Mossad Kills Wrong Man in Norway
Mike Harari, one of the Mossad leaders in charge of the botched mission, pictured as a young agent. Photo: Pubic Domain.

July 21, 1973

A Mossad team targeting the terrorists behind the Munich Olympics massacre fatally shoots Moroccan waiter Ahmed Bouchiki while he walks home from a movie with his wife in Lillehammer, Norway. The mistaken assassination becomes known as the Lillehammer Affair.

Incorrect intelligence led Israel to believe that Bouchiki was Ali Hassan Salameh, a senior Palestine Liberation Organization official believed to be the mastermind behind the Black September attack on the Israeli delegation at the 1972 Summer Olympics. Eleven Israelis were killed. Israel responded by hunting down and killing Black September leaders across Europe and the Middle East.

Three men and two women working for the Mossad are arrested and convicted for Bouchiki’s killing; one other is acquitted. Nine others, including the mission leader, escape Norway. The five sent to prison are pardoned and released after serving one-third of what are seen as lenient sentences. Zvi Zamir, the head of the Mossad, points to an unreliable source as the cause of the deadly mistake but takes responsibility. Israel never accepts responsibility but officially expresses regret and pays compensation to Bouchiki’s widow in 1996.

Israel temporarily halts its campaign against Black September after the Lillehammer Affair, but the Mossad kills Salameh with a car bomb in Beirut in 1979. Norway reopens the Bouchiki case in 1990 but closes it again in 1999. A six-person Norwegian commission concludes a two-year investigation in March 2000 by issuing a 179-page report that finds no Norwegian involvement in the Mossad operation.