Mossad (Hebrew for 'institute') is an Israeli intelligence service. It is responsible for human intelligence collection, covert action, and counterterrorism. The headquarters is located in Tel Aviv, with an estimated staff of 1,200 agents. Mossad was formed on April 1, 1951, established by then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. The identity of the director was kept secret, until March, 1996 when Major General Danny Yatom was appointed director.

There are 8 departments within Mossad, although internal details on the organization remain obscure:

  • Collections Department: the largest, responsible for espionage. Consists of a number of desks in specific geographical regions.
  • Political Action and Liaison Department: conducts political activities and liaison with friendly intelligence agencies
  • Special Operations Division: conducts highly sensitive assassination, sabotage, paramilitary, and psychological warfare ops
  • Lohamah Psichlogit Department: psychological warfare, propaganda, and deception ops
  • Research Department: produces intelligence reports, including weekly summaries and detailed monthly reports
  • Technology Department: develops advanced technologies in support of Mossad operations

Mossad is responsible for a number of assassinations throughout the Arab world. In 1960, Mossad kidnapped Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann from Argentina. During the 1970s a number of Arabs connected with the Black September group were assassinated by Mossad agents. In April 1988, Yasser Arafat's deputy Abu Jihad, a principal planner of military and terrorist operations against Israel was assassinated. The Iraqi 'supergun' project was halted in March 1990, when Canadian scientist Gerald Bull was assassinated by Mossad.


On July 21, 1973, the Mossad ambushed and gunned down (in front of his pregnant wife) an Algerian waiter working in Lillehammer, Norway. The waiter's name was Ahmad Bushiki, and he had the misfortune of being a dead ringer for Ali Hassan Salameh, an official with the PLO. Five agents were put on trial for the murder, 2 convicted. They were sentenced to five years in prison and served 22 months each.

Toalight informed me that, in Norway, his name is usually spelled Ahmed Bouchiki

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 recognize what is going on around us.
-David Ben-Gurion

In 1951 Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, decided on the structure of the fledgling nation's intelligence services. The first was Aman, in charge of military intelligence. The second was Shin Beth, in charge of counterintelligence. The third was ha-Mossad le-Modiin ule-Tafkidim Meyuhadim which is generally translated from Hebrew as The Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks, generally simply called "Mossad" or "The Institute." Mossad is in charge of counterterrorism, covert actions and intelligence collection.

Doing research or writing about Mossad can be problematic. Because of its nature as an intelligence organization it goes out of its way to not publicize its past or current activities. Because of the nature of its work, it generates the most interest when it screws up. If it functions perfectly it's often impossible to say for certain that the agency was involved at all. Because it's an agency of Israel it tends to attract the interest of many individuals who are opposed to Israel's existence and politics. In other words, it's not an organization where it's simple to collect a large amount of factually correct information. In writing this node, I have tried to only include information that was available from at least two reputable-seeming sources.


I am assured by various sources that Mossad has eight departments, though I could only find public information on six of them in my research.
  • Collections Department
    The Collections Department is the largest department in Mossad. It is in charge of espionage and other forms of intelligence gathering. Like the Research Department, it is organized into "desks" that are responsible for different geographical regions.

  • Political Action and Liaison Department
    The Political Action and Liaison Department is responsible for dealing with foreign intelligence services. It also deals with nations that Israel has no formal diplomatic relationship with.

  • Special Operations Division AKA Metsada
    The Special Operations Division conducts most of the messy operations involving assassination and sabotage.

  • LAP (Lohamah Psichlogit) Department
    The LAP Department is responsible for conducting psychological warfare as well as operations involving propaganda and deception.

  • Research Department
    The Research Department is responsible for producing intelligence reports using traditional information as well as information from the Collections Department. This includes generating daily, weekly and monthly situation reports. There are 15 sections or "desks" that are responsible for geographical regions.

  • Technology Department
    The Technology Department is responsible for evaluating and creating technologies to be used by the Mossad.

The director of the Mossad answers only to the Prime Minister. Traditionally, the Director of the Mossad was considered a state secret in Israel. In 1996 this policy was changed with the announcement of Danny Yatom's appointment. I have included below a list of the 10 individuals who have served as director of the Mossad since its creation in 1951.

Over the course of Mossad's lifespan, assassinating people believed to be terrorists has not been uncommon. There have been two widely acknowledged stretches of time where Mossad has used assassination as a tool. The first occurred after the 1972 Olympics massacre of Israeli athletes by a group called Black September. The second followed the al-Aqsa intifada. Based on watching the news rather than from any actual sources, I would guess that we are currently (fall 2002) in another era of Mossad related assassinations linked to the current intifada. Unrelated to those three cases, there is also the assassination of Gerald Bull (bah has written an excellent piece on him there.)

One of the most noted cases of assassination was one that was in error. On July 21, 1973 Mossad agents murdered Ahmad Boushiki in Lillehammer, Norway. The Algerian waiter was mistaken for Ali Ahmad Salameh (who was killed by a car bomb explosion in 1979.) This case is often viewed as an even bigger disaster for Mossad because the murder took place in front of Ahmad's pregnant wife. The five operatives who were apprehended were tried and sentenced, though they served very little time.

Famous Operations

I have included here a couple of Mossad's most famous operations. There are countless others that I could have used, but these struck me as particularly interesting.

No Extradition Treaty? No Problem.
One of Mossad's most celebrated and remembered successful operations was the capture of a Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann. At 8:05 PM on May 11th, 1960, Mossad operatives tackled Eichmann as he got off a bus in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The capture was accomplished by a team of over 30 operatives. He was then smuggled out of the country and stood trial in Israel.

Stealing a MiG
On August 16th, 1966 an Christian Iraqi pilot defected to Israel with a MiG-21. At the time, the MiG-21 was the pride of the Russian air force. They prized its secrecy so highly that when they began allowing allies in the middle east to begin using them in 1960 they required that Russian forces be used to secure air bases with the plane. Mossad was responsible for the initial contact with the pilot as well as smuggling the pilot's entire extended family out of Iraq. Many at the time thought that the defection was unassisted but it is now known that it was a Mossad operation.

1.Most of this section is based on, though it could also be based on the countless reprints and variations contained with in. Other resources used: - specific "desks"

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