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Mossad

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Mossad  - The Mossad (HaMossad leModi'in u'leTafkidim Meyuhadim) (Hebrew: המוסד למודיעין ולתפקידים מיוחדים‎ - Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations)  is Israel's overseas intelligence and covert operations agency. 

The Mossad is charged with intelligence gathering and counter-espionage, and with covert operations including rescuing Jews who are under threat overseas, in Ethiopia and Syria for example. Frequently, its operations overlap with and may be coordinated with, AMAN - Military intelligence, but AMAN generally operates in enemy countries only.

Before the Mossad

The new born state of Israel had already accumulated quite a bit of intelligence and covert operations experience. Prior to World War II the Jewish Agency had created the Mossad l'Aliya Bet, the institute for illegal immigration, which coordinated rescue of Jews from Nazi Europe. Following the war, Zionist agents were active in organizing the Beriha - the flight of Holocaust survivors to Palestine, in purchase of weapons abroad and in sabotaging at least one large arms shipment that had been destined for Arab volunteer armies.

The Haganah had an intelligence service called the Shai, "Sherut Yediot," that served primarily as a military intelligence service, but also monitored actions of the British.

After the establishment of the state of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, acted to abolish all the underground groups and militias that were dependent on political factions and establish formal state institutions. The military arm of the state was created as the  IDF (Israel Defense Forces).  Ben Gurion, in consultation with Reuven Shiloah, who worked in intelligence in the political department of the Jewish agency, and with Israel Beeri (Bierenzweig, or "big Isser"), acting head of the Shai, resolved to establish three intelligence organizations instead of Shai -  Military Intelligence (MI) (AMAN), attached to the IDF General Staff; a domestic secret service, later known as the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) (Also GSS- General Security Service; In Hebrew "Sherut Bitachon" ("Shin Bet")  - Security Service and later, "Sherut Bitachon Qlali (Shabak) - General Security Service) and a foreign intelligence service. . The first two were initially subordinate to the IDF. The foreign intelligence service was intended to be subordinate to the Minister of Defense (Ben Gurion). Ben Gurion wrote in his Diary:

A military information service is to be established by the Staff (the General Staff), headed by Isser [Beeri] and Vivian [Haim Hertzog]. Shai will be responsible for safety [Security], censorship and counterintelligence.

An internal information service under (little) Isser [Isser Harel] and Yosef Y. [Yosef Yizraeli, General Secretary of the  Defense Ministry].

An external political information service – to be headed by Reuven Shiloah. Until the end of the war it will be subordinate to the Defense Ministry and later, possibly, to the Foreign Ministry.

In keeping with Ben Gurion's decision, Reuven Shiloah was appointed head of the Foreign Ministry's political department, which was to provide an external political information service. He also became the Foreign Minister's adviser for special tasks.

Shiloah concentrated mainly on foreign diplomaticc matters, such as efforts to form alliances with non-Arab Islamic states, e.g. Turkey, and salvaging Jewish assets abroad and bringing them to Israel.

A small Shai station, headed by Haim Ben Menahem, started operating abroad in the summer of 1947. In June 1948, when the political department was established, Arthur Ben Natan was sent to Paris to take over Ben Menahem's contacts. This operational department, which was by now taking shape, was called Da'at (knowledge).

Ben Gurion objected to publication of the existence of a security and intelligence service. Thus the political department, defined as an 'external political information service' (Information service - "Sherut Yediot" for short) became an independent, covert intelligence agency, but it was still lodged in the Foreign Ministry. This meant that the service's objectives, tasks, powers, budgets, and inter-service relations could not be legislated. Inter-service delineation was often blurred and forays into each other's territory were not uncommon.

In April 1949, the Varash, or supreme coordination committee (Vaada Rashit - Main committeee) was formed and headed by Reuven Shiloah. This  included the Shin-Bet, which emerged from Shai, the political department ("information service")), the military intelligence department and the Israeli Police.

The Mossad is born

In July 1949, Reuven Shiloah  proposed establishing a central institution for organizing and coordinating intelligence and security service, to coordinate the chaos between the different groups gathering intelligence. On 13 December 1949, Ben Gurion authorized the establishment of the 'Institution (Mossad) for Co-ordination' to oversee the political department and to co-ordinate the internal security and military intelligence organizations. This was not exactly the same "Mossad" that eventually emerged.

The foreign intelligence service was still under the Foreign Ministry until 1951. In March 1951, Ben Gurion authorized its final reorganization. An independent, centralized authority was set up to handle all overseas intelligence tasks. This was called the 'Authority' and formed the major part of the Mossad. It included representatives of the other two services at HQ and field echelons. The Mossad broke free of the Foreign Ministry and reported directly to the Prime Minister, thus becoming part of the Prime Minister's Office.

Mossad Directors

* Reuven Shiloah, 1949-1952

* Isser Harel, 1952-1963

* Meir Amit, 1963-1968

* Zvi Zamir, 1968-1974

* Yitzhak Hofi, 1974-1982

* Nahum Admoni, 1982-1989

* Shabtai Shavit, 1989-1996

* Danny Yatom, 1996-1998

* Ephraim Halevy, 1998-2002

* Meir Dagan, 2002-Present

Mossad Operations

Many Mossad operations remain secret, and in other cases, credit or blame must be shared with other agencies, including AMAN (Military Intelligence), the Shin Bet, and various IDF commando groups. For example, it is not unlikely that Israeli agents were involved in the killing of arch-terrorist Imad Moughniyeh, who was killed by a car bomb in Damascus. Moughniyeh was chief planner of major Hezbollah terror attacks, and therefore was a "natural" target for assassination, but he was also in the sights of several Arab country intelligence agencies, and no details of his demise are known.

At the inception of the state, Israeli intelligence services had few resources and very limited technical aids. They could compensate for this to some extent because of their extensive network of connections abroad, and the availability of numerous multilingual agents who could really fit in to Arab and other countries because they had been born there.

Counter-intelligence inside and outside Israel was generally weak in all services. Because of the large number of Russians and Eastern European immigrants to Israel, it was easy for the USSR to send in spies and sleepers. At the same time, initial intelligence operations of the Arab services were so amateurish that Israelis became callous about the possibility of double agents and counter-espionage.

The Mossad has also been credited with saving the lives of several foreign "enemy" rulers, including King Hassan of Morocco and King Hussein of Jordan, by providing them with timely information about conspiracies.   

Mossad successes and Failures

1956 - The Mossad provided US intelligence with the complete text of Communist Party Chairman Nikita Sergeivich Khrushchev's Twentieth Party Congress speech, was as smuggled out by a friendly Polish member of the Politburo. This exploit, which some claim for the Shin Bet, put Israeli intelligence services "on the map" as potentially valuable sources of information, and thus made it easier to get information and cooperation from foreign services.

1960- In a spectacular operation, the Mossad tracked down and captured fugitive Nazi War Criminal Adolph Eichmann, who had been responsible for millions of deaths in the Holocaust. He was flown from his hiding place in Argentina to Israel on May 11, put on trial and later executed.

1960-1965 Wolfgang Lotz planted as a spy in Egypt 1960. Discovered 1965. Lotz and others provided information about German scientists operating in Egypt and information about Egyptian air force that was evidently crucial in the victory of the Six day war. Lotz and his wife were imprisoned, but were released in the prisoner exchange following the war.

1962- Start of Operation Damocles, to prevent German scientists from helping Egypt to produce missiles.

1961- 1965 Eli Cohen gathered information on Syrian fortifications in the Golan Heights as well as other useful intelligence about Syria. Cohen  achieved a high position in the Syrian government. In 1965, however, he was discovered and hanged.

1968 - In Operation Plumbat, a combined action by the Bureau of Scientific Liaison and the Mossad in support of the Israeli nuclear weapons effort, Israeli intelligence allegedly diverted a uranium shipment. A German freighter with a cargo of some 200 tons of yellowcake (uranium oxide) disappeared. The freighter turned up at a Turkish port, but the cargo was gone. Supposedly, it was transferred at sea to an Israeli ship.

1972 (and after) Operation Wrath of God eliminates key members of the Black September movement who were involved in the Munich Olympics massacre of Israeli athletes.

1973 - In July 1973, Ahmed Bouchiki, Moroccan waiter, was killed in Lillehammer Norway by Mossad agents. Bouchiki was mistaken for Ali Hassan Salameh, a Black September terrrorist.

1978 - Terrorist Wadia Haddad (PFLP) is killed.

1979 - Zuheir Mushsin (Al-Saiqa) is killed.

1978-1981 - Operation Sphinx - Collection of information related to Iraq nuclear weapons program at Osirak. The project also allegedly included sabotage of nuclear components destined for Iraq in France. 

1986- Mordechai Vanunu, who had sold Israeli nuclear secrets to British media, was lured to Italy and then captured and flown to Israel.

1988 - PLO member Abu Jihad is killed in Tunis.

1995- Fathi Shkaki, Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist killed in Malta.

1996 - False alarm war scare - Yehuda Gill, an aging Mossad agent who is no longer able to produce valuable information, fabricated a false assessment that Syria is making preparations to launch a war against Israel. The fabrication was discovered after it came close to sparking a war with Syria.

1997 - Failed attempt to kill Khaled Meshal, head of Hamas in Jordan. Two Mossad agents arrested by Jordanians are traded for release of about 70 prisoners. 

2001 - Israeli intelligence (evidently Mossad) alerted US agencies in August to the presence of terrorists in the United States and the probability of a major attack. The warnings were ignored, along with many others, allowing the aircraft hijackings and attacks of September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Reference: Telegraph, UK, September 15, 2001 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1340698/Israeli-security-issued-urgent-warning-to-CIA-of-large-scale-terror-attacks.html

2007 - A US intelligence official told The Washington Post that Israel was responsible for the defection of Iranian general Ali Reza Askari on February 7, 2007, though this was denied by Israel. Sunday Times claimed that Askari was an Israeli agent who fled when his cover was compromised.

Mossad Organization

The Mossad is organized into eight departments, some of which are secret. The known departments are:

  • Collections is the largest and runs the open and covert agents.
  • 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 highly sensitive assassination, sabotage, paramilitary, and psychological warfare projects.
  • LAP (Lohamah Psichologit) Department is responsible for psychological warfare, propaganda and deception operations.
  • Research  monitors information and produces daily situation reports, weekly summaries and detailed monthly reports. The Department is organized into 15 geographically specialized sections or "desks:" USA, Canada and Western Europe, Latin America, Former Soviet Union, China, Africa, the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia), Libya, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iran. A "nuclear" desk is focused on special weapons related issues.
  • Technology develops advanced technologies and "James Bond" gadgets to support Mossad operations.
  • ? Anti-Terror - apparently, a special department is involved in monitoring terror operations abroad.
  •  

    Demonization of the Mossad

    Every modern state has intelligence gathering and covert operations organizations like the Mossad. Occasionally, these agencies make mistakes or conduct operations that are embarrassing to other states.  However, in the case of Israel, the Mossad has been singled out by Anti-Zionists and Anti-Semites as being demonic, all powerful and at the same time totally incompetent. The most persistent accusation in recent years has been the absurd libel that the Mossad was responsible for the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, which is prominently featuered in many "Anti-Zionist" and "Progressive" Web sites and publications.

    Motto of the Mossad

    The motto of the Mossad is taken from Proverbs, 11:14. The King James translation of this is:

    PROVERBS 11:14 Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.  

    The original Hebrew version is:

    באין תחבלות יפל עם, ותשועה ברב יועץ

    The word תחבלות (ta'hbulot) evidently appears only in the book of Proverbs. It has been  variously  translated as strategy or stratagems, artifices or deceptions. The "deception" translation is featured prominently in works villifying the Mossad.

    Ami Isseroff

    September 20, 2008

     


    zionism Israel dictionary

    Synonyms and alternate spellings:

    Further Information:  Israel Intelligence Timeline - 1948-1955 | Israel Intelligence Timeline 1956-1961
     | Israel Intelligence Timeline 1961-1967 | Israel Intelligence Timeline 1968-1973 |
     Israel Intelligence Timeline 1974-1982 | Israel Intelligence Timeline 1983-1991 | Israel Intelligence Timeline 1992-present 


    Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:

    'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.

    ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."

    u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.

    a- sounded like a in arm

    ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.

    'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.

    o - close to the French o as in homme.

    th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.

    q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.


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    This work and individual entries are copyright © 2005-2008 by Ami Isseroff and Zionism and Israel Information Center and may not reproduced in any form without permission unless explicitly noted otherwise. Individual entries may be cited with credit to The Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Zionism and Israel

     

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