The Palestinian Candidate

  • Share
  • Read Later
Enjoy "The Manchurian Candidate"? So did Mossad, it seems -- too much, if a report in an Israeli newspaper is to be believed. Ha'aretz, normally a sedate read, went wild Wednesday with claims that the Cold War flick inspired Israeli intelligence agents to hypnotize a young Arab prisoner into attempting to assassinate Yasser Arafat nearly 30 years ago. The plot, allegedly the brainchild of Major Benjamin Shalit, chief psychologist in the Israeli navy, seems too ridiculous for words -- the 28-year old Palestinian, codename "Fathi," was supposedly brainwashed and dispatched over the border with an exploding two-way radio. He passed it on to Arafat, but the booby trap failed to go off because of a "technical fault," according to Ha'aretz.

If true, the made-in-Hollywood plot is sure to go down in history next to the legendary CIA bid to blow up Castro with an exploding cigar. Can Arafat confirm it? Not likely -- the Palestinian leader has seen way too much skullduggery in his time for this to stick out. "There were several attempts to assassinate him," says a PLO security aide, "but I don't recall an incident with a radio."