The Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks
[ha-Mossad le-Modiin ule-Tafkidim Meyuhadim]
Mossad [Hebrew for "institute"] has responsibility for human intelligence collection, covert action, and counterterrorism. Its focus is on Arab nations and organizations throughout the world. Mossad also is responsible for the clandestine movement of Jewish refugees out of Syria, Iran, and Ethiopia. Mossad agents are active in the former communist countries, in the West, and at the UN.
Mossad is headquartered in Tel Aviv. The staff of Mossad was estimated during the late 1980s to number between 1,500 to 2,000 personnel, with more recent estimates placing the staff at an estimated 1,200 personnel. The identity of the director of Mossad was traditionally a state secret, or at least not widely publicized, until in March 1996 the Government announced the appointment of Major General Danny Yatom as the replacement for Mossad Director Shabtai Shavit, who resigned in early 1996. Danny Yatom (1996-1998) was succeeded by Ephraim Halevy (1998-2002). In September 2002, Meir Dagan was designated as Mossad director.
Formerly known as the Central Institute for Coordination and the Central Institute for Intelligence and Security, Mossad was formed on 01 April 1951. Mossad was established by then Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, who gave as Mossad's primary directive: "For our state which since its creation has been under siege by its enemies. Intelligence constitutes the first line of defence...we must learn well how to recognise what is going on around us."
Mossad has a total of eight departments, though some details of the internal organization of the agency remain obscure.
- Collections Department is the largest, with responsibility for espionage operations, with offices abroad under both diplomatic and unofficial cover. The department consists of a number of desks which are responsible for specific geographical regions, directing case officers based at "stations" around the world, and the agents they control. Beginning in 2000, the Mossad undertook an advertising campaign to promote recruitment of collection officers. See a June 2001 recruiting poster here.
- 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. In larger stations, such as Paris, Mossad customarily had under embassy cover two regional controllers: one to serve the Collections Department and the other the Political Action and Liaison Department.
- Special Operations Division, also known as Metsada, conducts highly sensitive assassination, sabotage, paramilitary, and psychological warfare projects.
- LAP (Lohamah Psichologit) Department is responsible for psychological warfare, propaganda and deception operations.
- Research Department is responsible for intelligence production, including daily situation reports, weekly summaries and detailed monthly reports. The Department is organized into 15 geographically specialized sections or "desks", including the USA, Canada and Western Europe, Latin America, Former Soviet Union, China, Africa, the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia), Libya, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iran. A "nuclear" desk is focused on special weapons related issues.
- Technology Department is responsible for development of advanced technologies for support of Mossad operations. In April 2001, the Mossad published a "help wanted" ad in the Israeli press seeking electronics engineers and computer scientists for the Mossad technology unit.
Sources and Resources
- Mossad official web site (English)
- "James Bond, No Big Deal": Technological Aspects of Mosad Operations by Dan Yakhin, Globes (Tel Aviv), April 19, 2001
- "Israel's Secret Wars: A History of Israel's Intelligence Services" by Ian Black and Benny Morris
- "Inside Israel's Secret Organisations" Jane's Intelligence Review October 1996