Exclusive: An ex-Israeli intelligence agent reveals Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell were not only Israeli intelligence assets, they were allegedly entrapping U.S. politicians with minors. The sexual victims have come forward, but why have none of the blackmail targets?
It has been six weeks since Jeffrey Epstein died in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan.
“Let me assure you this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein. Any co-conspirators should not rest easy”. Despite assurances from Attorney General Bill Barr – who presides over prisons and justice in the U.S. – we are no closer to knowing the truth about Epstein, his money, or his crimes than we were the day he mysteriously died.
I’ve reported before that Epstein was an intelligence asset for Israel. This was confirmed by two independent sources. Now, one of those sources, a former senior member of the Israeli intelligence community, has gone on the record to confirm this about Epstein and is making significant claims about Epstein’s human trafficking operation.
Ari Ben-Menashe is an Iranian-born Israeli consultant and former arms dealer who also served as a senior executive for Israel’s Directorate of Military Intelligence (1977 to 1987). This puts Ben-Menashe in a unique position to know about Epstein and also Ghislaine Maxwell. He met them both 40 years ago, when Ben-Menashe when he worked for Israel alongside Maxwell’s father, Robert Maxwell.
Robert Maxwell was a British media baron turned KGB and Mossad spy. He fell to his death from his yacht “The Lady Ghislaine” under mysterious circumstances in 1991.
In the ’80s, Ben-Menashe and Robert Maxwell ran a covert Israeli operation transferring arms to Iran in what became known as the Iran-Contra Affair. That’s how Ben-Menashe says he first met Jeffrey Epstein. According to Ben-Menashe, Maxwell wanted to include Epstein in his arms-dealing operation.
I have vetted the portions of the interview included below as best I can, but in a world which is all about subterfuge, there is no way of knowing if what he is saying is true. Nor can I determine if Ben-Menashe’s motives are to influence the narrative. He is a consultant for various countries including Russia and South Sudan and worked with Zimbabwe’s late Robert Mugabe. He claims he conducted this interview freely and not on behalf of any clients.
While some journalists have cautioned not to take his assertions at face value, he has proven to be a fairly accurate source over the years. I’ve only shared portions that have secondary sourcing. Nevertheless, keep his history in mind as you read on. The interview first aired on the Narativ podcast.
Ben-Menashe makes two significant claims. The first is that Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell were both intelligence assets of Israel.
Interviewer: You spoke about Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell as being a part of Israeli Military Intelligence. Do you know specifically which unit?
Ari Ben-Menashe: Because of Robert Maxwell, they worked directly with military intelligence. I don’t know who they answered to.
Interviewer: Would you say she was an agent as well?
Ari Ben-Menashe: Yes.
Interviewer: Military intelligence as well?
Ari Ben-Menashe: Yes, yes.
The second claim is that Epstein and Maxwell specifically sought out powerful politicians, scientists and public figures to entrap them in not only compromising but criminal situations.
Ari Ben-Menashe: [Epstein and Ghislaine] were blackmailing American and other political figures.
Interviewer: For the Israelis?
Ari Ben-Menashe: Yeah
Interviewer: For most people it’s hard for them to think of Israel as… blackmailing their leaders in the United States, it’s a very …
Ari Ben-Menashe: You’re kidding? [laughs]... It was quite their M.O.
Epstein and Maxwell Recruited Minors to Entrap Politicians.
Ben-Menashe claims Epstein and Maxwell specifically sought out underage girls for their famous friends.
Ari Ben-Menashe: Sleeping around is not a crime, it may be embarrassing, but it’s not a crime, but sleeping with underage girls is a crime.
Ben-Menashe also reveals a previously unknown connection between Epstein and Robert Maxwell. He says Maxwell wanted Epstein to join their Iranian arms trading operation.
Ari Ben-Menashe: What happened was Maxwell introduced him to us, and he wanted us to accept him as part of our group. [He said] ‘and your Israeli bosses have already approved.’
Maxwell had an extensive network in Israel at the time, which included the then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, according to Ben-Menashe. Despite Maxwell’s introduction and endorsements from his superiors, Ben-Menashe claims Epstein didn’t appear competent and “wasn’t accepted” by him or Nick Davies, the Daily Mirror’s Foreign Editor, who was also a part of the arms operation.
In November 1989, Ben-Menashe was arrested for violating the Arms Export Control Act for trying to sell three Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft to the Iranians. This became the basis for the Iran-Contra Affair. He spent almost a year in the same U.S. federal prison in which Epstein is said to have committed suicide.
Ben-Menashe was acquitted, and he says his experience at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan leads him to question the official version of how Epstein died.
Ari Ben-Menashe: I spent eleven months and three weeks in the same place as Epstein. It would have been impossible to commit suicide [in a cell].
Ari Ben-Menashe: I have theories about who wanted him dead. Probably there’s quite a number of people in the States wanted him dead, but I would think mainly the Israelis.
The official reason for Epstein’s death according to Bill Barr and the New York Medical Examiner is suicide.
Virginia Guiffre, one of Epstein’s accusers, gave her first television interview to Dateline NBC this weekend. She told NBC that Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell directed her to sleep with Britain’s Prince Andrew and other public figures on several occasions.
What NBC didn’t reveal, but is made clear by Guiffre from an affidavit she filed in 2015, is that she believes Epstein and Maxwell put her in those situations to compromise public figures with blackmail.
In the 2015 affidavit, Guiffre claimed Epstein told her he set up his friends with minors so that they would “owe him,” they would “be in his pocket,” and he would “have something on them.”
She said Epstein required her to “describe sex” with politicians, bankers and celebrities “presumably so that he could potentially blackmail them.”
Guiffre writes explicitly about Epstein seeking details of Prince Andrew’s fetishes, claiming Epstein was collecting “private information about [Prince Andrew].”
There are additional claims in police documents and testimony that Epstein’s homes in New York City and Palm Beach were wired for video surveillance.
When authorities executed a search warrant on Epstein’s Manhattan mansion, they also found CDs labelled “Young [name] +[Name]” in a locked safe, according to the detention document.Become a Patron!
No Physical Trail of Blackmail
Despite what appears to be the makings of a blackmail operation, and Ben-Menashe’s revelations, there is no publicly available evidence of any blackmail attempts. Part of the reason for this may be that the acts were not only compromising in nature, but also potentially criminal. Or maybe there was no blackmail at all.
Another explanation for a lack of clarity around the potential blackmail scheme, might be that Epstein and Maxwell were not just your run-of-the-mill criminals. They worked for one of the most respected and feared intelligence agencies in the world.
Remember how Epstein was able to get off so lightly for his crimes?
According to the Daily Beast, when former Labor Secretary Alex Acosta was being interviewed by Trump’s transition team, he was asked specifically about the Non-Prosecution Agreement he cut with Epstein’s lawyers in 2008 (as the US federal prosecutor in charge of that case). Acosta’s response to the transition team was that he had “been told” to back off, that Epstein was above his pay grade: “I was told Epstein belonged to intelligence and to leave it alone.”
So, what were Epstein and Maxwell doing as assets or agents? Was their “project” for them to entrap powerful American men with underage girls, as Ben-Menashe asserts?
No public figures have come forward with any claims of this nature. Until one does, or a court makes their names public, the details of any alleged blackmail operation will remain secret.
According to Ben-Menashe, Epstein met Ghislaine Maxwell almost a decade earlier than previously reported, and that they were romantically linked. Again, Ben-Menashe says he was introduced to Epstein by Ghislaine’s father, Robert, in the early ’80s.
Ari Ben-Menashe: [Epstein] wasn’t very competent. He didn’t seem to be a competent guy, he doesn’t seem to be. But he was a good looking guy. And Miss Maxwell …
Interviewer: Ghislaine, yeah.
Ari Ben-Menashe: … fell for him.
Interviewer: That early, the 1980’s?
Ari Ben-Menashe: That early. How old was she?
Ghislaine was 20, Epstein was 26 in 1980.
Interviewer: She was young.
Ari Ben-Menashe: Yeah.
Interviewer: But most of the reporting about her and him only started in 1991 when they got to the United States.
Ari Ben-Menashe: Yeah, I realize that. But they were already …
Interviewer: They were already dating.
Ari Ben-Menashe: Call it dating or whatever.
Interviewer: So he was part of the family business?
Ari Ben-Menashe: Yeah, and Maxwell sort of started liking him. And my theory is that Maxwell felt that this guy is going for his daughter.
Another business associate of Epstein from the ’80s confirms Ben-Menashe’s account. Steven Hoffenberg is the former publisher of the New York Post and spent 18 years in jail for a Ponzi scheme which he claims was also Epstein’s work. Hoffenberg was introduced to Epstein by Douglas Leese, a British arms dealer.
Hoffenberg tells me that Epstein met Ghislaine Maxwell at a party and fell for him instantly. She saw in Epstein the same characteristics as her father, Hoffenberg says, and introduced the two men.
Another Conflict for Bill Barr
While many people had good reason to want the details of this story to die with Epstein, the victims deserve better.
Ben-Menashe and Robert Maxwell’s involvement in Iran-Contra raises new questions about Attorney General Bill Barr’s continued oversight of the Epstein case. Why? Because Barr played a significant role in the Iran-Contra cover-up.
During his first stint as A.G. for President George HW Bush (who was also swept up in Iran-Contra, while serving as Vice President to Reagan), Barr sided with the President and granted clemency to Reagan administration officials who participated in the scandal. As prosecutor James J. Brosnahan characterized him, “If you want a presidential cover-up, Barr is your guy.”
Despite what appears to be a blackmail scheme, there is no physical trail of the blackmail. One source tells me that’s because Epstein didn’t offer his bosses anything that useful. It may be that the blackmail was a means to accessing other things, like money, science or technology. Or it may have been traded with other countries’ intelligence agencies or on the black market.
Only one person knows for sure: Ghislaine Maxwell.