Canberra, Australia — An Australian emigrant and disgraced Mossad spy who died in an Israeli jail in 2010 was arrested after interfering in a secret Israeli intelligence operation to recover the bodies of soldiers killed in the 1982 Lebanon war, an Australian news report said on Tuesday.
Ben Zygier was arrested in January 2010 and held in secret under the name of Prisoner X on unspecified security charges. A judicial inquiry in Israel found Zygier, 34, hanged himself in a high-security jail cell.
Australian state television said Zygier unwittingly sabotaged a secret 2007 Mossad mission to exhume the bodies of three Israeli tank crewmen captured and killed by Syrian forces during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon.
The television report quoted a former commander in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley as saying that Zygier had revealed his name and that of a Lebanese agent for Israel to Lebanese intelligence.
Ziad al-Homsi, former mayor of a Lebanese village, told ABC television that he had been approached by Mossad in 2007 and flown to China on the pretext of attending a mayoral convention.
He was introduced to a Syrian man who said his brother in Europe was working to return the bodies of the three Israelis captured during the so-called Battle of Sultan Yacoub in the Bekaa Valley – Israeli-U.S. citizen Zachary Baumel and his fellow Israeli crewmen Yehuda Katz and Zvi Feldman.
Al-Homsi told the ABC that he suspected he had been ensnared in a Mossad operation. He was eventually told by others involved that the missing men were buried in Lebanon.
“At the last meeting they informed me about the location of the corpses exactly. I had to find a way to get the bodies and keep them,” al-Homsi said, though he was given no details on how the remains would be turned over to a separate Mossad team.