New York, Wednesday, January 15,
kill in U.S., allied nations
By Richard Sale
UPI Intelligence Correspondent
From the Washington
Politics & Policy Desk
ISRAEL is embarking upon a
more aggressive approach to the war on terror
that will include staging targeted killings in
the United States and other friendly countries,
former Israeli intelligence officials told
United Press International.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
has forbidden the practice until now, these
sources said, speaking on condition of
The Israeli statements were confirmed by more
than a half dozen U.S. foreign policy and
intelligence officials in interviews with
With the appointment of Meir Dagan,
the new director Israel's Mossad
secret intelligence service, Sharon is also
preparing "a huge budget" increase for the spy
agency as part of "a tougher stance in fighting
global jihad (or holy war)," one Israeli
Since Sharon became
Israeli prime minister, Tel Aviv has mainly
limited its practice of targeted killings to
the West Bank and Gaza because "no one wanted
such operations on their territory," a former
Israeli intelligence official said.
Another former Israeli government official
said that under Sharon, "diplomatic constraints
have prevented the Mossad from carrying out
'preventive operations' (targeted killings) on
the soil of friendly countries until now."
He said Sharon is "reversing that policy,
even if it risks complications to Israel's
A former Israeli military intelligence source
agreed: "What Sharon wants is a much more
extensive and tough approach to global
terrorism, and this includes greater operational
Does this mean assassinations on the soil of
"It does," he said.
"Mossad is definitely being beefed up," a
U.S. government official said of the Israeli
agency's budget increase. He declined to comment
on the Tel Aviv's geographic expansion of
spokesman also declined to comment, saying:
"This is a policy matter. We only enforce
A congressional staff member with deep
knowledge of intelligence matters said, "I don't
know on what basis we would be able to protest
Israel's actions." He referred to the recent
killing of Qaed Salim Sinan al Harethi, a
top al Qaida leader, in Yemen by a remotely
controlled CIA drone.
"That was done on the soil of a friendly
ally," the staffer said.
But the complications posed by Israel's new
policy are real.
"Israel does not have a good record at doing
this sort of thing," said former CIA
counter-terrorism official Larry
He cited the 1997 fiasco where two Mossad
agents were captured after they tried to
assassinate Khaled Mashaal, a Hamas
political leader, by injecting him with
According to Johnson, the attempt, made in
Amman, Jordan, caused a political crisis in
Israeli-Jordan relations. In addition, because
the Israeli agents carried Canadian passports,
Canada withdrew its ambassador in protest, he
said. Jordan is one of two Arab nations to
recognize Israel. The other is Egypt.
the time, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu said, "I have no intention of
stopping the activities of this government
against terror," according to a CNN report.
Former CIA officials say Israel was forced to
free jailed Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmad
Yassin and 70 other Jordanian and
Palestinian prisoner being held in Israeli jails
to secure the release of the two would-be Mossad
Phil Stoddard, former director of the
Middle East Institute, cited a botched plot to
kill Ali Hassan Salemeh, the mastermind
of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre. The 1974
attempt severely embarrassed Mossad when the
Israeli hit team mistakenly assassinated a
Moroccan waiter in Lillehammer, Norway.
Salemeh, later a CIA asset, was killed in
Beirut, Lebanon, in 1976 by a car bomb placed by
an Israeli assassination team, former U.S.
intelligence officials said.
"Israel knew Salemeh was providing us with
preventive intelligence on the Palestinians and
his being killed pissed off a lot of people,"
said a former senior CIA official.
But some Israeli operations have been
Gerald Bull, an Ontario-born U.S.
citizen and designer of the Iraqi supergun -- a
massive artillery system capable of launching
satellites into orbit, and of delivering nuclear
chemical or biological payloads from Baghdad to
Israel -- was killed in Belgium in March 1990.
The killing is still unsolved, but former CIA
officials said a Mossad hit team is the most
Bull worked on the supergun design --
codenamed Project Babylon -- for 10 years, and
helped the Iraqis develop many smaller artillery
systems. He was found with five bullets in his
head outside his Brussels apartment.
Israeli hit teams, which consist of units or
squadrons of the Kidon, a sub-unit for Mossad's
highly secret Metsada department, would stage
the operations, former Israeli intelligence
sources said. Kidon is a Hebrew word meaning
"bayonet," one former Israeli intelligence
This Israeli government source explained that
in the past Israel has not staged targeted
killings in friendly countries because "no one
wanted such operations on their territory."
This has become irrelevant, he said.
Dagan, the new hard-driving director of
Mossad, will implement the new changes, former
Israeli government officials said.
Dagan, nicknamed "the gun," was Sharon's
adviser on counter-terrorism during the
government of Netanyahu in 1996, former Israeli
government officials say. A former military man,
Dagan has also undertaken extremely sensitive
diplomatic missions for several of Israel's
prime ministers, former Israeli government
Former Israel Defense Forces Lt. Col. Gal
Luft, who served under Dagan, described him
as an "extremely creative individual -- creative
to the point of recklessness."
A former CIA official who knows Dagan said
the new Mossad director knows "his foreign
affairs inside and out," and has a "real killer
Dagan is also "an intelligence natural" who
has "a superb analyst not afraid to act on gut
instinct," the former CIA official said.
Dagan has already removed Mossad officials
whom he regards as "being too conservative or
too cautious" and is building up "a constituency
of senior people of the same mentality," one
former long-time Israeli operative said.
Dagan is also urging that Mossad operatives
rely less on secret sources and rely more on
open information that is so plentifully provided
on the Internet and newspapers.
"It's a cultural thing," one former Israeli
intelligence operative explained. "Mossad in the
past has put its emphasis on Humint (human
intelligence) and secret operations and has
neglected the whole field of open media, which
has become extremely important."
Regarding Mossad's new policy and budget
increase, Kim Farber an Israeli Embassy
official said, "There is so little information
available on this, there is nothing I can
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