Mauritanian media reported Tuesday that the West African nation had nabbed "the largest Mossad spy ring in the country's history." The spy ring includes several businesspeople and "activists from various Arab states," the reports added.
Mauritania's security officials remarked that the capture of the spy network was made possible thanks to careful surveillance over time. They cited "suspicious activity" as having sparked the investigation.
The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is currently ruled by a government headed by Gen. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who took charge after a military coup in 2008, abdicated his position in 2009, and won nationwide elections that year, becoming president of the country. The country was affected by the "Arab Spring" uprisings that swept through several Arab countries in 2011, with hundreds of people taking to the streets of Nouakchott, the capital city.
The El Hourriya newspaper in Mauritania goes into details on how a single alleged spy, a Jordanian, was allegedly recruited by the Mossad.
Hezbollah's Al Manar gives details:
The espionage network was revealed after the police arrested an agent, named as Fares al-Banna, who was recruited by a tourism agency.The Mauritanian article claims that the Ethiopian Airlines crash was meant to kill senior Hezbollah leaders who were supposed to be on the plane.
The police found documents with the suspect, including a letter addressed to the Emirati embassy in Mauritania, in which he confirmed he is ready to confess information related to the assassination of [Palestinian figure Mahmoud] Mabhouh in Dubai, and the explosion of the Ethiopian plane in Lebanon. The suspect also vowed in the letter that he would reveal detailed information about an Israeli espionage network in Mauritania.
The daily stated that the Mauritanian authorities have opened an investigation on the issue in order to pursue details in this case.
Hezbollah has denied that any of its officials were meant to be on that flight.
Al-Banna, who is a Palestinian Arab with Jordanian citizenship, said that he was instrumental in creating a front company to recruit other Arab spies, pretending to sell timeshares. The company was called "Gateway to the World." At one point, he claims, Mauritanian authorities raided the offices, thinking it was a front for prostitution, but were embarrassed to find out it was legitimate.
The idea that the Mossad would trust a Jordanian Palestinian who has no ideological reason to support Israel with secrets on two highly sensitive operations is beyond absurd.