El Al jet
Photo: Sivan Faraj

Terrorists planned to blow up El Al plane

Swiss security services uncover 2005 plot to bring down Israeli plane during takeoff through RPG attack

A plot to blow up an El Al plane at Geneva's international airport has been thwarted. Swiss intelligence agencies uncovered a terrorist cell last December that plotted to strike an Israeli plane while it was taking off through an RPG rocket attack in December 2005.


The French website Le Point featured a report on Friday saying that "intelligence of the Swiss secret services carrying the date December 2005 shows that two people, an Libyan and an Algerian, held a mortar bomb, and planned to carry out an attack against an Israeli airlines El Al plane at Geneva's airport."


The incident has caused El Al's Geneva flights to be moved to Zurich for a week - until the danger passed.


The Shin Bet told Ynet that "past experience and information received from time to time points to plans by terror organizations to strike Israeli targets overseas. The security arms are working in a variety of ways and means in order to thwart these threats, and are using various security means."


Terror Plot Uncovered


The plot to shoot the plane was uncovered by Claude Kuvasi, a Swiss secret service member who worked under the codename Babylon. Swiss newspaper Blick reported that Kuvasi was planted as an undercover agent in an Islamic center in Geneva to find out if a terror cell was operating in it. In order to encourage the trust of the head of the Islamic center, Hani Ramadan, Kuvasi converted to Islam.


According to reports, one of the operatives of the centers told the agent, who was dining with him, that he was a member of a cell planning to blow up an El Al plane. Phone taps carried out by the Swiss agent found that the terrorist cell was made up of an Algerian immigrant, 40, named Assam, and a Libyan immigrant, 34, named Adar.


Although the two lived in the Zurich area they planned on blowing up the Israeli plane in Geneva, due to the fact that the airport and its takeoff pad can be viewed with ease from surrounding mountains.


Rocket from Russia


Phone taps on the terrorists revealed that the terrorists planned to smuggle an RPG rocket from Russia and fire it at the plane, before escaping to Iraq.


Kuvasi gave a warning about the terrorist attack to his handlers on December 12, 2005.


Following the intelligence, local security forces carried out a check around the airport to see how tangible the threat was.


The warning was also given to the Swiss police, but as far as is known, no suspects in the organization were arrested.


The Swiss reached the conclusion that the plan was not ripe enough for a real organized operation.


Agent gone AWOL


According to reports from Europe, El Al, which runs three flights a week on the Tel Aviv – Geneva route, did not take any chances, and moved to the Zurich airport for a week. El Al did not respond to the episode and said it does not discuss security matters with the media.


The episode was kept secret for six months, until the Swiss agent exposed it on his own. Kuvasi, who became closer to the head of the Islamic center in Geneva, Hani Ramadan, feared that his new friend will face complications due to the fact that some of his students planned a terror attack. Kuvasi wrote a letter to Ramdadan saying his conscience guided him and he was therefore obligated to reveal how Swiss intelligence spied on him.


The revelation has since taken a bizarre twist, with the Blick newspaper reporting that Kuvasi, who recently carried out a spying job in Syria, escaped his handlers, and is hiding in Egypt. The former agent is now hoping that the current revelation will prevent Swiss intelligence from interrogating and torturing Islamic suspects.



פרסום ראשון: 05.19.06, 13:47
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