Report: Israel seized Iranian general jogging in Damascus, released him in South Africa

An Arabic-language newspaper this weekend published alleged new details about Israel’s alleged kidnapping of an Iranian general as part of efforts to uncover new information about the fate of missing Israeli airman Ron Arad.

London-based online newspaper Rai al-Youm reported on Monday that Mossad agents kidnapped the unidentified man in Syria for questioning, before releasing him in a then unknown African country.

On the same day, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett confirmed that Mossad operatives went on a mission last month to find out the whereabouts of Arad, an Israeli Air Force navigator who was captured in 1986 and whose whereabouts are last heard of it in 1988, although the PM did not provide details. .

Media reports broadly characterized the operation as having produced no significant new information.

According to the latest report released by Independent Arabia on Friday, the kidnapped general, nicknamed “Sabri”, was sent by Iran to Lebanon in the 1980s and helped train the forces that would eventually form the Hezbollah terrorist group.

He then served in the Iranian Quds Force and in recent years has advised Syrian regime forces during the civil war.

The report, which cites “knowledgeable Iranian sources” and could not be independently verified, said Israel believed “Sabri” might have information on Arad because he was a senior police official. region at the time of the capture of Arad.

According to Independent Arabia, Sabri was recently kidnapped in Damascus, where he lived near the Iranian embassy and regularly jogged. On one such occasion, as he passed a van, Mossad operatives inside grabbed him and left.

A view of the Damascus skyline in 2012. (AP Photo, File)

The report claims the general was then taken to Israel and interrogated “intensively”, before being transferred to Johannesburg, South Africa, and released there with a phone number to contact the Iranian embassy. .

Arad jumped from his plane during an operation in southern Lebanon in 1986. Israel believes he was captured by the Shiite Amal movement before being handed over to Iran, then transferred from Lebanon to Iran, then again.

Several signs of life were received during the first two years of his incarceration, including photos and letters, the last of which was sent on May 5, 1988.

It has long been assumed that Arad died many years ago, although intelligence reports differ as to the circumstances, time and place of his death.

In 2016, a report stated that Arad was killed and buried in 1988 near Beirut. But a 2004 Israel Defense Forces commission determined that Arad died in the 1990s after being denied medical treatment.

In 2006, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the group believed Arad was dead and his burial site was unknown, and in 2008 German negotiator Gerhard Konrad told Israel that Hezbollah said Arad had died during an escape attempt in 1988.

On Tuesday, the Saudi news site al-Arabiya claimed that as part of the recent operation, Mossad agents extracted DNA from a corpse buried in the eastern Lebanese village of Nabi Chit to test whether it were the remains of Arad. The report did not say what the test results revealed.

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