Australian Mossad agent Ben Zygier, previously known as the ‘Prisoner X’ who committed suicide in an Israel jail, unintentionally sabotaged a Mossad top secret operation to bring home the bodies of three Israeli soldiers missing Lebanon.
One of the missing was American-Israeli Zachary Baumel, whose remains never have been located.
The Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC), which broke the original story identifying Zygier and his suicide, reported Tuesday that his reckless and unauthorized operation, which he wanted to use to help him advance in the Mossad ranks, exposed a top Mossad agent.
Israel had been trying for three decades to locate and bring home the remains of Baumel, Yehuda Katz and Tzvi Feldman, all of whom were killed by Syrian forces in a battle in Lebanon’s BekkaValley in 1982.
The ABC report reveals why Israeli authorities jailed him in the highest security cell in Israel, in the same wing that held Yigal Amir, who assassinated former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.
The report also explains the fears that must have been going through Zygier’s mind while in jail and which led him to hang himself.
He faced 22 years in prison for espionage and treason as well as the life-long disgrace for his family in Israel and Australia.
He hanged himself in December 2010 after being secretly jailed several months earlier in the year.
Zygier butchered a detailed Mossad operation to bring home the remains thorough an agent whom he exposed when trying, on his own, to recruit a Lebanese man who then double-crossed him.
The exposed agent is Ziad Al Homsi, whom the Mossad recruited in 2007 in Lebanon. He told ABC the Mossad recruited him by using a Syrian who claimed his brother in Europe was working to return the remains of missing Israeli solders.
Al Homsi previously had led Lebanese soldiers in the war against Israel in Lebanon and knew of the battle in which the three missing soldiers were killed.
The Mossad believed they were buried in Lebanon although pictures from Syria showed their bodies being paraded through the streets of Damascus.
Israeli secret agents handed over to Al Homsi the location of the graves, and he was supposed to exhume them and leave the remains for other Mossad agents to retrieve.
But Zygier had exposed him.
The Australian native’s career as a spy was not going well in 2008, when he was put to work at a desk job near Tel Aviv.
He decided to prove himself by trying to recruit a Hezbollah operative as a double agent, who in turn pressured Zygier to prove his credentials as a Mossad agent.
Zygier obliged by informing him of the identity of Al Homsi. The would-be Mossad agent Zygier tried to recruit then double-crossed him and spilled the beans to Lebanese authorities.
They arrested Al Homsi before he could exhume the remains and sentenced him to 15 years in jail. He was released thee years afterwards. ABC said that Al Homsi claims he actually was a double agent and that Lebanon knew of his Mossad activities.