From Munich to the Mabhouh assassination, the secretive Israeli intelligence agency has pulled off some pretty elaborate operations in its time. But lately, Middle Eastern media outlets and politicians have been getting a bit carried away.
THE VULTURES OF ZION
Country: Saudi Arabia
The plot: Israeli scientists are training vultures to spy on Arab countries.
The evidence: This week, Saudi Arabian security forces took into custody a live vulture who was found near the rural town of Hayel wearing a bracelet marked "Tel Aviv University." While Israeli scientists say the bird was part of a migration study, local residents told the Saudi media that it was most likely part of a "Zionist plot." Speculation then took off on Saudi websites that Israeli intelligence was training the birds as part of an espionage mission.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University say that a number of the tagged vultures have reached Saudi Arabia since the study began. Most are now presumed dead, but one bird is still flying around the country -- no doubt gathering vital intelligence for the Zionist entity -- and thus far, the captured "R65" has shown no willingness to give up his comrade.
The plot: Mossad set sharks loose in the Red Sea to destroy Egypt's tourist industry.
The evidence: Ever since noted Zionist director Steven Spielberg released Jaws in 1975, nothing has been able to put a damper on a tourist season faster than a shark on the loose. That's exactly what happened this winter when five swimmers were attacked (one fatally) by a shark on Egypt's Red Sea coast near Sharm El Sheik, a popular tourist destination.
As if that wasn't enough, some expected this might not be an ordinary shark. Speaking on the popular television program Egypt Today, an expert identified as "Captain Mustafa Ismail, a famous diver in Sharm el-Sheikh," claimed that ocean sharks don't naturally live off of Egypt's coast and that someone must have introduced them to those waters. Ismail claimed that a diver friend in the Israeli resort city of Eilat had recently found a small shark with a GPS tag on its back, indicating that it was being sent to infiltrate the Egyptian coastline.
The governor of Egypt's South Sinai region added fuel to the fire, saying, "What is being said about the Mossad throwing the deadly shark in the sea to hit tourism in Egypt is not out of the question. But it needs time to confirm."
However, Egyptian marine biologists dismissed the reports, saying it was "sad" that state television had helped spread the conspiracy theory. As for the shark itself, another (dubious) press report several days later suggested it was killed by a drunken Serbian tourist who landed on its head after cannonballing into the water from a diving board.
The plot: Mossad stages a headbanger's ball featuring German shock-rockers to embarrass Turks.
The evidence: The 2010 Sonisphere festival in Istanbul was a dream come true for Turkish metalheads, featuring performances from the likes of Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Rammstein. But unfortunately, because of the festival's sponsorship and timing, what should have been an innocent celebration of power chords and screeching vocals became a political flashpoint.
The concert took place the same month as the Gaza flotilla raid, in which nine Turkish activists were killed. Moreover, the concert was organized by the German-based company Purple Concerts, which is run by Israelis. An article in the Turkish daily Vakit sensed the hand of Mossad, arguing that the concert "means to make fun of our citizens who lost their lives at the hands of the Israeli government."
In particular, the article objected to the serving of alcohol at the event and the presence of the German band Rammstein, which, according to the paper, "encourage[s] violence, masochism, homosexuality and other perversities." (Because nothing says Zionist conspiracy like angry Germans screaming in front of a big crowd.) Never mind that the Sonisphere tour was also unleashing these same perversities on 10 other countries in 2010.
THE SOCIAL (SPY) NETWORK
The plot: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is an asset of Western intelligence agencies, passing information on to the U.S. and Israeli governments and plotting to destabilize the Islamic Republic.
The evidence: The recent Hollywood film The Social Network suggests that Zuckerberg's frustration over a college breakup led to his creation of Facebook. But according to an Iranian TV segment that went viral online in November, he had far more sinister motives. The producers did their homework. They note, "According to a report on the website brainz.org, which belongs to the American government, [Zuckerberg] is originally a Jew." The video argues that the real purpose of Facebook is "locating people to engage in special operations for Western intelligence agencies." A photoshopped, nonexistent article from Britain's Independent newspaper is also cited, claiming that "Facebook is an Israeli spying web site which has a duty to atract [sic] spies in favor of Israel and the U.S."
Given the attention lavished on Facebook's role in the 2009 Iranian election protests, it's not surprising that Zuckerberg would attract some attention from conspiracy theorists in Tehran. But Zuckerberg also received some unwanted attention in Pakistan this year, when a prosecutor launched a blasphemy investigation against him for allowing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to be hosted on Facebook. The site was also briefly blocked in the country. The cartoons are still on the site.
CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: AGENT OF ISRAEL
The plot: Mossad agents, in cooperation with India's Research and Analysis Wing arranged Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's attempted Christmas Day plane bombing in 2009.
The evidence: According to a report on Iran's state-owned Press TV, an Israeli security company arranged for Abdulmutallab to board a plane in Amsterdam without a passport. An "Indian man" was evidently instrumental in arranging Abdulmutallab's passage, which is no surprise since "Israel and India are very close business partners, especially via their military contracts." Once onboard the plane, according to the account, another passenger spent the entire flight filming Abdulmutallab, even after he tried to ignite his crotch rocket.
The report, citing the Mathaba news agency, also posits that Abdulmutallab's home country of Nigeria is "clandestinely controlled by the Israeli army and Mossad" and quotes noted "military analyst and counterinsurgency specialist Gordon Duff, " (who also believes that WikiLeaks is an Israeli plot) opining that Yemen, where the would-be bomber reportedly trained, has no al Qaeda presence aside from "phony operatives" released by former U.S. President George W. Bush from Guantánamo.
Why arrange for such a plot? The article suggests the goal was to spread "Orwellian-style trauma and project Yemen, as well as the African continent, [as] the brand-new focus of the American so-called 'war on terror.'" But why Israel and India would want to focus U.S. attention on Yemen and Nigeria rather than on the Palestinians and Pakistan is a little unclear.
MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images; Ryan Pierse/Getty Images; Chris Weeks/Getty Images for Activision; Justin Sullivan/Getty Images; U.S. Marshals Service via Getty Images