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Saudi Arabia Releases 'Zionist Spy' Bird of Prey

Jan 10, 2011 – 10:57 AM
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Dana Kennedy

Dana Kennedy Contributor

A bird suspected by some of being a spy for Israel's Mossad is being released by Saudi Arabia after officials learned the creature was merely part of a university research project.

The bird, which was first identified as a vulture but is reportedly a bald eagle, was captured last week by a local hunter in a remote area of the Saudi desert. The bird was wearing a GPS transmitter and a leg bracelet with the words "Tel Aviv University," according to reports that began with the Israeli daily Ma'ariv.

Within hours, reports that Israel was using birds of prey in a Zionist espionage plot went viral on many Arabic-language websites and forums, according to Saudi Arabia's Al-Weeam newspaper.

Though the vulture was tagged in a way to indicate it was part of a scientific study of migration patterns, its arrival in Saudi Arabia came at an inopportune time. Last month, after a string of shark attacks on tourists in the Red Sea, a South Sinai governor suggested they might be a plot by Israeli secret agents.

"What is being said about the Mossad throwing the deadly shark [in the sea] to hit tourism in Egypt is not out of the question, but it needs time to confirm," South Sinai Gov. Mohamed Abdel Fadil Shousha said, according to Reuters.

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But after the vulture had been captured in Saudi Arabia, Prince Bandar bin Saud al Saud, the Saudi nature authority, told Arabic-language news dailies that the bird was not a spy and that there had been been a mixup concerning a tracking device that had been placed on the bird. He also said the bird was a bald eagle.

Prince Bandar scolded local media outlets for what he said was irresponsible reporting, Emirates 24-7 reported.

"Some of the Saudi journalists rushed in carrying the news of this bird for the sake of getting a scoop without checking the information. ... I am not defending Israel, but we need to be clear. ... They [newspapers] should have asked the competent authorities about the bird before publishing such news."

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