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Jerusalem - Israel's Best Kept Secret, The Super Spy Shlomo Barda

Published on: April 24, 2009 10:56 AM
By: VIN News By Ezra Reichman | Bakehila
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Jerusalem - This week, the government censor permitted the publication of the name of one of Israel’s mythical Mossad agents, a man of a thousand disguises, and author of some of Israel’s most daring exploits. The censor still doesn’t allow Shlomo Barda’s picture to be published, despite his passing away a year ago.

Who was Shlomo Barda? Many believed he was Egyptian, Syrian, and even Romanian, but in fact Barda was born in Libya in 1930 to a wealthy Jewish family that lived in Bengazi which maintained friendly, close ties with the local Arab populace. His father Raphael was a textile businessman who was forced to relocate with his family from his comfortable home to the poor Jewish ghetto after the Italians conquered Libya during World War II. The Jews occasionally organized protests against the Italians. On one occasion, a grenade was thrown at the Jewish protestors and Barda’s father was killed. Shlomo was only 14 at the time.

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The trauma physically paralyzed the young Barda and it took him 2 years until he suddenly regained his mobility. He decided to leave his family and make aliya to Israel. With the help of a relative who was a government official, he received documents attesting that he was a British soldier. He leisurely took the train from Alexandria straight to Palestine. He immediately joined the Palmach “Harel” division, and received the nickname “Bengazi.”

Barda served as an air force technician after the State’s founding, and then joined the Tel Aviv police’s anti-drug unit due to his ability to speak Arabic. His mission was to catch drug smuggling originating in Jordan. Many times, he secretly entered the West Bank to confirm details of the transactions, establish ties and set the drug smugglers up for capture.

Realizing his potential, the Mossad offered him to join. In those days, the early 1960’s, Mossad agents had to prove their skill by getting anonymous restaurant clients to open up and reveal their personal and credit card details. After passing this test successfully, he was taken to a nearby Arab country where he waited in the lobby while his colleague went up to their room. By the time his colleague came down 20 minutes later, he was already joking with a group of army captains in the lobby like old friends.

Barda, they say, could be more Arab than an Arab. He was proficient in all the Arabic dialects, and was able to imitate both colloquial and literary Arabic, as well as the Egyptian, Lebanese, Damascene, Libyan and Baghdad dialects. He also knew French and Italian from home, and learned Romanian from his wife.

At the beginning of his career in the Mossad, he connected with Tzvike Malchin, the agent who captured Adolph Eichmann. A former Mossad agent says, “They were like a pot and a lid. Malchin would send Barda out on missions. He would give him orders in Yiddish and Barda would answer him in Arabic.”

Malchin and Barda belonged to the old generation of Mossad agents, whose main tools were their intuition, gut feelings, quick thinking and ability to improvise. Their work for the Mossad comprised their entire world. Malchin was the genius, inventor, and technical person who could open any lock of a safe or a door. Barda was the one who cleaned the grounds for Malchin’s team to do its work.

“Shlomo Barda was an astounding actor, a real artist,” one of his commanders recalls. “He could by himself change the reality on the ground and enable classified units to do their work without interference.”

Barda had a thousand disguises and could change identities like a chameleon. Once he arrived at a European airport and was stunned to see that his passport picture was very different than his appearance. The passport showed a blond man with blue eyes, while he was swarthy appearing. He left the passport control line, went to a side room and simply tore the passport into small pieces and ate it. Afterwards he complained that his passport was lost and somehow managed to get on the plane.

“To understand his amazing ability,” said a Mossad oldtimer, “imagine a group of thieves planning to rob a bank safe. They have only one problem: a guard is watching the room of safes. So they send someone to convince the guard to leave his watch. It sounds incredible, but that man is able to amiably convince the guard to leave his watch t and go to a local restaurant. Barda’s ability to do this enabled the Mossad to carry out many daring exploits. He could get people to act in ways that were completely opposite to their will.”

Another Mossad oldtimer describes him, “He had tremendous charisma combined with an Oriental mentality. His ability to take over the mind of his target was an immense advantage. He would get another person to act in a way that was risky to himself. Barda would work over his target carefully until he was ensnared. The main thing was to weave the web around him but the rest wasn’t that important. He didn’t take part in interrogations and extracting information.”

“The Mossad doesn’t have people like Barda anymore, for the simple reason that there is no more aliya from Arab countries. He was born there, he lived among Arabs and was familiar with them. You could say that he knew more about Arabs than Arabs know about themselves,” says one Mossad agent.

“When the Mossad was small, people would call by phone or send notes,” recalls a former senior agent. “Suddenly the Mossad became computerized and a large organization. Barda was somewhat lost. The world had changed, the Arabs too. We began to use him only for pinpointed activities.”

Barda had traveled on trains in Europe throughout his life. Suddenly a youth entered his traincar and offered to drink coffee with him. The youth slipped a drug into his coffee and then escaped with Barda’s wallet and suitcases. The youth probably didn’t know that he had preyed on a master spy, but at the end of the journey, the conductor noticed the fainted passenger and called emergency services. Police found a passport in his pocket, and called the Israeli embassy. A short investigation revealed that—miraculously—all the secret material he carried on him hadn’t been discovered. A hospital examination revealed that he had suffered a stroke while he was drugged.

In the hospital, he was visited by Mossad head Shabtai Shavit, who informed him he was going on pension. When Barda protested, Shavit told him, “I have no choice. I can’t send a doctor with you on every mission.”

Rehabilitation wasn’t successful, and Barda never returned to himself. For the rest of his life, he sorely missed his Mossad activity. He was only called to take part in one especially daring and dangerous mission during the 90’s, when the commander of the mission said, “No one but Barda can pull this off.” From this mission, Israel still enjoys fruits today.

It was Barda’s last mission, culminating a lifetime of danger and accomplishment.



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Read Comments (29)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Apr 24, 2009 at 10:10 AM Yitzchok Says:

Yehi Zichro Baruch.

2

 Apr 24, 2009 at 10:41 AM Anonymous Says:

very intersting--where can you get books on the mossad

3

 Apr 24, 2009 at 10:45 AM wow Says:

a man everyone should be proud of. but considering the so called "orthodox" jews who write on this board - i am sure that there will be some sick people who will find something negative to say.

4

 Apr 24, 2009 at 11:22 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

very intersting--where can you get books on the mossad

Here's a few to start with: Gideon's spies, By Way of Deception (good luck finding this one).

5

 Apr 24, 2009 at 11:26 AM Anonymous Says:

It sounds like a spy thriller movie!

6

 Apr 24, 2009 at 11:03 AM HAHAHA Says:

Reply to #3  
wow Says:

a man everyone should be proud of. but considering the so called "orthodox" jews who write on this board - i am sure that there will be some sick people who will find something negative to say.

HAHAHAHAHA, holy lord, your comment was so hypocritical. its hysterical. to preemptively bash a whole group of people, because someone in the group may or MAY NOT say something negative. You, my friend need to be institutionalized.
Hey I can bash, I like bashing, I think everyone should enjoy it once in a while...

7

 Apr 24, 2009 at 12:08 PM 007 Says:

this is fascinating. i love spy stuff. i hope there's a book put out about this guy.

8

 Apr 24, 2009 at 12:02 PM Anonymous Says:

well said #6!!

9

 Apr 24, 2009 at 12:02 PM Yank Says:

There is a novel called Samson's Lion about the Mossad, secret agents and even Mashiach, its awesome.

10

 Apr 24, 2009 at 11:34 AM heilig Says:

Reply to #3  
wow Says:

a man everyone should be proud of. but considering the so called "orthodox" jews who write on this board - i am sure that there will be some sick people who will find something negative to say.

you re hallucinating

11

 Apr 24, 2009 at 11:30 AM PMO Says:

Hashem gave him the ability to move like a chameleon and use the power of his mind in ways that most could not imagine. He could easily have used his abilities to make himself rich, or powerful. Instead, he used it to protect and defend klal yisroel. He did whatever needed to be done to protect us all out of ahavas Hashem and ahavas Yisroel. He is a hero and should be celebrated and honored as such. Who knows how many yidden are alive today as a result of his work... Maybe one day they will release information about his actual missions so we can all see.

12

 Apr 24, 2009 at 12:28 PM SimchaB Says:

To #3, Since you asked for it, let it begin. First of all if I lived in Israel I would vote for Agudas Yisroel. However while I'm sure Barda was a nice fellow and was a superb spy, he was still serving the State of Israel. Now let's see what the State did for the Jewish people after WWII. How many tens of thousands of Jews were killed in its' wars and terrorist attacks r"l? How much anti-semitism do jews around the world suffer from because of Israel's actions? On the other hand how many Jews were killed in the rest of the world since WWII? And where does the glorious state find itself now, Egypt armed with advanced US weaponry in a cold peace where if c"v the government fell to the Islamists... Iran threatening annihilation r"l with nuclear weapons. Chizbulla on the north dug in with thousands of missiles, Chamas in Gaza with their missiles etc. What a wonderful safe environment for Jews! Let's pay homage to all the wonderful Zionists and Mossad spies who gave us this Gan Eden! OK I'm ready, let the bashing begin!

13

 Apr 24, 2009 at 12:54 PM The Truth Says:

Reply to #3  
wow Says:

a man everyone should be proud of. but considering the so called "orthodox" jews who write on this board - i am sure that there will be some sick people who will find something negative to say.

#3 see #12 - look what YOU started!
I agree with #6 - #3 you are a hypocrite.

I am sure less than half of all Barda's activities will ever become known.

14

 Apr 24, 2009 at 12:51 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #12  
SimchaB Says:

To #3, Since you asked for it, let it begin. First of all if I lived in Israel I would vote for Agudas Yisroel. However while I'm sure Barda was a nice fellow and was a superb spy, he was still serving the State of Israel. Now let's see what the State did for the Jewish people after WWII. How many tens of thousands of Jews were killed in its' wars and terrorist attacks r"l? How much anti-semitism do jews around the world suffer from because of Israel's actions? On the other hand how many Jews were killed in the rest of the world since WWII? And where does the glorious state find itself now, Egypt armed with advanced US weaponry in a cold peace where if c"v the government fell to the Islamists... Iran threatening annihilation r"l with nuclear weapons. Chizbulla on the north dug in with thousands of missiles, Chamas in Gaza with their missiles etc. What a wonderful safe environment for Jews! Let's pay homage to all the wonderful Zionists and Mossad spies who gave us this Gan Eden! OK I'm ready, let the bashing begin!

More Jews died in one 24-hour cycle in Auschwitz than in all of Israel's wars over 60 years. Yes, Israel is a "Gan Eden."

15

 Apr 24, 2009 at 01:06 PM Anonymous Says:

There is a fiction author - Daniel Silva. I wonder if his secret Mossad Agent, Gabriel Allon, is based upon Shlomo Brada.

16

 Apr 24, 2009 at 01:27 PM SimchaB Says:

Reply to #14, I specifically said after WWII, so here you go with the Holocaust! My point is, post WWII we had a lot of sympathy from the "world" (that's why the UN voted for the State) but all that sympathy has been squandered and resulted in the situation which I mentioned previously. The holocaust was unparalleled since golus mitzrayim and I don't think you could make a case that if not for Israel another one r"l would have occurred. Another point which I neglected earlier is the spiritual holocaust which the State of Israel inflicted on our Sephardic & Yemenite brethren!

17

 Apr 24, 2009 at 01:45 PM Askupeh Says:

Reply to #3  
wow Says:

a man everyone should be proud of. but considering the so called "orthodox" jews who write on this board - i am sure that there will be some sick people who will find something negative to say.

I am one of those orthodox Jews you are talking about, and am very proud of him as I was very proud of Elli Cohen and others. I myself once contemplated offering my services to them, as I once had an opportunity to get close to a top PLO official in Arafat’s days, but in the end I felt that I can't entrust them with my life. Nevertheless I have helped them in many other ways which they will never know, Tzevishen Mir In Der Bashefer.

18

 Apr 24, 2009 at 02:19 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Yank Says:

There is a novel called Samson's Lion about the Mossad, secret agents and even Mashiach, its awesome.

I really enjoyed reading about Shlomo Barda and his exploits and I'd love to read more about him and his work for the Mossad!

The novel you enjoyed so much is also known as Aleph Shin. A prequel called Ten Lost has recently been published, and the book includes a full revised and updated version of Aleph Shin. Both books are exciting reading and I couldn't put them down. The new combo Ten Lost/Aleph Shin book should be available from any seforim/Judaica store. I highly recommend it!

The story of another real-life spy can be found in The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA by Antonio J. Mendez . Mendez engineered the rescue of six American embassy officials from Iran in 1980. Here is a magazine article about the Iran rescue: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/15.05/feat_cia.html
More info on this amazing feat can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_caper

(Apologies if this ends up being a duplicate. I tried to post earlier and it didn't appear to go through.)

19

 Apr 24, 2009 at 02:16 PM Rippin Pinchas Says:

Reply to #14  
Anonymous Says:

More Jews died in one 24-hour cycle in Auschwitz than in all of Israel's wars over 60 years. Yes, Israel is a "Gan Eden."

Simple history lesson: the Allies liberated Auschwitz in January 1945. The state of Israel came into existence in May 1948. The claim was that since Israel's existence many have died.

#3- It was a bit foolish to assume something and attack other people.

Question: If Barda is travelling around Europe and he has many disguises and is able to blend in almost anywhere, how did the police know to call the Israelis based on his passport? It does not make sense that he would be going around with an Israeli passport.

"His father Raphael was a textile businessman who was forced to relocate with his family from his comfortable home to the poor Jewish ghetto after the Italians conquered Libya during World War II."

Italy controlled Libya since 1912. This whole story does not make much sense.

20

 Apr 24, 2009 at 01:57 PM Askupeh Says:

Reply to #12  
SimchaB Says:

To #3, Since you asked for it, let it begin. First of all if I lived in Israel I would vote for Agudas Yisroel. However while I'm sure Barda was a nice fellow and was a superb spy, he was still serving the State of Israel. Now let's see what the State did for the Jewish people after WWII. How many tens of thousands of Jews were killed in its' wars and terrorist attacks r"l? How much anti-semitism do jews around the world suffer from because of Israel's actions? On the other hand how many Jews were killed in the rest of the world since WWII? And where does the glorious state find itself now, Egypt armed with advanced US weaponry in a cold peace where if c"v the government fell to the Islamists... Iran threatening annihilation r"l with nuclear weapons. Chizbulla on the north dug in with thousands of missiles, Chamas in Gaza with their missiles etc. What a wonderful safe environment for Jews! Let's pay homage to all the wonderful Zionists and Mossad spies who gave us this Gan Eden! OK I'm ready, let the bashing begin!

This orthodox Jew disagrees with you. The state of Israel is not a person where you can say "hey he did that and he did that". No, the state of Israel has a government who had good people and bad people. The bad ones, are the ones who did everything in their power, and power they had, to destroy Yiddishkeit starting with the Teimenar Yiden. I’ll join you in condemning them, but you cannot condemn Menachem Begin and others like him. What Shlechts has he done to you? Yes he was a Zionist and you and me are not, but when it comes to the security of Israel we are all in agreement and we are on the same boat. Do blame, but blame the right people. Blaming everyone is no Kintz, and sorry to say, very shallow.

21

 Apr 24, 2009 at 03:31 PM SimchaB Says:

Reply to #20, I was not attacking any individuals per se. I am sure Barda meant well. I was raising the larger point about the Mossad and even the IDF itself. They both no doubt saved many lives. My point is that it could be yotzo secharo behefsedo. They saved many but the State itself caused a lot more deaths in the long term. If there was no state the arabs wouldn't have massed armies against E"Y. Now you could argue that there were cases throughout the centuries of arab attacks. But I don't believe there was anything (from the Muslims) on the scale of the last 60 years.

22

 Apr 24, 2009 at 04:04 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #16  
SimchaB Says:

Reply to #14, I specifically said after WWII, so here you go with the Holocaust! My point is, post WWII we had a lot of sympathy from the "world" (that's why the UN voted for the State) but all that sympathy has been squandered and resulted in the situation which I mentioned previously. The holocaust was unparalleled since golus mitzrayim and I don't think you could make a case that if not for Israel another one r"l would have occurred. Another point which I neglected earlier is the spiritual holocaust which the State of Israel inflicted on our Sephardic & Yemenite brethren!

U r wrong about your history, golus is filled with persecution of the jewish people some on larger scale than others, some large enough to wipe out entire communitys, just look at how many are mentioned in kinus, some may have been forgotten. We have no way to know if there might have been another or even a greater holocoust but what we do know is that the state of israel is the focus of most anti semitizm in the world, and that is a good thing because they are best prepared to deal with it

23

 Apr 24, 2009 at 05:46 PM Zg49 Says:

Reply to #21  
SimchaB Says:

Reply to #20, I was not attacking any individuals per se. I am sure Barda meant well. I was raising the larger point about the Mossad and even the IDF itself. They both no doubt saved many lives. My point is that it could be yotzo secharo behefsedo. They saved many but the State itself caused a lot more deaths in the long term. If there was no state the arabs wouldn't have massed armies against E"Y. Now you could argue that there were cases throughout the centuries of arab attacks. But I don't believe there was anything (from the Muslims) on the scale of the last 60 years.

I am not here to argue if you are right or wrong (I think you are wrong) I just have a feeling that you don't really believe in what you wrote and that you only wrote your comments to stir up a controversy for two reasons. First of all I don't sense any anger in what you are writing and most of all your spelling is too good to be an anti zionist. :)

24

 Apr 24, 2009 at 07:23 PM Anonymous Says:

"Once he arrived at a European airport and was stunned to see that his passport picture was very different than his appearance. The passport showed a blond man with blue eyes, while he was swarthy appearing."

So he traveled for a while before he realized that he does not have the right
passport??? Sounds like a moron to me.

***
"Suddenly a youth entered his traincar and offered to drink coffee with him. The youth slipped a drug into his coffee and then escaped with Barda's wallet and suitcases."

A YOUTH stole his wallet and suitcases??? I rest my case


25

 Apr 25, 2009 at 11:30 PM abi gezint Says:

Reply to #24  
Anonymous Says:

"Once he arrived at a European airport and was stunned to see that his passport picture was very different than his appearance. The passport showed a blond man with blue eyes, while he was swarthy appearing."

So he traveled for a while before he realized that he does not have the right
passport??? Sounds like a moron to me.

***
"Suddenly a youth entered his traincar and offered to drink coffee with him. The youth slipped a drug into his coffee and then escaped with Barda's wallet and suitcases."

A YOUTH stole his wallet and suitcases??? I rest my case


yah man ! i would think this major super spy would have been a little suspicious from this '' youth'' , dont u think? or maby that youth is all the hero here since he managed so easily to take down this '' super spy" , duh!!!

26

 Apr 26, 2009 at 01:42 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #12  
SimchaB Says:

To #3, Since you asked for it, let it begin. First of all if I lived in Israel I would vote for Agudas Yisroel. However while I'm sure Barda was a nice fellow and was a superb spy, he was still serving the State of Israel. Now let's see what the State did for the Jewish people after WWII. How many tens of thousands of Jews were killed in its' wars and terrorist attacks r"l? How much anti-semitism do jews around the world suffer from because of Israel's actions? On the other hand how many Jews were killed in the rest of the world since WWII? And where does the glorious state find itself now, Egypt armed with advanced US weaponry in a cold peace where if c"v the government fell to the Islamists... Iran threatening annihilation r"l with nuclear weapons. Chizbulla on the north dug in with thousands of missiles, Chamas in Gaza with their missiles etc. What a wonderful safe environment for Jews! Let's pay homage to all the wonderful Zionists and Mossad spies who gave us this Gan Eden! OK I'm ready, let the bashing begin!

well said my friend, thanks. pepole. wake up, can't u see that israel is being squeezed slowly but surely like a boa constrictor snake by bilions of zambies(arabs) who have only one mission, destroy c'v all of israel. and one spy is going to save us? what narunim u r. granted, till now they had bush as a back bone and staunch defender with real wisdom conviction and resolve, but now their (our) only hope is hashem. pray...

27

 Apr 26, 2009 at 12:23 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #24  
Anonymous Says:

"Once he arrived at a European airport and was stunned to see that his passport picture was very different than his appearance. The passport showed a blond man with blue eyes, while he was swarthy appearing."

So he traveled for a while before he realized that he does not have the right
passport??? Sounds like a moron to me.

***
"Suddenly a youth entered his traincar and offered to drink coffee with him. The youth slipped a drug into his coffee and then escaped with Barda's wallet and suitcases."

A YOUTH stole his wallet and suitcases??? I rest my case


He probably received his *new* passport from a different agent upon arrival at the airport. This is implicit, as it says he then got on the plane, even without a passport.

28

 Apr 26, 2009 at 08:10 AM Anonymous Says:

If he was a super spy, how was he not suspicious of the guy who entered his car (on the train) and was he not quick enough to see his coffee being drugged? sounds very strange, my only option is that there is a G-D. according to G-D his time to be mossad was up.

29

 Apr 26, 2009 at 10:49 AM PMO Says:

Reply to #26  
Anonymous Says:

well said my friend, thanks. pepole. wake up, can't u see that israel is being squeezed slowly but surely like a boa constrictor snake by bilions of zambies(arabs) who have only one mission, destroy c'v all of israel. and one spy is going to save us? what narunim u r. granted, till now they had bush as a back bone and staunch defender with real wisdom conviction and resolve, but now their (our) only hope is hashem. pray...

This is a story about one person. Do you really think anyone felt that the fate of E"Y depended on this one man? Such a foolish statement. The idea that you could say that Bush had "real wisdom" shows your foolishness. While his support for E"Y was strong, as his born-again religious beliefs dictate, he really did nothing to help. He just stood on the side and let the government in E"Y do what they needed to do. For that he should be commended. But seriously... Bush? Real wisdom? Give me a break.

30

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