Lillehammer affair

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The Lillehammer affair refers to the assassination by Mossad agents of a Moroccan waiter, Ahmed Bouchiki, in Lillehammer, Norway on July 21, 1973. The Israeli agents had mistaken their victim for Ali Hassan Salameh, the chief of operations for Black September. Most of the Mossad team was captured and tried for the murder, in a major blow to the intelligence agency's reputation.

Contents

History

The undercover agents had been sent by Israel as part of Operation Wrath of God to assassinate Ali Hassan Salameh, the leader of the Black September Organization, a Palestinian militant group that carried out the 1972 Munich Massacre. They mistook Bouchiki for their target and shot him repeatedly as he walked back from a cinema to his apartment with his pregnant wife. Two members of the assassination team were arrested the next day as they re-used a getaway car to go to the airport. After their interrogation the whole cell was arrested. Incriminating documents and the keys to a network of safe houses were discovered.[1]

Of the nine agents who participated directly in the assassination (Michael Harari, Dan Ærbel, Ethel Marianne Gladnikoff, Abraham Gehmer, alias Leslie Orbaum, Sylvia Rafael, alias Patricia Lesley Roxburgh, Victor Zipstein alias Zwi Steinberg, Michael Dorf, Gustav Pistauer, Jean-Luc Sevenier, Jonathan Isaac Englesberg alias Jonathan Ingleby, "Tamara" alias "Tamar" alias "Marie", Rolf Baehr, Gerard Lafond, Raoul Cousin, Nora Heffner), six were captured by the Norwegian authorities and five were convicted of Bouchiki's murder. Harari as well as the two killers escaped and Dorf was acquitted. The five convicts were sentenced to prison terms ranging from two and a half to five years, but all were released within 22 months and deported to Israel.

The revelations of the captured agents dealt a massive blow to the secret infrastructure of the Mossad in Europe. Agents who had been exposed had to be recalled, safe houses abandoned, phone numbers changed and operational methods modified. Harari, the leader of the assassins, managed to escape and was never extradited by Israel to Norway. The Israeli government has not admitted responsibility for the murder.[2] Even though Israel in 1996 paid compensation equal to US$283,000 split between Bouchiki's wife and daughter, and a separate settlement of US$118,000 to a son from a previous marriage, it never expressed any apologies to the family of the victim.[3]

The September 2004 book release of Mange liv (Many lives) by the former lawyer Annæus Schjødt, who represented two of the agents in the case and later married one of them, Sylvia Rafael, claimed that one of the arrested agents, Dan Ærbel, leaked information to the Norwegian government about the Israeli nuclear weapons program[citation needed]. However, the Norwegian government decided to remain silent about their findings. Information relating to Israel's development and possession of nuclear weapons was not made public until Mordechai Vanunu exposed the program in October 1986, some 13 years later.

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