French newspaper: Israeli Colonel was Captured by Hizbollah in UAE
The Israeli colonel Elhanan Tannenbaum, who was seized under unclear circumstances last month by the Lebanese Hizbollah movement, was seized while visiting the United Arab Emirates, the French newspaper Le Figaro reported in its weekend edition, quoted by Haaretz.
Tannenbaum had not traveled from Israel to Switzerland, but rather to Belgium, said the article.
Le Figaro said that Tennenbaum left Israel on October 3 on Sabena flight 3292 at 5:20 A.M., using a genuine Israeli passport.
Belgian authorities told Le Figaro that the flight had included a passenger whose name was spelled according to "Belgian" phonetics as "Tonnenbombe," rather than according to the way it was spelled in his passport. Belgian authorities believe the mistake is no accident. They are convinced that he would not have been able to get through passport control at Ben-Gurion Airport with a spelling so different from the one in his passport without permission from Israeli security authorities, the paper said.
On the same flight, a few rows behind Tannenbaum, sat an Israeli Arab by the name of Hassan Kamel Kees, who is described by the newspaper as the prime suspect in helping to kidnap Tannenbaum. The head of the Belgian police's division of anti-terror investigations, identified only by his first name, Eric, reportedly told Le Figaro that Israel had asked the Belgians for information about Kees as soon as Tannenbaum's kidnapping became publicly known.
Hizbollah Secretary General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah announced on October 15 that his group had captured Tannenbaum, and claimed he was an Israeli colonel, who works with the Mossad.
The London-Based Arabic newspaper, Ashark Al Awsat, reported last week that the Hizbollah’s prisoner “is practically deputy of Mossad chief.”
Ashark Al Awsat quoted “well informed Lebanese sources, as saying that interrogation with Tannenbaum revealed he was to supervise an operation by the Mossad to assassinate Nasrallah and all his family.
Eric told Le Figaro that 48 hours after Nasrallah's announcement, Israel's Mossad representative in Paris, described by the police officer as "a young woman, blond and very pretty," took a high speed train from Paris to Brussels. The agent, nicknamed by her Belgian counterparts as "the Israeli Mata Hari" brought four names of Arabs suspected of having assisted in the kidnapping. In addition to Kees, her list had it on it the names Hussein Bira, Abu Fara and Ka'id Mohammed, also known as Abu Nasser.
Belgian investigators, who are the chief sources for the article in Le Figaro, said they were convinced that Israel is concealing information from them. Eric is quoted as saying that the Paris-based Mossad representative told Belgian police that Tannenbaum was not a Mossad agent, but that the Israeli secret service wanted to investigate how he was kidnapped to protect agents in the future.
"Either Tannenbaum was one of their agents, and they know more than they told us, or he was some sort of businessman who did them a favor once in a while, and in that case, they certainly know a lot more about him," Eric told the newspaper.
Le Figaro says that Tannenbaum presented a forged Belgian passport on entering Brussels. Between October 5 and 6, he used the passport to fly from Belgium to the Arab Emirates, accompanied by four Arabs. There, all trace of him was lost.
Hizbollah’s leader insisted at the press conference that the agent “came on his feet to Lebanon.”
Hizbollah later denied they had received any assistance from Iran, brushing off reports that the colonel was transferred to Beirut on an Iranian plane – (Several Sources
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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