Debacle dents Mossad mystique

By Greg Ansley

CANBERRA - The debacle in Dubai has cracked the myth of Mossad, Israel's feared spy agency.

"Mossad is not as flawless as it looks," said Matthew Gray, senior lecturer at the Australian National University's Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies.

The reputation the agency built through the 1950s, the capture of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1960, and the rescue of Jews from Sudan and Yemen has been tarnished.

It has had major successes, if none has ever been fully confirmed as its work.

These include alleged assassinations in Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Iran, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Tunisia.

But Gray said Mossad has badly botched a number of jobs, such as the 1973 killing in Norway of Moroccan waiter Ahmed Bouchiki, who was mistaken for Palestinian Black September leader Hassan Salameh.

In 1997 two Mossad agents were arrested in Jordan after injecting a lethal dose of the slow-acting poison levofentanyl into the ear of senior Hamas official Khalid Meshaal.

Jordan, which at the time had good relations with Israel, was outraged and forced Tel Aviv into supplying the antidote in time to save Meshaal by threatening to execute its Mossad prisoners.

Gray said Mossad had always performed better in Europe than in the Middle East.

Its agents were able to enter Europe on Israeli passports, adopt new identities for their operations there, and fly home again using their genuine documents.

Gray said the mess left in Dubai showed Mossad had its failings.

"It's not beyond Mossad to have stuffed it up," he said.

- NZ Herald

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