Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad

Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad

4.0 26
by Gordon Thomas

View All Available Formats & Editions

In the secret world of spies and covert operations, no other intelligence service continues to be as surrounded by myth and mystery as the Mossad. Gordon Thomas reveals that all too often the truth exceeds all the fantasies about the Mossad. Revised and updated for 2015, this new edition includes:

- Mossad's secret meeting in 2013 with Saudi Arabia's

See more details below


In the secret world of spies and covert operations, no other intelligence service continues to be as surrounded by myth and mystery as the Mossad. Gordon Thomas reveals that all too often the truth exceeds all the fantasies about the Mossad. Revised and updated for 2015, this new edition includes:

- Mossad's secret meeting in 2013 with Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief to plan for Israel to use Saudi to attack Iran should the Geneva discussion fail to be honored by Iran.
- The attack on Iraq's nuclear reactor that will be the flight path to an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
- Mossad's new cyber-war unit preparing to launch its own pre-emptive strike.
- Why Mossad's former director, Meir Dagan, has spoken out against an attack on Iran.
- Mossad agents who operate in the "Dark Side" of the internet to track terrorists.
- Mossad's drone and its first killing.
- Mossad's role in the defense of Israel's Embassy in Cairo during the Arab Spring.
- An introduction to Mossad's new director, Tamir Pardo.

These and other stunning details combine to give Gideon's Spies the sense of urgency and relevance that is characteristic of truly engrossing nonfiction.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Among the world's most respected and feared intelligence services, the Israeli Mossad encompasses shadowy networks of katsas (case officers) often operating undercover, from Washington to Tehran to Beijing. The third update of this well-received book adds expanded sections on postinvasion Iraq, the black market in nuclear material, and other topics, tying up several loose ends from the earlier editions. Large portions remain unchanged, however, giving the book an uneven quality, as some chapters were written in 1994, some in 1999, some in 2004 and some last summer. Thomas's engrossing stories about assassinations, target surveillance and other skullduggery keep the pages turning, but the serious student of the Middle East may be put off by some purple prose, for example, about Saddam in incarceration: "His shaggy salt-and-pepper beard is trimmed once a week, enhancing his sharp, penetrating eyes.... But he will have an opportunity to state his case-more than he had ever allowed those he murdered." Skeptics will wonder what ulterior motives inspired Thomas's many tight-lipped sources to open up to him and will question their information, particularly regarding the more incredible conspiracy theories he writes about. Overall, however, Thomas provides a rare and valuable glimpse at the inner workings of a very secretive organization. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The discipline of Israel's Mossad is legendary: members and former members fiercely guard the intelligence agency's methods and rarely talk to journalists. But many, apparently, did talk to Thomas, a former reporter for Britain's Daily Express, whose numerous books include Chaos Under Heaven, about China's democracy movement. Astute readers, however, will question whether these unnamed informants have given the straight scoop. The opening tale is a case in point. Thomas grabs attention with a riveting yarn about Ritz Hotel chauffeur Henri Paul, driver of the car in which he, Princess Diana and Dodi Al-Fayed all died. Thomas portrays Paul as a slick operator who accepted bribes from photographers seeking to snap the various celebrities he was charged with protecting. According to Thomas, the Mossad threatened to reveal Paul's scam to Ritz authorities if Paul didn't agree to spy for Israel. Thomas breathlessly raises a series of questions before hammering his point: "Was [Paul] not only responsible for a terrible road accident but also the victim of a ruthless intelligence agency?" The story, while titillating, ultimately goes nowhere. The question-mark ending is a device on which Thomas relies all too often, giving readers the impression that his book is full of many more questions than answers. Thomas writes with the pulpy charm familiar to readers of English tabloids; however, his use of unnamed sources and his reliance on conjecture will leave readers intrigued but determined to reserve judgment. Foreign rights sold in Germany, Holland, Israel and the U.K. (Mar.)
Library Journal
The Mossad is one of Israels elite security agencies, responsible mainly for operations outside the countrys borders. Its reputation (somewhat tarnished in recent years) for efficiency and daring combined with more than a touch of ruthlessness still evokes fear in Israels perceived enemies. Thomas, a prolific author of fiction and nonfiction on espionage and international security, has pieced together a book based largely on interviews with people both inside and outside the Mossad, as well as from other international intelligence agencies. Each chapter examines a particular action, operation, or political crisis and offers an entertaining and heavily anecdotal account. While the book is neither as scholarly in approach as Ian Black and Benny Morriss Israels Secret Wars: A History of Israels Intelligence Service (LJ 6/1/91) nor as controversial as ex-Mossad agent Victor Ostrovsky and Claire Hoys By Way of Deception (LJ 11/15/90), Thomas has a winner here. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries, especially those collecting in Israeli politics or international intelligence.Stephen W. Green, Auraria Lib., Denver
Kirkus Reviews
Forget (largely) about the "history" part; this is an anecdote-rich, if sometimes factually questionable, series of tales about the extraordinary derring-do of Israel's vaunted elite foreign intelligence service. Prolific British journalist Thomas (Enslaved, 1991; Chaos Under Heaven: The Shocking Story Behind China's Search for Democracy, 1991; etc.), whose 38th book this is, spent over 100 hours interviewing Mossad heads and agents, as well as others whose lives have been affected by the agency, including Yasir Arafat (a frequent assassination target before the 1993 Oslo agreement). To his credit, he delves into the organization's more significant bungled operations, including the mid-1970s killing of an innocent Arab waiter in Norway who was thought to be one of the PLO perpetrators of the 1972 Munich massacre of Israel's Olympic team. Thomas also provides readers with a good sense of how the Mossad trains its operatives in the field and of how extensively Israeli agents have infiltrated even the most apparently inaccessible parts of the Arab world. (It was a Mossad case officer in the Iraqi desert who, days before the 1991 Gulf War began, discovered that Baghdad had far more SCUD missiles in advanced positions than the CIA knew.) For the most part, though, Thomas contributes to the mythologizing of the Mossad by portraying an endlessly resourceful, often ruthless service that seems straight out of a James Bond film. How many of his tales are true? As Thomas doesn't document, aside from a short list of "primary interviewees" and other sources, it's hard to say. Nor does he build credibility by getting certain basic facts wrong or by occasionally offering hyperventilating prose. Inshort, this fun read, while containing much juicy ready-for-film-adaptation material, should be approached with a skeptical eye by readers interested in serious history. .

Read More

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Seventh Edition, Revised
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.60(d)

Read an Excerpt

Gideon's Spies

The Secret History of the Mossad

By Gordon Thomas

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2009 Gordon Thomas
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-8163-7



When the red light blinked on the bedside telephone, a sophisticated recording device was automatically activated in the Paris apartment near the Pompidou Center in the lively Fourth Arrondissement. The light had been wired in by an Israeli communications technician who had flown from Tel Aviv to install the recorder, intended to allay any suspicions neighbors would have about the phone ringing at ungodly hours. The technician was one of the yaholomin, a member of a Mossad unit that dealt with secure communications in the safe houses of Israel's secret intelligence agency.

The one in Paris was like all the others. It had a bombproof front door and window glass which, like the panes in the White House, could deflect scanners. There were scores of such apartments in all the major cities in the world, either purchased outright or rented on long leases. Many were left unoccupied for lengthy periods, ready for the time they would be needed for an operation.

One had been conducted from the Paris apartment since June 1997, when Monsieur Maurice had arrived. He spoke fluent French with a slight Central-European accent. Over the years his neighbors had encountered others like him: men, and occasionally women, who arrived without warning, spent weeks or months among them, then one day were gone. Like his predecessors, Maurice had politely discouraged interest in himself or his work.

Maurice was a katsa, a Mossad field agent.

Physically he was nondescript; it had been said that even on an empty street he would pass virtually unnoticed. He had been recruited in what was still a halcyon time for Mossad, when its legend remained largely intact. His potential was spotted during Israel's compulsory military service, when, after boot camp, he had been drafted into air force intelligence. An aptitude for languages (he knew French, English, and German) had been noted, along with other qualities: he was good at filling gaps in a case study and drawing fact out of speculation, and he knew the limits of informed conjecture. Above all, he was a natural manipulator of people: he could persuade, cajole, and, if all else failed, threaten.

Since graduating from the Mossad training school in 1982, he had worked in Europe, South Africa, and the Far East. At various times he had done so under the guise of a businessman, a travel writer, and a salesman. He had used a number of names and biographies drawn from the library of aliases maintained by Mossad. Now he was Maurice, once more a businessman.

During his various postings he had heard of the purges back in "the Institute," the name its staff used for Mossad: corrosive rumors of disgraced and ruined careers, of changes at the top, and each incoming Mossad director with his own priorities. None of them had stemmed the loss of morale within the service.

This had increased with the appointment of Benyamin Netanyahu as Israel's youngest prime minister. A man with a proven intelligence background, he was supposed to know how things worked on the inside ; when to listen, how far to go. Instead, from the outset, Netanyahu had astonished seasoned intelligence officers by dabbling in operational details.

At first this was put down to unnecessary zeal, a new broom showing he was ready to look into every closet to make sure there were no secrets he should know. But matters had become alarming when not only the prime minister but his wife, Sara, wanted to peer behind the looking glass into Israel's intelligence world. She had invited senior Mossad officers to call on her at home and answer her questions, claiming she was following the example of Hillary Clinton's interest in the CIA.

The featureless corridors of Mossad's headquarters building in Tel Aviv had echoed with the scandalized whispers of how Sara Netanyahu had demanded to see psychological profiles of world leaders she and her husband would be entertaining or visiting. She had especially asked for details about President Bill Clinton's sexual activities. She had also asked to review dossiers on Israel's ambassadors whose embassies they would be staying in during overseas trips, expressing an interest in the cleanliness of their kitchens and how many times the bedding was changed in the guest suites.

Bemused by her requests, Mossad officers had explained to the prime minister's wife that obtaining such information was not in their intelligence-gathering remit.

Some of the veterans had been removed from the mainstream of intelligence and given responsibility for small operations that required little more than creating paperwork which went virtually unread. Realizing their careers were stagnating, they had resigned, and were now scattered across the length of Israel, keeping themselves occupied with reading, mostly history, trying to come to terms with the fact that they were also yesterday's people.

All this had made Maurice glad to be out of Tel Aviv and back in the field.

The operation that had brought him to Paris had provided another chance to show he was a methodical and careful agent, one able to deliver what was expected. In this case the task was relatively simple: there was no real physical danger, only the risk of embarrassment should the French authorities discover what he was doing and quietly deport him. The Israeli ambassador knew Maurice was in Paris but had not been told why. That was standard operational procedure: if things went wrong, the envoy could plead ignorance.

Maurice's task was to recruit an informer. This was known in the esoteric language of Mossad as a "cold approach," suborning a foreign national. After two months of patient work, Maurice believed he was now close to succeeding.

His target was Henri Paul, assistant chief of the city's Ritz Hotel, who also acted as chauffeur to its celebrity guests.

One had been Jonathan Aitken, a minister in Britain's last Conservative government. Aitken had held special responsibility for coordinating arms sales and had built up a raft of contacts with Middle Eastern weapons dealers. This had led to World in Action, a TV investigative program, and the Guardian newspaper publishing highly damaging reports about Aitken's ties to men not normally found in the company of government ministers. Aitken had sued for libel. The case had come to hinge on who had paid Aitken's hotel account when he had stayed at the Ritz to meet some of his Arab contacts. In court, Aitken had sworn on oath that his wife had settled the account.

Through a third-party source, Mossad had tipped off investigators acting for the defendants that Mrs. Aitken had not been in Paris. The case had collapsed. Mossad, who had long regarded Aitken's activities as a threat to Israel, had effectively destroyed him.

In 1999, after facing a lengthy criminal trial in London, Aitken was found guilty of perjury and given a prison sentence. By then his wife had left him, and a man who walked the corridors of power for many years faced a bleak future.

Understanding if not sympathy, came from an unlikely source, Ari Ben-Menashe (see chapter 8). He had once experienced the rigors of a New York prison after his own fall from grace as intelligence coordinator for Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. The position had given Ben-Menashe a rare insight into how Mossad and Israel's other intelligence services operated. He regarded Aitken as "a man consumed by his own belief that he could outwit anyone. He did for years. But his mistake was to underestimate Mossad. They don't take prisoners."

Unlike Jonathan Aitken, whose life after prison holds little prospects, Ben-Menashe has made a spectacular recovery. By 1999 he had a well-established intelligence-gathering company based in Montreal, Canada. It numbers among clients several African countries as well as some in Europe. Multinationals also seek his services, having assured themselves their anonymity will be protected by Ben-Menashe.

His staff includes several former Canadian secret intelligence service officers and others who had worked for similar Israeli and European organizations. The company provides a wide range of economic, industrial, and protection services. The staff know their way around the arms dealers and well understand the rules of negotiating with kidnappers. There is not a city in the world where they are without contacts, many of them nurtured by Ben-Menashe from his days as a serious player in the Israeli intelligence world. He and his associates constantly update themselves on shifting political alliances and can often foresee which Third World government will fall — and who will replace it. Small and compact, Ben-Menashe's company is in many ways modeled on Mossad, "moving," Ben-Menashe cheerfully admits, "like thieves in the night. That's the way it has to be in our business." And it pays well.

Equipped with a new Canadian citizenship, he has found himself once more working with "the princes and kings of this world ... the famous and those who use their fortunes to buy better protection. For them all knowledge is power and part of my job is to provide that essential information."

In London he is a favored guest at the Savoy. In Paris it is the Ritz that greets him with deference.

In no time Ben-Menashe discovered that the hotel remained a meeting place for Middle Eastern arms brokers and their European contacts. He checked with Mossad colleagues. From them he learned just how important the hotel had become in Mossad's overall strategy. Ben-Menashe, a natural-born acquirer of information — "long ago I learned that nothing I hear goes to waste" — decided he would watch how matters developed. It was a decision that would eventually directly involve him in the fate of Diana, Princess of Wales and her lover, Dodi al-Fayed, the playboy son of the Ritz's owner, the mega-wealthy Mohamed al-Fayed.

Mossad had decided to have an informer in the Ritz who would be able to report on activities. It had set about the task by first obtaining the hotel's staff list; this had been done by hacking into the Ritz computer system. No one at the hotel's senior management level appeared to be a likely prospect; junior staff did not have the overall accessibility to guests for the task required. But Henri Paul's responsibility for security meant every area of the Ritz was open to him. His passkey could access a guest's safe-deposit box. There would be no questions asked if he wanted a copy of a person's hotel bill, no raised eyebrows if he asked to see the hotel's telephone log to obtain details of calls made by arms dealers and their contacts. He could know which woman a dealer had discreetly hired for a contact. As chauffeur to VIPs, Paul would be in a good position to overhear their conversations, witness their behavior, see where they went, whom they met.

The next stage had been to create a psycho-profile of Paul. Over several weeks information on his background had been unearthed by one of the resident katsas in Paris. Using a number of covers including an insurance company employee and a telephone salesman, the katsa had learned that Paul was a bachelor in no permanent relationship, lived in a low-rent apartment, and drove a black Mini but liked fast cars and racing the motorcycle of which he was part owner. Hotel staff had spoken of his liking a drink. There had been hints that, from time to time, he had used the services of an expensive hooker who also serviced some of the hotel's guests.

The information had been evaluated by a Mossad psychologist. He had concluded that there was an inherent vulnerability about Henri Paul. The psychologist had recommended that steadily increasing pressure, linked with the promise of substantial monetary reward to finance Paul's social life, could be the best way to recruit him. The operation could be a lengthy one, requiring considerable patience and skill. Rather than make further use of the resident katsa, Maurice would be sent to Paris.

As in any such Mossad operation, Maurice had followed well-tried guidelines. First, over several visits, he had familiarized himself with the Ritz and its environs. He had quickly identified Henri Paul, a muscular man with a certain swagger in his walk, who made it apparent that he sought approval from no one.

Maurice had observed the curious relationship Paul had with the paparazzi who staked out the front of the Ritz, ready to snatch photographs of the more newsworthy rich and famous guests. From time to time Paul would order the photographers to leave, and usually they would do so, circling the block on their motorcycles before returning. During those short trips, Paul would sometimes emerge from the hotel's staff entrance and engage the paparazzi in friendly banter as they passed.

At night, Maurice had observed Paul drinking with several of the paparazzi in one of the bars around the Ritz he patronized with other staff after work.

In progress reports to Tel Aviv, Maurice had described Paul's ability to drink considerable amounts of alcohol yet appear stone-cold sober. Maurice also confirmed that Paul's suitability for the role of informer overrode his personal habits: he appeared to have the essential access and a position of high trust.

At some point in his discreet surveillance, Maurice discovered how Paul was betraying that trust. He was receiving money from the paparazzi for providing details of guest movements, enabling the photographers to be in a position to snatch pictures of the celebrities.

The exchange of information for cash took place either in one of the bars or in the narrow rue Cambon, where the Ritz staff entrance was situated.

By mid-August that exchange had focused on the expected arrival at the Ritz of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her new lover, Dodi Al-Fayed, the son of the hotel's owner. They would stay in the fabled Imperial Suite.

All the Ritz staff were under strict instructions to keep details about Diana's arrival secret under penalty of instant dismissal. Despite this, Paul had continued to risk his career by providing details of the forthcoming visit to several paparazzi. From each he had received further sums of money.

Maurice saw that Paul had also begun to drink more heavily and had overheard Ritz staff complain that the assistant security chief had become even more of a martinet: he had recently fired a floor maid he had caught stealing a bar of soap from a guest bedroom. Several of the hotel's employees said that Paul was also taking pills and wondered if they were to help control his mood swings. Everyone agreed Paul had become more unpredictable: one moment he would be good-humored; the next he would display barely controlled anger over some imagined slight. Maurice decided the time had come to make his move.

The first contact was in Harry's Bar in the rue Daunou. When Paul came in, Maurice was already sipping a cocktail. The Mossad katsa smoothly struck up a conversation, and the security man accepted a drink after Maurice mentioned that friends of his had stayed at the Ritz. Maurice added they had been surprised how many other guests had been wealthy Arabs.

If it had been a shot in the dark, it produced a staggering result. Paul replied that many of the Arabs were rude and arrogant and expected him to jump when they raised a finger. Worst were the the Saudis. Maurice mentioned he had heard that Jewish guests were just as difficult. Paul would have none of it. He insisted that Jews were excellent guests.

On that promising note, the evening ended with an arrangement to meet again in a few days, over dinner at a restaurant near the Ritz. During the meal Paul confirmed, under Maurice's well-timed questions, much of what the katsa knew. The hotel security chief spoke of his passion for fast cars and his liking for piloting a small aircraft. But it was difficult to enjoy those habits on his salary.

That may well have been the moment Maurice began to exert pressure. Finding money was always a problem for such hobbies, but not an insoluble one. Almost certainly that perked Paul's interest.

What followed then developed a rhythm of its own: Maurice laying down the bait and Paul all too eager to take it. The hook in place, Maurice would then have begun to reel in the line with the skills he had acquired at the Mossad training school.

At some point Maurice would have planted the idea he might be able to help, perhaps mentioning he worked for a company that was forever looking for ways to update its database and would pay good money to those who could help do so. This was a favorite opening gambit for Mossad recruiters on a cold-approach operation. From there it would be a small step to tell Paul that many of the Ritz guests no doubt possessed the kind of information that would interest the company.

Paul, perhaps uneasy at the turn of the conversation, may have balked. Maurice would have then moved to the next stage, saying that of course while he understood Paul's reservations, they did come as a surprise to him. After all, it was common knowledge that Paul already took payment for information from the paparazzi. So why turn away the chance to make some real money?


Excerpted from Gideon's Spies by Gordon Thomas. Copyright © 2009 Gordon Thomas. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >