclosures of Israeli misconduct from the other intelligence veteran, and destroying records that would have helped Ben-Menashe prove whatever statements he might make.

An Almost Vanunu

In May 1991, Israel made a stab at capturing their rogue agent when Ben-Menashe was scheduled to fly from Australia to Washington to provide testimony to the U.S. Congress about national security scandals that implicated top Israeli officials and senior Republicans, including then-President George H.W. Bush.

Shortly before Ben-Menashe's trip, a U.S. intelligence source tipped me off to a plan in which U.S. authorities would deny Ben-Menashe entrance at Los Angeles and then put him aboard a flight to Israel where he would have stood trial for exposing state secrets.

After getting the tip, I contacted congressional investigators who planned to question Ben-Menashe. One later called me back and said the Bush-41 administration was balking at giving a guarantee of safe passage for Ben-Menashe to Washington. It was suggested that I contact him and recommend that he delay his flight, which I did.

When I reached him in Australia, he was just about to leave for the airport, but agreed to postpone his flight until he got an all-clear from the congressional investigators, who finally received a promise from the Bush-41 administration that they would not deport Ben-Menashe to Israel. Ben-Menashe then flew to Washington.

Years later, Ben-Menashe told me that an old friend in Israeli intelligence confirmed the existence of the plan to deport him to Israel (much as was done to whistleblower Mordecai Vanunu in 1986 after he exposed the existence of Israel's secret nuclear arsenal). Ben-Menashe said his old intelligence friend also relayed that there was active consideration of a back-up plan to simply kill Ben-Menashe as an enemy of the state.

Instead, Israel settled on a public relations campaign to destroy Ben-Menashe's credibility by providing derogatory information to American journalists with close ties to Israeli intelligence. That campaign proved remarkably effective even as many of Ben-Menashe's factual claims checked out or at least were not disproven. [For details, see Robert Parry's America's Stolen Narrative.]

Ben-Menashe also could be his own worst enemy, often compounding his media problem by treating journalists in a high-handed manner, either due to his suspicions of them or his arrogance.

In the 1990s, Ben-Menashe gradually rebuilt his life in Canada, marrying a Canadian woman and becoming a citizen. But he also surrounded his far-flung business activities in secrecy and got involved with some controversial international figures, such as Zimbabwe's leader Robert Mugabe.

In recent years, Ben-Menashe has conducted his international consulting business at Dicksen and Madson in a wide variety of global hotspots, including conflict zones such as Mali, Sudan and Congo. He also has maintained ties to various intelligence services which are eager to receive his briefings about areas where traditional diplomats and even spies are hesitant to go.

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http://www.consortiumnews.com

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at more...)
 

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