Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency may have tried to smuggle the body of legendary Israeli spy Eli Cohen out of Syria some 40 years ago، according to a recording made by Cohen’s brother Maurice and discovered by Channel 12 news.
In the recording، reportedly made by Maurice Cohen، himself a Mossad agent، in a conversation with a historian before his death in 2006، Cohen talks about the uncertainty surrounding the burial site of his brother and an apparently unsuccessful attempt to recover the body.
Eli Cohen infiltrated the top echelons of Syria’s leadership in the early 1960s and obtained top-secret intelligence before he was caught and publicly executed in Damascus in 1965.
"There is one version that the previous president Amin al-Hafiz put (his body) in a camp surrounded by a battalion of tanks to protect it،” Maurice Cohen said. “Afterwards President Assad، the late father، they say he dug a huge pit and put a gas bomb inside and then covered it in concrete."
"Others say that hotheads burned the body، but I doubt that version is correct because it was such an important political bargaining chip،” he said.
According to Cohen، the reason for the secrecy in Syria was because the Mossad had already tried once to smuggle the body out of the country.
“I’m almost sure that they keep it so secret in Syria، that so few know where he is، because there was an attempt to kidnap the body،” Cohen said. “It was taken to the Lebanon-Syria border.”
He gives no further details in the recording on the attempt or why it ultimately failed. Channel 12 said the attempt occurred 40 years ago.
Eli Cohen’s daughter Sophie told Channel 12 she had never heard this report before and called on the government to release all the information it has.
The report on Cohen’s whereabouts come after weeks of speculation that Russia had found his body، a report that was denied by the Prime Minister’s Office and strongly rejected by Moscow.
Citing unconfirmed reports by Syrian opposition groups، Hebrew media reported earlier this month that a Russian delegation took Cohen’s remains out of Syria.