[IWAR] ISRAEL Faked Syrian intel reports

From: Michael Wilson (MWILSON/0005514706at_private)
Date: Sun Dec 07 1997 - 10:03:15 PST

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                  Former Israeli spy says he faked reports about Syria
          Copyright ) 1997 Nando.net
          Copyright ) 1997 The Associated Press
       JERUSALEM (December 7, 1997 12:35 p.m. EST http://www.nando.net) -- A
       retired Israeli spymaster has confessed to making up reports on Syria's
       readiness for war, a reeling blow to the reputation of Israel's famed
       Mossad intelligence agency.
       Retired Mossad agent Yehuda Gil was quoted Sunday in Israel's Yediot
       Ahronot newspaper as saying he had been trying to "prove" himself after
       his retirement.
       News reports have said false information passed by the 63-year-old spy
       last summer provoked responses that could have led Israel to the brink
       of war.
       The English-language Syria Times, a state-run newspaper that reflects
       government views, said Sunday that it hoped Israel would be more open to
       peace following the exposure of the false information.
       Already under scrutiny for a botched assassination attempt on an Islamic
       militant leader in Jordan in September, the Mossad now will have to
       investigate why Gil's reports were left unquestioned for years.
       Gil, who was arrested a month ago and is in prison, has been indicted on
       charges of fraud, embezzlement, and passing information with intent to
       damage state security. A government publication ban on Gil's name and
       the charges against him was lifted Saturday night.
       Court papers said the information Gil provided had "a significant
       influence on state security" and could have led to a loss of lives.
       "I know that I did something that should not have been done," Yediot
       quoted Gil as saying through a close associate. "I was not motivated by
       financial or political reasons.
       "The only explanation I can give, looking back, is the personal crisis
       caused by my retirement," he said. "I needed to continue to prove
       myself, that I was still strong and that they still needed me."
       Gil, who taught a course called "Lying as an Art" to Mossad cadets,
       retired from the Mossad in 1989, after 19 years of service during which
       he was never promoted to the top ranks. Because of his sources in Syria,
       he continued to work as a consultant to the agency after his retirement.
       Yediot said Gil had cultivated a mole -- a high-ranking official in the
       Syrian government -- in 1975 who provided Israel with vital information.
       But at some point -- it is not clear when -- Gil allegedly began making
       up information instead and keeping the payments intended for the mole.
       News reports said the Mossad thinks it was fed fabricated reports for
       almost a decade -- even before Gil's retirement -- while Gil rejected
       attempts to put a second handler on the mole and avoided handing in
       However Gil told Yediot that he had only been supplying false
       information for five years.
       In August 1996, Gil reportedly told the Mossad that Syria was planning a
       lightning strike aimed at recapturing part of the Golan Heights from
       The government ultimately dismissed his report, accepting other
       intelligence information that said Syria was seeking peace.
       Yediot said Gil said he knew his reports could not do too much damage
       because they were based on only one source.
       "The system never relies on one source only," he said. "This of course
       does not diminish the gravity of my actions, but it makes me feel
       better. Perhaps in this way I can explain my irresponsibility and my
       intolerable actions."
       Gil's attorney, Yigal Shapira, a former Mossad employee, told Israel's
       Army Radio the media was exaggerating the matter.
       While admitting that his actions were very grave, Shapira said Gil would
       plead innocent.
       Ron Ben-Ishai, a veteran military reporter for Yediot, said the Gil
       affair was far more damaging to the Mossad than the botched
       assassination attempt against Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal in Jordan in
       "In the 46 years of the Mossad's existence, there has never been an
       instance where agents were dishonest in their reports," Ben-Ishai wrote.
       "After the explosion of the Gil affair, it will be far more difficult to
       convince foreign governments and intelligence agencies that the Mossad
       is indeed the best at collecting intelligence information."
       Reports said police found $35,000 in a safe at Gil's home in the coastal
       town of Gadera. Questions of whether Gil was politically motivated were
       raised after the extreme right-wing party Moledet, which opposes any
       territorial concessions, confirmed that Gil worked for the party after
       his retirement.
       -- By GWEN ACKERMAN, The Associated Press

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