Who is Ari Ben-Menashe?

Ben-MenasheTask Force on Corruption executive chairperson Max Nkole has announced that Zambia is still pursuing one of former president Fredrick Chiluba’s alleged accomplices in the Carlingtone Maize deal scandal Ari Ben-Menashe.

But who is Ari Ben Menashe? Who else is looking for him and where could he be at the time?

The Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  has  written the following article about him:

Ari Ben-Menashe is the author of Profits of War: Inside the Secret U.S.-Israeli Arms Network, a book purporting to describe his involvement in Iran-Contra and other intelligence operations. An Iraqi Jew who was educated in Israel, he is a former Israeli government employee, and has said that he worked for the intelligence services. [1] He has also said he was a “troubleshooter” for former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir. [2] Ben-Menashe now runs an international commodity exporting firm, Traeger Resources and Logistics Inc., which is registered in Montreal, Canada, where he lives.[3]

Ben-Menashe came to the attention of the international media in 2002, when he alleged that Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe‘s opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, had asked him to help to “eliminate” President Robert Mugabe. Ben-Menashe produced a videotape of conversations between himself and Tsvangirai in London, England, and Montreal, where the latter appeared to ask for Ben-Menashe’s help as a political consultant. Unbeknownst to Tsvangirai, Ben-Menashe’s Montreal consultancy firm at the time, Dickens and Madson, was working for Mugabe, and tapes of the ambiguous conversation were passed to the Zimbabwean authorities, who charged Tsvangirai with treason, which is punishable by death in that country. [4]

Tsvangarai was acquitted in 2004 when a court in Harare accepted he had not used the word “eliminate” to mean that he wanted Mugabe to be assassinated. [5] Judge Paddington Garwe described Ben-Menashe, who was the prosecution’s star witness, as “rude, unreliable, and contemptuous.” [6]

The Jerusalem Post, quoting an “authoritative” source, wrote on March 27, 1990 that Ben-Menashe had not worked for the Israeli government in any capacity, and that the Israeli defense establishment had had “no contact” with him. Documents subsequently obtained by American journalists showed that Ben-Menashe had, in fact, worked for the External Relations Department of Israeli military intelligence from 1977-87, though his critics say he was a low-level translator. [7] However, Moshe Hevrony clearly stated:

Ben-Menashe worked directly under me… He had access to very, very sensitive material. [8]

Documents obtained in 2002 by Canadian journalists under Canada’s freedom of information legislation indicate that Ben-Menashe has supplied consultancy services to the Canadian government. Time Magazine has called him a “spinner of tangled yarns.” [

Ben-Menashe’s first exposure to the Western media was in 1989, when he was charged in the U.S. with having violated the Arms Export Control Act when he attempted to sell three Israeli C-130 transport planes to Iran using a false end-user certificate, in what turned out to be an FBI sting operation. He did not deny having tried to make the sale, but claimed in his defence that he was an Israeli intelligence officer, and that the sale was linked to Iran-Contra. The court accepted his story, and he was acquitted on November 28, 1990.

During subsequent meetings with journalists in the U.S. and UK, Ben-Menashe made a number of claims about Mossad and individuals alleged to work for the agency.

He said that Robert Maxwell, then owner of Mirror Group newspapers in the UK, was a Mossad agent, and that Maxwell had tipped off the Israeli embassy in 1986 about Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu, after Vanunu and a friend approached the Sunday Mirror and The Sunday Times in London with a story about Israel’s nuclear capability. Vanunu was subsequently lured by Mossad from London to Rome, kidnapped, returned to Israel, and sentenced to 18 years in jail. Ben-Menashe also claimed that the Daily Mirror‘s foreign editor, Nick Davies, worked for the Mossad and had been involved in betraying Vanunu.

British MP George Galloway agreed to raise Ben-Menashe’s Maxwell allegations in the House of Commons, which enabled British newspapers to publish the story.

No British newspaper would publish the Maxwell allegations because of his well-known litigiousness. However, Ben-Menashe was used as a key source by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Seymour Hersh for his book about Israel’s nuclear weapons, The Samson Option: Israel, America and the Bomb, published in Britain in 1991 by Faber and Faber. Hersch included the allegations about Maxwell and Vanunu in his book, but still no British newspaper would run with the story.

On October 21, 1991, two Members of Parliament, Labour MP George Galloway and Conservative MP Rupert Allason (who writes spy novels under the pseudonym Nigel West[9]) agreed to raise the issue in the House of Commons, which enabled newspapers to claim privilege and report the allegations. Nick Davies was subsequently fired from the Daily Mirror for gross misconduct. Robert Maxwell issued a writ for libel against Faber and Faber and Seymour Hersh, allegedly telling Davies that the Mirror editor had threatened to resign if Davies was not fired, but that he would get his job back when the dust settled (Davies 1992).

Two weeks later, on November 5, 1991, Maxwell died when he fell off his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine, during the night. Ben-Menashe subsequently said that Maxwell had been assassinated by the Mossad because Maxwell had tried to blackmail them.

On November 12, Matthew Evans, the chairman of Faber and Faber, called a press conference in London, to say he had evidence that Ben-Menashe had been telling the truth about Nick Davies. Evans read out a statement from Seymour Hersh, who said he had documentation showing meetings between Davies, unnamed Mossad officers, and the woman, “Cindy” (Cheryl Bentov), who had lured Vanunu to Rome. It transpired that Matthew Evans and Seymour Hersh had themselves been the subject of a sting operation by Joe Flynn, Fleet Street‘s most celebrated con man. Evans had met Flynn in Amsterdam, paying him £1,200 for the forged documents. No subsequent evidence emerged to support Ben-Menashe’s allegations about either Maxwell or Davies.

Ben-Menashe also testified in 1991 that he had personally witnessed George H. W. Bush attend a meeting with members of the Iranian government in Paris in October 1980, as part of a covert Republican Party operation — the so-called October Surprise — to have the 52 U.S hostages then held in Iran remain there until President Jimmy Carter, who was negotiating their release, had lost the 1980 presidential election to Ronald Reagan.

Several news organizations tried to ridicule Ben-Menashe’s claims. Time Magazine published a two-page story about him in 1991, calling him a “spinner of tangled yarns.” [1] ABC News put him through a lie-detector test, which concluded that, on a scale of reliability from zero to minus eight “on every major question Menashe was recorded either minus eight or minus seven …” [10] American journalist Craig Unger, writing in The Village Voice in 1992, said of Ben-Menashe:

Ari has put five or six dozen journalists from all over the world through roughly the same paces. His seduction begins with a display of his mastery of the trade craft of the legendary Israeli intelligence services. A roll of quarters handy for furtive phone calls, he navigates the back channels that tie the spooks at Langley to their counterparts in Tel Aviv. His astute analysis and mind-boggling revelations can stir even the most jaded old hand of the Middle East … Listen to him, trust him, print his story verbatim — then sit round and watch your career go up in flames.

Ben-Menashe moved to Sydney, Australia in 1992, then to Canada, where he married a Canadian woman and became a citizen. He was arrested in 2002 during acrimonious divorce proceedings, and charged with assault, following complaints by his wife and mother-in-law, but was subsequently acquitted. He set up Carlington Sales Canada Corporation, which was accused of taking payments for shipments of grain that allegedly never materialized, according to Canada’s National Post (July 25, 2005). Ben-Menashe’s American business partner, Alexander Legault, was arrested in October 2008 while being deported back into the United States after a failed refugee claim in Canada. He had been wanted on $10,000,000 bond by the FBI since 1986 on charges of racketeering, conspiracy, organized fraud, mail fraud and unregulated security in Florida and Louisiana.[11]

In June 2005, Alexander Vassiliev of Sonox International, a Florida-based food export company, told the National Post that he had wired a deposit of U.S.$336,000 to Ben-Menashe’s former company, Albury Grain Sales, which undertook to ship 12,000 tonnes of soybeans from North America to a Sonox agent in Uzbekistan. Vassiliev alleged that the soybeans did not arrive.

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