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December 8, 1997


More Trouble For Mossad

Israeli agent faked reports on Syria to 'prove' himself


The Associated Press - Jerusalem

A retired spymaster who taught the craft of lying to a generation of agents has confessed to lying about Syria's readiness for war, another blow to the reputation of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency.

Yehuda Gil, who taught the course called Lying as an Art to Mossad cadets, was quoted Sunday in Israel's Yediot Ahronot newspaper as saying he had been trying to "prove" himself after his retirement.

Already under scrutiny for a botched assassination attempt on an Islamic militant leader in Jordan in September, Mossad will now have to investigate why Gil's reports were left unquestioned for years.

News reports have said false information passed by the 63-year-old spy last summer provoked responses that could have led Israel to the brink of war.

The English-language Syria Times, a state-run newspaper that reflects government views, said Sunday that it hoped Israel would be more open to peace following the exposure of the false information.

Gil, who was arrested a month ago and is in prison, has been indicted on charges of fraud, embezzlement, and passing information with intent to damage state security.

A government publication ban on Gil's name and the charges against him was lifted Saturday night.

Court papers said the information Gil provided had "a significant influence on state security" and could have led to deaths.

"I know I did something that should not have been done," Yediot quoted Gil as saying through a close associate.

"I was not motivated by financial or political reasons. The only explanation I can give, looking back, is the personal crisis caused by my retirement," he said. "I needed to continue to prove myself, that I was still strong and that they still needed me."

Gil retired from the Mossad in 1989, after 19 years of service during which he was never promoted to the top ranks. Because of his sources in Syria, he continued to work as a consultant to the agency after his retirement.

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