By Asrat Seyoum, Ethiopian ReporterThe world’s prominent whistleblower website, Wikileaks’s, latest release revealed that the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 that went down shortly after taking-off from Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport on January 25, 2010 may have been a victim of a covert operation involving the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, and Hezbollah, which is backed by Iranian intelligence.
According to Thursday’s release, a series of email exchanges between analysts working for Stratfor Global Intelligence, the initial analysis of the flight data recorder popularly known as the “black box” did not indicate any information that suggested pilot error. In fact, the document showed that it was widely believed among the Lebanese intelligence that it was a pre-emptive strike by Mossad in what would become a fierce conflict with the Hezbollah.
“The plane was sabotaged on the misguided information that Hasan Nasrallah's cousin Hashim Safieddine was onboard the ET-409 flight destined to Addis Ababa,” it said. Safieddine was believed to be the real number two in the Hezbollah command structure and it was deemed necessary to take him out, it said.
It also said that there is no way that a pilot error would result in the airplane blowing up in mid-air. The plane could have lost its balance and crashed but it will not blow up while still flying, the analysts concluded.“The Lebanese authorities did not want to admit the real cause of the crash as it would mean revealing the security laxity and the possibility that an explosive has been smuggled onboard at Beirut airport,” the email exchange read.
Since February 2012, Wikileaks started releasing what it dubbed the “Global Intelligence Files” among which is the document discovered from the Texa-based Stratfor Global Intelligence, which according to Wikileaks is a source of intelligence information for US Homeland Security, US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency. The analysts of Stratfor are well-connected with intelligence and security personnel in several countries around the world.For instance, one of the analysts mentioned as the primary source in ET-409 email document, Reva Bhalla, talks of sources in the Lebanese and even the Hezbollah intelligence structure. The follow up e-mail discussion between Bhalla and the company, however, included far more detailed and lose-ended information. This email exchange contained information derived from at least three different sources with varying rating of credibility (ranging from A to D).
And three different possible motives for the sabotage were hypothesized by Bhalla. The first source was a Lebanese military intelligence personnel, who suggested that apart from false information that the Hezbollah second man is onboard on the flight, he also tendered another hypothesis saying that there was also as many as 20 Hezbollah operatives who were en-route to Uganda and Kenya where other sleeper agents of the organization operated.“They were part of Hezbollah’s plans to target US and Israeli interests in the event of military strikes against Iran,” the document said. This source is also convinced that the operatives carried heavy loads of explosives to the two countries using Ethiopia as a transit route and the explosives went-off due to careless handling.
However, another source, who is the director of Beirut’s Rafik al Hariri Hospital, also said that the explosives and operatives were destined for East Africa, corroborating the earlier story. According to the director, who is considered to be a highly reliable source by Bhalla, another prominent Lebanese Shiite, Hasan Taj al-Dine, who is a diamond merchant, was also aboard the ill-fated plane. He also told the analyst that he was taking a transit flight to Gabon and he was on the plane along the Hezbollah operatives, further strengthening the sabotage hypothesis.Addis Ababa was frequently cited in the email exchanges as being a transit hub for Hezbollah operatives. The analysts and sources made mention of how it was easy to bribe securities in Ethiopia and get assistance inside the country. “Hezbollah agents are believed to have their own people in Addis Ababa. It is not difficult to bribe security officers there,” Bhalla stated. The analyst said that she had knowledge of Ethiopians disguised as maids in Lebanon being employed by Hezbollah. “It uses informants and agents from Ethiopia who masquerade as live-in maids.”
Among the intercepted emails at least some 4000 are said to be about Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. According to Wikileaks, Stratfor has been working to bring down the whistleblower website itself. And lately, the official website of Stratfor announced that the privacy of its customers, friends and subscribers has been breached by unknown hackers and some confidential information has been stolen from it illegally.Stratfor is a subscription-based provider of geopolitical analysis founded in 1996 by bestselling author George Friedman.
It is to be recalled that Ethiopian Airlines unequivocally rejected the final report which was released in January this year suggesting that pilot error was to blame for the crash of ET-409.