At the time of his arrest, Ben Zygier, also known as ‘Prisoner X,’ was carrying a disk containing sensitive information, which he planned to pass onto a Hezbollah informant, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Monday.
According to the report, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah knew about Zygier’s communication with the informant, who Zygier had tried to recruit as a double agent.
On Sunday German newspaper Der Spiegel reported that information passed on by Zygier led to the capture of two Mossad informants in Lebanon by the Hezbollah. Reuters reported that Zygier was planning to sneak into Syria.
Report: Zygier and his partners were 'successful agents'
According to reports, Zygier believed the informant was going to provide services to the Mossad; in actuality the man was reporting on Zygier back to his handlers. When the man requested proof that Zygier worked for the Mossad, Zygier passed him classified information, including the names of Mossad sources working inside of Lebanon.
As was published in Der Spiegel and the Sydney Times, in 2005, after a year of learning various techniques of the trade, Zygier was sent to Europe, in order to infiltrate companies doing business with Iran and Syria. Intelligence sources in Israel said that among other things, Zygier tried to gain entry into companies in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
Simulation of one of Zygier's passports with a fake identity
One of the companies was in the city of Milano, Italy. Although initially it had been reported to be a front company for the Mossad, it was a real company, doing business with clients in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Zygier was soon hired by the company, and worked there for a period, even managing customer accounts, till it became obvious he was losing interest in the job and was fired.
His supervisor at the company said he never suspected a thing, and didn’t understand what strategic advantage having Zygier in their company could have given the Mossad, as all his work was based entirely in Italy.
After some time, when it became clear to his bosses that Zygier was not bringing in the goods, they called him back to Israel. There he was assigned to Tzomet, a bureaucratic branch of the Mossad, which dealt mostly with the centralization of information collected from agency operatives around the world. According to the reports, this exposed employees of the branch to information which they would not have had access to otherwise.
Zygier took his transfer out of the field and into the office hard, and determined to prove himself capable of operational status, decided to embark on his own mission to recruit informants. In 2008, Zygier set up a meeting with the man in Lebanon. Unwittingly, in his desire to prove to the man that he was who he claimed to be, he ended up serving as the man’s source of information, eventually leading to the arrest of two of the Mossad's top-level Lebanese informants.
In January 2010, the Mossad decided to bring Zygier back to Israel, not because it suspected him, but because it feared his life might be in danger, as Hezbollah knew his true identity. In addition, his superiors in Mossad were planning to admonish him for reports they'd received stating that he had revealed his Mossad identity. The Mossad was going to demand of him greater discretion. Only once he arrived in Israel did the suspicion grow that the arrests of the two informants in Lebanon were related to actions Zygier had taken. During questioning, Zygier admitted to the transgressions, and he explained his motives.
According to one of the foreign journalists covering the story, Zygier had the intention of proving himself, but got in over his head. The journalist quotes a high ranking Israeli source who told her, "Zygier tried to get something and failed. He met a man who was simply more professional than him.” At that point he crossed the red line, in essence, and began ‘working’ for the other side.
The Mossad saw Zygier’s actions as a blow to its program, and there was talk of giving him a 10-year prison sentence. In 2010, after the birth of his second child, and shortly after calling his mother at her home in Melbourne, Zygier committed suicide by hanging himself with a sheet in his cell at Ayalon Prison.
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