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The Lillehammer Curse

Aired on


Broadcaster: HOT8, Israel | 90’/52′ min

Based on Noam Tepper’s book – Lillehammer, Open Case

On July 21, 1973, the glorious Israeli Mossad suffered one of the greatest failures in its history, when a squad of Mossad operatives set out for Lillehammer in Norway to assassinate Hassan Ali Salameh, one of the leaders of the Black September organization, killing instead a local waiter of Moroccan descent, Ahmad Bushiki.

Over the years, the Mossad claimed that this was an error in identification. However, fifty years later, the creators of “The Lillehammer Curse” reveal that the members of the squad were certain that they were killing the wrong person and that since then, the lives of those involved in the incident have changed beyond recognition; each with his own personal tragedy.

In the first storyline, the film tells the story of the dramatic operation, from the moment the intelligence was received about Ali Salameh’s expected arrival in Norway, to the shooting of Bushiki, to the capture of some members of the cell who served prison sentences in Norway, up to the coverup by top Mossad officials.

The second storyline is about the dark side of the lives of intelligence operatives, that are sent to assassinate on behalf of the state, while paying a heavy mental price when the ghosts of the past come back to haunt them.

Avraham Gehmer, the commander of the operation on the ground, a mythological figure in the Mossad, was sentenced to prison following the operation and returned home a broken man.

He wanted to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the circumstances of the failure. When he was refused, he left the Mossad on bad terms, became a floweriest, and died of a broken heart. In the film, his widow reveals his will, in which he accuses his Mossad commanders of forcing him to commit a murder he did not want to commit and abandoning him and his friends.

Dan Arbel, one of the operatives, now almost 90 years old, must work even at old age to earn a living as a guard at a mall. He was the one who revealed to the Norwegians the operatives’ cover story, thus becoming a scapegoat, and being ostracized by them.

Emile Vazana (80), another member of the Mossad squad that knew they were targeting the wrong person, managed to avoid a prison sentence, but his life was ruined. He went bankrupt, deteriorated mentally, and was abandoned by his friends at the Mossad. In front of the camera, he tells his son, who asks him why he doesn’t talk about his past: “Because it is not a great honor to be an assassin”.

Amina al-Mufti, who has a Jordanian citizenship, was a psychiatrist who was recruited as an agent by the Mossad. She is the one who brought the erroneous information of Hassan Ali Salma’s arrival in Norway.

After Lillehammer, she was sent by the Mossad to an operation in Beirut, despite an advice against sending her on missions in enemy countries. She was caught, imprisoned under inhumane conditions, and severely tortured. After five years she was released during a prisoner exchange, returned to Israel, and never really recovered. The Mossad arranged for her a job as an anesthesiologist – even though she was not trained for it. She did not adapt to the new job and was disgracefully fired. Her life was ended when extreme Islamic elements took over her life as well as all her property.

This is the story of the biggest failure in the history of the Israeli Mossad – a thriller docu-drama reviling newly released details and deals for the first time with the personal and mental price the team paid for the fatal decision of the organization’s leaders.

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Hadas Mozes

Founder & Head Of International.