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The Lillehammer Affair

Ron Skolnik
July 20, 2017
In a case of mistaken identity, agents of the Mossad, Israel's Secret Intelligence Service, shot dead Moroccan waiter Ahmed Bouchiki in the Norwegian resort town of Lillehammer on this date in 1973. The Mossad's actual assassination target was Ali Hassan Salameh, a senior member of the Palestinian Black September group that had carried out the terrorist attack which killed eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. Bouchiki was innocent of any wrongdoing. Following the Munich attack, Israel launched a covert operation to kill the members of Black September, dispatching assassination teams to Lebanon and to Europe. The Norwegian police arrested six members of the Israeli hit squad; nine others slipped out of the country. Five of the six were convicted on a variety of charges, including being an accessory to murder, but received relatively lenient sentences and were released back to Israel after serving one third of their terms. In 1996, Israel expressed regret over, but not responsibility for, the killing, and paid compensation to Bouchiki's family. After temporarily suspending its assassination campaign in the aftermath of the affair, the Mossad assassinated Salameh in 1979 via car bomb in West Beirut. “I, as the head of the Mossad, am responsible for what happened. And I and my colleagues at the agency were and still are not proud of what happened ... [I]n retrospect we know that our source was not reliable, and his information misled us.” -- Zvi Zamir, Director of the Mossad (1968 to 1974)