- The Washington Times - Monday, August 21, 2000

JERUSALEM (AP) Israeli police said yesterday they were searching for a U.S. Army Reserve officer in military intelligence who was absent without leave from his base in San Antonio, Texas, and was believed to be in Israel.

Israeli authorities are cooperating fully with U.S. attempts to locate Lt. Col. Jeremiah Mattysse, who failed to report to duty Aug. 8 after a vacation, said U.S. Embassy spokesman Larry Schwartz.

Rivka Artzi-Nir, a woman who lives in Israel and identifies herself as Col. Mattysse's girlfriend, told Israeli newspapers he had become devoted to helping Israel since he converted to Judaism 10 years ago.

Until February, Col. Mattysse commanded the Army Reserve Intelligence Support Center at Camp Bullis in San Antonio as a full-time reserve officer. The unit's primary mission was to train reservists in intelligence work.

Joseph Hanley, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Reserve Command in Atlanta, said that "because of his background, [his disappearance] is of heightened concern."

He wouldn't give details of the inquiry, but said it would be logical for an investigation to include ensuring that nothing was missing from offices where Col. Mattysse, 49, previously worked.

"Obviously when somebody disappears like that, particularly in the case of an individual with a sensitive background he is military intelligence we would want to take normal and prudent steps to make sure military intelligence is intact," Mr. Hanley said Friday.

Should Col. Mattysse return voluntarily, which he could do by turning himself over to the embassy in Israel, and should he be convicted of the charges in a court-martial, punishment might be less severe, Mr. Hanley said.

A charge of absent without leave usually carries penalties of separation from the military, loss of benefits and two or three years of incarceration, based on whether the AWOL individual returns voluntarily or has to be apprehended, he said.

The military also would take into consideration causes for the desertion during a court-martial.

Col. Mattysse was reassigned to the 90th Reserve Support Group in San Antonio after an investigation began into complaints by his wife that he had an extramarital affair. The San Antonio Express-News reported that his wife, Vanda Mattysse, filed a divorce complaint March 7 in Virginia.

Patricia Brady, Vanda Mattysse's attorney, said the divorce is pending but would not elaborate on reasons for the divorce.

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