Report: Soviet Docs Show Palestinian President Was Once KGB Agent in Syria

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas / AP

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was a Soviet agent working for the KGB in Damascus, Syria in 1983, Israel’s Channel 1 reported Wednesday.

Channel 1’s foreign news editor Oren Nahari reported that documents from the Mitrokhin Archive, upheld by KGB defector Vasily Mitrokhin, show Abbas was once a Soviet spy.

The documents were obtained by Israeli researchers Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez and reportedly reveal that Abbas, with the code name Krotov (which means "mole"), worked for Vladimir Putin’s current envoy to the Middle East, Mikhail Bogdanov, who was stationed in Damascus in 1983, the Times of Israel reported.

The Mitrokhin Archive is known for being one of the best sources of information on Soviet intelligence operations. Mitrokhin has said that the KGB recruited the "then-head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Wadi Haddad, as an agent in the 1970s," according to the Times of Israel.

It is unclear from the documents if Abbas was an agent before or after 1983.

Abbas did have ties to Russia before becoming part of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, attending the People’s Friendship University of Russia in Moscow in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He wrote a doctoral thesis that denied the scope of the Holocaust, titled "The Secret Relationship between German Nazis and Zionists," the Times noted.

The KGB was the former Soviet Union’s primary security organization from 1954 until its disintegration in 1991.