|The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations|
"Where no counsel is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety." (Proverbs 11:14)
|Formed||December 13, 1949 as the Central Institute for Coordination|
|Headquarters||Tel Aviv, Israel|
|Annual budget||10 billion shekels (est)|
|Parent agency||Office of the Prime Minister|
Mossad (; Hebrew: , IPA: [ha mo'sad]; Arabic: ?, al-M?s?d, IPA: [almo:'sa:d]; lit. The Institute), short for HaMossad leModi?in uleTafkidim Meyu?adim (Hebrew: ?, meaning 'Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations'), is the national intelligence agency of Israel. It is one of the main entities in the Israeli Intelligence Community, along with Aman (military intelligence) and Shin Bet (internal security).
Mossad is responsible for intelligence collection, covert operations, and counter-terrorism. Mossad is separate from Israel's democratic institutions. Because no law defines its purpose, objectives, roles, missions, powers or budget and because it is exempt from the constitutional laws of the State of Israel Mossad has been described as a deep state. Its director answers directly and only to the Prime Minister. Its annual budget is estimated to be around 10 billion shekels (US$2.73 billion) and it is estimated that it employs around 7,000 people directly, making it the second-largest espionage agency in the Western world, after the American CIA.
The largest department of Mossad 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. The Political Action and Liaison Department is responsible for working with allied foreign intelligence services, and nations that have no normal diplomatic relations with Israel. Additionally, Mossad has a Research Department, tasked with intelligence production, and a Technology Department concerned with the development of tools for Mossad activities.
Mossad was formed on December 13, 1949, as the Central Institute for Coordination at the recommendation of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to Reuven Shiloah. Ben Gurion wanted a central body to coordinate and improve cooperation between the existing security services--the army's intelligence department (AMAN), the Internal Security Service (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.
Mossad's former motto, be-tachb?l?t ta`aseh lekh? milch?m?h (Hebrew: ? ) is a quote from the Bible (Proverbs 24:6): "For by wise guidance you can wage your war" (NRSV). The motto was later changed to another Proverbs passage: be-'éyn tachb?l?t yippol `?m; ?-tesh?`?h be-rov y?'éts (Hebrew: ? ? ? , ? ?, 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."
Metsada is a unit responsible for attacking the enemy. Metsada runs "small units of combatants" whose missions include "assassinations and sabotage".
The Kidon is a unit which belongs to the Caesarea department (one of Mossad's eight departments). It is described by Yaakov Katz as "an elite group of expert assassins who operate under the Caesarea branch of the espionage organization. Not much is known about this mysterious unit, details of which are some of the most closely guarded secrets in the Israeli intelligence community." It recruits from "former soldiers from the elite IDF special force units." This unit has been a part of Israel's policy of assassinations, which according to Ronen Bergman is a policy that Israel has used more than any other country in the West since World War II, stating it has carried out at least 2,700 assassination missions.
In early 1991, two Mossad operatives infiltrated the Moroccan port of Casablanca and planted a tracking device on the freighter Al-Yarmouk, which was carrying a cargo of North Korean missiles bound for Syria. The ship was to be sunk by the Israeli Air Force, but the mission was later called off by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
The 2016 alleged killing of Hamas operative, Mohammad al-Zawahri, in Tunisia. Mohammad Zawari, known to Israel's security echelon as "The Engineer", was a Hamas affiliated engineer who was believed to be constructing drones for the group. He was shot at close range.
In the late 1990s, after Mossad was tipped off to the presence of two Iranian agents in Johannesburg on a mission to procure advanced weapons systems from Denel, a Mossad agent was deployed, and met up with a local Jewish contact. Posing as South African intelligence, they abducted the Iranians, drove them to a warehouse, and beat and intimidated them before forcing them to leave the country.
After the 1994 AMIA bombing, the largest bombing in Argentine history, Mossad began gathering intelligence for a raid by Israeli Special Forces on the Iranian embassy in Khartoum as retaliation. The operation was called off due to fears that another attack against worldwide Jewish communities might take place as revenge. Mossad also assisted in Operation Moses, the evacuation of Ethiopian Jews to Israel from a famine-ridden region of Sudan in 1984, also maintaining a relationship with the Ethiopian government.
In 1960, Mossad discovered that the Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann was in Argentina. A team of five Mossad agents led by Shimon Ben Aharon slipped into Argentina and through surveillance, confirmed that he had been living there under the name of Ricardo Klement. He was abducted on May 11, 1960 and taken to a hideout. He was 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." Mossad abandoned a second operation, intended to capture Josef Mengele.
During the 1990s, Mossad discovered a Hezbollah agent operating within the United States in order to procure materials needed to manufacture IEDs and other weapons. In a joint operation with U.S. intelligence, the agent was kept under surveillance in hopes that he would betray more Hezbollah operatives, but was eventually arrested.
Mossad informed the FBI and CIA in August 2001 that, based on its intelligence, 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 the FBI that it had picked up indications of a "large-scale target" in the United States and that Americans would be "very vulnerable." However, "It is not known whether U.S. authorities thought the warning to be credible, or whether it contained enough details to allow counter-terrorism teams to come up with a response." A month later, terrorists struck at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the largest terrorist attack in history.
A report published on the Israeli military's official website in February, 2014 said that Middle Eastern countries that cooperate with Israel (Mossad) are the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. The report claimed that Bahrain has been providing Israel with intelligence on Iranian and Palestinian organizations. The report also highlights the growing secret cooperation with Saudi Arabia, claiming that Mossad has been in direct contact with Saudi intelligence about Iran's nuclear energy program.
Prior to the Iranian Revolution of 1978-79, 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. After security relations between the United States and Iran grew more distant in the early 1960s which led the CIA training team to leave Iran, Mossad became increasingly active in Iran, "training SAVAK personnel and carrying out a broad variety of joint operations with SAVAK."
A US intelligence official told The Washington Post that Israel orchestrated the defection of Iranian general Ali Reza Askari on February 7, 2007. 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.
Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi has accused Mossad of assassination plots and killings of Iranian physicists in 2010. Reports have noted that such information has not yet been evidently proven. Iranian state TV broadcast a stated confession from Majid Jamali-Fashi, an Iranian man who claimed to have visited Israel to be trained by Mossad.
Le Figaro claimed that Mossad was possibly behind a blast at the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Imam Ali military base, on October 12, 2011. The explosion at the base killed 18 and injured 10 others. Among the dead was also general Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, who served as the commander of the Revolutionary Guards' missile program and was a crucial figure in building Iran's long-range missile program. The base is believed to store long-range missiles, including the Shahab-3, and also has hangars. It is one of Iran's most secure military bases.
Mossad has been accused of assassinating Masoud Alimohammadi, Ardeshir Hosseinpour, Majid Shahriari, Darioush Rezaeinejad and Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan; scientists involved in the Iranian nuclear program. It is also suspected of being behind the attempted assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Fereydoon Abbasi.Meir Dagan, who served as Director of Mossad from 2002 until 2009, while not taking credit for the assassinations, praised them in an interview with a journalist, saying "the removal of important brains" from the Iranian nuclear project had achieved so-called "white defections," frightening other Iranian nuclear scientists into requesting that they be transferred to civilian projects.
In early February 2012, Mossad director Tamir Pardo met with U.S. national security officials in Washington, D.C. to sound them out on possible American reactions in the event Israel attacked Iran over the objections of the United States.
In 2018 the Mossad broke into Iran's secret nuclear archive in Tehran and smuggled over 100,000 documents and computer files to Israel. The documents and files showed that the Iranian AMAD Project aimed to develop nuclear weapons. Israel shared the information with its allies, including European countries and the United States.
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 Diamond". Redfa's entire family was also successfully smuggled from Iraq to Israel. Previously unknown information about the MiG-21 was subsequently shared with the United States.
Operation Bramble Bush II - In the 1990s, Mossad began scouting locations in Iraq where Saddam Hussein could be ambushed by Sayeret Matkal commandos inserted into Iraq from Jordan. The mission was called off due to Operation Desert Fox and the ongoing Israeli-Arab peace process.
In what is thought to have been a reprisal action for a Hamas suicide-bombing in Jerusalem on July 30, 1997 that killed 16 Israelis, Benjamin Netanyahu authorised an operation against Khaled Mashal, the Hamas representative in Jordan. On September 25, 1997, Mashal was injected in the ear with a toxin (thought to have been a derivative of the synthetic opiate Fentanyl called Levofentanyl). Jordanian authorities apprehended two Mossad agents posing as Canadian tourists and trapped a further six in the Israeli embassy. In exchange for their release, an Israeli physician had to fly to Amman and deliver an antidote for Mashal. The fallout from the failed killing eventually led to the release of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of the Hamas movement, and scores of Hamas prisoners. Netanyahu flew into Amman on September 29 to apologize personally to King Hussein, but he was instead met by the King's brother, Crown Prince Hassan.
Mossad was suspected of establishing a large spy network in Lebanon, recruited from Druze, Christian, and Sunni Muslim communities, and officials in the Lebanese government, to spy on Hezbollah and its Iranian Revolutionary Guard advisors. Some have allegedly been active since the 1982 Lebanon War. In 2009, Lebanese Security Services supported by Hezbollah's intelligence unit, and working in collaboration with Syria, Iran, and possibly Russia, launched a major crackdown which resulted in the arrests of around 100 alleged spies "working for Israel". Previously, in 2006, the Lebanese army uncovered a network that allegedly assassinated several Lebanese and Palestinian leaders on behalf of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.
Caesarea tried for many years to assassinate Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat, a job later tasked by Israel's Minister of Defense Ariel Sharon to a military special ops task force code named "Salt Fish," later renamed "Operation Goldfish," specially created for the job of assassinating Arafat, with Ronan Bergman suggesting that Israel used radiation poisoning to kill Yasser Arafat.
Eli Cohen infiltrated the highest echelons of the Syrian government, was a close friend of the Syrian President, and was considered for the post of Minister of Defense. He gave his handlers a complete plan of the Syrian defenses on the Golan Heights, the Syrian Armed Forces order of battle, and a complete list of the Syrian military's weapons inventory. He also ordered the planting of trees by every Syrian fortified position under the pretext of shading soldiers, but the trees actually served as targeting markers for the Israel Defense Forces. He was discovered by Syrian and Soviet intelligence, tried in secret, and executed publicly in 1965. His information played a crucial role during the Six-Day War.
On 1 April 1978, 12 Syrian military and secret service personnel were killed by a booby trapped sophisticated Israeli listening device planted on the main telephone cable between Damascus and Jordan.
The alleged death of General Anatoly Kuntsevich, who from the late 1990s was suspected of aiding the Syrians in the manufacture of VX nerve-gas, in exchange for which he was paid huge amounts of money by the Syrian government. On April 3, 2002, Kuntsevich died mysteriously during a plane journey, amid allegations that Mossad was responsible.
The uncovering of a nuclear reactor being built in Syria as a result of surveillance by Mossad of Syrian officials working under the command of Muhammad Suleiman. As a result, the Syrian nuclear reactor was destroyed by Israeli Air Forces in September 2007 (see Operation Orchard).
On July 25, 2007, the al-Safir chemical weapons depot exploded, killing 15 Syrian personnel as well as 10 Iranian engineers. Syrian investigations blamed Israeli sabotage.
The decomposed body of Yuri Ivanov, the deputy head of the GRU, Russia's foreign military intelligence service, was found on a Turkish beach in early August 2010, amid allegations that Mossad may have played a role. He had disappeared while staying near Latakia, Syria.
Mossad was accused of being behind the assassination of Aziz Asbar, a senior Syrian scientist responsible for developing long-range rockets and chemical weapons programs. He was killed in a car bomb in Masyaf on August 5, 2018.
Mossad is suspected of killing Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas military commander, in January 2010 at Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The team which carried out the killing is estimated, on the basis of CCTV and other evidence, to have consisted of at least 26 agents traveling on bogus passports. The operatives entered al-Mabhouh's hotel room, where Mabhouh was subjected to electric shocks and interrogated. The door to his room was reported to have been locked from the inside. Although the UAE police and Hamas have declared Israel responsible for the killing, no direct evidence linking Mossad to the crime has been found. The agents' bogus passports included six British passports, cloned from those of real British nationals resident in Israel and suspected by Dubai, five Irish passports, apparently forged from those of living individuals, forged Australian passports that raised fears of reprisal against innocent victims of identity theft, a genuine German passport and a false French passport. Emirati police say they have fingerprint and DNA evidence of some of the attackers, as well as retinal scans of 11 suspects recorded at Dubai airport. Dubai's police chief has said "I am now completely sure that it was Mossad," adding: "I have presented the (Dubai) prosecutor with a request for the arrest of (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and the head of Mossad," for the murder.
A Rediff story in 2003 revealed that Mossad had clandestine links with the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), India's external intelligence agency. When R&AW was founded in September 1968 by Rameshwar Nath Kao, he was advised by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to cultivate links with Mossad. This was suggested as a countermeasure to military links between that of Pakistan and China, as well as with North Korea. Israel was also concerned that Pakistani army officers were training Libyans and Iranians in handling Chinese and North Korean military equipment.
Pakistan believed intelligence relations between India and Israel threatened Pakistani security. When young Israeli tourists began visiting the Kashmir valley in the early 1990s, Pakistan suspected they were disguised Israeli army officers there to help Indian security forces with anti-terrorism operations. Israeli tourists were attacked, with one slain and another kidnapped. Pressure from the Kashmiri Muslim diaspora in the United States led to his release. Kashmiri Muslims feared that the attacks could isolate the American Jewish community, and result in them lobbying the US government against Kashmiri separatist groups.
India Today reported that the two flats were RAW safe houses used as operational fronts for Mossad agents and housed Mossad's station chief between 1989 and 1992. RAW had reportedly decided to have closer ties to Mossad, and the subsequent secret operation was approved by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. India Today cites "RAW insiders" as saying that RAW agents hid a Mossad agent holding an Argentine passport and exchanged intelligence and expertise in operations, including negotiations for the release of an Israeli tourist by the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front militants in June 1991. When asked about the case Verma refused to speak about the companies, but claimed his relationship with them was purely professional. Raman stated, "Sometimes, spy agencies float companies for operational reasons. All I can say is that everything was done with government approval. Files were cleared by the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and his cabinet secretary. Balachandran stated, "It is true that we did a large number of operations but at every stage, we kept the Cabinet Secretariat and the prime minister in the loop."
In November 2015, The Times of India reported that agents from Mossad and MI5 were protecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Turkey. Modi was on a state visit to the United Kingdom and was scheduled to attend the 2015 G-20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey. The paper reported that the agents had been called in to provide additional cover to Modi's security detail, composed of India's Special Protection Group and secret agents from RAW and IB, in wake of the November 2015 Paris attacks.
Mossad may have been involved in the 2004 explosion of Ryongchon, where several Syrian nuclear scientists working on the Syrian and Iranian nuclear-weapons programs were killed and a train carrying fissionable material was destroyed.
In a September 2003 news article, it was alleged by Rediff News that General Pervez Musharaf, the then-President of Pakistan, decided to establish a clandestine relationship between Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Mossad via officers of the two services posted at their embassies in Washington, DC.
In 1954, after Mossad received intelligence that an Israeli officer who had access to classified military technologies, Major Alexander Israel, had approached Egyptian officials in Europe and offered to sell Israeli military secrets and documents, a team of Mossad and Shin Bet officers was quickly sent to Europe to locate him and abduct him, and located him in Vienna. The mission was code-named Operation Bren. A female agent managed to lure him to a meeting through a honey trap operation, and he was subsequently kidnapped, sedated, and flown to Israel aboard a waiting Israeli military plane. However, the plane had to make several refueling stops, and he was given an additional dose of sedatives each time, which ultimately caused him to overdose, killing him. Upon arrival in Israel, after it was discovered that he was dead, he was given a burial at sea, and the case remained highly classified for decades.
Mossad is alleged to be responsible for the killing of Canadian engineer and ballistics expert Gerald Bull on March 22, 1990. He was shot multiple times in the head outside his Brussels apartment. Bull was at the time working for Iraq on the Project Babylon supergun. Others, including Bull's son, believe that 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.
On April 5, 1979, Mossad agents are believed to have triggered an explosion which destroyed 60 percent of components being built in Toulouse for an Iraqi reactor. Although an environmental organization, Groupe des écologistes français, unheard of before this incident, claimed credit for the blast, most French officials discount the claim. The reactor itself was subsequently destroyed by an Israeli air strike in 1981.
The alleged killing of Atef Bseiso, a top intelligence officer of the PLO, in Paris in 1992. French police believe that a team of assassins followed Atef Bseiso from Berlin, where that first team connected with another team to close in on him in front of a Left Bank hotel, where he received three head-shots at point blank range.
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.
The sending of letter bombs during the Operation Wrath of God campaign. Some of these attacks were not fatal. Their purpose might not have been to kill the receiver. A Mossad letter bomb led to fugitive Nazi war-criminal Alois Brunner's losing four fingers from his right hand in 1980.
The alleged targeted killing of Dr Wadie Haddad, using poisoned chocolate. Haddad died on 28 March 1978, in the German Democratic Republic supposedly from leukemia. According to the book Striking Back, published by Aharon Klein in 2006, Haddad was eliminated by Mossad, which had sent the chocolate-loving Haddad Belgian chocolates coated with a slow-acting and undetectable poison which caused him to die several months later. "It took him a few long months to die", Klein said in the book.
Mossad discovered that Hezbollah had recruited a German national named Steven Smyrek, and that he was travelling to Israel. In an operation conducted by Mossad, the CIA, the German Internal Security agency Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), and the Israeli Internal Security agency Shin Bet, Smyrek was kept under constant surveillance, and arrested as soon as he landed in Israel.
The assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh - a senior Hamas military commander - in Dubai, 2010, was suspected to be the work of Mossad, and there were eight Irish passports (six of which were used) fraudulently obtained by the Israeli embassy in Dublin, Ireland for use by alleged Mossad agents in the operation. The Irish government was angered over the use of Irish passports, summoned the Israeli ambassador for an explanation and expelled the Israeli diplomat deemed responsible from Dublin, following an investigation. One of the passports was registered to a residence on Pembroke Road, Ballsbridge, on the same road as the Israeli embassy. The house was empty when later searched, but there was suspicion by Irish authorities it had been used as a Mossad safe house in the past. Mossad is reported to have a working relationship with Ireland's armed forces' national intelligence service, the Directorate of Military Intelligence, and has previously tipped the Irish authorities off about arms shipments from the Middle East to Ireland for use by dissident republican militants, resulting in their interception and arrests.
In 1986, Mossad used an undercover agent to lure Mordechai Vanunu from the United Kingdom to Italy in a honey trap style operation where he was abducted and returned to Israel where he was tried and found guilty of treason because of his role in exposing Israel's nuclear programme.
On July 21, 1973, Ahmed Bouchiki, a Moroccan waiter in Lillehammer, Norway, was killed by Mossad agents. 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. Mossad agents had used fake Canadian passports, which angered the Canadian government. Six Mossad agents were arrested, and the incident came to be known as the Lillehammer affair. Israel subsequently paid compensation to Bouchiki's family.
Israel provided weapons to the Serbs during the Bosnian War, possibly due to the pro-Serbian bias of the government of the time, or possibly in exchange for the immigration of the Sarajevo Jewish community to Israel. The Mossad allegedly was responsible for providing Serbian groups with arms.
In Switzerland the Israelis have an Embassy in Bern and a Consulate-General in Zürich which provide cover for Collection Department officers involved in unilateral operations. These Israeli diplomatic installations also maintain close relations with the Swiss on a local level in regard to overt functions such as physical security for Israeli official and commercial installations in the country and the protection of staff members and visiting Israelis. There is also close collaboration between the Israelis and Swiss on scientific and technical matters pertaining to intelligence and security operations. Swiss officials have made frequent trips to Israel. There is a continual flow of Israelis to and through Switzerland. These visits, however, are usually arranged through the Political Action and Liaison regional controller at the Embassy in Paris directly with the Swiss and not through the officials in the Israeli Embassy in Bern, although the latter are kept informed.
In February 1998, five Mossad agents were caught wiretapping the home of a Hezbollah agent in a Bern suburb. Four agents were freed, but the fifth was tried, found guilty, sentenced to one year in prison, and following his release was banned from entering Switzerland for five years.
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Mossad was involved in outreach to refuseniks in the Soviet Union during the crackdown on Soviet Jews in the period between the 1950s and the 1980s. Mossad helped establish contact with Refuseniks in the USSR, and helped them acquire Jewish religious items, banned by the Soviet government, in addition to passing communications into and out of the USSR. Many rabbinical students from Western countries travelled to the Soviet Union as part of this program in order to establish and maintain contact with refuseniks.
In February 2011, a Palestinian engineer, Dirar Abu Seesi, was allegedly pulled off a train by Mossad agents en route to the capital Kyiv from Kharkiv. He had been planning to apply for Ukrainian citizenship, and reappeared in an Israeli jail only three weeks after the incident.
In July 2004, New Zealand imposed diplomatic sanctions on Israel over an incident in which two Australia-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. 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 apprehended.
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