Article: Israeli Prisoner X, Intel Agent Turned Murderer, Dies at 91

Yossi Melman|2021.02.03

Mordechai Kedar, a Military Intelligence operative, was sent to Argentina in the ‘50s to launch sabotage operations in Egypt in the guise of a businessman but would be convicted of killing a businessman in cahoots with him.

Military Intelligence agent Mordechai Kedar, who in 1962 was convicted of murdering a businessman who helped him with his spying from his Argentine base, died Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 91.

Despite Kedar’s dubious past (more on that later), Military Intelligence recruited him as an agent with deep cover in Egypt. In 1954 and 1955, Israeli intelligence was suffering a shortage of agents and sources after the downfall of the Jewish espionage and sabotage network in Egypt – the result of the failed covert operation known as the Lavon Affair.
Kedar’s history and borderline personality were known, but in those years it wasn’t a rare phenomenon to recruit agents with a criminal past. During Kedar’s training, he was diagnosed by a Military Intelligence psychologist, David Rudy. Kedar’s recruitment was approved by senior MI officers, Maj. Gen. Yehoshafat Harkabi and Col. Yuval Ne’eman. Harkabi was a relative of a member of a criminal gang that Kedar led.

In March 1957 Kedar, who was widely known by his nickname Motke, was sent to Argentina by his handlers to establish a false identity. Kedar was a navy man, and in Argentina, he was tasked with launching sabotage missions in Egypt undercover as a businessman who was an amateur sailor. He was asked to use the services of Kalman Klein, a Jewish businessman who helped him rent an apartment and transferred money to him so he could craft his cover story.

Kedar became friendly with Klein’s daughter, who in November 1957 found her father’s dead body bearing knife wounds. On the eve of the murder, Kedar had met with Klein, who gave him about $15,000 before a trip to Egypt. A few days later Kedar contacted his handlers in Israel claiming that the Argentine police suspected he was involved in a plot to bring down the government and asked to return to Israel immediately.
After MI chiefs were told by the Jewish helper’s family that his body had been found, they connected the dots and concluded that Kedar was the murderer. They pretended they believed his fears of being arrested by the Argentine police as an anti-government rebel and encouraged him to return immediately to Israel. After a stopover in Europe, he landed at Lod Airport and was arrested on the spot.

In March 1957 Kedar, who was widely known by his nickname Motke, was sent to Argentina by his handlers to establish a false identity. Kedar was a navy man, and in Argentina, he was tasked with launching sabotage missions in Egypt undercover as a businessman who was an amateur sailor. He was asked to use the services of Kalman Klein, a Jewish businessman who helped him rent an apartment and transferred money to him so he could craft his cover story.

Kedar became friendly with Klein’s daughter, who in November 1957 found her father’s dead body bearing knife wounds. On the eve of the murder, Kedar had met with Klein, who gave him about $15,000 before a trip to Egypt. A few days later Kedar contacted his handlers in Israel claiming that the Argentine police suspected he was involved in a plot to bring down the government and asked to return to Israel immediately.
After MI chiefs were told by the Jewish helper’s family that his body had been found, they connected the dots and concluded that Kedar was the murderer. They pretended they believed his fears of being arrested by the Argentine police as an anti-government rebel and encouraged him to return immediately to Israel. After a stopover in Europe, he landed at Lod Airport and was arrested on the spot.
Some of the money he had received from Klein was found in his luggage. For three weeks Kedar was interrogated at a packing house in an orchard outside Tel Aviv. He was then sent to Ramle Prison, where he was kept in administrative detention for about six months until he was indicted for murder.

“He was my toughest case,” Victor Cohen, a Shin Bet investigator who interrogated Kedar, told Haaretz. “For days he refused to admit anything and tried with philosophical arguments to charm me, but my team and I had the evidence: The money he had stolen from the Jewish helper was found in the double compartment of Kedar’s bag.”

In his Hebrew-language book “Security and Democracy,” then-Mossad chief Isser Harel, the guiding spirit behind the investigation, said he feared that Kedar was “likely to physically harm anyone who could serve as a witness against him.
”Harel once told me that he didn’t rule out the possibility that Kedar would try to murder him, too. Kedar’s trial began in February 1959 and ended in June 1962. He denied the allegations but in the end was convicted of murder and theft, based on circumstantial evidence, and received a 20-year prison sentence.
Author: L