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Did Australian Secret Service Deliberately 'Burn' Ben Zygier?

Leading Israeli Expert Charges: 'Australia's Internal Security Service Decided To Deliberately Sic Australian Reporters On Ben Zygier'

Security Analyst Ron Ben Yishai: 'Israeli Handlers Also guilty of Over-zealousness & Carelessness'

 In Israel, the Mossad secret service has acquired an almost mythological image and with good reason. Even the hostile Egyptian newspaper once credited former Mossad chief Meir Dagan with 'single-handedly setting back Iran's nuclear weapons project by years!' But when something goes wrong there is an eruption of criticism bordering on self-flagellation: 'How could they not have spotted that Ben Zygier was unstable, why did they impose a gag order that only hyped international coverage of the sorry affair and are we a police state where citizens can be spirited away to solitary confinement?' It's as if the public is outraged at being again let down after believing the Mossad is well nigh infallible. The media led the charge with a firestorm of rhetoric such as 'fiasco, police state, freedom of the press!' However, precious little has been revealed so far about the facts of the affair.

 First what can be said about the selection of personnel for the Mossad which is responsible for foreign intelligence gathering and is similar to America's CIA, MI-6 in Britain and Australia's own ASIS, Australia's Secret Intelligence Service. According to Dr. Mishka Ben-David, a retired Mossad official who now writes spy novels, one out of five-hundred applicants is accepted and then half of them are weeded out by an intensive screening process that test both their capabilities as well as their psychological fitness for the stress of what can be highly dangerous missions. They are put through the ringer including their ability to survive a simulated interrogation by the enemy. However, Ben-David told Channel 1 TV: "Being smacked about in a simulated Mossad interrogation is obviously quite different than the real thing". And he added that in the case of Ben-Zygier the same fail-safe method had been followed but there was always the possibility that a candidate could slip through the screening without future flaws being detected. (The Canadian Victor Ostovsky is another case in point. After he failed the Mossad test and was subsequently sacked, Ostrovsky returned to Canada where he wrote a book revealing Mossad secrets in flagrant violation of his oath of secrecy and thereby proving his unsuitability. Fortunately, Ostrovsky was weeded out before he had learned about really serious operations).

So what happened with Ben Zygier? Was he 'turned' by a foreign intelligence service eager to learn the inner secrets of the Mossad? Although Australian sources have revealed that Zygier visited Iran, Syria and Lebanon with his authentic Australian passport under the new name of Ben Allen, it is hard to believe he would have sold out to a hostile nation bent on destroying Israel. Writing in his Ynet blog, Ron Ben Yishai alleges that Australia's internal security service 'burned' Zygier by leaking his Mossad role to Australian reporters:

"Ben Zygier was a victim. From what has already been disclosed in the Australian and British media, he was a victim of over-zealousness and carelessness by his Israeli handlers and also a victim of his own personality. But what is most annoying is that those who contributed most to his suicide were a person or persons inside Australia's internal security service, the ASIO. They decided to 'sic' Australian reporters on him to expose his actions for the Mossad.

Could Zygier have crackled mentally under the stress of an operational agent in what would have been very perilous circumstances, if he were detected? It would appear that at least one other foreign intelligence service knows some of the answers in addition to the Mossad. For whatever reason, Ben Zygier cracked and turned against the Mossad by agreeing to divulge classified information that could have obviously wreaked grave damage. Therefore he had to be prevented from doing so".

But what of Ron Yishai's analysis does it tell the whole story? No, it still leaves some key questions that leave much to be answered.

David Essing

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