Mossad 'Local Assistants' Operating In Western
By Victor Ostrovsky From his 'By Way of Deception' Pages
Alan's lecture was followed by
one on technical cooperation between agencies, in which we learned that the
Mossad had the best capability of all for cracking locks. Various lock
manufacturers in Great Britain, for example, would send new mechanisms to
British intelligence for security testing; they in turn sent them on to the
Mossad for analysis. The procedure was for our people to analyze it, figure out
how to open it, then send it back with a report that it's "impregnable."
After lunch that day, Dov L.
took the class out to the parking lot where seven white Ford Escorts were
parked. In Israel, most Mossad, Shaback, and police cars are white, although the
head of Mossad then drove a burgundy Lincoln Town Car.) The idea was to learn
how to detect if you were being followed by a car. It's something you practice
again and again. There's no such thing as you see in the movies or read in books
about little hairs on the back of your neck standing up and telling you somebody
is behind you. It's something you learn only by practice, and more practice.
Each night when we went home,
and each day when we left home for school, it was still our responsibility to
make, sure we weren't being followed.
The next day Ran S. delivered
a lecture on the sayanim, a unique and important part of the Mossad's operation.
Sayanim ? assistants ? must be 100 percent Jewish. They live abroad, and though
they are not Israeli citizens, many are reached through their relatives in
Israel. An Israeli with a relative in England, for example, might be asked to
write a letter saying the person bearing the letter represents an organization
whose main goal is to help save Jewish people in the diaspora. Could the British
relative help in any way?
There are thousands of sayanim
around the world. In London alone, there are about 2,000 who are active, and
another 5,000 on the list. They fulfill many different roles. A car sayan, for
example, running a rental agency, could help the Mossad rent a car without
having to complete the usual documentation. An apartment sayan would find
accommodation without raising suspicions, a bank sayan could get you money if
you needed it in the middle of the night, a doctor sayan would treat a bullet
wound without reporting it to the police, and so on. The idea is to have a pool
of people available when needed who can provide services but will keep quiet
about them out of loyalty to the cause. They are paid only costs. Often the
loyalty of sayanim is abused by katsas who take advantage of the available help
for their own personal use. There is no way for the sayan to check this.
One thing you know for sure is
that even if a Jewish person knows it is the Mossad, he might not agree to work
with you, but he won't turn you in. You have at your disposal a nonrisk
recruitment system that actually gives you a pool of millions of Jewish people
to tap from outside your own borders. It's much easier to operate with what is
available on the spot, and sayanim offer incredible practical support
everywhere. But they are never put at risk nor are they privy to classified
Suppose during an operation a
katsa suddenly had to come up with an electronics store as a cover. A call to a
sayan in that business could bring 50 television sets, 200 VCRs, whatever was
needed, from his warehouse to your building, and in next to no time, you'd have
a store with $3 or $4 million worth of stock in it.
Since most Mossad activity is
in Europe, it may be preferable to have a business address in North America. So,
there are address sayanim and telephone sayanim. If a katsa has to give out an
address or a phone number, he can use the sayan's. And if the sayan gets a
letter or a phone call, he will know immediately how to proceed. Some business
sayanim have a bank of 20 operators answering phones, typing letters, faxing
messages, all a front for the Mossad. The joke is that 60 percent of the
business of those telephone answering companies in Europe comes from the Mossad.
They'd fold otherwise.
The one problem with the
system is that the Mossad does seem to care how devastating it could be to the
status of the Jewish people in the Diaspora if it was known. The you get if you
ask is: "So what's the worst that could happen to those Jews?' they'd all come
to Israel - Great."
Katsas in the stations are in
charge of the sayanim, and most active sayanim will be visited by a katsa once
every three months or so, which for the katsa usually means between two and four
face-to-face meetings a day with sayanim, along with numerous telephone
conversations. The system allows the Mossad to work with a skeleton staff.
That's why, for example, a KGB station would employ about 100 people, while a
comparable Mossad station would need only six or seven.
People make the mistake of
thinking the Mossad is at a disadvantage by not having stations in obvious
target countries. The United States, for example, has a station in Moscow and
the Russians have stations in Washington and New York. But Israel doesn't have a
station in Damascus. They don't understand that the Mossad regards the whole
world outside Israel as a target, including Europe and the United States. Most
of the Arab countries don't manufacture their own weapons. Most don't have
high-level military colleges, for example. If you want to recruit a Syrian
diplomat, you don't have to do that in Damascus. You can do it in Paris. If you
want data on an Arab missile, you get that in Paris or London or the United
States where it is made. You can get less information on Saudi Arabia from the
Saudis themselves than you can from the Americans. What do the Saudis have?
AWACs. Those are Boeing, and Boeing's American. What do you need the Saudis for?
The total recruitment in Saudi Arabia during my time with the Institute was one
attache in the Japanese embassy. That was it.
And if you want to get to the
senior officers, they study in England or the United States. Their pilots train
in England, France, and the United States. Their commandos train in Italy and
France. You can recruit them there. It's easier and it's less dangerous.
Ran S. also taught his class
about "white agents," individuals being recruited, either by covert or direct
means, who may or may not know they're working for Israel. They are always
non?Arabs and usually more sophisticated in cal knowledge. The prejudice in
Israel is that Arabs don't understand technical things. It shows itself in
jokes, like the one about the man selling Arab brains for $150 a pound and
Jewish brains for $2 a pound. Asked why the Arab brain was so expensive, he
says, "Because it's hardly been used." A widely held perception of Arabs in
White agents are usually less
risky to deal with than "black," or Arab, agents. For one thing, Arabs working
abroad are very likely to be subjected to security by Arab intelligence and if
they catch you working with one as a black agent, they'll want to kill you. The
worst that would happen to a Mossad katsa caught working with a white agent in
France is deportation. But the white agent himself could be charged with
treason. You do everything you can to protect him, but the main danger is to
him. If you're working with an Arab, both of you are in danger.
While our classes at the
Academy went on, exercises outside with cars continued apace. We learned a
technique called maulter, the unplanned use of a car in detecting, or,
improvised following. If you have to drive in an area you're unfamiliar with,
and you have no preplanned route, there's a series of procedures, turning left
then right, moving, stopping, and so on,. to follow, mainly to eliminate
coincidence and make certain whether or not you are being followed. We were also
frequently reminded that we were not "bolted" to our cars. If we thought we were
being followed, but couldn't verify it completely, it might be wise to park,
venture out on foot, and take it from there.
Another lecture, by a katsa
named Rabitz, explained the Israel Station, or local station, which handles
Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, and Turkey. Its katsas are called "hoppers" or "jumpers,"
because they work out of Tel Aviv headquarters. They recruit by hopping back and
forth for a few days at a time, to operate the agents and the sayanim. All these
countries are dangerous to operate in because their governments tend to be
The Israel station is not a
popular assignment for katsas. During his lecture on the subject, Ran S. dumped
on it. Ironically, he was later appointed its head.
Extract from 'By Way of
Deception', Ostrovsky, Victor and Hoy, Claire, St. Martin's Press, 1990
Victor Ostrovsky, now living
in Canada, hosts a weekly radio show called Spytalk