January 5, 2012
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Authorities in the northwestern African country of Mauritania have allegedly busted an Israeli spy network linked to the 2010 assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. One of Mauridania’s leading daily newspapers, Al-Huriyeh, says that the spy ring, which allegedly consisted “businessmen and activists [from] several Arab nationalities”, was uncovered following the arrest of one of its members, identified as Fares al-Banna. A Jordanian citizen of Palestinian extraction, al-Banna was arrested for larceny, which eventually lead to a warrant issued for searching his premises. Upon searching his house, authorities reportedly found a handwritten letter, addressed to the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates in Mauritanian capital Nouakchott, in which al-Banna claimed had been recruited by Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. In the letter, al-Banna also claimed that he had participated in the January 2010 assassination of Hamas weapons procurer Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai. The letter also alleges that al-Banna helped Mossad carry out a bombing of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET409, which blew up in mid-air on January 24, 2010, five minutes after taking off from Beirut’s Rafiq Hariri International Airport, en route to Addis Ababa. Al-Huriyeh reports that al-Banna’s letter suggests the Mossad blew up the plane in order to kill one or more Hezbollah targets who were on board. The Mauritanian daily says that police officers who searched al-Banna’s home, as well as his office at a travel agents called “United Travel Services”, found several different passports containing his picture, “dozens of credit cards”, as well as a sophisticated device believed to be a transmitter of some kind. The paper also claims that Mauritanian authorities arrested more suspects connected with al-Banna, after “pursuing them” for several weeks “and monitoring their suspicious activities”. It is worth noting that Israel has had no diplomatic representation in Mauritania after June of 2009. The two countries had maintained diplomatic relations for more than a decade, until the Mauritanian government expelled all Israeli diplomats over the Jewish state’s invasion Gaza, in 2009. Relations between Nouakchott and Tel Aviv were completely terminated in 2010. Al Huriyeh claims that al-Banna’s letter was “brought to the attention” of the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, “who dismissed it”. There has been no comment on the subject by the Mauritanian government, Israel, or the United Arab Emirates.