Analysis: Assassination or suicide? How did Omar Nayef Zayed die?

The prime suspect is Israel but the cause of the Palestinian terrorist's death is still unclear.

February 26, 2016 14:40
1 minute read.
Omar Zayed, Palestinian man who died at the embassy in Bulgaria.

Omar Zayed, Palestinian man who died at the embassy in Bulgaria.. (photo credit: ARAB MEDIA)


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The timing of the death in Bulgaria of the Palestinian terrorist, wanted by Israel for murdering a yeshiva student in Jerusalem in 1986, may cause embarrassment for the Bulgarian government. The Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Borissov is currently visiting Israel and yesterday met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. 

News outlets in Sofia reported that the Bulgarian Police were investigating the circumstances behind Omar Nayef Zayed's death. Did an assassin shoot him dead? Was he poisoned? According to one of the Bulgarian news reports, the terrorist fell from the upper floor of the Palestinian embassy building. This could suggest that Zayed committed suicide or that it was staged to look as such. 

The prime suspect in his death is Israel, which failed to have him extradited from Bulgaria some two months ago. If Israel is involved, the Mossad, responsible for carrying out such special operations overseas, is the body that executed the mission. This would involve penetrating the Palestinian embassy where Zayed had sought shelter and which was surely being guarded. 

Another possibility was that Zayed's killer came from inside the embassy and that they either worked in the embassy or was invited inside.

Some will say that given the timing of the Bulgarian prime minister's visit to Israel and the close Israeli security cooperation in the fight against terror, the operation was the joint work of the Israeli and Bulgarian intelligence services. Israel cooperated with the Bulgarian authorities following the Hezbollah bus bombing in 2012 that killed five Israelis and their local driver. 

In the past, especially in the 1970s, there were operations attributed to the Mossad in which PLO figures in Europe were assassinated. These operations were often carried out in private homes or in offices by means of bombs or by shooting. The suspected assassination on Friday in Sofia is reminiscent of the Ashraf Marwan affair, the Egyptian official and Mossad agent whose body was found on the sidewalk outside his home in London. The initial assessment was that he committed suicide but subsequent signs indicated that he was probably pushed from his balcony in order to give the impression that he took his own life. It is believed that Egyptian intelligence agents killed Marwan to avenge his treason.

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