Indian Decade

Conspiracy Theories

A theory about Mossad and trained sharks is a reminder of the difficulties in overcoming distrust between countries.

I wrote this week about a possible thaw in ties between traditional rivals India and Pakistan. But even if the two countries’ policymakers are indeed making progress in improving relations, they will have to overcome deep mistrust between their respective populations. Such distrust is stoked by the vast range of conspiracy theories frequently bandied around, including the idea that India is behind the bomb attacks in Karachi. However, these two countries are by no means alone. Before the recent unrest in Egypt I heard one from there that may beat them all.

Late last year saw a number of shark attacks in the usually tranquil waters of the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, including a six-day period when five swimmers were attacked (compared with six attacks for the entire previous decade).

So, what was responsible for the sudden uptick in attacks? Well, according to one Egyptian official at the time, Israeli intelligence agency Mossad may have planted GPS devices in the sharks and sent them to attack swimmers. Why? Apparently, to undermine Egypt’s tourism industry.Israeli officials for their part rubbished the Egyptian claims, saying they were too ludicrous to comment on.

Still, conspiracy theories have a dangerous habit of spreading. And of being believed.