The former South African leader, who passed away on December 5th, allegedly received weapons training from Mossad agents in 1962, shortly before his arrest and decades-long imprisonment in South Africa, according to Haaretz.
A letter filed away in the Israel State Archives reveals that Mandela, using an alias, approached the Israeli Embassy in Ethiopia in an effort to garner support for the African National Congress’s struggle against South Africa’s all-white rule.
Under the subject “the Black Pimpernel,” as the South African media was already calling the anti-apartheid revolutionary, the letter, classified as top secret, said that Mandela received military training, according to Haaretz, the Israeli daily.
“As you may recall, three months ago we discussed the case of a trainee who arrived at the [Israeli] embassy in Ethiopia by the name of David Mobsari who came from Rhodesia,” the letter said. “The aforementioned received training from the Ethiopians [code word for Mossad operatives, according to Haaretz] in judo, sabotage and weaponry.”
The letter added that the individual had displayed an interest in the methods of the Haganah, a Jewish underground paramilitary group that fought British rule, as well as the Palestinians in the pre-state era.
The young Mandela had illegally visited other African countries at this time, including Algeria, Egypt and Ghana.
It continued: “He greeted our men with ‘Shalom’, was familiar with the problems of Jewry and of Israel, and gave the impression of being an intellectual.”
It was then noted that the man who introduced himself as David Mobsari was the same man who had recently been arrested in South Africa, where he was convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the state.
“It now emerges from photographs that have been published in the press about the arrest in South Africa of the ‘Black Pimpernel’ that the trainee from Rhodesia used an alias, and the two men are one and the same.”
A later handwritten annotation to the letter, said to have been discovered several years ago by a student researching relations between Israel and South Africa, confirmed that the man who approached the Israeli embassy was in fact Mandela, Haaretz reported.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry website alludes to a document that confirms a meeting between Mandela and an Israeli official in Ethiopia in 1962. However, there is no reference to the Mossad, or to special training.
An entry dated December 9, 2013. says: "The Israel State Archives holds a document (not released for publication) showing that Mandela (under an assumed identity) met with an unofficial Israel representative in Ethiopia as early as 1962 … The Israeli representative was not aware of Mandela's true identity. Instead the two discussed Israel's problems in the Middle East, with Mandela displaying wide-ranging interest in the subject. Only after his arrest in 1962, on his return to South Africa, did Israel learn the truth."
Mandela, who died on Dec. 5 at the age of 95, spent over 27 years of his life behind bars. Released in 1990, he worked together with President F. W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid and establish multiracial elections in 1994.
On May 10, 1994, Mandela became South Africa's first black president.