On October 27, Seymour M. Hersh publishes The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy, which includes claims that Robert Maxwell works for Mossad. Maxwell is found dead about a week later.
The accusations come from Ari Ben-Menashe, an Israeli-Canadian businessman, lobbyist, security consultant, and self-proclaimed former officer of Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate (Mossad). Ben-Menashe tried telling the press about Maxwell’s Israeli bosses years earlier, but papers were too afraid of Maxwell’s influence to print the allegations.
Ben-Menashe served more than ten years in the External Relations Department of the Israeli Defense Force, one of the most sensitive offices in Israel’s intelligence community. He left in ministry in 1987, he said, to work directly for Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir as an adviser on intelligence affairs.Hersh, The Samson Option
The Israeli government claimed not to know of Ben-Menashe when he was arrested by the United States in 1989, for attempting to sell an Israeli military aircraft to Iran. The attempted sell, which was likely ordered by his bosses, violated the Arms Export Control Act. After he produced letters of reference from Israeli officials, Israel admitted they knew Ben-Menashe and confirmed the letters were genuine. He was acquitted by a jury in New York in 1990.
By 1991, no one can dispute that Ben-Menashe worked for Israeli intelligence, but, years later, many journalists do not consider him a reliable source.
Ben-Menashe has long claimed ties to multiple intelligence agencies. In a recent foreign lobbying disclosure filing, he touted his firm’s “ongoing telephone communications with U.S. intelligence and the executive branch of the United States of America.” That’s the kind of thing you might say in a public document if you want people to think you are a CIA asset or well-connected to US intelligence, though perhaps not if you really are.Mother Jones
Seymour M. Hersh, The Samson Option, Chapter 19
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