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The Lillehammer affair was the killing by Mossad agents of an innocent Moroccan waiter, Ahmed Bouchiki, in Lillehammer, Norway on July 21, 1973. The Israeli agents had mistaken their target for Ali Hassan Salameh, the chief of operations for Black September. Six of the Mossad team of fifteen were captured and convicted of complicity in the killing by the Norwegian justice system, in a major blow to the intelligence agency's reputation.

History

Undercover agents had been sent by Israel as part of Operation Wrath of God to assassinate Ali Hassan Salameh, the head of Force 17 and an operative of the Black September Organization, a Palestinian militant group that carried out the 1972 Munich Massacre. After an informant misidentified Bouchiki as Salameh, a member of the assassination team shot the man four times[1] 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 more members of the cell were arrested. Though nine[1] others managed to slip away, the Norwegian authorities held six Mossad agents: four men and two women.[1] Incriminating documents and the keys to a network of safe houses were discovered.[2]

While the defense counsel said their clients played only minor roles such as shadowing and passing on information, five of the six agents were found guilty on a variety of charges and convicted of complicity in the killing and received sentences ranging from one year to five and a half years[1] but were released and returned to Israel in 1975. The Mossad later found Ali Hassan Salameh in Beirut and killed him on 22 January 1979 with a remote-controlled car bomb in an attack that also killed four of his bodyguards, four passersby and injured 18 others.[3]

The revelations of the captured agents dealt a massive blow to the secret infrastructure of the Mossad in Europe. The information provided to the Norwegian Secret Service by the captured agents was rapidly shared with its European counterparts. As a result, 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. In 1996, Israel 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.[4] Israel never officially took responsibility for the assassination,[5] although it expressed sorrow to Bouchiki's family members in the trial hearings.

The September 2004 book release of Mange liv (English: Many lives) by the former lawyer Annæus Schjødt, who represented two of the agents in the case and later married one of them,[1] Sylvia Rafael, claimed that one of the arrested agents, Dan Ærbel, leaked information to the Norwegian government about the Israeli nuclear weapons program.[6] 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.

See also

  • Assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh
  • Katsa

References

Further reading

External links

  • Photo of Ahmed Bouchikhi [1].

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