An Israeli businessman with ties to the U.S. government was in touch with former Jordanian Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein when he was put on house arrest on Saturday, and proposed to send a private jet to take his wife and kids to Europe.
The intrigue: The Jordanian government claims the Israeli has connections to the Mossad spy agency, while the businessman stresses he's only a friend of the prince.
Why it matters: The Jordanian government is pushing the narrative that Prince Hamzah and his associates conspired against King Abdullah with people outside of Jordan.
- Broaching connections to Israel and the Mossad are effective lines for the Jordanian government's campaign against Prince Hamzah. Public opinion of Israel is generally negative among Jordanians.
State of play: Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said at a press conference Sunday that a person with connections to a foreign security service had approached Prince Hamzah's wife and offered to arrange a private jet to escort her and her family to a foreign country.
- Several hours later Jordanian news agency “Ammon”, which is close to the Jordanian security services published a story claiming an ex-Mossad officer and Israeli named Roy Shaposhnik was behind the offer.
- Shaposhnik contacted me and gave a statement which denied Jordanian government claims that he was involved in the alleged coup. He told me he was never a Mossad officer but confirmed he proposed assistance to Prince Hamza and his family as part of their friendship.
What he's saying: "I am an Israeli living in Europe. I never served in any role in the Israeli intelligence services," Shaposhnik told me. "I don’t have any knowledge of the events that took place in Jordan or of the people involved. I am a close personal friend of Prince Hamzah."
- He added that he had wanted to help the prince’s wife and their kids at this difficult time.
Between the lines: Shaposhnik, 41, was a political operative in the centrist Kadima party in Israel 15 years ago. He served as an adviser to then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
- Later he went to the private sector and worked for U.S. businessman Erik Prince's security company. After several years he established his own company, RS Logistical Solutions, which provided services to the U.S. State Department and other governments around the world.
- Shaposhnik’s company also provided logistical services to Prince’s company as it was training Iraqi soldiers in Jordan. This is when he met Prince Hamzah through a mutual friend. The pair and their families became close friends.
On Saturday morning, Prince Hamzah sent Shaposhnik a text message telling him he had been placed on house arrest.
- A source familiar with the matter told me Shaposhnik sent Prince Hamzah’s wife a text message right away and proposed to send a jet to pick up her and their children until the situation clears out.
- Since then, Shaposhnik has had no contact with Prince Hamzah and his family, who are on house arrest and with no ability to communicate with the outside world, the source said.