print
memri
November 15, 2011 No.
761

Fabricated Statements Attributed to Former Israeli Military Intelligence Chief Amos Yadlin Cited as Proof Israel Is Behind Tensions between Egypt's Copts, Muslims; Antisemitic Cartoons Portray Jews as Being Behind Bombing of Coptic Church

By: B. Chernitsky*

Introduction

The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) has accused Israel of being behind clashes, beginning October 9, 2011, between Coptic protestors and military and police forces outside the Maspero television building in Cairo, in which 24 were killed, including soldiers, and hundreds were wounded. This claim is based on a story which appeared in late 2010 on numerous Arabic-language websites, according to which the former head of Israel's Military Intelligence Directorate (Aman), Major-Gen. Amos Yadlin, boasted that Israel had implemented a plan to instigate political and social tensions in Egypt and other Arab countries.[1]

This is not the first time that accusations have been made against Israel based on Yadlin's alleged statements. Similar claims were made following the bombing at Alexandria's Al-Qiddissin Church on January 1, 2011. Many of the Arab writers who covered the bombing claimed that Israel was responsible, citing Yadlin's purported statements. This accusation against Israel appeared primarily in the Egyptian media, both governmental and non-governmental, but also in the Syrian and Qatari media, and, unprecedentedly, in the Saudi media. As far as the Arab public was concerned, the fact that Israel did not deny the story about Yadlin, and in fact ignored it, only served to strengthen the credibility of the accusations.

An examination of several dozen reports on this subject (out of the thousands published) suggests that the story was fabricated by Syria and Hizbullah in anticipation of the publication of the indictment regarding the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri (which was ultimately published only in June 2011), with an aim to clear Hizbullah and Syria of involvement in the assassination and to implicate Israel. The Yadlin story was cited by others in the Arab world, especially in Egypt, as evidence of Israel's involvement in various incidents in the region, in order to avoid addressing the real causes of these events.

The following are excerpts of articles that appeared in the Arab press regarding Yadlin's purported statements, following the attack on the Al-Qiddissin Church and the October 2011 Maspero demonstrations.

Israel Accused of Being behind Religious Tensions in Egypt

MB Official: Zionist Agents Sparked the Fire of Fitna

In an article on the movement's website, MB official 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Barr said that Yadlin's statements were proof that Israel was behind the Maspero demonstrations. Al-Barr, a professor at Al-Azhar University and a member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, who is a member of the MB General Guide's office and is sometimes referred to as the movement's mufti, wrote: "Some of the documents revealed during the honorable [Egyptian] revolution revealed that the deposed [Egyptian] regime and its security apparatuses furthered a private and narrow agenda corresponding to the Zionist agenda, and that it was these apparatuses that were wont to plan so-called sectarian incidents, or at least to ignore them or deliberately mishandle them... The Zionist gang... tried to employ its people, whom Yadlin said it had planted everywhere... The Zionist agents among the remnants of the [previous regime], and others, tried to exploit the religious sentiment for which the Egyptians, both Muslim and Christian, are known, in order to spark the fire of fitna. What is lamentable is that some of the dedicated patriots on both sides fell into the trap set for them, and took part in spreading rumors and in firing up emotions on both sides...

"The sensible people of this nation, on all sides, must initiate and take correct action in order to foil the scheme of the Zionists and the remnants [of the previous regime]. We have seen that the Zionists' television [channels] continue inciting against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the Egyptian army in general; publishing false reports that the Copts are suffering from ethnic discrimination between Muslims and Christians and from religious oppression all across Egypt; inciting to continue the protests of rage aimed at toppling the so-called generals' regime'; and urging the U.S. not to sell arms to Egypt in response to the Maspero [demonstrations]. This is a Zionist weakness that exposes some of what is happening behind the scenes and proves that the Zionists are involved in instigating the events or at least in exploiting them..."[2]

Editor of Egyptian Weekly: The Plot According to Yadlin

Wahid Rafat, editorial board director at Al-Watani Al-Yawm, the weekly of the former ruling National Democratic Party, wrote that the Mossad had instigated the Alexandria church bombing based on the strategy outlined by Yadlin. The latter's statements, he said, were proof of the existence of an "American-Zionist strategy" to divide the Arab world:

"The Mossad is to blame [for the bombing for the following reasons]: because it is the main beneficiary of distracting Egypt from what will happen in South Sudan on January 9, [2011, i.e., the South Sudanese independence referendum]; because it has a strategy of inciting fitna, as announced by the former head of the [Israeli] intelligence, Amos [Yadlin]; because it has millions to spend in Egypt toward this end; because it harms only Muslims and Christians and never goes near the Jews in Egypt, Iraq, America, and Europe; because it is capable of imitating Al-Qaeda's operations and then accusing Al-Qaeda [of its own attacks] in its media and on its websites; and because it wants to exact vengeance against Egypt's security [apparatus] after it exposed [Israel's] spies... Amos [Yadlin's] statements prove that there is an American-Zionist strategy of shattering the Arab world through religious strife..."[3]

In his January 6, 2011 weekly sermon, MB General Guide Dr. Muhammad Badi' called to maintain unity in Egypt in light of "Yadlin's admission": "We must not separate this abominable crime [i.e., the bombing] from the plans of the ummah's enemies to arouse fitna in the country, [plans] that the former Zionist intelligence chief admitted to. This matter obligates us to take intensive action to preserve the unity of the ummah and to strengthen it against any attempt to breach it..."[4]

In a January 3, 2011 interview for Al-Faraeen TV, former Egyptian deputy foreign minister and current presidential candidate 'Abdallah Al-Ash'al cited Yadlin's alleged statements as proof that Israel was behind the church bombing, while stressing that it was Egyptians who had carried it out: "Today, many youths in Egypt are unhappy; they flee the country and prefer to die on the shores of the Mediterranean because they have no work opportunities here. If you ask one of them, he will say: 'If I find something abroad, I will leave.' The Mossad is taking advantage of this [situation]. It was Egyptians who carried out these operations, but the Mossad exploited them. Are these simply theories? No. When the head of the Israeli Aman, Amos Yadlin, reviewed the four and a half last years, he clearly said that Israel took advantage of the peace agreement [with Egypt] in order to infiltrate Egypt."[5]

In an interview with the liberal website Elaph, former Egyptian MP Nabil Babawi, who is a Copt, said: "President Mubarak said that foreign agendas and elements were behind the [Alexandria church] bombing, and he speaks only based on reliable information provided to him by the security apparatuses. The chief of these [foreign] elements is the Israeli Mossad. [The statements of] General Amos Yadlin... are the best proof of the Mossad's involvement in the [bombing]. Israel is always striving to destabilize Egypt and to threaten its national security..."[6]

Headline in Egyptian daily Al-Ahali: "Evidence Points to the Israeli Mossad's Involvement in the Church Bombing"[7]

Articles in Arab Press Accuse Israel of Being behind Alexandria Church Bombing

Claims of Israel's involvement in the Alexandria church bombing were raised not only in Egypt but throughout the Arab world. For instance, Muhammad Kanais, columnist for the Syrian government daily Al-Ba'th, said that Yadlin's statements were "a golden admission [of Israel's guilt] that needs no interpretation."[8]

Sharifa Al-Shamlan, columnist for the Saudi daily Al-Riyadh wrote in a similar vein: "...I don't know why the most basic fundamental principle in searching for the guilty is ignored, which is looking for the one who stands to gain. Why has Arab political memory been damaged and not retained a trace of what has happened in the past and more recently... [such as the following events]: the exposure of an Israeli spy ring in Egypt...; the speech of one of Israel's leaders, who thought it was Israel's right to spy on Egypt because it feared the MB coming to power; the speech by Amos Yadlin... about the fact that his apparatus had, since 1979, effected great infiltrations of Egypt that helped create an atmosphere of [internal] strife, and that [Aman] had succeeded in causing tensions, bloodshed, and sectarian [strife] in more than one place in Egypt's infrastructure and society...

"All these signs are warnings that should not have been ignored before the incident [i.e., the church bombing], and the [accusing] finger must not be waved at anyone but the [Israeli] enemy... The Church acquitted the Jews of [spilling] Jesus's blood. Will it also acquit them of [spilling] the blood of the Christians in Alexandria's Al-Qiddissin Church?"[9]

The Jews Plotted Sectarian Strife[10]

"The Victims of the Church Bombing in Egypt"[11]

The Source of Yadlin's Alleged Statements

Based on MEMRI's research, it would appear that the statements attributed to Yadlin were first published on the website of the Lebanese weekly Al-Thabat on October 21, 2010, in a front-page article signed by the chief editor. Based on its content, the website seems to be close to Hizbullah and its allies, Syria and Iran, and opposed to the West and its allies.[12]

On the same day, the statements also appeared on two additional websites of similar orientation: a blog called "Nasser Al-Muqawama" – "Supporter of the Resistance"[13] (which posted the same quotes, except for the closing poem); and the Lebanese website Saidaonline.com, which describes itself as a news site dealing with commercial, cultural, and social matters, which frequently quotes March 8 Forces figures. It cited the news item on Yadlin as having been taken from Al-Thabat.

Subsequently, the statements were cited on thousands of other websites with slight changes. It should be noted that in all of the reports, it was claimed that General Yadlin had made these statements at a ceremony in which he handed over command of Aman to the new chief – a ceremony which was, in fact, held on November 22, 2010 (a month following the original publication of the statements in the Arab press) in the presence of the Israeli press.[14] Among the websites that published Yadlin's alleged statements were sites close to Iran and Syria, such as the website of Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV,[15] the news site Champress, which is close to the Syrian regime,[16] and other Syrian websites, such as the online newspaper Al-Ba'th Media.[17] They also appeared on the website of Michel 'Aoun's party, the Free Patriotic Movement in Lebanon,[18] the website of Lebanon's March 14 Forces,[19] various Palestinian websites,[20] some Israeli Arab websites, such as Bokra[21] and the website of the weekly Kul Al-Arab,[22] various Egyptian opposition websites, such as the website of the weekly Al-Usbu',[23] and on the site of the Syrian Communist party.[24] The statements also appeared on Arabic websites outside the Middle East, such as the website of the US-based weekly Sawt Al-'Urouba, which describes itself as dealing with issues of the Arab homeland and diaspora,[25] and the website of the newspaper Akhbar Al-Arab, which is published in Canada and the US and describes itself as a "Pan-Arab and Arab" site.[26]

Appendix: The October 21, 2010 Article in Al-Thabat Presenting the Alleged Statements by Yadlin[27]

The following are excerpts from the article that appears to be the original source of Yadlin's alleged statements: "Western political and diplomatic circles were surprised at statements by General Amos Yadlin, chief of the Zionist military intelligence, who [recently] ended his term in office to be replaced by General Aviv Kochavi. Yadlin's statements were made several days ago, when he handed over the post to his successor, in the presence of more than one military correspondent from the Israeli media, who passed them on to European and American elements.

"General Amos Yadlin said: 'Over the past four and a half years, we executed all the missions we were assigned and completed many of the missions begun by our predecessors, the most important of which was reaching the 'Wizard' – the Zionist entity's code name for Lebanese commander 'Imad Mughniya... This man succeeded in doing much harm to our country. He caused us defeat after defeat, even managing to infiltrate our entity [i.e., Israel] with [his] agents. But ultimately, we managed to get him in his warm fortress in Damascus, where operations are very difficult. Our success in linking the networks operating in Lebanon, Palestine, Iran, and Iraq enabled us to close in on him in his lair in Damascus. This was [one of] our apparatus's [most] outstanding historical successes in many years.'

"Amos Yadlin went on: 'We reorganized numerous espionage networks working for us in Lebanon, and recently established dozens [more], while dissolving dozens of others. Our most important [achievement] was the complete takeover of the media sector in [Lebanon], which yielded an unexpected amount of intelligence. Likewise, we retrained security elements within Lebanon from among militiamen who have been in touch with [Israel] since the 70s. They succeeded, under our direction, in carrying out assassinations and bombings against our enemies in Lebanon, and made incredible achievements in removing the Syrian intelligence and military from Lebanon and in besieging Hizbullah.'

"Yadlin continued to discuss his achievements: 'In Iran, we made numerous successful infiltrations. More than once, we carried out assassinations and bomb attacks against nuclear scientists and political leaders. We were largely successful in monitoring the Iranian nuclear program, which has surely been to the benefit of the entire West, and in checking the threat of its nuclear [aspirations spreading] to the [rest of] the region and to the world [at large].

"'In Sudan we did the best job of all. We established a route for transferring arms to the separatist forces in South Sudan, trained many of [the South Sudanese], carried out more than one logistical operation to help them, lay out impressive networks throughout South [Sudan] and Darfur, which are capable of sustaining operations indefinitely, [and] now we are overseeing the organization (of the People's Movement),[28] and have even established a security and intelligence apparatus for [this organization]...

"'As for North Africa, we have made great progress in spreading spy networks throughout Libya, Tunisia and Morocco, making everything [we might wish to achieve] there attainable. [These networks] are capable of influencing all of these countries' affairs, negatively or positively. As for Egypt, which is our most important theatre of operations, [our] work [there] has progressed according to the plans we have been devising since 1979: we carried out political, security, economic, and military infiltrations in more than one place; we succeeded in exacerbating sectarian and social tension and in creating an environment of ongoing strife, tension and division, in order to widen the cracks in Egypt's social and political structure. Thus, any regime after Hosni Mubarak will be unable to deal with the schism, the backwardness, and the weakness prevailing in Egypt...'

"The retired general continued: 'As for the Palestinians, we are the ones who emptied the [Palestinian] Authority of content and who gained control of most of the PLO leaders... and established strong ties with them. Some of them helped us in a number of Arab arenas, and established direct or indirect contacts with Arab apparatuses and leaders for us...

"'But the gravest danger of all is the jihad movement, which enjoys absolute secrecy, and is operating in our own territories and in many Arab countries with great confidentiality. It is still an enigma and must be uncovered. As for Hamas, the attacks on it must continue both in [Israel] and abroad, [as] Hamas constitutes a great danger for the Jewish state and is prompting the Islamic [movements] in the Arab states and throughout the world [to operate] against us. [Our campaign] to thwart and dismantle [Hamas] will most likely be completed within a definite space of time and in accordance with the plan our [intelligence] apparatus devised to the highest degree of specificity.'

"The departing general concluded: 'Especially thanks to the disposal of Rafiq Al-Hariri, we were able to implement more than one of [our] projects in Lebanon. Likewise, the disposal of 'Imad Mughniya enabled the beginning of a new stage in the fight against Hizbullah. We must continue working on these two plans [apparently the campaign against Hamas and against Hizbullah], and continue all of [our] plans in the Lebanese arena, especially after the international [tribunal] publishes its indictment holding Hizbullah responsible for the assassination of late president Rafiq Al-Hariri. Thus, we will reach the hoped-for stage in the Lebanese arena before we turn to [dealing with] Syria, which is the desired final target. Thus, we will implement all of the Jewish state's plans, after its great achievements in Iraq, Sudan and Yemen, with Lebanon soon [to follow]. In addition, the two presidents, Hosni Mubarak and Mahmoud 'Abbas, must be praised daily for their contribution to the stability of our state and to the implementation of our plans.'

"With this, the Zionist general signed off. He intends to perpetuate his animosity and hatred toward the Arabs in another position... in the manner of his predecessors and of all the Zionists. The 'moderate' Arabs continue to keep their silence over these disgraceful betrayals, both great and small, of the [Muslim] ummah, and greet the praise of their enemies with even greater praise and greater submissiveness to the enemy.

"Following [Yadlin's] proclamations, we are surprised at the vast silence of the Arab media outlets over this report, which was published by more than one Zionist media outlet, and on more than one European or Arab website, and which was discussed in most Western political circles. [The statements were likewise] brought to the tables of most of the Arab leaders, but, unfortunately, received no attention despite the fact that they constitute a full confession by the murderer to the victim.

"Was our great poet, Muzaffar Al-Nawab, correct when he said [the following lines]?

"'Jerusalem is the bride of your Arabness!!

"'So why did you usher all the fornicators of the night into her room,

"'And stand eavesdropping from behind the door to the screams of her torn virginity?

"'You drew your daggers, and swelled with pride

"'And you yelled at her to keep quiet, for honor's sake'[29]

"[Signed]: The Chief Editor"

 

*B. Chernitsky is a research fellow at MEMRI.

 
Endnotes:

[1] For details on the statements attributed to Yadlin, see the appendix to this report.

[2] Ikhwanonline.com, October 13, 2011.

[3] Al-Watani Al-Yawm (Egypt), January 5, 2011.

[4] Ikhwanonline.com, January 6, 2011.

[5] See MEMRI TV Clip No. 2747, "Egyptian Intellectuals Accuse the Israeli Mossad for the Alexandria Church Bombing," January 3, 2011, http://www.memri.org/legacy/clip/2747. Yadlin's supposed statements were addressed on other television channels as well, for instance on Al-Jazeera, on the January 8, 2011 episode of the program "Open Dialogue." The speaker was Anis Naqqash, a Lebanese researcher and former terrorist, who was involved in the July 18, 1980 failed assassination attempt in France against then-Iranian prime minister under the Shah Shapour Bakhtiar, and was sentenced to life in prison but released a decade later. He said that Yadlin had admitted openly that "Israel established [spy] rings to create tensions in Egypt and in other Arab countries like Iraq, Lebanon, and Sudan." On the weekly program "Shari'a and Life," at which Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi was present as usual, Egyptian Coptic MP Gamal As'ad 'Abd Al-Mallak and Maronite priest George Masouh, of Lebanon, described Yadlin's purported statements as evidence of a plot to spark conflict between Egypt's Muslims and Christians. It should be noted that during a January 9, 2011 discussion of Sudan on Egypt's ON TV, host Yusir Fawda linked the statements to Israel's "achievements" in Sudan.

[6] Elaph.com, January 11, 2011.

[7] Al-Ahali (Egypt), January 6, 2011.

[8] Al-Ba'th (Syria), January 3, 2011.

[9] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), January 6, 2011.

[10] Al-Raya (Qatar), January 6, 2011.

[11] Al-Raya (Qatar), January 4, 2011.

[12] Ath-Thabat.com, October 21, 2010.

[13] Mahdi-coming.blogspot.com

[14] According to Israeli reports on the ceremony, Yadlin regretted not being able to provide details about his service, saying: "I wish I could reveal the daring operations and the activity we do in the directorate... We face unprecedented challenges on five active and hostile fronts that might attack us in the future... We must not ignore countries and organizations that are amassing power, arming and trying to identify our weaknesses. It is our duty to develop our capabilities to cope with these threats." Yadlin also addressed the struggle with hostile elements on the internet, saying: "This is a new front that the intelligence unit must keep developing, for the security of the state." Ynet.co.il, November 22, 2010.

[15] Almanar.com.lb, October 27, 2011.

[16] Champress.net, November 6, 2010. It should be noted that an English-language report on the website stressed that Yadlin's statements were made shortly after investigators of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) visited a women's clinic in Beirut's Dahiya neighborhood. The visit took place on October 27, 2010, as part of the STL's investigations into Hizbullah's possible involvement in the Al-Hariri assassination.

[17] Albaathmedia.sy, October 27, 2010.

[18] Tayyar.org, January 9, 2011.

[19] 14march.org, October 27, 2010. The website cited Yadlin's alleged statements as having been taken from the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Nahar (Annaharkw.com, October 27, 2010).

[20] For instance, the website of the newspaper Falestinouna, which describes itself as "the voice of Fatah's honorable [leaders]," which cited Al-Thabat as its source (Ourpal.net, October 21, 2010), and the Palestine Dialogue website (Paldf.net, October 28, 2010).

[21] Bokra.net, October 28, 2010.

[22] Alarab.net, October 29, 2010.

[23] Elaosboa.com, October 28, 2010. Other Egyptian opposition websites included the Muslim Brotherhood's forum (Ikhwan.net, December 18, 2010) and the website of the Save Egypt Front party, established in 2005 (Saveegyptfront.org, October 30, 2010).

[24] Kassioun.org, October 22, 2010.

[25] Arabvoice.com, no date.

[26] Arabnews.ca, November 4, 2010.

[27] Al-Thabat (Lebanon), October 21, 2010.

[28] Apparently the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.