Intelligence: November 22, 2004


Israels intelligence agency, Mossad, is undergoing restructuring and upheaval because of the four year struggle with Palestinian terrorism. Since late 2000, when the Palestinians broke off peace talks with Israel by launching a terror campaign that emphasized attacks on civilians using suicide bombers, Mossad has had to concentrate on counter-terrorism. Mossad, like the CIA, is responsible for collecting, analyzing, and sometimes acting on information about foreign enemies. For Israel, that means nearly all of Arab nations. Mossad does not have a perfect track record. For example, in 2002, Mossad also thought Saddam still had weapons of mass destruction.  Two years ago, the Mossad got a new leader, Meir Dagan, whose background involved lots of retribution missions. These operations involved hunting down and killing terrorists who had killed Israelis. This has been going on for over three decades, especially since Palestinians terrorists invaded the 1972 Olympics and killed Israeli athletes. Dagan has apparently shifted much of Mossads efforts towards targeted killing of key terrorist leaders and technicians. This has been credited with sharply reducing the number of attacks, and Israeli victims. While about 150 Palestinian terrorists (and 60 bystanders) have been killed by the targeted killing operations, Palestinian terrorist attacks have been cut by over two thirds in the same two year period. Many senior Palestinian terrorist leaders have been leaving the Palestinian territories, but Dagans agents have now started killing these Palestinians in foreign countries. This happened in the past, but the Israelis stopped it once peace talks began producing results with the Palestinians in the early 1990s. But thats all history now, and the hunt for terrorists is world wide. 

Dagan has opposition in the Mossad to this hunter/killer campaign. The Mossad has had to suffer hostility from foreign governments (who dont care to have Israeli hit men, and women, stalking terrorists outside Israel), and the enormous expense (in people, money and diplomatic clout) to run these operations. So Dagan has cleaned house (200 of Mossads 2,000 people have left in the last two years, including seven senior officials), and is hiring aggressively to find and train people for the new, kick-ass/eye-for-an-eye, Mossad. 

Critics in the Mossad, and at large, say this is all being done at the expense of the Mossads traditional spying and analysis functions. That may be true, but at the moment, most Israelis are more concerned with stopping terrorist attacks. Hunting down and killing terrorist leaders appears to do that. 


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