The Brussels mystery: Was shooting anti-Semitism or part of spy games?http://www.haaretz.com/misc/iphone-article/.premium-1.595464Considering how professional the shooter looked on footage, and the fact two of those killed were former Israeli civil servants, maybe the attack was actually a battle in the covert war.By Amir OrenPublished 02:00 27.05.14There was no practical reason for a hostile state like Iran or an enemy organization like Hezbollah to try and harm either Emanuel or Mira Riva – both former civil servants – at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. Both were accountants who were employed separately by government bodies. They had no substantive connection to the core issues of either Iran or Hezbollah; their tools were numbers and computers, not cloaks and daggers.Emanuel Riva came to Nativ, the liaison office for Jews from the former Soviet Union, from the Finance Ministry, where he met members of the security and intelligence community and the foreign service, and was in contact with senior government officials. Afterward, Mira was also hired by a government agency. There, and also when she was stationed at one of the agency’s missions in Europe, her post was solely administrative.She wasn’t Mata Hari, or Sylvia Raphael, or Cindy of the Mordechai Vanunu affair. Even in Golani, after all, there is a crucial difference between the commander of the reconnaissance force and the unit’s paymaster.Still, it’s possible that the murder in Brussels was not a hate crime or an anti-Semitic attack, but a targeted assault. This possibility is strengthened by the video of the killer’s actions. He was caught by the cameras looking like a professional, as if this was a settling of scores. Not the assassination of accountants, but a battle in a covert war, though perhaps there was a misidentification of the intended victims.After all, such things have happened to organizations far more sophisticated than Iran and Hezbollah – like the Mossad, for instance, in its mistaken killing of Moroccan waiter Ahmed Bushiki in Lillehammer, Norway in 1973. Bushiki apparently looked to those tracking him like the double of Black September leader Ali Hassan Salameh. At the time, Brussels was one of the way stations in the Mossad’s bloody campaign against the various PLO factions throughout Europe. Tzadok Ofir, who controlled several agents, was seriously wounded there in an ambush by an Arab source who betrayed him.Israel has double representation in Brussels – its embassy for Belgium, and its embassy to the European Union and NATO. In recent years, Brussels has been one of the most important postings in the foreign service, second only to Washington, and some of Israel’s top diplomats – including Ephraim Halevy (before he was appointed Mossad head) – were posted there.Senior Israeli representatives are closely guarded by the Belgian authorities. Even a short trip with them to the local Foreign Ministry is a whole security operation.Brussels is both a very international city and a very Muslim one. The headquarters of NATO, with its 28 member states and more than a dozen partners and observers, is located in one of its suburbs.In the downtown area lies one of the centers of the European Union (which migrates periodically to Strasbourg). Bus No. 12 from the airport, which passes the NATO command center, full of officials from Europe and North America, continues downtown to the EU offices through neighborhoods that are clearly dominated by North Africans and others, with veiled women seen in the streets, stores and restaurants.It’s easy to hide in this Arabic-European capital with diplomatic mail and passports from various countries and its supportive environment, which conceals and whisks you away.Databases compromised in recent years (see Edward Snowden) – both those that have been published and those that have not – included tens of thousands of names, some with similar and erroneous spellings. They are liable to help evildoers track targets, correct or mistaken, and attack them, either as part of a plan or on an improvised basis, because the victims met acquaintances or colleagues who were in the trackers’ sights.
Brussels Jewish museum shooter 'inspired by French Islamist'Gunman who killed three people at a Jewish museum filmed the shootings with a camera strapped to his chest in what is thought to be a copycat attack A gunman who shot dead three people at a Jewish museum in Brussels had a camera strapped to his chest to film the killings, in an echo of the technique used by Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah. The gunman, who is still on the loose, shot dead two Israeli tourists at the entrance to the museum before walking calmly through the entrance hall, putting down his bag, taking out a Kalashnikov rifle and killing one more. A fourth victim is fighting for his life in hospital. A gunman who shot dead three people at a Jewish museum in Brussels had a camera strapped to his chest to film the killings, in an echo of the technique used by Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah. The gunman, who is still on the loose, shot dead two Israeli tourists at the entrance to the museum before walking calmly through the entrance hall, putting down his bag, taking out a Kalashnikov rifle and killing one more. A fourth victim is fighting for his life in hospital. "We're afraid that we have a new Merah," a source close to the investigation told La Dernière Heure, a Belgian newspaper. An antique-shop owner, who saw the killer and made eye contact with him as he walked away through the centre of the touristic district, said he was impassive and cold after the murders. "I caught his eye. There was no expression whatsoever on his face." Investigators say that they have identified three possible motives for the shooting. The most obvious suggestion is that Saturday's shooting was an anti-Semitic attack, carried out by radical Islamists – several dozen young people are known to have left Belgium to fight in Syria. The attack could have been an anti-Semitic assault carried out by a neo-Nazi; a theory which is supported by the calm, methodical movements of the shooter. Whoever killed the four people also knew that the museum was the only Jewish site in Brussels which did not have guards. Or it could have been the work of a lone crazed gunman – a possibility, but perhaps less probable, given the level of preparation. On Monday, Ine Van Wymersch, deputy public prosecutor, said the inquiry had been transferred to the federal prosecutor's office authorised to handle terrorist actions – but she would not say whether that meant it was being treated as a terrorist act. "The priority of priorities is to find this man. He must be arrested and stopped," said Joelle Milquet, the home affairs minister. "We must reassure members of the Jewish community," she added, after ordering 24/7 police protection at all of the country's synagogues, schools and cultural centres. Saturday's attack was the first killing in more than 30 years in Belgium and has revived fears of a return of violent anti-Semitism to Europe. Security around all Jewish institutions in Belgium was raised to the highest level, while French authorities stepped up security after two Jews were beaten near a Paris synagogue. "The anti-Semitic nature of the act – a shooting, with intent to kill, in the Jewish Museum of Brussels – cannot be denied," said François Hollande, the French president. "We must do everything to fight against anti-Semitism and racism."
Yesterday, I broke the story that the Rivas, an Israeli couple murdered in the Brussels Jewish museum terror attack, worked for agencies with connections to Israeli intelligence. Miriam worked for the Mossad and Emanuel for Nativ, a unit that encourages aliyah from Eastern European countries (including Russia). Thanks to reader Bluebird, who discovered that the Israeli embassy website in Germany lists Miriam Riva as an “attache” who worked there since 2007. My Israeli source informed me that they were both accountants. Though I don’t know how diplomatic postings and cover works, I do wonder why an accountant would be classified as an attache. Admittedly, you’d want to protect anyone working for the Mossad by giving them some sort of diplomatic protection. So it might be a pro forma status. Or it could mean that her job as an accountant was yet another form of “cover.”[snip][If] it turns out that the the Rivas were targeted because someone believed they were Israeli government officials or even Mossad agents, no matter how heinous such murder is (and it is), in a sense Israel has only itself to blame. It is the country that sends its Kidon assassins around the world to murder Israel’s purported enemies, whether they be Hamas operatives like Mahmoud al-Mabouh, Hezbollah leaders like Imad Mugniyeh or Iranian nuclear scientists. In that sense, these killings might be “blowback” from these earlier Israeli operations. I have written this here many times before: Israel can’t expect that it will project force so far outside its borders, killing with relative impunity, and no one will take notice and attempt to return the favor. We no longer live in a time when Israeli power reigns supreme and it acts whenever and wherever it wishes.
We no longer live in a time when Israeli power reigns supreme and it acts whenever and wherever it wishes.