Meir Dagan
Photo: Yaron Brener

Mossad bids farewell to its 'Superman'

Egypt named him after a superhero; Arab world accused him of assassination plots. Meir Dagan wraps up eight years as head of Israeli secret service with achievements mostly attributed to him by others

Was the assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientist on Monday Mossad Chief Meir Dagan's farewell gift?


The head of the Israeli secret service, who the Egyptians nicknamed "Superman" after the assassination of Hamas senior official al-Mabhouh earlier this year, concluded on Monday eight years at the helm of the organization.


At the age of 65, Dagan will transfer the reins to his nearly-anonymous successor, Tamir Pardo, who will have to fill his almost impossibly big shoes.


If Dagan is indeed responsible for the assassination of al-Mabhouh in Dubai, it can be considered as the Mossad chief's "big finale."


Born in Russia, Dagan moved with his family to Israel at the age of five. His long service in the security apparatus started when he enlisted to the paratroopers' brigade, after which he slowly climbed up the ladder.


Among his positions, Dagan commanded Sayeret Rimon at the Gaza Strip, which was in charge of battling terrorist activity at the Strip during the early 70s.


In the beginning of the 90s Dagan served as Head of the IDF Operations Directorate, and was under the command of then deputy chief of staff and current Defense Minister Ehud Barak.


Dagan was injured twice during his military service and was awarded the Medal of Courage, which is given to those who carry out acts of gallantry at the risk of life, during combat duty.


Era of assassinations

In 1997 Dagan retired from the IDF, and served as the head of the Counter-Terrorism Bureau before entering the Mossad.


Dagan also engaged in a short political career, serving as one of Ariel Sharon's election headquarters chairmen.


But even before the controversial al-Mabhouh affair, many in the Arab world and the international community accused the Mossad and its head of numerous assassinations which no one claimed responsibility for– at least not officially.


Prior to the sensational Dubai hit, the Middle East was shaken by the February 2008 assassination of Hezbollah's Operations Officer Imad Mughniyah at the outskirts of Damascus.


Days later, rumors began spreading as to the identity of the perpetrators and the details of the operation.


British publication Sunday Times quoted "Israeli security and intelligence sources" who claimed that Mossad agents replaced the driver's seat headrest in Mughniyah's Mitsubishi Pajero with a booby-trapped one.


Another British report by the Sunday Express described a different version of the event – though also placed full responsibility on the head of Mossad and its operatives.


Six months later, General Mohammed Suleiman, who was Syrian President Bashar Assad's top aide on military and security matters and the liaison officer between Damascus and Hezbollah, was assassinated by a sniper while strolling on the Syrian coast.


A Short while after, Hisham al-Labadani, the bureau chief for Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, was also killed on the streets of Damascus.


While the exact circumstances of his assassination remain unknown, reports claimed al-Labadani was forcefully dragged out of his vehicle by anonymous perpetrators who did not hesitate to shoot him point blank in broad daylight.


During Dagan's cadence, Israel systematically avoided claiming responsibility for any of the operations, and enforced a complete blackout over the political echelons.


After the al-Mabhouh hit, which stirred controversy worldwide, senior governmental ranks decided not to extend Dagan's term. According to reports, the Mossad head's request to extend his tenor was denied due to the political entanglement caused by the affair.



פרסום ראשון: 12.01.10, 11:33
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