Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Jonathan Jay Pollard Spy Case

A Prickly Cactus

On Friday, November 15, Pollard, as was his custom, went to the computer center to pick up the package of documents he had ordered.

"It's not here," the clerk informed him.

"What do you mean, its not here?" Jay exploded. "I ordered it Wednesday."

The clerk checked again but it was nowhere to be found. "Try again on Monday," he suggested.

Despite being very upset, Pollard had no inkling that his spying had been discovered. He was looking forward to that weekend: Avi Sella would be visiting.

Sella did indeed visit Washington that weekend and he, Jay Pollard, and Anne Henderson-Pollard enjoyed a night on the town. Pollard happily picked up the tab. He was doing very well financially as a result of his secret work for Israel.

That Monday, a clerk from the computer center phoned Pollard to let him know that the package he had ordered the previous Wednesday had finally arrived. Enormously relieved, he immediately fetched it. Later that afternoon, he left the office and went to his car. Just as he got settled behind the wheel, a NIS agent walked up to the window.

The man was polite but firm as he asked, "Jay, would you please step out of the car and come back with us into the building?"

Pollard had a sinking sensation. They were onto him. Still, he tried to appear calm but perplexed.

In a NIS office, a group that included both FBI and NIS agents questioned Jay. Pollard insisted that he was only taking the package to another Naval office within the complex. Yes, he knew he was not really supposed to be taking it from the office so late in the day but did not believe it was any big deal. For hours, the agents questioned Pollard who appeared to have no idea what the fuss was all about. At around 7:30 p.m., he asked if he could call his wife. He was not under arrest so the agents had no choice but to permit it.

Pollard's voice was full of tension when he reached Anne. "Go see our friends," he told her, "take the wedding album, give them our cactus, and send them my love."

He was speaking in code. He and Anne had purchased a cactus the other day, of the green, growing, and photosynthetic variety. However, they had also agreed that "give them our cactus" would mean to get rid of the sensitive American documents at their home because he was in trouble. Some of the secret papers had been slipped into their treasured wedding album.

After she persuaded some close friends to hold some papers for her and her husband, a very frightened Anne Henderson-Pollard contacted pilot Avi Sella. They met at a restaurant and Anne told him, "Avi, you've got to help."

Now very nervous himself, Sella left the table to phone Yagur. The latter gave him bad news. LAKAM had not made any escape plans for those involved in this operation. Sella was baffled. Yagur told him to just get himself out of there as soon as possible.

When Sella returned to Anne, he tried to reassure her and instill a confidence that he himself was lacking. "Don't worry," he told her. "We'll take care of everything."

As soon as Sella returned to his hotel room, he told his wife they were taking the first possible plane out of the country. The panicky couple took an all-night taxi ride from Washington, D.C. to New York City. There they caught the first available flight to London.

While the Sellas were decamping in Britain, a pale and nauseous Jay Pollard was submitting to more questioning from NIS and FBI agents. This time he admitted that he had been taking secret documents hundreds of secret documents out of the building. He confessed that he had even been selling them but not to a foreign power or anyone he knew to be a representative of another country. Pollard was doing his damndest to follow the guidance of his handlers that he must never, ever mention Israel. He sold the papers to a friend of his, Pollard claimed. What did the friend need them for? Pollard said he was not sure. "Maybe he was using them to help the freedom fighters in Afghanistan," he suggested.

In the meantime Yagur and others were having a conference with Eitan concerning the fate of the Pollards. "We've got to save them," Yagur said. Eitan did not think so. He told Yagur and the others that they should get their own hides out of the United States as soon as possible. The upshot of their meeting was that Jonathan Jay Pollard would be left as the fall guy.

Jay and Anne, of course, were not aware of this decision. Jay was convinced that the Israelis would rescue him. Thus, he and Anne bundled into their green Mustang and headed for the Israeli embassy and were turned away.

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