8. The Ticking Clock

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The spy was happy to be back home, but his mission wasn’t complete. The final act was still to take place in Uruguay. So in the Mossad apartment in the heart of Paris, the kill team started to plan the assassination. They were going ahead with the plan. The debate in the German Parliament was coming up in a few months. They all hoped a successful mission would influence it.

“Good Assassins: Hunting the Butcher" came out of Stephan Talty's work on a related book, The Good Assassin. Explore other parts of this story in the book: Buy The Good Assassin

There was a lot of work to do. The Mossad boss Yosef Yariv had collected all the documents the spy had sent from the field, including maps of Montevideo and São Paolo, information on hotels and renting cars. He’d written down what they'd to get through passport control and what problems the other team members might face. But they still didn’t have a place where the assassination could be carried out. They didn’t even know how it was going to be carried out.

Mossad wanted everyone to suspect that Israel had carried out the killing but it didn’t want any of its agents to get caught. What they were doing wasn’t legal. Cukurs wasn’t going to get a trial or have a lawyer, like Adolf Eichmann had got after Mossad kidnapped him. They didn’t want Mossad to be the story. They wanted Cukurs to be the story.

So the team members had to carry out the killing, gather their belongings, and head to the airport. They had to get on the plane and get safely back to Europe before Cukurs’ body was discovered. That influenced how the assassination would be carried out. It couldn’t be public. It couldn’t be loud. And the body had to be left out of sight, so that someone didn’t stumble on it and raise the alarm before the agents had left the country.

The team members were almost done with their training in Krav Maga, the Israeli fighting system. Imi Lichtenfeld was working them hard.

They were losing precious time. The clock was ticking and Germany’s vote on the amnesty statute was approaching fast. If the mission didn’t move forward soon, all would be lost.

This episode contains interviews with:

Eyal Yanilov, co-founder and Chief Instructor of Krav Maga Global

Fernando Butazzoni, award-winning journalist and author of the 2020 book on Mossad's Cukurs mission, Los Que Nunca Olvidarán (Those Who Will Never Forget)

Avner Avraham, former Mossad agent and renowned expert on Mossad operations

Gad Shimron, former Mossad agent, journalist, author of several books on intelligence and history

Chris Costa, veteran of the Department of Defense. US Army counterintelligence, human intelligence, and Special Operations Forces, currently Executive Director of the International Spy Museum

GOOD ASSASSINS: HUNTING THE BUTCHER

• Written and Hosted by STEPHAN TALTY

• Produced and Directed by SCOTT WAXMAN and JACOB BRONSTEIN

• Executive Producers: SCOTT WAXMAN and MARK FRANCIS

• Story Editor: JACOB BRONSTEIN

• Editorial direction: SCOTT WAXMAN and MANGESH HATTIKUDUR

• Editing, mixing, and sound design: MARK FRANCIS

• With the voices of: NICK AFKA THOMAS, OMRI ANGHEL, ANDREW POLK, MINDY ESCOBAR-LEANSE, STEVE ROUTMAN, STEFAN RUDNICKI

• Theme Music by TYLER CASH

• Archival Researcher: ADAM SHAPIRO

• Thanks to OREN ROSENBAUM

Learn more about “Good Assassins: Hunting the Butcher” at DiversionPodcasts.com

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