January 15, 2003
Israel to kill
in U.S., allied nations
By Richard Sale
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 anonymity.
The Israeli statements were confirmed by more
than a half dozen former and currently serving U.S.
foreign policy and intelligence officials in
interviews with United Press International.
But an official at the Israeli Embassy in
Washington told UPI: "That is rubbish. It is
completely untrue. Israel and the United States
have such a close and co-operative intelligence
relationship, especially in the field of
counter-terrorism, that the assertion is
With the appointment of Meir Dagan, the new
director of Israel's Mossad secret intelligence
service, Sharon is preparing "a huge budget"
increase for the spy agency as part of "a tougher
stance in fighting global jihad (or holy war)," one
Israeli official said.
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 bilateral
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 maneuverability."
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 targeted
An FBI 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 Johnson.
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 poison.
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.
At 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 assassins.
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
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 likely suspect.
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
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 source said.
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 sources said.
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."
Copyright © 2001-2004 United Press
dossier on The Mossad (Israeli Intelligence
blast wrecked Mossad office building in Kirkuk
in northern Iraq killing Mossad agents and
civilian Kurds (car
bomb in garage blew up: whose?)
of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad were
killed in the north Iraqi town of