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By Arieh O'Sullivan
British media have speculated that the man behind the fall of their minister of defense was in cahoots with Israel's famed intelligence agency, Mossad, perhaps unwittingly, as the perfect spy.
Adam Werritty, an unofficial "chief of staff" to Defense Minister Liam Fox -- a much respected, staunch conservative who quit in disgrace this weekend -- boasted extraordinary access, had no security vetting and plotted to overthrow the Iranian regime.
In February, Werritty reportedly arranged a meeting between Fox and senior Mossad operatives at a security conference taking place in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv, where actions against Iran were discussed. The 33-year-old former flatmate of the British defense minister was backed by murky funding, including from Bicom, an Israeli advocacy organization based in the U.K., according to the Guardian.
Further funding for Werrity's jet setting lifestyle allegedly came from an obscure commercial intelligence agency, Security Futures, as well as charities Pargav and Atlantic Bridge, all registered to the same London address and funded by billionaire Chaim "Poju" Zabludowicz, Bicom's chairman.
The Daily Mail's headline declared: "Was Mossad using Fox and Werritty as 'useful idiots'?"
The tabloid explained that, "What really was worrying senior officials in the MOD (Ministry of Defence) and the Cabinet Office was the possibility that Fox could be being used as a 'useful idiot' by Mossad, Israel's far-reaching and extremely effective intelligence service. Key funding sources for Werritty were from the Israeli lobby and a rather obscure commercial intelligence agency." The paper asked whether "Mossad [might]be pulling Werritty's strings, with or without his knowledge."
A former senior member of the Mossad who spoke under condition of anonymity told The Media Line that the whole issue was "complete nonsense."
"Every time some conspiracy unfolds, someone always drags in the name of the Mossad. That's because of our reputation, for better or for worse," he said.
While Britain and Israel are not military allies, there can be little doubt that anti-terrorism intelligence is shared. But Werritty, according to the allegations, was "plotting with Israel," pushing Fox toward his agenda to unseat the Iranian regime; and introducing him to Iranian opposition groups, according to the daily newspaper the Telegraph. These actions reportedly raised the ire of the Foreign Office since it ran contrary to the official policy of seeking a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Natan Aridan, a senior researcher at Israel's Ben Gurion University of the Negev and an expert on Israel-British relations, said the problem was one of "bad judgment" by Fox and is not necessarily going to harm relations between the two countries.
Aridan said that unlike in the United States, there are no lobbying laws in Britain that would have prevented Fox from taking on Werritty as a close aide even after he became minister of defense, granting Werrity unrestricted access to one of the Cabinet's most important ministers.
"There are no lobbying laws so it was legitimate. Fox gave the impression that [Werritty] was an official aide," Aridan said. "I don't think it will have anything to do with anything. He was economical with the truth and had bad judgment."
The incident came amid increased anti-Semitism and growing anti-Israel sentiments in Great Britain, raising concerns that it could backfire on the Jewish community there. But Jeff Barak, former managing editor of the London-based Jewish Chronicle, told The Media Line he didn't believe that to be the case.
"Liam Fox allowed his friend to appear as if he was an adviser. The fact that it appeared that this person's lifestyle and trips were funded by a group of people including pro-Israel elements doesn't bring Israel or the Jewish community under the spotlight," Barak said.
"If, however, they had uncovered something that showed Mossad was undermining British defense, then that would be something else," he said.
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World - Mossad Gets Dragged Into Latest British Political Scandal | Global Viewpoint