Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas served as a spy for the notorious Soviet espionage agency, the KGB, according to documents found by Israeli researchers.
The documents, obtained by Hebrew University scholars Isabela Ginor and Gideon Remez, indicate that in 1983 Abbas, who was code-named Krotov (mole), worked under Mikhail Bodganov, who was then stationed in Damascus and is now Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special Mideast envoy, according to Israeli media reports on Wednesday.
The documents were smuggled out of the USSR by KGB defector Vasily Mitrokhin, who took them with him when he left for Britain in 1992. Mitrokhin’s notes are considered among the most complete information available to researchers about the KGB. An edited version of the material was made public in 2014, though his handwritten notes remain classified by MI5, the British intelligence agency.
Abbas appears on a list of KGB agents, but it was not clear whether he was active before or after his stay in Damascus, nor was the nature of his work for the Soviets.
Abbas was born in Tzefas, and he fled with his family to Syria before the 1948 War of Independence. He earned a BA in law from Damascus University and later went to Oriental College in Moscow where he received a Ph.D. in History.