Ha-Mosad le-Modi'in u-le-Tafkidim Meyuhadim (help·info) (Hebrew: המוסד למודיעין ולתפקידים מיוחדים, The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations) is an Israeli intelligence agency, often referred to as Mossad (in English: The Institute). It is responsible for intelligence collection, counter-terrorism, and covert action, including paramilitary activities. It is one of the three main Intelligence Community entities in Israel, alongside Aman (military intelligence) and Shabak (internal security). Its role and function is like that of the CIA (United States of America) and MI6 (United Kingdom). Its website calls it, in English, an "Israeli Secret Intelligence Service".



The Mossad was formed in December 1949 as the "Central Institute for Coordination", at the recommendation of Reuven Shiloah to Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Shiloah wanted a central body to coordinate and improve cooperation between the existing security services — the army's intelligence department (AMAN), the General Security Service (GSS or "Shabak") and the foreign offices "political department". In March 1951, it was reorganized and made a part of the prime minister's office, reporting directly to the prime minister. Its current staff is estimated at approximately 1,200. Its motto is be-'éyn tahbūlōt yīpōl `ām; ū-teshū`āh be-rōv yo'éts (Hebrew: באין תחבולות יפול עם, ותשועה ברוב יועץ, "Where no counsel is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety." - Proverbs XI, 14)


From its headquarters in the Israeli capital of Tel Aviv, the Mossad oversees a staff estimated at approximately 3000 personnel. It is assumed to consist of many different departments, of which the largest is Collections, tasked with many aspects of analyzing espionage overseas. Employees in the Collections Department operate under a variety of covers, some as diplomatic, municipal or even private sector workers.

The Political Action and Liaison Department is responsible for working both with allied foreign intelligence services, and with nations that have no normal diplomatic relations with Israel.

Among the departments of Mossad is the Special Operations Division or 'Metsada', whom are involved in assassination, paramilitary operations, sabotage, and psychological warfare.

Psychological warfare is also a concern of the Lohamah Psichlogit Department, which conducts propaganda and deception activities as well.

Additionally, Mossad has a Research Department, tasked with intelligence production, and a Technology Department concerned with the development of tools for Mossad activities.

High profile operations

The Mossad's many endeavors in serving Israel's security interests have earned Mossad a reputation for being extremely effective as an intelligence agency. Controversy exists over cases where it has employed the tactics of kidnapping and assassination.

Successful operations

* Located and captured Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. In 1960, Mossad discovered that Eichmann was in Argentina and, through surveillance, they confirmed that he had been living there under the name of Ricardo Klement. The Israeli government approved an operation to capture Eichmann and bring him to Jerusalem for trial as a war criminal. He was captured by a team of Mossad agents on May 11, 1960, as part of a covert operation.

* Assisted in the defection and rescuing the family of Munir Redfa, an Iraqi pilot who defected and flew his MiG 21 to Israel.

* Provided key intelligence on the Egyptian Air Force for Operation Focus, the opening airstrike of the Six-Day War.

* Assassination of those responsible for the Munich massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games, called "Operation Wrath of God".

* Intelligence and operational assistance in 1973 Operation Spring of Youth.

* Provided intelligence for Israeli military operations, thousands of miles away from Israel, for instance, for Operation Entebbe in 1976.

* Assisted in Operation Moses, the immigration of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

* Obtained highly sensitive information about Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor, subsequently destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in 1981.

* Abducted Mordechai Vanunu in Italy 1986.

* Assassination of Fathi Shqaqi, the head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, in 1995 (probable).

* Assassination of Abu Jihad from the Fatah in 1988 (probable).

* Alleged assassination of Canadian scientist Gerald Bull, developer of the Iraqi supergun. While he was working on the Scud project, someone started "warning" him to stop working on the missiles. Over a period of a few months, his apartment was broken into several times, but nothing was stolen. He nevertheless continued to work on the project. In March 1990, he was shot five times in the back of the neck while opening his door. The most common theory is that Mossad was responsible, and its representatives have all but claimed responsibility for his murder. Others, including Bull's son, believe that the 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.

* Procured French Mirage III plans, leading to the development of the Kfir.

* Acquired French patrol boats, which were paid for by the Israeli government, but were not delivered due to an arms embargo.

Failed operations

* In July 1973, Ahmed Bouchiki, an innocent Moroccan waiter in Lillehammer, Norway, was killed while walking with his pregnant wife. 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. The Mossad agents had used fake Canadian passports, which angered the Canadian government. Six Mossad agents were arrested, and the incident became known as the Lillehammer affair.

* In 1981, fake British passports were discovered in a grocery bag in London, leading to a diplomatic row with Israel over Mossad involvement in an attempt to infiltrate China.

* In 1997, two Mossad agents were caught in Jordan, which had signed a peace treaty with Israel, on a mission to assassinate Sheikh Khaled Mashal, a leader of Hamas, by injecting him with poison at a pro-Hamas rally in Amman. Again, they were using fake Canadian passports. This led to a diplomatic row with Canada and Jordan, and Israel was forced to provide the poison antidote and release around 70 Palestinian prisoners, in particular the Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, in exchange for the Mossad agents, who would otherwise have faced the death penalty for attempted murder. In March 2004, seven years after he was released, Yassin was killed in an Israeli helicopter airstrike.

* In July 2004, New Zealand imposed diplomatic sanctions on Israel over an incident in which two Israelis, Uriel Kelman and Eli Cara, who were allegedly working for Mossad, attempted to obtain New Zealand passports fraudulently 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 managed to leave New Zealand before being traced.

Departments and Personnel

Mossad is headquartered in Tel Aviv and has eight departments:

* Collections Department is the largest, with responsibility for espionage operations.

* 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 assassination, sabotage, and paramilitary projects.

* LAP (Lohamah Psichologit) Department is responsible for psychological warfare, propaganda and deception operations.

* Research Department is responsible for intelligence synthesis.

* Technology Department is responsible for development of technologies to support Mossad operations.

Mossad is a civilian service, and does not use military ranks, although most of its staff have served in the Israel Defense Forces as part of Israel's compulsory draft system, and many of them are officers.


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