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Aviv, Israel’s spymaster studied the men and women of Mossad. In the few weeks since taking over Mossad, Meir Dagan knew he already commanded something his recent predecessors never managed. Respect. Barely raising his voice he spoke. “When I was fighting in Lebanon, I witnessed the aftermath of a family feud. The patriarch’s head had been split open, his brain on the floor. Around him lay his wife and some of his children. All dead. Before I could do anything, one of the murderers scooped up a handful of brain and swallowed it. This is how you will all now operate. Otherwise someone will eat your brain.” His every word held them in thrall - even if they sent a shudder through some of his listeners, hardened as they were. In the canteen were those who had killed many times already. Killing enemies who could not be brought to trial because they were hidden deep inside Israel’s Arab neighbours. Only Mossad could find and kill them. Rafi Eitan, the legendary former Operations Chief of Mossad told me when we sat together in his living room in a north Tel Aviv suburb: “I always tried to kill when I could see the whites of a person’s eyes. So I could see the fear. Smell it on his breath. Sometimes I used my hands. A knife, or a silenced gun. I never felt a moment’s regret over a killing.” Meir Amit, when he had been director of Mossad, later insisted “we are like the official hangman or the doctor on Death Row who administers the lethal injection. Our actions are all endorsed by the State of Israel. When Mossad kills it is not breaking the law. It is fulfilling a sentence sanctioned by the prime minister of the day”. We spoke as he walked me through Mossad’s own unique memorial in Tel Aviv to the dead - a concrete maze shaped in the form of a brain. Each name engraved on the concrete was of an agent who had been killed while trying to destroy Israel’s enemies. Some of those agents had one thing in common. Amit had sent them to their deaths. “We did all we could to protect them. We trained them better than any other secret service. Sometimes, out on a mission, the dice is against you. But there will always be brave men ready to roll the dice,” he said. Dagan, his listeners in the canteen knew, was cast in the same mould. He would protect them with every means he knew - legal or illegal. He would allow them to use proscribed nerve toxins. Dum-dum bullets. Ways of killing that not even the Mafia, the former KGB or China’s secret service use. But he would not hesitate to expose them to death - if it was for the greater good of Israel. That was the deal those in the canteen had accepted when they were recruited. They, too, were ready to roll the dice.
they spoke Swahili and other dialects. They were the men and women of kidon. They could pass for Arabs or for Indian traders. Piano wire to strangle. They had their own aircraft. The team who would “roll the dice” traveled separately . sealed in vials until the moment came to strike. 2 . And much else. The kidon would kill the planners of the massacre after they had traced them to their lair wherever it was. They had long and short-blade knives.” Dagan jumped down from the table and walked out of the canteen in total silence. they looked the part. They would sift and search the wreckage. Explosives no bigger than a throat lozenge capable fo blowing off a person’s head. An arsenal of guns: short-barrel pistols. But for Meir Dagan it was time to roll the dice. Between them.500 miles away in a hostile environment. The team chosen to go to Mombasa had local language skills. Mossad’s ultra-secret assassination unit.as they always did. MI6 for a lead back to a threat to Britain. Fifteen people died and 80 were seriously injured. Two shoulder-fired missiles nearly downed an Israeli passenger plane bringing tourists back to Tel Aviv from Kenya. Detectors that could detect a sliver of metal deep inside a corpse . The dice is ready to roll. only the tenth man to head Mossad and bear the title of memune . There would only be lipservice support from the authorities on the ground. using sophisticated equipment to do so. An explosiveladen land-cruiser drove into the reception area of the island’s Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel. sniper rifles with a mile killing range. But to suspect and prove would be the greatest challenge Mossad had faced since the War on Terrorism was launched by President Bush. Other intelligence services would be trawling through the evidence looking for clues that would fit their agendas. Then Dagan added: “I am here to tell you those days are back.as it had with avenging the murder of the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. They also understood the closed language of their world. Shortly afterwards came the Mombasa massacre of eleven days ago. Only then did the applause start.” a senior intelligence man in Tel Aviv told me. They would use a small laboratory of poisons. Their sole job in Mombasa was to find and kill the perpetrators of the massacre: those behind the three bombers who had gone to their deaths laughing.metal that would show where the explosives came from. Every person with proven field experience was on a plane to Kenya within an hour of the massacre. It might take months .Dagan. It would be working 1. Meir Dagan immediately suspected it was the work of Osama bin-Laden’s alQuaeda and that the missiles had come from Iraq’s arsenal. Two hundred and seventy-five barely missed a Lockerbie-style death. “Mossad would not be operating in its own backyard against suicide bombers. The same for the Germans. They dressed the part.“first among equals in Hebrew” . The CIA for a fix on bin-Laden. But the kidon would find the men behind the Mombasa outrage and kill them.reminded his listeners sat on their plastic-form chairs what Meir Amit had once said. their own pilots.
Pillow talk is not a problem for her. The young man spoke like so many from that hotbed of Islamic fanaticism. the skill of shaking off a tail. It is not just sleeping with an enemy. a former member of kidon. the two men fell asleep on the floor. a bedroom. It is to obtain information.saying he could not “stomach the way they did things”. the youth left to return to Gaza.or a bomb. Finally. Our technicians spend all their time devising new ways to kill.” a Mossad source told me last week. To be ever ready to sleep with someone to obtain vital information. He asked if he could make the call from outside the house to improve reception. more ruthlessly. The man known to Mossad as “The Engineer” was a top Hamas bomb-maker. The Engineer nodded. will not say who he has killed.a distant cousin from Gaza. But it takes a special kind of courage. or any other given target and plant listening bugs . the two men spoke far into the evening. protected by gunmen. The youth had been recruited by Mossad to plant a powerful explosive inside the phone. and Gerald Bull.They had learned how to memorise fibres . Over mint tea. by all accounts. A handgun fitted with a silencer. near Tel Aviv. The Engineer invited his guest to stay over. Their roll-call of Mission Successful includes. The offer was accepted. The link between intelligence work and sexual entrapment is as old as spying itself. But he quit Mossad . Strangulation with a cheese-cutter if the victim is to be killed at night. Meir Amit had said when he was Mossad’s chief: “Sex is a woman’s weapon.” explained Victor Ostrovsky. One day he received a visitor . Over the past years. The detonation signal had come from a kidon half a mile away.” The kidon team had passed the two years course at the Mossad training school at Henzelia.precise physical descriptions of people. “We try to never use the same method twice. That morning. Masluh. He lived on the West Bank. who today lives in Arizona. the leader of Islamic Jihad. They had been sent to a special camp in the Negev desert. The Engineer received a call on the mobile. We do things differently now”. And. The call over. Ostrovsky. Fathi Shkaki. A nerve agent delivered by an aerosol or injection. “They are taught how to use the weapon appropriate for the target. My sources in Mossad say he is “long past his sell-by date. Next day. No one had seen him arrive. No one saw him go. As he put the phone to his mouth and started to speak. his head was blown off. There they had learned to kill. how to break into an office. Neviof . 3 . Mossad have killed scores of Israel’s enemies by such methods. the rogue Canadian investor of Saddam’s supergun. The women had learned how to use their sex. The youth asked if he could use The Engineer’s mobile phone to call his own family to say they should not worry.
A final rehearsal was held in the Negev desert. The assassination was simple. to get the team safely away from the killing area. one of many in Israel. Israeli commandos doubled as Saddam and his bodyguards . When Bull opened it. Mossad believed he would not do so this time.once in the forehead and once in the throat. Throughout the world there are tens of thousands. once selected. In hours. These are known as sayanim . His task is to keep tabs on the victim’s movements. But Mossad believed there was a window of opportunity between the time Saddam would land in his helicopter near the villa and enter its well-protected compound. 4 . Mossad had scouted an air corridor through which it believed a kidon could be flown in below Iraqi radar. In the case of Gerald Bull they knocked on his front door late in the evening. The remaining two men perform the execution.a party of five. The other knocked on the door. But their weapons were to only fire blanks for the rehearsal. the widow of a serving Iraqi officer who had died mysteriously. “The woman is irresistible. told me that “a safe house looks like it was furnished from a car boot sale”.the Hebrew word for helpers. The hit team. They were equipped with specially adapted shoulder-firing missiles. As he stepped back he was shot . Mossad agents in Baghdad had discovered that the woman. the team was back in Tel Aviv. It revolved around killing Saddam during a visit to one of his mistresses. He had been assured he was safe by his Iraqi minders. Another is the “transporter”. Each has been carefully recruited to provide the kind of help that the kidon unit required to kill Bull. is moved to a Mossad safe house. Eli Cohen. As they landed close to a replica of the villa. The package was retrieved. But they had been lured away by some of the kidon back-up team. He flew backwards into the hall. the villa would be a hard target to hit.The usual composition of a hit team is four. It was elaborate even by Mossad standards. the kidon were in position. Preparation for an assassination can take weeks. Both men calmly walked away to where the “transporter” was waiting. the door closed behind the dead Bull. The plan to kill Saddam has long been on Mossad’s agenda. One is the “target locator”. The ballistic expert had just moved in. But previous attempts had failed due to Saddam’s obsession with changing his movements at the last moment. Both kidon wore FedEx courier uniforms. the package was thrust at him.” said a report from one of its Baghdad undercover agents. One carried a package. would be driven from the palace to keep a tryst with Saddam in a desert villa outside the city. a former Mossad agent. even months. Heavily guarded. It was in one such safe house that the plan to assassinate Saddam Hussein was prepared.
But last week Meir Dagan was said to be considering adapting it to once more try and kill Saddam. Three months into the job.In a tragic mistake. He is an action man. a closely guarded secret. Beyond are the tribal badlands of Pakistan . Its windows look eastwards to the Judean Hills. understandably. a loss of morale and. 5 . katsas.where Dagan is convinced Osama bin-Laden is hiding . the Mossad chief who could possible achieve that was born on a train between Russia and Poland.because. It killed the make-believe Saddam and his bodyguards. It is said he knows more about the CIA and MI6 than many of its current employees. he is adored by his staff.and the desert of Iraq through which Dagan believes Saddam will try and escape if war starts. one of the missiles had been replaced with a live one. He constantly reminds his staff that action cannot wait for certainty. That motive and deception are at the centre of their endeavours. All that Meir Dagan is determined to change. The people themselves will rise. his teams in Mombasa confirmed the massacre had all the hallmarks of being an Iraqi-sponsored act carried out by al-Quaeda. Smiley. Meantime. Every day an El Al plane has flown northwards to Israel with the evidence despite behind-the-scene protests by the Kenyan intelligence service. In his open neck shirt and chain store pants and sneakers. Meir Dagan is also an avid reader of history of other intelligence services.” said the source. Dagan. For him the art of informed conjecture is an essential weapon. Some have gone to the Philippines. Dagan has virtually worked and slept in his office. That they must create situations which seek to draw fact out of darkness. have combed and bagged the clues from the Paradise hotel disaster area. he can at least empathise with its hero.and all those points east where his kidon team are tracking the planners of the outrage. worst of all. Mossad’s scientists and pathologists. he has told friends. His salary is a fraction of what their directors get. But an intelligence sources suggested to me that a successful assassination of Saddam could see the looming threat of war recede. he is preoccupied with the latest news from Mombasa . His private life is simple: he eschews the trappings of power that goes with the job of running MI6 or the CIA. “With Saddam out of the way there is no reason to invade Iraq. The operation was cancelled. Others to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The only spy fiction he is known to read is John Le Carre . In the past years. The Mossad chief will be waiting. How and when Mossad will strike against Saddam is. Mossad has experienced many publicised failures. working 18 hour days. Dagan is no James Bond. Since Mombasa. as well as field agents. growing public criticism among its own people. He speaks several languages. After eleven days investigation.
They have a special team of scientists working at the Institute for Biological Research in Tel Aviv. so that nowadays he sometimes uses a walking stick. “The one certainty is that if the Mombasa killers are caught Mossad won’t bother with mock executions. In the 1960s Mossad drove out the vaunted Chinese Secret Intelligence Service. It blew the villa apart. Twelve terrorists died. It stopped Cuba’s Fidel Castro exporting his revolution into Africa. the security service of the South African apartheid government. They prepare the deadly toxins for the kidon. and ultimately Israel. In Tel Aviv. battle-hardened hero of past wars in Lebanon. They filmed his last. “But these are Israelis who are dead or injured. Two years later he fought in the Yom Kippur War. He crushed the first Intifada in Gaza in 1971. forcing a suspect to stand facing a wall for long hours. In those days. with a handgun in his pocket and his dog at his heel. has earned his reputation as a noholds barred leader. MI6 and European services. threshing moments in the water . It beat the KGB at its own plans to turn the Congo into its playground. proud and imperious and prepared to stand on his record. having done all he could for the moment. Israeli instructors showed them the black art of sleep deprivation. The methods Mossad uses are often outside the law. He detests any sign of weakness in himself or in others.and sent the footage to the local Mossad station chief. This is Mossad’s job. For him. They believe they know more than anyone else in fighting terrorism. Dagan’s men are polite to the counter-intelligence officers from the CIA. and mental tortures such as mock tortures. Their ineptitude led to the downfall of President Nixon. Meir Dagan waits.using far more sophisticated means than those employed by the infamous Watergate burglars.to show that Mossad is back on centre stage with a vengeance. He retaliated by placing a two-pound bomb under the toilet seat of the terrorist leader. He dislikes doing so. It sent a team to Pretoria to teach BOSS the art of sophisticated methods of interrogation. Mossad has made no friends on the ground. They rarely do. in all those places in the Middle East where the alleys have no names.” said a Mossad source. other Mossad agents sped down through Africa into the country’s fierce heat. Mossad. They have a unit that specialises in burglary . Malta and Cyprus. Katsas in South Africa have joined colleagues in Mombasa.” said one Mossad source. Dagan is a blunt man. hooding. No other intelligence service has a better history of operations in Central Africa. The 57 years-old. And they may be right. 6 .Mossad agents in Nigeria have provided important details on al-Quaeda in that country. A terrorist group ambushed a Mossad katsa in the Congo and fed him to the crocodiles. From Rome. Mossad built up a relationship with BOSS. Twice he had been wounded. It was a dirty and deadly war. the Mombasa massacre is a test . he had led from the front. And everybody had better remember that. That is their style: go it alone.
ie 7 . toast spread with honey washed down with several cups of strong black coffee. Ariel Sharon needs little convincing. the first the world will know. as he has done every day since the Mombasa attack.lunch. This squat. http://www. will awaken from a combat veteran’s light sleep. They learn how a pinprick or small blemish left on a victim’s skin can be a give away. But like everything else about him. the memune may spend an hour at an easel in the corner of his office touching up one of the watercolour paintings which are the only known passion in his life.but from all those areas where his team of hunters have now moved.Where other intelligence agencies no longer allow their agents to kill. They are shown how to ensure against this. barrel-chested man will take his customary cold water shower and eat his daily breakfast of natural yogurt. they will remain under lock and key. It makes them probably the most sophisticated lawfully-approved killers in the world. will be after it has happened. After briefing the prime minister on the scrambler phone that links Dagan to Ariel Sharon. They remain fully licensed to assassinate in the name of Israel once they have routinely convinced the incumbent prime minister of the need to do so. Next he will study the latest reports from not only East Africa . if Mossad is successful. Mossad’s assassins routinely witness some of Israel’s leading forensic pathologists at work so as to better understand how to make an assassination look like an accident. kidon have no such restraint. Just as with his plan to assassinate Saddam Hussein. This morning (Sunday) Meir Dagan.
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