SYDNEY (JTA) — Ben Zygier, the Australian-Israeli national known as Prisoner X, unwittingly scuttled an operation to return the bodies of three Israeli soldiers missing in Lebanon, according to an Australian television report.
A report by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that aired Tuesday night claimed that Zygier’s attempts to redeem himself in the eyes of his Mossad superiors backfired, prompting the Mossad to abort its mission to repatriate the bodies of Zachary Baumel, Yehuda Katz and Tzvi Feldman, who died in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley during Israel’s invasion in 1982.
Zygier, who allegedly was a Mossad agent, blew the cover of the secret operation by exposing Ziad Al-Homsi as an agent for the Israeli intelligence agency, according to the Australian TV report.
Al-Homsi, a former commander of Lebanese forces in the Bekaa Valley, told the Australian network that he he was first recruited by the Mossad in 2007 and later asked to help exhume the corpses after being given their precise location by the Israelis. But the mission was exposed after Zygier, who was trying to turn a Hezbollah activist into a Mossad agent, revealed Al-Homsi’s name in a bid to prove his credentials.
The Hezbollah agent told Lebanese intelligence sources that Al-Homsi was an informer, and he was soon arrested and jailed, blowing the operation to repatriate the corpses.
Zygier, a Melbourne native, was arrested in January 2010 by Israel’s Shin Bet secret service and jailed in secrecy under the name Prisoner X until he took his life 10 months later. The case was shrouded in secrecy until the Australian Broadcasting Corp. exposed Zygier’s identity in February.