6. The Kill Team

The spy had gotten a step closer to the Butcher. Comparing Israel's mission to assassinate Herbert Cukurs to the US mission to assassinate Osama Bin Laden, the latter was revenge. But when Israel and Mossad decided to kill The Butcher of Latvia, it was to prevent more killing of Jews. Things were starting to heat up with the Statute of Limitations, which was the whole reason for the mission: to stop Germany from giving Nazi killers a free pass for their atrocities. Importantly, a famous Nazi hunter joined the cause: Simon Wiesenthal. Wiesenthal was a master publicist and self-promoter and was obsessed with finding the men and women responsible for the Holocaust and bringing Nazis to justice. “Good Assassins: Hunting the Butcher" came out of Stephan Talty's work on a related book, The Good Assassin. Explore other parts of this story in the book: Buy The Good Assassin There was also the question of the assassination method. Mossad had many ways to take someone out, what they called “targeted killings.” Yosef Yariv's job was to recruit the rest of the team that would fly to South America to join Mio and carry out the sentence on the Butcher. The team would need to train in how to bring down a strong, desperate man who has just realized he’s fighting for his life.  Yariv found a guy. His name was Imi Lichtenfeld. Lichtenfeld had created a street-­fighting technique called Krav Maga (“close combat” in Hebrew), which allowed practitioners to inflict the most damage in the shortest possible time. In 1948, the Israel Defense Forces had adopted Krav Maga for training its recruits and named Imi Lichtenfeld Chief Instructor for Physical Fitness. In 1964, Lichtenfeld began to lead secret training sessions with the kill team.  This episode contains interviews with H. Keith Melton, intelligence historian and expert on espionage tradecraft and Eyal Yanilov, co-founder and Chief Instructor of Krav Maga Global. Written and Hosted by STEPHAN TALTY Produced and Directed by SCOTT WAXMAN and JACOB BRONSTEIN Executive Producers: SCOTT WAXMAN and MARK FRANCIS Story Editor: JACOB BRONSTEIN Editorial direction: SCOTT WAXMAN and MANGESH HATTIKUDUR Editing, mixing, and sound design: MARK FRANCIS With the voices of: NICK AFKA THOMAS, OMRI ANGHEL, ANDREW POLK, MINDY ESCOBAR-LEANSE, STEVE ROUTMAN, STEFAN RUDNICKI Theme Music by TYLER CASH Archival Researcher: ADAM SHAPIRO Thanks to OREN ROSENBAUM Learn more about “Good Assassins: Hunting the Butcher” at DiversionPodcasts.com Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com