Ben-Menashe Case Eyes Bomb Residue

Exclusive: The investigation of the firebombing of the upscale Montreal home of ex-Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe is looking at the possibility the accelerant was more sophisticated than available to common criminals, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

The Montreal arson squad is investigating whether a military-grade accelerant was used in the firebombing that consumed the luxury home of ex-Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe on Sunday night.

Late Wednesday afternoon, police investigators digging through the scorched rubble took samples from what was left of the downstairs rug and sofa where the incendiary device was believed to have landed, touching off the blaze that spread rapidly forcing Ben-Menashe and a woman in the house to flee.

Montreal arson squad on Wednesday sift through rubble of the burnt-out home of ex-Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe. (Photo by Robert Parry)

Police also are believed to have identified a suspect seen running away after the fire began, but the police had not yet found the individual. Several houses in the upscale neighborhood are equipped with security cameras, which may have recorded video of the attack.

The woman in Ben-Menashe’s house, who asked not to be identified for reasons of security, told me she attempted to extinguish the fire with water but to no avail. As it continued to spread, she escaped through the front door. Ben-Menashe said he made his escape through a rear entrance.

Police are reportedly hoping the detailed samples of the accelerant may help them determine who was behind the attack. The arson squad’s initial assessment is said to be that the  flammable agent was beyond the sort of accelerant used by common criminals.

If the substance is indeed military-grade, a detailed analysis of its composition could indicate the manufacturer and provide other clues to what might be a larger plot, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Making Enemies

In an interview on Wednesday, Ben-Menashe, 61, said he did not want to speculate about who was behind the attack. However, he noted that he has accumulated a number of enemies over the years after going public with information about his work for Israeli intelligence from 1977 to 1989 and exposing secret dealings by the Reagan administration with Iran and Iraq.

In more recent years, as an international consultant often working in global hotspots, Ben-Menashe has been involved in other controversies, including a role blowing the whistle on a questionable 2010 business deal by Arthur Porter, who was then in charge of overseeing Canadian intelligence services and who ran the McGill University Health Centre.

Porter resigned both posts, and the scandal has tarnished the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who let Porter serve in a highly sensitive position as chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee from Sept. 3, 2008, until his resignation on Nov. 10, 2011. That position gave Porter access to not only sensitive secrets of Canadian intelligence but of American intelligence as well.

Ben-Menashe’s knowledge of the Porter’s ethically questionable conduct began in June 2010 when Porter paid Ben-Menashe’s consulting firm $200,000 to help broker a $120 million development grant for Porter’s homeland of Sierra Leone. However, Ben-Menashe learned that the grant was to be funneled through an outfit known as the Africa Infrastructure Group, which Porter owned, and the deal was using a questionable Swiss bank.

After discovering these irregularities, Ben-Menashe said he returned the $200,000 fee and terminated the grant proposal. According to Ben-Menashe, Porter blamed him for sinking the scheme, which was later exposed by Canada’s National Post precipitating Porter’s fall from grace. Last month, McGill University also sued Porter for $317,154.

So, the nasty dispute with Porter is one of the avenues of inquiry being followed by Montreal police. But Ben-Menashe also has been the target of the Israeli government for divulging state secrets in the early 1990s and he remains a bête noire in some Israeli circles to this day.

Ben-Menashe began talking with journalists and congressional investigators after he was arrested in the United States in 1989 on charges of selling military equipment to Iran and was disowned by his Israeli superiors. That was when I first met Ben-Menashe.

As a correspondent for Newsweek magazine, I interviewed him in a federal prison in Lower Manhattan as he was awaiting trial. He said that because Israel was not protecting him, he felt he had no choice but to tell the truth and reveal secrets about Israel’s work with the Reagan administration in the 1980s, including then-hidden aspects of the Iran-Contra scandal.

When I checked with Israel about Ben-Menashe, government spokesmen insisted that he was an “impostor” who had never worked for Israeli intelligence. But I then obtained official Israeli letters of reference describing his decade-long work within a branch of Israeli military intelligence, the External Relations Department of the Israel Defence Forces.

After that, Israeli officials changed their story, labeling him “a low-level translator,” another false claim that was picked up by some American journalists with close ties to Israel. The letters revealed that Ben-Menashe had served in “key positions” handling “complex and sensitive assignments.”

In fall 1990, a New York jury acquitted Ben-Menashe after concluding that he indeed was working on official Israeli business in his transactions with Iran. But the Israeli government continued to work aggressively to discredit Ben-Menashe and destroy his reputation.

After his acquittal, Ben-Menashe also gave more interviews and provided testimony about secret dealings implicating the Israeli government and powerful Republicans in questionable or illegal activities. [For details, see Robert Parry’s America’s Stolen Narrative.]

Much of Ben-Menashe’s complicated past and present are now elements that Montreal police must shift through — along with the wreckage of Ben-Menashe’s home — as they try to solve last Sunday’s mystery of a terror fire-bombing.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and


8 comments for “Ben-Menashe Case Eyes Bomb Residue

  1. elmerfudzie
    December 10, 2012 at 21:03

    Simple sand screens were not affixed to cover the chopper engine intakes, that’s all it was Rehmat. All that training, all that youth, all that military and engineering prowess, suddenly up in smoke! Overlook one logistical detail and the game is over. As for the biblical reference, well who really knows. A swami once said, that evil intention, to properly work, must be perfectly timed, flawless in precision and must strike while the righteous have their backs turned or when their courage is somehow found to be lax during that specific moment of confrontation. Whatever the reasons were, I hate to see waste…Somebody just didn’t want Carter re-elected and we all know what that somebody (agency’s) name is.

  2. M. Deane
    December 6, 2012 at 17:55

    :…exposing secret dealings by the Reagan administration with Iran and Iraq.” Indeed. Did those secret dealings have anything to do with former President George H.W. (Poppi) Bush’s operations for the Reagon administration? See the book “Family of Secrets.

  3. elmerfudzie
    December 6, 2012 at 16:55

    I’ve commented previous to this article about the need to monitor former intel officers. Unless the UN reaches a firm consensus to expand it’s co-operation with and increase the capabilities of INTERPOL, no other credible agency will available to keep an eye on these, soldiers of fortune who get turned loose upon the world. Once these former state operatives leave their posts, they become a menace. It’s almost like taking the locks off the local armory. Point in fact; just about the same time Ben-Menashe s name became known to the public, circa 1991, other professional instigators and gun runners were also working on the African continent. They were profiting handsomely in the diamonds for arms trade. For example, the RUF in Sierra Leone. They gained control of the diamond fields, helped by a kindred spirit and too a bone fide soldier of fortune, Ibrahim Bah a Senegalese. He, working along with a few African “leaders” helped Foday Sankoh gain control of those diamond fields. This cabal of so called leaders and war profiteers ran a “diamonds for arms” trade. Who really knows what the rest of them are up to? The retired DGSE, Stasi, old KGB’ers, gaining notoriety not as consultants or analyzers but what infamous deeds they once did in the field. These guys are on the loose now and no doubt up to more than just simple stuff like corporate “advisers” positions. It’s most likely they’re doing special ops for carpetbaggers, vulture capitalists or worse, blackmailing or extorting from current political leaders or highly paid executives!

  4. Charles
    December 6, 2012 at 11:09

    Scanning the Canadian press, they seem to be intensely hostile to Ben-Menashe by presenting incidents from his past without context.

    Mr. Parry, could you provide some context to these? I’m particularly interested in Ben-Menashe’s role in the Morgan Tsvangirai case.

  5. E Monberg
    December 6, 2012 at 02:12

    Ahhhh Monsieur,

    ….. but unless you happen to be Roger Rabbit ?

    • F. G. Sanford
      December 6, 2012 at 05:53

      But then…could Paula Broadwell be Jessica Rabbit? Je ne sais pas…

  6. F. G. Sanford
    December 6, 2012 at 01:45

    OK, lemme see if I got this straight. A guy who is a native of Sierra Leone is running the Health Center at one of the most prestigious medical schools in North America. But he also oversees intelligence activities as a member of Canada’s Intelligence Services Review Committee, and has access to sensitive U.S. and Canadian intelligence resources. And, he is also heavily involved in some kind of murky dealings that involve millions of dollars and Swiss banks…I’m just wondering…where does Inspector Clouseau fit into this comedy? With intelligence connections like these why worry about Julian Assange?

    • E Monberg
      December 6, 2012 at 02:11

      Ahhhh, Monsieur,
      ….. unless you happen to be Roger Rabbit ?

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