South African anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, who rose from prison to become South Africa’s first black president, was reportedly trained in weaponry and sabotage by Israel’s spy agency, the Mossad, in 1962 only a few months before he was arrested, according to an intriguing secret letter lodged in the Israeli state archives.
The missive, revealed by the Israeli paper Haaretz  two weeks after the death of the iconic South African leader, said Mandela was instructed in the use of weapons and sabotage techniques, and was encouraged to develop Zionist sympathies.
The Mossad reportedly learned Mobsari's true identity only after he returned to South Africa and was arrested.While in Ethiopia, he sought help from the Israeli embassy, using a pseudonym, according to the letter – classified top secret – which was sent to officials in Israel  in October 1962. Its subject line was the "Black Pimpernel" , a term used by the South African press to refer to Mandela.
Haaretz quoted the letter as saying: "As you may recall, three months ago we discussed the case of a trainee who arrived at the [Israeli] embassy in Ethiopia by the name of David Mobsari who came from Rhodesia. The aforementioned received training from the Ethiopians [a codename for Mossad agents, according to Haaretz] in judo, sabotage and weaponry."
The letter also said that Mandela “showed an interest in the methods of the Haganah and other Israeli underground movements…[and] he greeted our men with ‘Shalom,’ was familiar with the problems of Jewry and of Israel, and gave the impression of being an intellectual. The staff tried to make him into a Zionist.…In conversations with him, he expressed socialist world views and at times created the impression that he leaned toward communism,” the document reportedly says. A letter sent from the Mossad to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem reveals that Mandela met with the Israeli agents in Ethiopia later in 1962, where he used the alias David Mobsari.
"The staff tried to make him into a Zionist,” the operative added. “In conversations with him, he expressed socialist worldviews and at times created the impression that he leaned toward communism,” the letter continued, adding that the man who called himself David Mobsari was the same man who had been arrested in South Africa.
“It now emerges from photographs that have been published in the press about the arrest in South Africa of the ‘Black Pimpernel’ that the trainee from Rhodesia used an alias, and the two men are one and the same.”
A handwritten annotation marked on the letter refers to a second letter sent roughly two weeks later. It said that the "Black Pimpernel", the term the South African media was already using for Mandela, was indeed Nelson Mandela.According to Haaretz, a later handwritten annotation to the letter confirmed the Black Pimpernel was Mandela. The newspaper said the letter was kept in the state archives, and was discovered a few years ago by a student researching a thesis on relations between Israel and South Africa.