A Russian newspaper concluded that the ship was hijacked by Mossad agents because of reports it was carrying ballistic missiles to Iran. This report was also quoted in a number of Arab media publications.
The ship, sailing with a Malta flag and Russian and Latvian crew members, left Finland for Algeria on July 23, and disappeared without a trace on July 28. The ship was only found on August 16 off of Cape Verde. Ever since, paranoid rumors have abounded, most of which revolve around the ship's official cargo – sawdust – and its mysterious disappearance.
In one such rumor, the website of the Russian newspaper, Pravda, reported that the ship was supposed to transport cruise missiles to Iran, but that "a power that has relations with Ukraine" prevented this. The site also claims that Russia planned on relaying the weapons to Algeria as a stopover before heading to Iran. According to the report, Russia has transported weapons to Iran in this manner in the past.
The Pravda report claimed that Russia planned on sending experts to Iran to train the Iranians in how to operate the weapons system. According to the newspaper, "a Western power" was notified of the issue, but decided to operate in an unofficial channel in order to avoid a large-scale international conflict.
According to Ukrainian news site, Obozrevatel, Russia responded hysterically when it found out that the information had been leaked to "a Western power." The websites also reported that the ship's crew was aware of the fact that they were carrying unusual cargo, but did not know exactly what it was.
None of the various Russian and Ukrainian news reports identified which country is behind the hijacking "operation."
However, a column was published in Novaya Gazeta by Julia Latynina raising a number of questions about the affair. She questioned the likelihood that pirates would attack in such a high-traffic area. She also found discrepancies in reports provided by the Arctic Sea crew indicating that the pirates spoke in "broken English," when, according to Latynina, the crew members themselves are not English speakers.
Latynina claimed that even though the attack was known about almost immediately, it was not reported in the media. However, she said, when the ship failed to arrive in Algeria, the ships whereabouts were reported.
The columnist also noted that Russia was quick in sending military boats to search for the missing ship without activating the usual channels for searching for missing vessels.
All of these elements led the Latynina to believe that the masterminds of the attack are sitting in Jerusalem. "Israel likes these kinds of operations," she claimed. She mentioned that Israeli President Shimon Peres was visiting Russia during this same period and met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to ask him that Russia not transfer missiles to Iran.