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Detainees: more about Eli Cohen's Hunter

Special Reports | 2018-09-14 23:15:00
Detainees: more about Eli Cohen's Hunter
   Eli Cohen
By Faris al-Rifai

(Zaman Al Wasl)- In room 203 of al-Assadi Hospital in Damascus, Major Mohammed Wadud al-Bashir, who is 
also known as the hunter of the Israeli spy Eli Cohen in 1965, has died on the afternoon of November 22, 1989. His body was taken to his hometown in Latakia to be buried in the cemetery of the Mosque of al-Maghrebi; his death represented the end of one of the best Syrian officers who worked in the service of the country honourably and faithfully. He paid for his faithfulness long years of detention in the prisons of Mezzeh and Saydnaya on the hands of those who Cohen and facilitated his mission.

A former detainee, who spoke to Zaman al-Wasl on condition of anonymity, revealed the story of the kidnapping of "Bashir" from Beirut in 1976 as he heard it from him. His friend lived under the floor in which the Iraqi ambassador lives, and when he felt the intrusion of the intelligence’s agents inside the building, he went up to knock on the Ambassador’s door. Nobody answered the door and he was caught and arrested by the kidnapping group and then he was taken to Mezzeh military prison in Damascus.

Al-Bashir was first thrown in a cell, but after a period of time he was taken to a dormitory that included forty to fifty people. 

The  source describes Bashir to be a happy, cheerful man who loved humor and had no problem whatsoever with anyone. He also asserted that: In the last month right before his release, Bashir, may he rest in peace, had trouble sleeping and only took short few interrupted naps. But he maintained his composure and did not complain or express his pain. 

A fellow detainee of the deceased that an officer from the village of al-Saho in the province of Swaida called Bayan Henawi made sure to attend to his needs day and night.  

In 1984, the source reported that Major Mohammed Wadud al-Bashir was transferred to the solitary cell along with Lieutenant Colonel Khader Jabr from the city of Salamiyah because of information carried by one of the informants inside the prison.  

In 1987, I was transferred with Abu Haitham (al-Bashir) and a number of detainees in a car to Sednaya prison. We thought he would remain with us, but we were surprised by his sudden removal immediately after we got off the car. We later learned that he was taken to solitary confinement and then to the dormitory X-wing B- in the prison mentioned. 

The  source recalled from a time before the detention of Bashir, as was told by his friends, he recalled an attempt at hijacking the plane during his flight from Baghdad to Beirut. When the plane flew over Damascus, its commander took a landing course at Damascus airport to take down some passengers - according to the pilot – which wasn’t included in the flight program, according to others. And that was when Bashir broke into the cockpit and threatened the pilot with a gun asking him not to land and continue to Beirut; and so it was.

The source was arrested for refusing the war with Iraq during a dispute between him and several officers.  The crowds between the two parties confronted each other because of the problem of the waters of the Euphrates River in 1975 but the war did not take place and instead - he asserts – only the military crowds clashed.


 In January 1965, Syrian efforts to find a high-level mole were stepped up. Using Soviet-made tracking equipment and assisted by hired Soviet experts, a period of radio silence was observed, and it was hoped that any illegal transmissions could be identified. After large amounts of radio interference were detected and traced to their source, on 24 January the Syrian security services broke into Cohen's apartment where he was caught in the middle of transmission to Israel.

Zaman Al Wasl
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