Terrorism double standard: Framing Mossad-CIA story

Foreign Policy’s piece about Israel’s false flag activities reminds us that Israel has been supporting terrorists for a long, long time

Mark Perry’s piece in Foreign Policy detailing how Mossad agents recruited terrorists in Pakistan – members of the Jundallah organization – to carry out attacks in Iran is getting plenty of attention. Of course, that’s not how the story is framed: Oriented to the American public, its focus is on the fact that Israeli agents did as best they could to frame the US in their acts. But if you have a broader outlook than that of the Beltway crowd, this story should raise some awkward questions about Israel’s double standard on terrorism. It should be noted that Israeli officials have unofficially denied the story, in a rather unconvincing manner.

Why is the story of the Jundallah operations, carried out according to Perry in 2007-2009 and reaching its climax in the late Bush years, coming out now? I think the best answer is that this is a signal from the Obama administration to stop its terror campaign in Iran. Another Iranian scientist was murdered this week, along with some members of his family, much to the delight of the Israeli media. The IDF Chief of Staff joked about “unnatural events” in Iran, and the media lapped it up.

The Jundallah operations were the domain of Meir Dagan, the former Mossad chief. Dagan, who held the position for eight years (only one man, Isser Harel, held the job for longer, and that was in the totalitarian age of Ben Gurion) became the favorite of doves who oppose a war with Iran since he is a vocal opponent of such a war. But Meir Dagan is not a dove: He is Israel’s Lord High Executioner. Ariel Sharon, who appointed him, said his specialty was “separating an Arab’s head from his body.” He was the commander of the secretive unit Rimon, active in the Gaza Strip in the early 1970s and whose tactics included assassination of Palestinian activists; Dagan, which would make it to major general in the IDF, reported at the time to Sharon, who was commander of the Southern Command.

This new information puts Dagan’s assertion that an open war with Iran is inadvisable in a new light: Dagan was arguing not cessation of hostilities with Iran, but rather for continuing a silent war on Iran, instead of public escalation.

Meir Dagan (R) with Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi (L) (Photo: Israel Defense Forces, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Meir Dagan (R) with Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi (L) (Photo: Israel Defense Forces, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Iran and Israel have been locked in shadow-boxing for a few decades now. Shin Bet and Iranian agents duked it out in Lebanon, where both Israel and Iran maintained allied militias. Iranian intelligence was heavily involved in the attacks on Israel’s embassy in Argentina and on the Jewish Center there in the 1990s. It would take a decade for the Israeli public to dimly learn the reasons for the attack on the embassy. Four Iranian diplomats were murdered in Lebanon during the Israeli invasion in 1982, and the Iranians kept demanding information about them. The Israeli government kept the public from knowing about the incidents until one of the deals with Hizbullah – I think it was the Tannenbaum deal – when Israel officially made a response to the Iranian demands: It claimed the four diplomats were captured and executed by the Falanges. How verrrry convenient.

Similarly, the news about a Hizbullah attempt to blow up the Israeli embassy in Bangkok should be seen in the same light: An Iranian retaliation after yet another Israeli attack on its territory.

Dagan’s shadow war with Iran continues a long tradition of Israeli intelligence to carry out terrorist attacks in foreign countries. The most celebrated ones came after the Munich murders in 1972, with Mossad assassins roaming Europe and Lebanon, looking for Palestinian terrorists. But it started long before that.

One of the most drawn-out political dramas in Israel’s history was the “esek bish” (“the mess”), which was the result of a botched terrorist campaign by Israel’s military intelligence in Egypt in 1954. The terrorists were ordered to attack American and British targets in order to, err, undermine American and British support for the Nasser regime, which didn’t exist. The terrorists were captured, some were executed, and the prolonged political mess would, in the end, serve as the excuse to finally unseat Ben Gurion.

The attacks in Egypt were part of a broader strategy, dubbed the Minorities Strategy or the Periphery Strategy in the 1950s: Israel should support minorities in Arab countries and encourage them to rise up against the central government. Israeli agents were very active in the Arab world and Africa, stirring trouble. There is reason to believe (Hebrew) Israel was behind Idi Amin’s coup in Uganda, so it could maintain its line to the rebels in South Sudan. It supported for a long time the Kurds in Iraq – then, at the order of Kissinger, abandoned them to their fate. Many groups supported by Israel would engage in what would be described as terrorism; This didn’t bother the Mossad, or Israel’s leadership, all that much.

All of which should be borne in mind when Israel next decries terrorism.