Israel Accused Of Tricking Australia's Chief Spy Agency Into Believing Palestinian Assassins Were Gunning For A Future Prime Minister
In the early 1970s, a future prime minister of Australia, Bob Hawke, believed he was the target of Palestinian 'Black September' assassins.
Hawke claimed in his biography that he had received a telephone call in 1973 (when he was a rising star in Australia's trade unions and the Labor Party), from a man who said he was a member of 'Black September.' Hawke said the caller had threatened the lives of his children.
In 1974, Bob Hawke gave an emotional speech to the Zionist Federation in Sydney. He burst into tears and said the Australian government had to end its policy of neutrality when it came to the conflict in the Middle East.
"I know that if we allow the bell to be tolled for Israel, it will have tolled for me, for us all," he said.Hawke, who became prime minister of Australia in 1983, was not the only possible Australian target of 'Black September', according to newly declassified ASIO files.
From the Sydney Morning Herald :
The Australian Security intelligence Organisation (ASIO) also believed prominent pro-Jewish figures, Isi Liebler and journalist Sam Lipski, were on the hit list.Liebler and Lipski are now questioning why ASIO didn't do more to alert them to the alleged threats posed by Palestinian militants in Australia.
Cabinet documents for 1976 - released by the National Archives of Australia today under the 30-year rule - reveal security authorities and the government were deeply concerned about the rising tide of Palestinian terrorism.
The most likely explanation is that while ASIO recognised a possible threat, they had no credible evidence that such plots existed, or that assassination attempts were likely to occur.
Isi Leibler told the Jerusalem Post yesterday that he knew nothing about the alleged 'Black September' plot to kill him until his son read it on the internet, following the declassification of the ASIO file.
He now intends to find out from the Australian authorities about why he was not told of the claimed plot back in 1975 :
Abu Rish never returned to Australia. He was killed by the Israeli Defence Force in the early 1980s.
The details (of the alleged assassination plots) were in a secret ASIO report that had been presented to the cabinet of prime minister Malcolm Fraser.
The report described the terrorist threat to Australia at a time when Palestinian groups were hijacking aircraft and carrying out attacks aimed at Jewish institutions in Europe and the Middle East.
ASIO identified a key figure in the plan as Munif Mohammed (Ahmed) Abu Rish, who came to Australia in 1974 claiming to be a journalist and indicated he would return in 1975...
Part of the controversial ASIO report reads : "The Government has made a number of decisions which could be interpreted as unfavourable to the Palestinian cause...A pro-Palestinian terrorist attack could take place in Australia."
In 1972, at least 15 letter bombs bearing the addresses of Jewish community members and Israeli diplomats were intercepted by Australian post offices.
ASIO suspected the letter bombs were sent by members of the 'Black September' group.
Leaders of the Australia's Jewish community were alerted to the threat of letter bombs, but were not told of the alleged assassination plots.
So where did the information contained in the declassified ASIO documents come from?
All it would have taken for such a file to be compiled and classified by ASIO in the 1970s would have been warnings or rumours passed on, or generated by, Israel's Mossad agency.
Mossad were involved in assassination conspiracy plots of their own at the time, hunting down and killing Palestinians across Europe and the Middle East.
Mossad were at war with the 'Black September' militants and terrorists throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. As part of that war, the agency spread their warnings far and wide about how they believed Palestinian militants were gunning for pro-Israel figures across the world.
That Australia's chief spy agency, ASIO, would have been briefed by Mossad agents on the threat posed by 'Black September' militants would not have been unusual. Tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors had made Australia their home by the early 1970s, and thousands of Israelis temporarily relocated to Australia from the Middle East during the height 'Black September' attacks and tensions.
It is clear from reading the declassified files that ASIO took a long, hard look at information supplied by Mossad regarding the threats, weighed it against other reports they received, and then assessed the available evidence for assassination plots as weak, or mere hearsay.
Palestinian militants might have expressed interest in taking out targets in Australia, ASIO concluded, but no credible plots to do so were ever initiated.
ASIO wrote up a thin report about the possible threats, a report rife with words like 'could' 'might' and 'maybe'. A number of government ministers were briefed on the report, it was stamped "Classified", then it disappeared into the files for three decades.
Former Palestinian ambassador to Australia, Ali Kazak, said he believes the 'Black September' assassination conspiracies were cooked up by Mossad :
"It has never been the intention of Palestine to bring this [Middle East] conflict to Australia and we made this clear to ASIO.. This was part of Mossad's campaign against Palestine.
"ASIO have a job to do, it's got to take everything seriously but they were taken for a ride..."
Interestingly, declassified files also revealed that the Fraser government had been extremely willing to develop relationships with both Iran and Iraq in 1976.
The Whitlam government approved the opening of an embassy in Baghdad in 1975.
Australia's foreign minister in 1976, Andrew Peacock, thought it was important to open a Baghdad embassy because he viewed Iraq as being :
a "front-line" state in the dispute with Israel and "as an oil-rich power of growing strategic and economic significance".
Malcolm Fraser, the Australian prime minister at the time the assassination conspiracies were investigated by ASIO, now claims he has no memory of the alleged plot to assassinate Bob Hawke and Jewish leaders, but he told ABC Radio that there were growing concerns about the threat posed by international terrorists. But not by Palestinian militants, specifically.
"In the middle to late 70s, the...countries that had the greatest terrorist problem... were Britain, from the IRA and then Germany and Italy from the red brigades or red armies."Fraser was either not briefed by ASIO on the 'Black September' threats. It appears ASIO determined the threats were not valid, nor viable, and saw no reason to brief the prime minister.
More documents relating to the claims, and the threats posed by Palestinian militants, and their supporters, inside Australia, are expected to surface at the end of 2007, when another batch of 30-year-classified government documents will enter the public domain.
Australian Jewish Leaders Mentioned In Declassified Spy Agency Files As Possible Assassination Targets
Government Ministers, Intelligence Agents Were "Alarmed" About Threat Of International Terrorism In Australian In Mid-1970s