Why Film Director Steven Spielberg Should Avoid Malta this week
Wednesday, June 30, Steven Spielberg began filming in Malta the highly-charged account of the undercover Mossad team which was ordered by the late Israeli prime minister Golda Meir to hunt down and assassinate Palestinian terrorists after the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Conscious of the project’s extreme sensitivity, Spielberg has surrounded himself with advisers from outside the film world. They include President Clinton’s former Middle East envoy Dennis Ross, his White House spokesman Mike McCurry and Allan Mayer, a Hollywood specialist in crisis communications. Ross is liaising with the Israeli government.
While the operation may be seen as Israel’s first targeted assassinations of terrorists, Spielberg is quoted by the New York Times as noting: “It’s easy to look back at historic events with the benefit of hindsight. What’s not so easy is to try to see things as they must have looked to people at the time.”
But the director adds: “By experiencing how the implacable resolve of these men to succeed in their mission slowly gave way to troubling doubts… I think we can learn something important about the tragic standoff we find ourselves in today.”
Spielberg’s interest in making the film appears to transcend the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
He called the Munich attack by Black September, an arm of the Fatah, and the Israeli response “a defining moment in the modern history of the Middle East. It bears, he said, on the question of a civilized nation’s proper response to terrorism. The film will be shot in Malta, Budapest and New York.
debkafile‘s counter-terror experts comment that, while these aspects of the film are compelling, the filmmakers’ security also requires proper attention to the defining elements of terrorism, prior intelligence. Our sources say this is not a good week to start shooting in Malta. The director of the War of the Worlds and his crew would be well advised to give the Mediterranean island a wide berth for the moment because of certain events that might even place them in harm’s way..
The Palestinian Jihad Islami plans this week to commemorate the 10th anniversary of its founder, Fathi Shikaki’s assassination in Malta. He took five bullets from two motorcyclists as he stepped out of his Malta hotel in October 1995. The killers identified their quarry although he had shaved off his beard and wore a large wig. Israel has never either confirmed or denied that the killers were Mossad. Under Shikaki’s leadership, Jihad murdered dozens of Israelis in terrorist attacks. This murderous campaign continues under his successor up until the present day.
According to our sources, US and Israeli security authorities are worried that the Jihad Islami may typically decide to mark its commemoration date by hitting American or Israeli targets somewhere in the Middle East.
Jihad has more than one reason for lashing out in the coming few days.
Its kingmaker, Professor Sami Aal-Arian, is on trial in Florida for conspiracy to collect funds for the Jihad Islami’s terrorist operations against Israel. Many Israeli victims of the organization’s terrorist attacks have been called to testify.
The prosecution’s case against the professor uncovers his close ties with Shikaki. DEBKA-Net-Weekly 209 of June 10 relates how in 1990, the dead leader’s successor and current chief Abdallah Ramadan Shalah was brought over to America by al-Arian who helped him find a lecturing post at South Florida University and a place on the American academic scene.
It is worth considering the possibility of the concatenation of date, US trial, and the filming in Malta of an American movie whose theme is an episode of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict striking the Jihad leader Shalah as a timely setting for a terrorist attack on an American target famous enough to shake the world. That is, if the target is placed in easy range on Malta.
Last week, Iran elected a hardline president who is committed to sponsoring jihadist terrorism.
Jihad Islami is known to be a prime operational arm of the Iranian terrorist machine. Its networks across the Middle East and the West Bank and Gaza Strip receive logistical and intelligence backing from the Tehran-sponsored Hizballah’s undercover agencies. The harder Washington leans on the Lebanese Shiite terrorists to disarm, the more aggressive the Hizballah and those networks will be and the more determined to get their own back at America.
Israeli security and intelligence services are on high alert for the Shikaki memorial date, most especially in Jerusalem. Warnings are out for the kidnap of soldiers, attacks on West Bank and Gaza crossings into Israel and missile/mortar barrages from both territories.