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The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations
מדינת ישראל
המוסד למודיעין ולתפקידים מיוחדים
Seal of The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations
Seal of The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations
Agency overview
Formed December 13, 1949 as the Central Institute for Coordination
Employees 1,200 (est)
Agency executive Meir Dagan, Director
Parent agency Office of the Prime Minister

The Mossad (HaMossad leModi'in uleTafkidim Meyuhadim) (Hebrew: המוסד למודיעין ולתפקידים מיוחדים‎ - Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations) is the national intelligence agency of Israel. "Mossad" is the Hebrew word for institute or institution. Membership in the Mossad is very prestigious in Israeli society.

The Mossad is responsible for intelligence collection, terrorism, covert operations such as paramilitary activities and political assassinations and the facilitation of aliyah where it is banned. It is one of the main entities in the Israeli Intelligence Community (along with Aman (military intelligence), OADNA and Shin Bet (internal security), but its director reports directly to the Prime Minister. Its role and function is similar to that of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6).


[edit] Prior to Israel's formation

The "Mossad Le'aliyah Bet" was a small, unorthodox Zionist organization whose mission in 1938 was to bring Jews to Israel. This was done to subvert the British quotas on Jewish immigration. The Mossad's modes of operation, its ideology, and politics resulted in the creation of the intelligence agency for the Israeli government once it was established in 1948. The agency consisted of several of the existing members who had worked to establish Israel as a Jewish nation and to bring the Jewish people to it.

[edit] Organization

[edit] Executive offices

From its headquarters in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, the Mossad oversees a staff estimated at 1,200 personnel, although it may have numbered up to 2,000 in the late 1980s.[1] The Mossad does not use military ranks, although most of its staff have served in the Israel Defense Forces as part of Israel's compulsory draft system, and many of them are officers. It is assumed to consist of eight different departments.

The largest is Collections, tasked with many aspects of conducting espionage overseas. Employees in the Collections Department operate under a variety of covers, including diplomatic and unofficial.[1] Their field intelligence officers, called katsas, are similar to case officers of the CIA. Thirty to forty operate at a time, mainly in Europe and the Middle East.[2]

The Political Action and Liaison Department is responsible for working both with allied foreign intelligence services, and with nations that have no normal diplomatic relations with Israel.[1]

Among the departments of the Mossad is the Special Operations Division or '"Metsada" (see Kidon), which is involved in assassination, paramilitary operations, sabotage, and psychological warfare.[1]

Psychological warfare is also a concern of the Lochamah Psichologit Department, which conducts propaganda and deception activities as well.[1]

Additionally, the Mossad has a Research Department, tasked with intelligence production, and a Technology Department concerned with the development of tools for Mossad activities.[3]

[edit] Directors of Mossad

[edit] Organizational history

The Mossad was formed on December 13, 1949 as the "Central Institute for Coordination", at the recommendation of Reuven Shiloah to Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Shiloah wanted a central body to coordinate and improve cooperation between the existing security services – the army's intelligence department (AMAN), the General Security Service (GSS or "Shin Bet") and the foreign office's "political department". In March 1951, it was reorganized and made a part of the prime minister's office, reporting directly to the prime minister. Its current staff is estimated at 1,200.

Mossad's former motto: be-tachbūlōt ta`aseh lekhā milchāmāh (Hebrew: בתחבולות תעשה לך מלחמה‎ is a quote from the Bible (Proverbs 24:6): "For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory" (NRSV). (Hebrew "tachbulot" - wise guidance - is more commonly translated as "cunning"/"trick" or even "deception")

The motto was changed recently as part of the Mossad's public 'coming out' to another Proverbs passage: be-'éyn tachbūlōt yippol `ām; ū-teshū`āh be-rov yō'éts (Hebrew: באין תחבולות יפול עם, ותשועה ברוב יועץ‎) (Proverbs 11:14). This is translated by NRSV as: "Where there is no guidance, a nation falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety."

[edit] Activities

[edit] North America

[edit] United States of America

The Mossad informed the FBI and CIA in August 2001 that as many as 200 terrorists were slipping into the United States and planning "a major assault on the United States." The Israeli intelligence agency cautioned that it had picked up indications of a "large-scale target" in the United States and that Americans would be "very vulnerable." A month later, the terrorists struck at the World Trade Center.[4]

[edit] South America

[edit] Argentina

In 1960, the Mossad discovered that Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was in Argentina and through surveillance, they confirmed that he had been living there under the name of Ricardo Klement. He was captured by a team of Mossad agents on May 11, 1960, and subsequently smuggled to Israel where he was tried and executed. Argentina protested what it considered as the violation of its sovereignty, and the United Nations Security Council noted that "repetition of acts such as [this] would involve a breach of the principles upon which international order is founded, creating an atmosphere of insecurity and distrust incompatible with the preservation of peace" while also acknowledging that "Eichmann should be brought to appropriate justice for the crimes of which he is accused" and that "this resolution should in no way be interpreted as condoning the odious crimes of which Eichmann is accused."[5][6] Mossad aborted a second operation to capture Josef Mengele.

[edit] Europe

[edit] Germany

  • Operation Plumbat (1968) was an operation by Lekem-Mossad to further Israel's nuclear program. The German freighter "Scheersberg A", disappeared on its way from Antwerp to Genoa along with its cargo of 200 tons of yellowcake, after supposedly being transferred to an Israeli ship.[7]
  • The sending of letter bombs during the Operation Wrath of God campaign. Some of these attacks were not fatal, although their purpose might not have been to kill the receiver. Some of the more famous examples of the Mossad letter bombs were those sent to Nazi war-criminal Alois Brunner.[8]

[edit] Italy

The abduction of nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu in 1986 after American-Israeli agent Cheryl Bentov lured him from the United Kingdom.[9]

[edit] Malta

The assassination of Fathi Shiqaqi, a leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, in 1995 in front of the Diplomat Hotel in Sliema, Malta.[10]

[edit] Norway

Lillehammer affair. On July 21, 1973, Ahmed Bouchiki, a Moroccan waiter in Lillehammer, Norway, was killed by Mossad while walking with his pregnant wife. He had been mistaken for Ali Hassan Salameh, one of the leaders of Black September, the Palestinian group responsible for the Munich massacre, who had been given shelter in Norway. The Mossad agents had used fake Canadian passports, which angered the Canadian government. Six Mossad agents were arrested, and the incident became known as the Lillehammer affair.[11][12][13]

[edit] Bosnia and Herzegovina

Assisted in air and overland evacuations of the Jews from war-torn Sarajevo to Israel in 1992.

[edit] Middle East

[edit] Egypt

  • Directed missions for Israeli spy Wolfgang Lotz in Egypt 1957-1965.
  • Directed missions for Israeli spy Eli Cohen(was born and worked in his youth in Egypt but spied on Syria) in 1964, who provided vast amounts of valuable intelligence. Eli Cohen was, however, caught in 1965 in Syria while he was monitoring radio frequencies.

[edit] Iran

[edit] Iran 1960s

Prior to the Iranian Revolution of 1978–79 in Iran, SAVAK (Organization of National Security and Information), the Iranian secret police and intelligence service was created under the guidance of United States and Israeli intelligence officers in 1957 to protect the regime of the shah by arresting, torturing, and executing the dissidents (especially Leftists). After security relations between the United States and Iran grew more distant in the early 1960s which led the CIA training team to leave Persia, Mossad became increasingly active in Iran, training SAVAK personnel and carry­ing out a broad variety of joint operations with SAVAK.[14][15]

[edit] Iran 2007

It was alleged by private intelligence agency Stratfor, based on "sources close to Israeli intelligence", that Dr. Ardeshir Hosseinpour, a scientist involved in the Iranian nuclear program, was killed by the Mossad on January 15, 2007.[16]

A US intelligence official told The Washington Post that Israel orchestrated the defection of Iranian general Ali Reza Askari on February 7, 2007.[17] This has been denied by Israeli spokesman Mark Regev. The Sunday Times reported that Askari had been a Mossad asset since 2003, and left only when his cover was about to be blown.[18]

[edit] Iraq

Assistance in the defection and rescuing of the family of Munir Redfa, an Iraqi pilot who defected and flew his MiG 21 to Israel in 1966.

Operation Sphinx[2] - Between 1978 and 1981, obtained highly sensitive information about Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor by recruiting an Iraqi nuclear scientist in France. On April 5, 1979, the Mossad destroyed 60 percent of the Iraqi reactor components being built in France; "[An] environmental organization named Groupe des écologistes français, unheard of before this incident, claimed credit for the blast."[2] The reactor was subsequently destroyed by an Israeli air strike in 1981.[2][19]

The alleged assassination of Canadian scientist Gerald Bull, developer of the Iraqi supergun, in 1990. The most common theory is that the Mossad was responsible, and its representatives have all but claimed responsibility for his assassination. Others, including Bull's son, believe that the Mossad is taking credit for an act they did not commit to scare off others who may try to help enemy regimes. The alternative theory is that Bull was killed by the CIA. Iraq and Iran are also candidates for suspicion.[20]

[edit] Palestinian territories

  • In 1997, two Mossad agents were caught in Jordan, which had signed a peace treaty with Israel, on a mission to assassinate Sheikh Khaled Mashal, a leader of Hamas, by spraying him with poison at a pro-Hamas rally in Amman. Again, they were using fake Canadian passports. This led to a diplomatic row with Canada and Jordan. Israel was forced to provide the antidote to the poison and to release around 70 Palestinian prisoners, in particular the Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, in exchange for the Mossad agents, who would otherwise have faced the death penalty for attempted murder.

[edit] Lebanon

The provision of intelligence and operational assistance in 1973's Operation Spring of Youth.

[edit] Syria

The assassination of Hamas leader Izz El-Deen Sheikh Khalil in Damascus in 2004.

[edit] Africa

[edit] Ethiopia

Assistance in Operation Moses, the immigration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel in 1984, and has a relationship with the Ethiopian government.

[edit] Morocco

According to Time, the Mossad was involved in what is known as the Ben Barka Affair (see Mehdi Ben Barka).

[edit] Tunisia

Tunis Raid - The assassination of Abu Jihad from the Fatah in 1988.

[edit] Uganda

The provision of intelligence regarding Entebbe International Airport and grant of refueling rights in Kenya for Operation Entebbe in 1976.

[edit] Oceania

[edit] New Zealand

In July 2004, New Zealand imposed diplomatic sanctions on Israel over an incident in which two Australian based Israelis, Uriel Kelman and Eli Cara, who were allegedly working for Mossad, attempted to fraudulently obtain New Zealand passports by claiming the identity of a severely disabled man. Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom later apologized to New Zealand for their actions. New Zealand cancelled several other passports believed to have been obtained by Israeli agents.[23] Both Kelman and Cara served half of their six month sentences and, upon release, were deported to Israel. Two others, an Israeli, Ze'ev Barkan, and a New Zealander, David Reznick, are believed to have been the third and fourth men involved in the passport affair but they both managed to leave New Zealand before being traced.[24]

[edit] Soviet Union

In February 1956, a friendly member of the Politburo provided the Mossad with a copy of Nikita Khrushchev's speech denouncing Joseph Stalin. The Mossad passed it on to the United States, which published the speech, embarrassing the USSR. This was a major intelligence coup that raised the prestige of the organization.[25]

[edit] Criticism

Mossad has often come under criticism for perceived excessive actions against Israel's many enemies.[26] It has been criticized for carrying out assassinations, abductions and torture.[27]

[edit] See also

[edit] Books

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c d e Mossad profile, Retrieved October 28, 2006.
  2. ^ a b c d Ostrovsky, Victor. By Way of Deception-The making and unmaking of a Mossad Officer. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990. ISBN 0-9717595-0-2
  3. ^ the Mossad profile, Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved October 28, 2006
  4. ^ Officials Told of ‘Major Assault’ Plans.
  5. ^ Argentina claimed, quite plausibly, that the "illicit and clandestine transfer of Eichmann from Argentine territory constitutes a flagrant violation of the Argentine State's right of sovereignty[.]" Bass, Gary J. (2004.) The Adolf Eichmann Case: Universal and National Jurisdiction. In Stephen Macedo (ed,) Universal Jurisdiction: National Courts and the Prosecution of Serious Crimes. (ch.4) Philadelphia: U.Penn. Press. In Eichmann's case, the most salient feature from the perspective of international law was the fact of Israeli law enforcement action in another state's territory without consent; the human element includes the dramatic circumstances of the capture by Mossad agents and the ensuing custody and transfer to Israel[.] Damrosch, Lori F. (2004.) Connecting the Threads in the Fabric of International Law. In Stephen Macedo (ed,) Universal Jurisdiction: National Courts and the Prosecution of Serious Crimes. (ch.5) Philadelphia: U.Penn. Press. The principle of territorial integrity (in Art. 2(4) UN Charter) At its most obvious level this means that the exercise of enforcement jurisdiction within the territory of another state will be a violation of territorial integrity 32 Note 32: E.g. after Adolf Eichmann [...] was abducted from Argentina by a group of Israelis, now known to be from the Israeli Secret Service (Mossad), the Argentine Government lodged a complaint with the UN Security Council [...] It is however unclear whether as a matter of international law the obligation to make reparation for a violation of territorial sovereignty such as that involved in the Eichmann case includes an obligation to return the offender. Higgins, Rosalyn and Maurice Floy. (1997). Terrorism and International Law. UK: Routledge. (p. 48)
  6. ^ Security Council Resolution 138, "Question Relating to the Case of Adolf Eichmann"
  7. ^ ISRAEL The Plumbat Operation (1968) retrieved 10/12/2008
  8. ^ Henley, Jon. "French court strikes blow against fugitive Nazi", The Guardian, March 3, 2001. Retrieved October 27, 2006
  9. ^ Martin, Susan Taylor. "The spy - and the man she busted", St. Petersburg Times, March 21, 2004. Retrieved October 27, 2006
  10. ^ Resources
  11. ^ Israelis to Compensate Family of Slain Waiter - New York Times
  12. ^ Fatal Error
  13. ^ Canadian Press Calls for Inquiry into Allegations Regarding Mossad Use of Passports
  14. ^ CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (CIA) IN PERSIA. In Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved July 03, 2008
  15. ^ SAVAK, Library of Congress Country Studies. Retrieved July 03, 2008
  16. ^ "Geopolitical Diary: Israeli Covert Operations in Iran" (in English) (HTML). Stratfor. 2007-02-02. Retrieved on 2007-02-04.  (requires premium subscription)
  17. ^ Linzer, Dafna. "Former Iranian Defense Official Talks to Western Intelligence", The Washington Post, March 8, 2007. Retrieved March 8, 2007.
  18. ^ Mahnaimi, Uzi. "Defector spied on Iran for years", The Sunday Times, March 11, 2007. Retrieved March 11, 2007.
  19. ^ "FRANCE PROTESTS TO ISRAEL ON RAID", The New York Times, June 10, 1981. Retrieved November 16, 2006
  20. ^ Dr. Gerald Bull: Scientist, Weapons Maker, Dreamer at
  21. ^ The Jewish Chronicle
  22. ^ Guerin, Orla. "Arafat: On borrowed time", BBC News, June 29, 2002. Retrieved October 27, 2006
  23. ^ Israeli government apologises to New Zealand - 26 Jun 2005 - NZ Herald: New Zealand National news
  24. ^ Hallel, Amir, At home with the Mossad men, The New Zealand Herald
  25. ^ Timeline:Israeli intelligence and covert operations From the War of Independence to 1956
  26. ^ Mossd
  27. ^ Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad

[edit] Further reading

  • Shimron, Gad 2007, "Mossad Exodus; The Daring Undercover Rescue of the Lost Jewish Tribe", Gefen Publishing House. ISBN 978-9652294036
  • Thomas, Gordon 2007, "Gideon's Spies; The Secret History of the Mossad", Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 978-0-312-36152-5

[edit] External links

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