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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Claim: Mossad raided London hotel of Syrian official

London's Daily Telegraph reports on the 2006 Mossad raid on a Kensington hotel in London in which agents downloaded the contents of a hard drive from a Syrian nuclear official's laptop, and implanted a trojan horse to monitor his work. The computer and its contents were valuable enough to leave the target - who was originally to have been killed - alive. The computer had important information about Syria's al-Kibar nuclear reactor, which was destroyed - allegedly by the IAF - in September 2007 (Hat Tip: Zvi S).
The operation began when Israeli intelligence picked up an online booking for a senior Syrian nuclear official at a hotel in Kensington, west London, in late 2006, according to the Israeli authors of the book Israel vs Iran: the Shadow War.

Mossad then dispatched three undercover teams to Britain including a team of "spotters" who were sent to Heathrow airport to identify the official as he flew in from Damascus under a false name. A second team booked into his hotel, while a third monitored his movements and any visitors.

The agents included members of the Kidon [Spear] division, Mossad's hit squad, and the Neviot [Springs] division, which specialises in breaking into houses, embassies and hotel rooms to install bugging devices.

The first day of the official's trip was apparently devoted to a series of meetings at the Syrian embassy in Belgrave Square but the following day he went shopping before his return to the airport.

The Kidon team followed him closely from shop to shop while the Neviot agents broke into his room and found his laptop. A computer expert took 15 minutes to download the hard drive and install trojan software that allowed Israel to monitor every keystroke he made.

When the computer material was examined at Mossad headquarters in Tel Aviv, officials found photographs and blueprints for a plutonium reactor at Al Kibar near Deir el-Zor, a remote desert town 80 miles from Syria's border with Iraq.


In August 2007 Israel apparently sent a special forces team into Syria to collect soil samples near the reactor, then at around 1am on September 5 2007 Israeli fighter bombers attacked the facility in a raid into Syrian airspace that destroyed the plant.
The ramifications of the al-Kibar raid continue to plague Syria.
Satellite images and other information indicate Syria was building a covert atomic reactor when Israel bombed the site in 2007, a former senior UN nuclear inspector said on Tuesday.

Olli Heinonen, who stepped down as deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2010, made his remarks at a time when some argue that Damascus may soon be referred to the UN Security Council over the issue.

Now a senior fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, he said "satellite imagery, procurement, and infrastructure information tend to point (in the) direction that the destroyed building at Dair Alzour was, indeed, a nuclear reactor at an advanced state of construction".

In an email to Reuters, he said, however, that Syria had not "engaged in any substantial discussion" about Dair Alzour.


Western diplomats expect the Vienna-based IAEA to use stronger language in its next quarterly report on Syria which is due later this month, possibly by saying it believes the facility was a reactor under construction.

The United States and its European allies are expected to seize on this finding to push for a decision at the June 6-10 meeting of the IAEA's governing board to send the file to the U.N. Security Council -- a move last used against Iran in 2006.

The move would reflect growing frustration in the West over Syria's stonewalling of an IAEA probe into Dair Alzour, which US intelligence reports said was a nascent North Korean-designed reactor intended to make bomb fuel.
If only Brother Mohamed were still in charge at the IAEA.... Heh.

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