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Ha-Mossad le-Modi'in ule-Tafkidim Meyuhadim (Hebrew: המוסד למודיעין ולתפקידים מיוחדים, "Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks") is an Israeli intelligence agency, commonly referred to as Mossad. It is responsible for intelligence collection, covert action (including paramilitary activities and assassinations) and counter-terrorism. Its focus is on Arab nations and organizations throughout the world.
Mossad is one of the world's most well-known intelligence agencies, and is often viewed in the same regard as the CIA and MI6. It is known for its efficiency and many view it as having made a large contribution to the stability and security of Israel.
Mossad was formed in December 1949 as the "Central Institute for Coordination", at the recommendation of Reuven Shiloah to the Prime Minister back then, David Ben Gurion. Shiloah desired to have 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 "Shabak") 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 approximately 1200.
Mossad is a civilian service, and does not use military ranks, although most of the Mossad's staff have served in the Israeli Defense Force (as a part of Israel's compulsory draft system), and many of them are officers.
Mossad's original motto: Betahbulot Ta'ase Lekha Milkhama (Hebrew: בתחבולות תעשה לך מלחמה, "For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety." - Proverbs XXIV, 6) was changed recently as part of the Mossad's public 'coming out' to another Proverbs passage: Be-ein Tahbulot Yipol Am; Uteshua Berov Yoetz (Hebrew: באין תחבולות יפול עם, ותשועה ברוב יועץ, "Where no counsel is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety." - Proverbs XI, 14)
Its many successes in serving Israel's security interests has earned Mossad a reputation for being extremely effective as an intelligence agency. However controversy exists over cases where it has employed the tactics of kidnapping and assassination. It also has has experienced several publically unsuccessful debacles.
Mossad is headquartered in Tel Aviv and has eight departments:
- Collections Department is the largest, with responsibility for espionage operations.
- Political Action and Liaison Department conducts political activities and liaison with friendly foreign intelligence services and with nations with which Israel does not have normal diplomatic relations.
- Special Operations Division (Metsada) conducts assassination, sabotage, and paramilitary projects.
- LAP (Lohamah Psichlogit) Department is responsible for psychological warfare, propaganda and deception operations.
- Research Department is responsible for intelligence synthesis.
- Technology Department is responsible for development of technologies to support of Mossad operations.
Famous Mossad operations
- Locating and kidnapping of Nazi Adolf Eichmann
- Assisting in the immigration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
- Assassination of those responsible for the Munich massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games and the Lillehammer affair.
- Kidnapping of Mordechai Vanunu in Italy
- Providing highly sensitive information about Iraq's Osiraq nuclear reactor, destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in 1981.
- Providing intelligence for Israeli military operations, thousands of miles away from Israel, for instance, for Operation Entebbe.
- The assassination of Abu Jihad.
- The assassination of Gerald Bull (unverified but widely believed)
Famous Mossad debacles
In 1973, Ahmed Bouchiki, an innocent Arab waiter in Lillehammer, Norway, was killed. He had been mistaken for Ali Hassan Salameh, one of the leaders of Black September, a Palestinian terrorist organization which was responsible for the Munich Massacre and had been given shelter in Norway. The Mossad agents used fake Canadian passports, which angered the Canadian government. This was similar to an event in 1981 where fake British passports were discovered in a grocery bag in London, leading to a diplomatic row with Israel over Mossad involvement with the attempt to infiltrate China. In 1997, two Mossad agents were caught in Jordan (which has signed a peace treaty with Israel) on a mission to assassinate Sheikh Khaled Mashal, a leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, by injecting him with poison. Again, they were using fake Canadian passports. This led to a diplomatic row with Canada and Jordan, and Israel was forced to release around seventy Palestinian prisoners, in particular the militant Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who played a prominent role in attacks against Israeli civilians (and soldiers) during the current Al-Aksa Intifada, in exchange for the Mossad agents (who would otherwise have faced the death penalty for attempted murder).
In July 2004, New Zealand imposed diplomatic sanctions on Israel over an incident in which two Israelis, Uriel Kelman and Eli Cara , allegedly working for Mossad, attempted to fraudulently obtain New Zealand passports.
Directors of Mossad
- Numbers station
- Thomas, Gordon. Gideon's Spies. St. Martin's Press. 1998.
- By Way of Deception by Victor Ostrovsky.
- Official website, used for recruiting personnel (English version)
- GlobalSecurity.org entry for Mossad
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