Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Israeli Zoological Militancy

Israeli zoological militancy conspiracy theories are conspiracy theories about Israel's alleged use of animals to attack civilians or to conduct espionage. Such stories have been mostly propagated by the Arab media and Arabic language websites, with locals citing these reports as evidence of a "Zionist plot". These reactions have been interpreted to reflect the reach of Israeli intelligence and the inability of intelligence organizations in the Muslim world to match it, as well as a the Arab people's tradition to blame Israel for internal problems.

Israel has been accused of sending a spy pelican and a spy vulture to Sudan. The birds, wearing a GPS device and a tag with the sign "Tel Aviv University," were captured by local officials. Sudanese authorities refused to return the GPS transmitters.

In December 2010, shark attacks in Egypt were attributed to a shark trained and released by the Mossad.

In January 2011, Saudi Arabian authorities arrested what they described as a "Zionist" vulture.

The Palestinian Authority has also repeatedly accused Israel of using wild boars to destroy Arab crops in the West Bank and drive farmers out of their lands.


This conspiracy theory started to evolve December 2010, with an interview that Captain Mustafa Ismail, introduced as "a famous diver in Sharm El Sheikh", gave on TV program Egypt Today. In the interview Ismail claimed that there are no oceanic whitetip sharks in the Red Sea off Egypt. When asked how the sharks got there, Ismail responded: "no, it's who let them in?" He went on to describe his phone conversation with an Israeli diver who told him that they captured an oceanic whitetip off Eilat, an Israeli town also on the Red Sea coast. Ismail became suspicious when the Israeli told him the shark they captured had a GPS navigation device. Although this is a common method of monitoring shark migrations, Ismail offered his own theory of using GPS device on sharks: "the sharks were monitored to attack in Egypt's waters only".

Prompted in a TV interview to comment on the theory, the governor of South Sinai, Mohammad Abdul Fadhil Shousha, was reported to have said it couldn't be ruled out: "What is being said about the Mossad throwing the deadly shark [in the sea] to hit tourism in Egypt is not out of the question. But it needs time to confirm." He later directly dismissed the theory.

Describing the theory as "sad", Professor Mahmoud Hanafy, a marine biologist at Suez Canal University, pointed out that GPS devices are used by marine biologists to track sharks, not to remote-control them. Egyptian officials suggested that the attacks were due to overfishing, illegal feeding, the dumping overboard of sheep carcasses, or unusually high water temperatures.


A griffon vulture with a wingspan of about 8 feet (2.4 m) was seen flying in Saudi Arabia, near the home of a shaikh, near the city of Hayel. When the bird was captured, a GPS device and a leg tag with the sign "Tel Aviv University" were discovered on the bird. The authorities were alerted that the vulture was a part of "Zionist plot". The story was first reported in Saudi Arabia's newspaper Al-Weeam, and was later discussed in Arabic websites and other Saudi Arabia media outlets.

According to Riyadh newspaper Harmony the bird with code number "R56" was well trained and resisted the arrest by emitting a large amount of "a foul smell waste out of his mouth".

According to Arab Nyheter news agency "Al Jazeera has reported that Saudi security authorities arrested a suspect bird, who worked for Israeli intelligence (Mossad) and was flying in Saudi airspace to gather information on the country."

Israeli officials described the accusation as "ludicrous" and said they were "stunned" and were concerned that the bird could meet a severe punishment in the Saudi justice system.

A spokesman for Israel's Park and Nature Authority told the Israeli daily Ma'ariv that Israeli scientists are using GPS devices to determine the migration routes of the birds. He explained that, "The device does nothing more than receive and store basic data about the bird's whereabouts, and about his altitude and speed".

The bird was later released from custody after Saudi wildlife authorities determined that its tracking system was used for scientific purposes.

After media reports of the allegations of animal use emerged, many commentators dismissed them as "paranoid" or claimed the evidence supporting the allegations was "scant". Other commentators used the opportunity to criticize belief in conspiracy theories in the Arab world, which they characterized as a widespread problem.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Secretary-General of the Saudi National Security Council, has criticized the coverage that the vulture incident received in the Saudi media, saying "Some of the Saudi journalists rushed in carrying the news of this bird for the sake of getting a scoop without checking the information...they should have asked the competent authorities about the bird before publishing such news.

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