From Spy Agency to Special Operations
In the last five months, Israel’s central intelligence agency has undergone a metamorphosis in typically deep hush. Once fabled for planting its agents anywhere and everywhere where important military or diplomatic happenings were being played out, the Israeli Mossad has retired from the business of espionage and turned itself into a body devoted to special operations.
Many Mossad overseas stations have been shut down or re-staffed according to the new guidelines.
According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s exclusive intelligence sources, Mossad aspires to match its past excellence as a gatherer of intelligence by providing equally first-rate operations units, possibly unique in scale, whose broad mission is to secure and protect Israel’s vital interests around the world. It is in the process of manufacturing a special operations infrastructure for serving national security at the behest of government policy-makers.
Just as Israel’s armed forces maintain crack units for operations behind enemy lines in the immediate region, the plan is for Mossad’s special operations units to operate over the horizon. Its intelligence-gathering resources have been cut down and adjusted to meet the needs of these operations. Most of its intelligence-gathering functions have been transferred to Aman, Military Intelligence.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence experts report that last summer, prime minister Ariel Sharon approved this Mossad reform program submitted by its director, Res. Maj.Gen. Meir Dagan. It went into effect in September 2003.
The Dagan plan is based on six arguments:
Israel’s special operations units are tailored for action inside Israel and within the limited orbit of the neighboring Arab states.
A changed world has confronted Israel with fresh existential threats: Iran’s nuclear weapons and fundamentalist Islamic terror spearheaded by al Qaeda, which is actively plotting 9/11 scale and unconventional weapons attacks – nuclear, chemical and biological – on the Jewish state. The traditional special operations units of the armed forces are not equal to these threats; they are not trained to fight them or equipped for long-distance action in remote arenas.
Hitherto, Israel lacked a force capable of operating at any point on the globe. But now, should an Al Qaeda team be discovered training in the Ferghana Valley of Central Asia for a dirty bomb attack on Tel Aviv, the Mossad will have an A-team ready and able to wipe out this faraway al Qaeda base. A similar team must be capable of dealing with Iran’s secret nuclear weapons facilities and its long-range missile systems.
Mossad will retain only one intelligence resource, the ability to reconnoiter the operational targets assigned by the responsible government authority, namely the prime minister. It will be geared purely to such missions.
The new mode of operation must necessarily cut Mossad off from its traditional relationships with foreign intelligence bodies as well its domestic ties. This seclusion will enhance its ability to function in total secrecy.
The new undercover units will be equipped with the finest secret electronic gear and weapons Israel has developed.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly reports that some of the intelligence experts Sharon consulted before approving the transformation of Mossad were highly critical. They had no argument with the creation of an undercover operational structure for long-distance missions, but held that the loss of an experienced and esteemed resource for gathering political or even industrial intelligence around the world would damage Israel’s international standing irretrievably.
According to sources familiar with his mind-set, Sharon’s overriding motivation in approving the Mossad’s overhaul was his acute sense of peril emanating most of all from the nuclear threat. This sense can be summed up in a word: We may find it interesting and even useful to discover who really pulls the wires in some country or other. But what use will this intelligence be if Israel is under nuclear attack?