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Elizabeth Tsurkov Was Up To No Good When She Went Missing In Iraq
Nobody who’s truly up to any good would ever enter a country where they’re legally prohibited from visiting by using another passport, let alone to clandestinely expand their network of sources there. US-based Russian-Israeli researcher Elizabeth Tsurkov knowingly misled the authorities and then put her contacts at risk by meeting with them in person afterwards. Even worse, she did all this while publicly self-identifying on social media with the same country that they’re legally prohibited from having any ties.
It was just reported that US-based Russian-Israeli academic Elizabeth Tsurkov went missing in Iraq, where she was conducting fieldwork as part of her research at Princeton. She reportedly arrived in the country on her Russian passport since Iraq doesn’t allow Israeli citizens to enter. Iran is accused of organizing her kidnapping via its local allies, which one outlet speculated was to set up a high-profile prisoner exchange for an IRGC operative who Israel claimed last month was captured inside the Islamic Republic itself.
The Mainstream Media is portraying Tsurkov as an innocent victim after an unnamed senior Israeli official denied that she’s a member of Mossad like some had begun to suspect. Regardless of whatever her ties with that country’s intelligence agency may or may not be, she was up to no good when she went missing in Iraq. From the perspective of local patriotic groups, it would have been legitimate to detain Tsurkov for the five reasons that will now be explained.
For starters, she should never have entered a country that prohibits entry to Israeli citizens like herself. By arriving in Iraqi on her Russian passport, she deliberately deceived the authorities. Once this was discovered, it immediately put her and everyone who she’d hitherto come into contact with there under suspicion of being spies. She therefore behaved highly irresponsibly, which is unbecoming of an Ivy League researcher like she presents herself as and thus casts further doubt on her credibility.
The second point is that the very nature of her work makes her suspicious. According to the New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy where she’s a Non-Resident Fellow, “Her research is based on a large network of contacts – ordinary civilians, activists, combatants and communal, political and military leaders – which she has established across the Middle East and particularly in Syria, Iraq and Israel-Palestine.” The Iraqi counterintelligence service therefore had grounds to be concerned by her activity.
Third, she was clandestinely cultivating her vast regional network with sources whose countries prohibit their people from having any ties with her country or its nationals. She as an Israeli would have certainly known this, which means that she purposely put these people at risk for reasons that only she herself can account for. Researchers are supposed to operate according to a code of ethics whereby they never do anything that could bring harm to their subjects, though Tsurkov did precisely the opposite.
The fourth point is that she was conscious of her work advancing Israeli interests, whether the way she subjectively understands them as being or per speculative orders from suspected handlers, as evidenced by the fact that her Twitter handle @Elizrael explicitly references that country. She has the right to publicly self-identify with any country and thus be associated with it by others, especially if she’s its national, but this just goes to show that she knew that everything she was doing put her sources at risk.
And finally, local patriotic groups might not have trusted their corrupt country’s security services to properly deal with the counterintelligence threat posed by Tsurkov upon discovering her ties to Israel and the suspicious nature of her work, which is why they might have acted unilaterally as vigilantes. No value judgement is being made either way about the scenario in which such groups might have been responsible for her disappearance, but just to point out why they might have acted outside legal bounds.
Tsurkov should have known better than to visit Iraq seeing as how it’s illegal for Israeli citizens to do so, yet she still went anyway in order to expand her network of sources there on the pretext of conducting fieldwork as part of her research at Princeton and deceptively entered on her Russian passport. Even if she had nothing to do with Israel, her work would have still placed her on the radar of regional counterintelligence services, who investigate foreign-connected networks inside their countries.
Nobody who’s truly up to any good would ever enter a country where they’re legally prohibited from visiting by using another passport, let alone to clandestinely expand their network of sources there. She knowingly misled the authorities and then put her contacts at risk by meeting with them in person afterwards. Even worse, she did all this while publicly self-identifying on social media with the same country that they’re legally prohibited from having any ties.
One can still support Tsurkov and remain convinced that she’s supposedly an innocent victim exactly as the Mainstream Media claims, but it’s dishonest to deny that she behaved highly irresponsibly at great risk to herself and her sources inside Iraq, which contradicted expectations of an Ivy League researcher. For that reason, there are indeed plausible reasons to suspect her of conducting espionage under that cover, though whether or not she should have reportedly been detained remains a matter of debate.