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On a warm Saturday night in July 1973 in Bethesda Maryland, a gunman stepped out from behind a tree and fired five point-blank shots into Joe Alon, an unassuming Israeli Air Force pilot and family man. Alon's sixteen-year-old neighbor, Fred Burton, was deeply shocked by this crime that rocked his sleepy suburban neighborhood. As it turned out, Alon wasn't just a pilot—he was a high-ranking military official and with intelligence ties. The assassin was never found and the case was ...
On a warm Saturday night in July 1973 in Bethesda Maryland, a gunman stepped out from behind a tree and fired five point-blank shots into Joe Alon, an unassuming Israeli Air Force pilot and family man. Alon's sixteen-year-old neighbor, Fred Burton, was deeply shocked by this crime that rocked his sleepy suburban neighborhood. As it turned out, Alon wasn't just a pilot—he was a high-ranking military official and with intelligence ties. The assassin was never found and the case was closed. In 2007, Fred Burton—who had since become a State Department counterterrorism special agent—reopened the case. Here, Burton spins a gripping tale of the secret agents, double dealings, terrorists and heroes he encounters he chases leads around the globe in an effort to solve this decades-old murder. From swirling dogfights over Egypt and Hanoi to gun battles on the streets of Beirut, this action-packed thriller looks in the dark heart of the Cold War to show power is uses, misused, and sold to the most convenient bidder.
The Long Pursuit
The Lion of Hatzor
The Investigation Begins
Stealing the MiG-21
The Bear's Black Eye
The Fate of the Evidence
The Suspect List
Origins of Terror
The Birth of Black September
The Shadow War Begins
Coming into Focus
The CIA's Involvement
Tracking the Killers
Posted January 27, 2011
This fast-paced, non-fiction account of the long unsolved murder of a former war hero turned Israeli diplomat, Joe Alon, (aka Jospeh Placzek) is filled with intrigue, deception and conspiracy theories. I was reading several other books at the same time, as I am wont to do, but once I started this one, the others languished on the table as this story consumed me and I concentrated on it, to the exclusion of all else. It is a case of the truth being stranger than fiction. Can he have been a double agent? Was there a cover up of his murder or was it truly unsolvable at the time? There are many mysteries dealt with in this short book, as we are taken from Brno, Czechoslovakia to Israel and finally to the United States. All of the intervening wars, including the history of Israel and the Middle East conflict, are outlined and somewhat explored in the process. It is a clear and concise explanation that is easily understood and absorbed.
Beginning with the murder of Joseph Alon, in 1973, a tale of intrigue which spans decades is born. Tracing back through the history of this unique man and his family, we are taken from the tragedy of the Holocaust to Israel's war for independence and right up to the present day. We learn what made him successful and what motivated him to do the things he did. His courage was often tested and his piloting skills in the Israeli Air Force were legend. He was a major force in Israel's defense forces. He loomed large, once discovered, in the Palestinian terror network. Did politics, international relations and clandestine operations prevent the details of his murder from being explored and solved in a timely fashion? Why was his family kept in the dark about the circumstances surrounding his death?
This is a well written book whose pages turn themselves. You will not be bored as you trace the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, through the life of this unusual hero or was he??? There are so many variables that one wonders if the whole story behind his murder can ever truly be resolved? The conjecture surrounding the secrets and ploys of various governments and their enemies create plots that rival those of a modern day spy novel. The subterfuge surrounding the secret deals between different organizations is often unfathomable. In the end, you will turn the final page with more knowledge about the event than you had before but you will still wonder about what to believe regarding the mysterious death of Joseph Alon. It is a true life tale of espionage.
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Posted January 6, 2011
Terrorism, murder, revenge, an eye for an eye, so very little separates one from the other. Small nuances that define our lives. Thin lines crossed by individuals and governments. Who is to say what is right? A statement often attributed to Winston Churchill states, history is written by the victors. As a young man of sixteen, Fred Burton's life was changed forever by the news of a murder in a quiet suburb of Bethesda, Maryland in 1973. The mystery of the unsolved shooting would haunt him as his life followed a career in law enforcement and security analysis. The victim was Colonel Joe Alon, an Israeli Air Force pilot assigned to the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. On an otherwise quiet July night, he was shot, execution style, in front of the home where he lived with his wife and two daughters. The murder would go unsolved by the local police and the FBI. Why was this man murdered in the U.S.? Was it a random shooting or was it tied to the history of this Israeli pilot who had fought in the Israeli-Palestinian wars while protecting his country. Reopening the cold case on the killing, Fred Burton traces Joe Alon's life through the formation and defense of the Israeli state, as Alon plays a leading role in the development of the Israeli Air Force. The trail leads across the years through the Middle East to Europe and the United States. The story of Joe Alon is a story of individuals and governments, mystery and intrigue, spies and terrorists, obfuscation and cover-up on many levels, ultimately leading the author to an inescapable conclusion and a moral conundrum. Book provided for review by the well read folks at Palgrave/Macmillan.
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Posted May 28, 2011
Since Col Alon was an IAF Mirage III commander in the Six Day War, did he personally participate in the deliberate Mirage III assault on the USS Liberty on June 8, day one of the war? See pages 78-81, and the Timeline. Since Robert McNamara and President Johnson recalled 6th Fleet aircraft upon knowing that it was Israel, not Egypt, that mercilessly was attacking the USS Liberty, some sixteen hours lapsed before the ship could be rescued. Some 34 seamen were killed and 171 were wounded, and the ship was full of holes. Ultimately, no one or nation was held accountable. Had Aloni been involved, surely the US government may have had some misgivings toward Col Aloni. So would I.
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Posted August 10, 2012
Chasing Shadows: A Special Agent's Lifelong Hunt to Bring a Cold War Assassin to Justice by Fred Burton is a non-fiction book which tells about the author’s lifelong investigation into a political murder of one of his neighbors. The product of the investigation is a mesmerizing book of an investigation of a lifetime.
July of 1973 in Bethesda, MD Joseph Alon was shot to death. Mr. Alon was a high ranking Israeli Air Force pilot, a family man and a diplomatic attaché. Fred Burton, the Alons 16 year old neighbor, was shocked by this horrendous crime in his sleepy neighborhood.
As he grew up, Fred Burton, now a counterterrorism special agent, reopened the case and found more than he bargained for trying to solve this almost forgotten murder.
Chasing Shadows by Fred Burton is an amazingly fast pace, exciting and interesting book. Mr. Burton writes a compelling account of a four decade old unsolved murder which involves Israeli diplomats, American and Israeli intelligence, Black September, the PLO, CIA, FBI, PFLP, the USAF and more.
At the time of the murder Mr. Burton was 16, as he grew up, entered the gray world of intelligence and law enforcement, the crime never left his mind. When he started to investigate he found out something strange: it seemed that none of these entities want the murder to be solved!
That includes the Israeli government who has prided itself on avenging the murder of its citizens regardless of borders and local or international laws.
This very compelling account is not only about the murder, but a small lesson in history to put everything in context. The struggle of the US Air force against the MiG fighters, the birth of the Israeli Air force, as well as the mutually beneficial relationship between the two countries, as well as sections devoted to how Middle Eastern terrorism operated in the 70s.
In my opinion, the mystery took a back seat to the fascinating history lesson, but that’s not to say it is not mesmerizing as well. Due to the subject’s diplomatic stature, many of the suspects cannot be named and were difficult to track leading only to dead ends or false leads. However, once in a while, through sheer determination and persistence, Mr. Burton slowly made progress.
The narrative weaves the pain of the Alon family who are being blocked by the Israeli government and his own frustration of running into brick walls at every turn. Mr. Burton is a wonderful storyteller who weaves international intrigue and complicated relationships between people, organizations and countries in a very readable format.
Posted June 24, 2012
When Fred Burton was 16 a murder occurred in his quiet community that was never solved. Burton had a difficult time accepting the fact that something like this could occur in his neighborhood in 1973. Nothing like it had occurred before and he had a difficult time accepting that it could happen and never be solved. It was one of the factors that led Burton into the field of law enforcement and he never forgot that morning when he first heard of the murder. In each stop in his career as he advance through various levels of law enforcement he kept that murder in mind and was always open to any facts or stories that might come his way as a police officer. His final position, before retirement, was with the Diplomatic Security Service in the State Department. As deputy chief of the Counterterrorism Division of the DDS he made contacts and heard things that would enable his private investigation of the 1973 killing to go on once he retired.
After retiring he made contact with two daughters of the victim who were still looking for answers to their father’s death. Burton uses sources that he made contact with before his retirement, the first police officer on the scene that night, and others to attempt to track down the person of persons that committed the murder in 1973. Of course he started with the victim, the Military Attaché to the Israeli Embassy. This leads Burton to give us a brief history of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians that started at the Olympic Games of 1972. Was the Military Attaché killed as part of this “Shadow War” or was he victim of a robbery gone badly.
Chasing Shadows is an excellent book tracing the conflict that possibly led to the death on a quiet street in the USA. It is also the story of one man’s search for justice for an invasion in his quiet community that as a teenager he did not understand. He needed to bring closure in his own mind to an occurrence that he did not understand. An excellent book and an easy and enjoyable read. It is fast paced and keeps one’s attention. Highly recommended.
Posted June 18, 2011
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Posted November 15, 2011
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Posted April 13, 2011
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