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Book Says Israel Could Have Prevented 1983 Marine Barracks Bombing With AM-Spy Book Ban

September 13, 1990 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Israel withheld detailed information from the United States about preparations for the bombing that killed 241 Marines in Lebanon in 1983 and only provided a ″vague″ general warning, according to a book about Israel’s fabled Mossad agency.

The book - ″By Way of Deception: The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer″ - was written by Victor Ostrovsky, a Canadian-born graphic artist who grew up in Israel and said he served in the spy agency for four years starting in 1983.

At the request of the Israeli government, a New York state judge issued an order Wednesday temporarily barring St. Martin’s Press from distributing the book. A similar order was obtained this week in Canada.

The Israeli government sought the ban, saying the book contained information that could ″endanger the lives of various people in the employ of the state of Israel, and would be detrimental to the government of the state of Israel.″

The 300-page manuscript, written in collaboration with Canadian journalist Claire Hoy, purports to name many Mossad agents and supervisors as it describes in detail Mossad’s training program and many of its alleged operations.

It also describes what Ostrovsky calls a highly secret unit that collects information within the United States about the Arab world. The unit is called ″Al,″ Hebrew for ″above,″ and employs 24 to 27 people, most of them within the United States, the book says.

Although its task isn’t to spy on the United States, the unit stole research material from some major U.S. aircraft manufacturers to help Israel obtain a 1986 contract to supply the U.S. Navy and Marine corps with drones, the book says.

In Canada, the 40-year-old Ostrovsky said in an interview with The Associated Press that Israeli agents were hounding him and smearing his name.

Ostrovsky said two of his former commanders turned up at his home in suburban Ottawa a week ago, first trying to buy his silence and then threatening him.

″They said that it’s better for me that I don’t write it. They told me to stop it.″ He said he asked for police protection but was refused.

In the summer of 1983, the book says, a Mossad informant told his contact in Beirut that a large Mercedes truck was being outfitted by Shiite Moslem radicals with compartments that could hold bombs.

According to the book, the informant said the hidden spaces in the truck were large, and Mossad deduced the target had to be big. ″Now the Mossad knew that, for size, there were only a few logical targets, one of which must be the U.S. compound,″ Ostrovsky writes.

″The question was whether or not to warn the Americans to be on particular alert for a truck matching the description,″ he says.

The Mossad decided to give its CIA allies only ″vague notice that they had reason to believe someone might be planning an operation against them.″

Refusing to give them specifics, Mossad chief Nahum Admoni is quoted as having said:

″No, we’re not there to protect Americans. They’re a big country.″

CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said his agency would have no comment on the book.

On October 23, 1983, a suicide driver rammed a Mercedes truck into the Marine compound, killing 241 men, many in their beds. Another truck drove into the French compound, killing 58 French troops.

The Marines and the French troops were part of a multi-national peacekeeping operation.

Ostrovsky says Mossad first tried to recruit him in 1979 for its assassination unit. After he refused, the agency recruited him as a case officer and put him through three years of training.

In a foreword to his book, Ostrovsky says he decided to tell all because of Mossad’s ″greed, lust and total lack of respect for human life.″