Was Mossad behind the Alps murders? The slaughter of a Surrey family has been blamed on everything from a bitter family feud to a shady business deal. But is there a more sinister explanation?
Several years ago, though, when visiting his friend for dinner, Mr Aked did see something that may prove to be of great significance.
Mr al-Hilli took him to the study, showed him a bank of four desk-top computers, plus a laptop, and told him how he used them to air his stridently anti-Israeli views in Arab chatrooms.
‘Saad was a very passionate guy and this was something that concerned him,’ he says. ‘He thought the Jews were taking over America and the world, and tried to get me interested in a book about the atrocities committed by the United States on Arabs.’
After 9/11, he recalls, his views became still more extreme. In one breath he would say it was ‘pay-back time’; in the next he would venture that Israel had blown up the Twin Towers to provoke the U.S. into waging war on the Arab world.
All of which brings us to the theory advanced by a respected Middle East security analyst, who declined to be named. He believes the al-Hillis and the French cyclist could have been conspirators in a plot to supply nuclear material to Iran — and been eliminated by state-sponsored Israeli assassins.
At first blush, this may sound the stuff of conspiracy theorists and spy thriller writers. But one commentator who thinks it is plausible is Roger Howard, author of several authoritative books on Middle Eastern affairs, the next of which will examine a chilling assassination programme carried out on European soil by the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad.
Though the French police have declared themselves open to the possibility that Sylvain Mollier, not Mr al-Hilli, was the intended victim, no one has openly suggested that they might have been associates, and therefore jointly targeted.
Mollier was not merely a keen mountain bike rider. He held a senior post with Cezus, a company based in the nearby small town of Ugine and owned by Areva, the giant multi-national that leads the way in the research and development of nuclear power.
A spokesman told us he had been employed for many years as a senior production manager specialising in nuclear fuel cladding made from zirconium — one of the metals Iran wishes to amass for its feared nuclear programme.
‘Iran is unable to produce certain key materials and metals that are critical to its nuclear and ballistic missiles programmes,’ says Mark Fitzpatrick, of the ISS defence think-tank.
‘Export controls and sanctions have made it difficult to procure them, but Iranian agents are trying to exploit black-market niches — and access to advanced research and development work on specialty metals will help advance Iranian [nuclear] capabilities.’
Sylvain Mollier undoubtedly enjoyed such access, and given his professional contacts, Mr al-Hilli would surely have known where to find him.
The Iraqi Shia Muslim would also have been aware of the Frenchman’s potential value to a cash-rich Middle Eastern power — though, as Roger Howard says, given the hatred he vented towards Israel in those chatrooms, money may not have been his motive.
Just supposing al-Hilli’s hastily-arranged family holiday was a cover for a meeting with Mollier, the reason why he had stashed up to £1 million in a secret bank account, 40 miles away in Geneva, would begin to make sense.
Read more By David Jones [Daily Mail]
PUBLISHED: 00:26, 13 October 2012 | UPDATED: 00:26, 13 October 2012