Palestinian President Abbas Reportedly Was KGB Agent; Ramallah Dismisses Report as 'Slander'

According to Israeli Channel 1, document retrieved from USSR archives show Abbas, codenamed 'Krotov,' worked by Russian agency in 1980s. Palestinian officials dismiss the report and call it yet another attempt by Israel to discredit the PA president.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas heads a Palestinian cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, July 28, 2013.
Issam Rimawi, Reuters

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly served as a KGB agent in the 1980s, Channel 1 reported.

According to archival documents obtained by the news outlet, Abbas, whose code name was "Krotov" (Mole), worked with the Soviet secret police and security agency in Damascus in 1983. KGB defector Vasily Mitrokhin brought the documents with him to the West. They include among other things a list from 1983 of the KGB's sources, collaborators and Palestinian agents in Damascus.  

Palestinian officials dismissed the report, calling it yet another attempt by Israel and other countries to discredit Abbas. "There's a clear trend of attempting to damage Abu Mazen by various elements, including Israel," Mohammed al-Madani, a member of the Fatah's central committee told Haaretz, referring to Abbas by his nickname. "This is another attempt to slander him," he added.

According to al-Madani, the relationship between the Soviet Union and the Palestine Liberation Organization began in the late 1960s, when Yasser Arafat visited Moscow. The Soviet Union supplied the Palestinians with firearms, and Abbas, as a member of the PLO executive committee, was the liaison to the Russians.

Ahmad Majdalani, a member of the PLO executive committee and a close adviser to the Palestinian president, told Haaretz that Abbas had no need for a covert channel of communication with the Soviets since he was the head of the Palestinian-Soviet Friendship Foundation and as such was the de-facto liaison between the PLO and the Soviet Union. 

Abbas didn't respond officially to the report. However, sources close to him noted that Arab states and the U.S. have recently been waging a campaign to pressure him to reinstate former Fatah official Mohammed Dahlan. Abbas has rejected what he termed a gross interference in Palestinians' internal affairs.