Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Hunt for Adolf Eichmann

"Ich Bin Adolf Eichmann!"

An advance team of Mossad agents arrived in Argentina on April 24, 1960. Their mission was to watch the Klement household and study the movements of its occupants. They noticed that Eichmann took the same route home from his job each day. He boarded a bus somewhere near his job and exited the bus approximately two blocks from his residence on Garibaldi Street. If they were to abduct Eichmann, agents had to confront him between the bus and his home. And whatever action they decided upon, it had to be done quickly and without fanfare, for Argentina was not made aware that Israeli agents were in the country. The government was not even told that one of the most sought after war criminals in the world had been located. It was simply too risky to share that information.

On May 11, the Mossad agents surrounded the Garibaldi location surreptitiously. Eichmann usually exited the bus from his job about 7:35 p.m. Two Mossad agents pretended to be fixing an automobile that was parked several yards from the bus stop. Others loitered in the area waiting for the precise moment. Two buses passed without Eichmann being on either one. By 8:00 p.m., he still had not appeared. The Mossad team decided to wait for one more bus. At five minutes past eight, another one arrived. This time, Eichmann stepped off the bus and proceeded to walk down Garibaldi Street.

Within moments, two agents jumped on top of the suspect, who immediately fell to the ground screaming. A car raced up next to the men and other agents hopped out of the vehicle. They dragged a terrified Eichmann into the rear of the car and slammed the doors shut. The vehicle sped off in a cloud of dust and smoke. Back on Garibaldi Street, the Mossad agents began to wander away as if nothing had happened. The abduction had taken 60 seconds from when they first saw the target exit the bus. Inside the car, they gagged and blindfolded Eichmann. They tied his legs and arms and told him if he weren't quiet, he would be shot immediately. The man replied in a calm German voice, "I have already accepted my fate."

Eichmann was taken to a safe house just outside Buenos Aires where he was stripped naked and examined. Underneath his left armpit, agents found the telltale sign of the SS: a tattoo that had been partially removed. All SS men during the Nazi era were required to get this tattoo as a form of identification. When asked to supply his name, he replied, "Ich bin Adolf Eichmann!" (I am Adolf Eichmann!)

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