MOSSAD & THE RUSSIAN MAFIA
- MOSSAD AND THE RUSSIAN MAFIA - AND HIGHLY EMBARRASSING CLAIMS THAT ISRAEL
HAS BEEN TRYING TO BUY PLUTONIUM AND OTHER NUCLEAR MATERIALS ALLEGEDLY TO
STOP IT FALLING INTO THE HANDS OF TERRORISTS
Scientists at the European Trans-Uranium Institute at Karlsruhe in Germany,
tracking the movements of all fissionable material from the former Soviet
Union's nuclear arsenal, have raised suspicions that Mossad has purchased
some of the material to allegedly stop it falling into the hands of Islamic
and other terror groups.
But there is also the real possibility that Israel has gone into the nuclear
black market to buy fissionable material to bolster its own huge nuclear
Israel already has one of the world's largest arsenals - more than capable
of decimating all its Arab neighbours. Its 200 nuclear bombs and missiles
are stockpiled in the Negev desert.
The suspicion that Israel has also started to buy material stolen from the
former Soviet Union surfaced a year ago when a quantity of Uranium-235 was
found in the Paris apartment of three criminals known to broker arms deals
with terror groups like al-Qaeda.
French intelligence officers arrested the men in an apartment rented by one,
Raymond Loeb. They found documents confirming the uranium was of
weapons-grade quality. Air tickets from Kazakstan were found in the
Loeb's partners - Serge Salfati and Yves Ekwella were travelling on Cameron
The Karlsruhe scientists established the material came from a nuclear
storage site at Chelyanbisk-70 deep in the Ural Mountains.
A major intelligence operation began to trace the route along which the
material traveled to the French capital: out of the Ukraine into Poland and
across Germany to Paris.
The material was transported by Russia's top Mafia boss, Semyon Yokovich
He is a specialist in every major crime: whole scale drug running, money
laundering, trafficking in humans and gun-running. Since 1991, he had
positioned himself to exploit the collapse of the Soviet Union.
To assist him he had obtained an Israeli passport for himself and 23 of his
top associates. The travel documents had been arranged by the former
newspaper tycoon, Robert Maxwell, and Edmund Safra, the US-based millionaire
Later Maxwell was murdered by a Mossad assassination team after threatening
to expose his links to the secret service. Safra died mysteriously in a fire
in his penthouse in Monte Carlo.
Moglivich still runs the largest criminal family in Moscow, the Rising Sun.
Its current specialty is smuggling fissionable material.
Graham Alison, a former Assistant Secretary of Defence in the Clinton
Administration and director of Harvard's Centre of Science and International
Affairs, has summarised how easy it is to smuggle nuclear material. "A
terrorist group could ship enough material through the mails or by a courier
But the Rising Sun is into a much bigger market - supplying Israel with
fissionable material that would otherwise end up in the hands of terrorists
like Osama bin Laden.
That bombshell discovery came to light in the wake of finding the five grams
of uranium in Paris. Consisting of 85 percent enriched uranium, it was
sufficient to make a "dirty bomb".
But before Mossad, on behalf of Israel, could buy it "out of the market",
the French had swooped - and the role of Mossad had started to emerge.
The first clues came from Intel-1. This is a smallish and highly specialised
unit in Dutch intelligence.
For months before the Paris arrests, it had been investigating Mossad's role
in secretly buying up fissionable materials.
Intel-1's investigation has been run out of a deep bunker - ironically built
to shelter the Dutch Royal Family in the event of a Soviet nuclear attack on
Amsterdam. The bunker is near the city's Central Railway Station. The
terminus has been journey's end for some of the nuclear materials which have
been stolen from Russian weapons labs including Arzamas-16 in Nizhnii
Novgorod, formerly Gorky.
Senior Mossad officers have insisted to Intel-1 that precisely because the
deadly materials were stolen, their agents purchased them from the Russian
Mafia as "it was the only way to stop the material being sold to Islamic and
other terror groups".
While conceding that the Mossad claim is plausible, Intel-1 investigators
have become convinced that the nuclear materials have been secretly shipped
out of Amsterdam's Schipol Airport to Israel to boost the country's own
nuclear weapons manufacturing plant at Dimona in the Negev Desert.
That Mossad has been trafficking with the Russian Mafia has rekindled a
nuclear nightmare that has never quite gone away. While the chilling Cold
War doctrine of MAD - mutually assured destruction - has gone, in its place
has come a more dangerous scenario where nuclear know-how and materials are
"It is capitalism, Wild East style, in which organised crime syndicates and
government officials work in league to create new markets for nuclear
materials - a bazaar with some of the world's most dangerous weapons on
offer," said an intelligence source.
Much of the work of tracing the origins of stolen nuclear material is done
at the European Trans-Uranium Institute. There, scientists use
state-of-the-art equipment to track whether stolen materials have come from
a military or civilian source. But they concede "it's like trying to catch a
thief who has never been fingerprinted".
Mossad has been based at El Al's facility at Schipol for the past six years,
in second-floor offices in the complex - know at Schipol as "Little Israel".
Intel-1 has established that the link between Mossad and the airline is an
integral part of the traffic in nuclear materials.
Sources close to Intel-1 insist that Mossad would never have begun the
dangerous business of buying nuclear materials unless those materials could
be safely and secretly transported to Israel.
A highly efficient organisation like Mossad, supported by the vast resources
Israel puts at its disposal, would have little or no difficulty in smuggling
nuclear materials out of Schipol.
Intel-1's interest in such smuggling was first aroused when it was tipped
off that the El Al cargo freighter that crashed shortly after take-off from
Schipol in October 1992 was carrying chemicals that could be used to produce
Since then, the agency has gathered what an Intel source describes as "at
minimum strong circumstantial evidence" that Mossad has shipped nuclear
materials through Schipol.
A "mule" - a courier - who in return for his cooperation was given a
guarantee against prosecution, has told Intel-1 that he had smuggled nuclear
materials from the Ukraine across Germany and finally into Holland.
The courier has claimed to Intel-1 that he was met at Amsterdam's Central
Station. Shown photographs, the courier picked out the person. It was a
Mossad officer Intel-1 knew is based at Schipol.
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