Israel’s Ha’aretz has an excellent story today on Gerhard Merz, the German mercenary who died in prison in Equatorial Guinea following last year’s failed coup.
Who was Gerhard Merz? Very little is known about him. He was born in Frankfurt in 1947. During his youth he stayed for a while in Israel. In 1963 he returned to Germany. Attempts to find information about his status and activities in Israel from the Interior Ministry and from other sources were unsuccessful. What Merz did for the next 30 years – from the time he left Israel until May 18, 1995 – is not known. At that time his name was included in an executive order signed by U.S. President Bill Clinton and sent to Congress, stating that Merz had been involved in "proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons" to Iran.
As Ha’aretz writer Yossi Melman notes, Merz and his Israel business partner Moshe Regev had dealings with Iran very similar to those of another Israeli businessman, Nahum Manbar, who was jailed in Israel for his activities. Both Regev and Manbar cliamed to be reporting to the Israeli Shin Bet intelligence service on their activities.
There is one aspect of the Manbar case that the article doesn’t mention. Former British agent Richard Tomlinson claimed in 1999 that MI6 was involved.
As an MI6 agent, Tomlinson claims he personally got high-level government approval to help Iran produce chemical weapons. The aim was to use these deals to gain intelligence about Iran’s military network and ‘disrupt’ its weapons-of-mass-destruction programme.
Tomlinson’s video statement and a further written testimony are intended to be used by lawyers of the jailed Israeli businessman Nahoum Manbar, who was sentenced for 16 years in Israel last July for his part in selling chemicals and technology for manufacturing poison gas weapons to Iran, through a network including British-based associates.
This raises the question whether British intelligence was also involved in Merz’s similar dealings with Iran. If so, then Merz joins the list of those involved in the Equatorial Guinea coup attempt who had MI6 connections.