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 information.
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 Israel.
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 pro-PLO.
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