Nahum Manbar

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Person.png Nahum Manbar  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(businessman, arms dealer)
Interests • “Iran-Contra”
• Mossad
• Shin Bet

Nahum Manbar is an Israeli businessman who entered the arms trade, but was convicted for it. Prisoner Manbar went on prison leave 56 times since being jailed in 1997,[1] until his release in 2011.[2][3]


Manbar was born in kibbutz Givat Haim in 1948. He was an officer in the Paratroopers Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). In 1984 he left Israel after several failed business ventures, and has since lived in France and Switzerland. He had entered the arms trade business, setting up companies in Poland and France.[4] In 1994 he became a sponsor of Hapoel Jerusalem B.C..

In 1994 he was accused by Washington of selling components for mustard gas and nerve gas to Iran in defiance of a US embargo and was barred from entering the United States.[5] In 1997 the Israeli security services contacted a Polish businessman who was willing to testify against him and on 27 March 1997, upon arrival in Israel, Manbar was arrested by the Shin Bet. His detention was revealed several weeks later. In May he was indicted and his case was brought before the Tel Aviv District Court.


According to the charges, he had made contact through an Iranian mediator with Majed Abasbur, then the head of the Iranian chemical weapons development project. A deal was signed between Manbar's Mana Investments International company and Iran's section 105B, represented by Abbasfour. Between 1992 and 1993 he had provided Iran with ingredients of chemical weapons, equipment and expertise, and was paid $16 million by 1994 after providing elements of mustard gas and three types of nerve gas: Tabun, Sarin and Soman. He also provided Iran with information and know-how to produce mustard gas. The indictment also stated that he had not reported to the intelligence forces about his contacts until August 1992, despite several meetings with members of the security forces. Despite committing himself to stop his illegal activity, he continued to do so for over a year. The court also rejected his claims for lack of criminal intent and established that he had known about Abbasfour's senior position.

On July 16, 1998 he was unanimously convicted of collaboration with an enemy and providing information to an enemy and sentenced to 16 years in prison. and has since been serving time in the "Nitzan" prison in Ramle.[6]

Manbar appealed to the Supreme Court of Israel but his appeal was denied on December 5, 2000. In 2007 applied a request for parole, having been described as a well-behaved prisoner. However, the Shin Bet and Mossad objected,[7] It was argued that he might be recruited by Iran.[8]


The trial was laden with controversy. Manbar's attorney, Amnon Zichroni, alleged that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had contacted the presiding judge in the case, Amnon Straschnov, to lobby for a harsh sentence for Manbar.[9] Netanyahu's office denied the allegations.[10] Zichroni further alleged that a female member of his defense team, attorney Pninat Yanai, passed along privileged information about Manbar to Straschnov - with whom, Zichroni claimed, she was having a sexual affair. Yanai, who had been fired from her duties and was also a friend of Netanyahu's spokesman, denied those allegations as well.

Another reason offered for the prosecution of Manbar was the death of two Mossad agents who were tailing Manbar's Iranian contact in Vienna in 1993. [11]They were riding on a motorcycle and had an accident. Some in the Israeli media speculate that his arrest and trial was a form of saving face for the agency. To this day, the identities of the agents is a state secret, though the name of one, Immanuel Sonino, has been reported outside Israel.

Ex-Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky pointed out that Manbar was given a small pool of lawyers to choose from and that the trial was conducted behind closed doors. He also said Manbar had contacts in the Israeli security services and that several deals with Iran had been made in the past.[12]

Others also considered it a link in a chain of shady deals between Israel and Iran that goes back to the Iran-Contra affair, and that he had taken the fall for the Israeli military and security industry.[13]

See also

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