Ma­haraj re­jects Is­raeli, UK press claims that Mos­sad trained Man­dela

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - WEEKEND AR­GUS REPORTER

NEL­SON Man­dela’s strug­gle com­rade and long-time friend Mac Ma­haraj has re­jected claims that the for­mer pres­i­dent re­ceived judo, sab­o­tage and weapons train­ing from Mos­sad agents in Ethiopia in 1962.

The Nel­son Man­dela Foun­da­tion has also re­sponded that Man­dela in fact re­ceived mili- tary train­ing that year from Al­ge­rian free­dom fight­ers in Morocco, and from the Ethiopian Riot Bat­tal­ion at Kolfe out­side Ad­dis Ababa, be­fore re­turn­ing to South Africa that July.

They were re­spond­ing to a re­port in Is­raeli daily news­pa­per Haaretz, picked up by The Tele­graph in the UK, which made the claims.

Last night Ma­haraj said: “It never hap­pened that Man­dela re­ceived train­ing from Mos­sad or the Is­raelis. He was trained by Ethiopi­ans at a mil­i­tary base out­side Ad­dis Ababa.”

Ac­cord­ing to The Tele­graph, a top-se­cret let­ter from Mos­sad to the for­eign min­istry from 1962 dis­closes that the train­ing took place that year, when Man­dela fled South Africa in or­der to lobby lead­ers of other African states for fi­nan­cial and mil­i­tary sup­port for Umkhonto we Sizwe.

Man­dela ap­proached the Is­raeli Em­bassy in Ethiopia with the greet­ing “Shalom”, us­ing the alias of “David Mob­sari”, re­ported Haaretz, cit­ing the ex­tracts of the let­ter pub­lished for the first time.

Ma­haraj said Haaretz was “sup­posed to be a rep­utable pa­per”, but ac­cused them of not putting “ev­i­dence on the ta­ble to prove their story”.

Re­spond­ing to a Weekend Ar­gus query last night, Verne Har­ris, re­search and ar­chive di­rec­tor at the Nel­son Man­dela Foun­da­tion, con­firmed there was no ev­i­dence, in­clud­ing from Man­dela’s 1962 di­ary and note­book, “that he in­ter­acted with any Is­raeli op­er­a­tive dur­ing his tour of African coun­tries in that year”.

Har­ris con­firmed that Man- dela re­ceived mil­i­tary train­ing from Al­ge­rian free­dom fight­ers in Morocco, and from the Ethiopian Riot Bat­tal­ion at Kolfe, in 1962.

“In 2009 the Nel­son Man­dela Foun­da­tion’s se­nior re­searcher trav­elled to Ethiopia and in­ter­viewed the sur­viv­ing men who as­sisted in Man­dela’s train­ing – no ev­i­dence emerged of an Is­raeli con­nec­tion,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Haaretz, Mos­sad were un­aware of the true iden­tity of Mob­sari un­til they saw a photo of Man­dela months later. Over the course of his train­ing, Mos­sad re­ported that Man­dela was par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in the meth­ods of the Ha­ganah, the pre-state mil­i­tary force.

The Tele­graph said the let­ter was dis­cov­ered by the Is­raeli- born scholar David Fach­ler in South Africa.

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