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With Yugoslav intelligence aid, CIA-Mossad operatives blow up a Czechoslovak ship full of weapons destined for Syria during 1948 War



The Yugoslav regime had already been selling weapons to the Haganah during the 1948 War. The Yugoslav intelligence played a major role in stealing Czechoslovak arms and transferring them to Haganah. (See this article). In line with its pro-Haganah policy, Yugoslav security authorities assisted the CIA-Mossad operatives in destroying a Czechoslovak ship secretly transferring arms to Syria. A prominent Director of the Mossad stations in Europe, Shaike Dan, in cooperation with his deputy for Mossad stations in Eastern Europe, Ehud Avriel, masterminded the Yugoslav-backed operation that destroyed the Czechoslovak ship ‘Lino’.


The History of the USSR & the Peoples’ Democracies

Chapter 16, Section 5 (C16S5) 


Saed T.


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For quite a number of times, Czechoslovakia sent arms to the Arabs during the 1948 War. In one of these waves of transfers however, the transfer was sabotaged by the Mossad, ‘thanks’ to the intelligence provided to the Mossad by the Yugoslav regime. Since Shaike Dan had the support of Yugoslav intelligence in sending arms to Israel, he was residing in a Yugoslav hotel at the time. The person helping them in this affair was a Yugoslav regime officer ‘responsible for contacts between [Israeli] procurement personnel and the [Yugoslav] authorities’. The Yugoslav regime officer provided highly critical and sensitive intelligence that Czechoslovakia was sending weapons to Syria, and promised to provide further intelligence materials on ‘the vessel, its crew, the time it would sail, its speed and declared destination’. In a memoir published by the Israel Defense Army Publication, the Mossad operative Amnon Yona (or Amnon Jonah) who was there at the time, recalled:

Procurement and Aliya Bet operative Shaike Dan sat in his Yugoslavian hotel waiting for news about Nora: had the ship managed to bring its cargo of weapons to the Hagana armories, despite the British Army and the UN observers who were trying to prevent it? Late on Friday night, a Yugoslav officer who was responsible for contacts between procurement personnel and the authorities came into Shaike's room. His message was brief: "The ship that is to load the weapons from Czechoslovakia has entered Fiume port." Shaike, being fully aware of our shipment plans, immediately understood that the weapons and the ship had nothing to do with us. He immediately phoned Ehud Avriel in Prague. Ehud was no less surprised than Shaike, and he promised to check the story and its implications. Two days later Ehud responded that the Czech armaments plant Zabriovka had sold arms and ammunition to the Arabs: the Fiume shipment included 8,000 rifles and six million rounds of ammunition, intended for Syria. By sheer coincidence, the route from Czechoslovakia to Fiume in Yugoslavia was exactly that used for our shipments. The significance of this secret supply was earthshaking. Clearly, everything possible had to be done to prevent the weapons from reaching the Syrians. Shaike tried to persuade the Yugoslavs to impound the weapons since the shipment documents listed machine parts not weapons. He promised that we would purchase the shipment immediately at full price. The response was negative. The Yugoslavs contended that such an act would adversely affect their relations with Czechoslovakia. Shaike's other proposals for action against the ship were also rejected, but the Yugoslavs did agree to supply information about the vessel, its crew, the time it would sail, its speed and declared destination. (Missions with No Traces: Sixty Years of  Israeli Underground National Security, Israel Defense Army Publication, Amnon Yona, originally published 2001, p. 99. Bold added) (IMG)

In this situation, backed by Yugoslav intelligence, the Mossad plotted to cause the explosion of the Lino ship and to capture those weapons that were destined for the Arabs. Munya Mardor, the prominent Israeli military official in charge of securing military supplies, wrote in his memoirs (and the introduction of the memoirs was written by Ben-Gurion since the book had the Prime Minister’s blessing):

The casing of the mine was the inner tube of a motor-cycle, filled with TNT, and resistant to water. The detonators were contained in rubber contraceptive sheaths, again as a water resistance, and had potash powder distributed about them. When the time came, one of the bottles would be fitted to the inner tube, upside down, so that the acid would begin eating through the paper until it reached the potash and could generate sufficient heat to touch off the detonator and so explode the TNT – and sink the Lino. (…). There were no incidents on the way. Amnon Jonah [i.e. Amnon Yona], with Mrs. Grossman consoling at his side, was at his post. As we came up he gave the signal that all was clear. (Strictly Illegal, Munya Mardor, 1957, p. 208. Bold added.) (IMG)

The operation was successful. Hence, although previously some arms from Czechoslovakia had been successfully transferred to the Arab troops, one of the transfers was successfully sabotaged:

On March 19 [1948], a shipment of Czechoslovak rifles and machine guns for the Palestinian Arab army arrived at the small Lebanese port of Djounish in a large schooner from Genoa. In April, a Syrian government official declared that 8,000 rifles and 6,000,000 rounds of ammunition had been lost en route from Czechoslovakia to Syria in a recent explosion aboard a ship in Bari, Italy; this was said to be the second shipment from Czechoslovakia of arms of a total value of $2,085,000. Both shipments were consigned to the Syrian army. (Jews in the Soviet Satellites, The American Jewish Committee, edited/authored by: Peter Meyer, Bernard Dov Weinryb, Eugene Duschinsky, Nicolas Sylvain, 1953, p. 128) (IMG)

Munya Mardor provides an image of the Lino ship, which the Mossad destroyed with the assistance of Tito’s fascist secret service. It was Yugoslav intelligence that was mainly responsible for transfer of arms to Israel, it was Yugoslavia that provided so much arms to the regime of Israel, and it was Yugoslav intelligence that sabotaged a part of the arms transfers to the Arab forces. Behind the Mossad lied the UDB, and behind the UDB lied the CIA and MI6, the latter being ostensibly an ‘enemy’ of the Ben-Gurion regime but actually a friend of the Ben-Gurion regime.


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(Strictly Illegal, Munya Mardor, 1957, p. 209)




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