Template:Expand Arabic Munir Redfa (Template:Lang-ar, born Munir Habib Jamil Rufa (Template:Lang-ar) (1934 – circa 1998)) was an Iraqi fighter pilot, of Assyrian ethnic origin, who defected in 1966 by flying a MiG-21 of the Iraqi Air Force to Israel. In what is considered as one of the Mossad's most successful operations, Redfa's entire extended family was smuggled safely out of Iraq to Israel. The MiG-21 fighter was evaluated by the Israeli Air Force and was later loaned to the United States for testing and intelligence analysis. Knowledge obtained from analysis of the aircraft was instrumental to the successes achieved by the Israeli Air Force in its future encounters with Arab MiG-21s. Redfa's defection was the subject of the movie Steal the Sky.
He was the second of nine children. Like many other Assyrians, his family fled to Iraq as part of the Christian migration from southeast Turkey and the northwestern mountains of Iran following the Assyrian Genocide.
After Redfa's defection, a press conference was held during which he indicated that he had suffered from religious and ethnic discrimination in Iraq and that he did not feel that it was his home, and requested asylum in the United States. Although he was reunited with his family in Israel, he did not re-emigrate to the US, contrary to his declaration, and he received Israeli citizenship. He and his family shortly thereafter moved to another western country. Shortly after Redfa's defection, Iraqi Christians were not allowed to join the air force per orders from Iraq's then-president. This order later ceased to be enforced; Georges Sada, an Assyrian Christian, was an Air Marshall in the Iraqi Air Force in the 1980s. Later, he joined the Iraqi opposition. Following the toppling of Saddam Hussein, he became interim prime minister Ayad Allawi's spokesman and national security advisor.
Redfa died sometime around 1998 of a heart attack.
References[edit | edit source]
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- Stealing a Soviet MiG, Jewish Virtual Library.