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NATION/W ORLD "ic"igan ai"y - Wednesday Septemer 41
x-Mossad leader defines the art of counterterrorism
Los Angeles Times
TEL AVIV - From the Alfred P.
Murrah Building in Oklahoma City to
U.S. Army housing in Saudi Arabia,
nd perhaps even to TWA Flight 800
over the skies of New York, the
United States is becoming a key target
of terrorism, with acts of greater fre-
quency and ever more deadly effect.
While this is a relatively new phe-
nomenon for Americans, it is some-
thing the people of Israel have grap-
pled with for close to half a century.
And in their continuing quest for
security in an open society, Israelis
ern first to their secret intelligence
service, the Mossad.
Admani says U.S. security has effectively prevented attacks
hunting down the killers of Israeli
athletes at the 1972 Munich
Olympics, Admani consulted the two,
then decided that Israel "did not admit
The father of two grown daughters,
Admani lives with his wife, Nina, the
executive director of the U.S.-Israel
Chamber of Commerce, in a fashion-
able section of Tel Aviv, where many
of Israel's political elite reside.
Former Prime Minister Shimon Peres
lives down the street.
The interview took place in a mod-
est apartment, similar to the one in
feats are the
stuff of legend,
even to battle-
Israelis. And to
reach the top of'
- one of the
jobs in Israel -
requires not only
a flair for der-
ring-do, but also
Nahum Admani com
ents in serving as chi
Yet, because of th
,,ure of secrecy, most
ven know his name.
tion, Admani spoke
first time about his 3
When discussing t
1 rorists, Admani, 67,s
hands-on attitude ofE
the mien of a scholar
ning the agency,
involved in such dar
xploits as the raid
irport in Uganda,
team rescued the I
hijacked Air France
Sitting with Adma
view were two for
who, earlier this year
eral other ex-intellige
lished a consulting c
izing in Middle Ea
I During the talk, Ad
called on his two col
recent veterans of
world, to update him
confirm his analysis.
They also serveds
house censors - Adi
suit them when deci
could divulge certain
example, when asked
w eLeah, received
.5. I nesseu world leaders
after her hus-
the first instance bn'has
of shiie suicide nation last
terrorism aslongreAlthough his
agof as 1971." ingrained,
-Nahum Admani be quite forth-
Former chief of the Mossad coming on cer-
abined these tal- his own experiences with Saddam
ef of the Mossad Hussein's henchmen in Iraq to his
meeting with the former head of the
ie Mossad's cul- Soviet KGB.
t Israelis did not He offered candid analysis and
In this conversa- sympathetic advice for dealing with
publicly for the the perpetrators of this new kind of
35-year career in terrorism that Americans increasingly
the world of ter- Q: What do you consider the most
till combines the challenging or dramatic action in your
an operative with career?
. For, before run- A: Entebbe. To understand what
Admani was happened at Entebbe, you must go
ing anti-terrorist back to the origins - which was actu-
on the, Entebbe ally an attempt by one of the
when an Israeli Palestinian organizations to down an
passengers of a El Al flight into Nairobi. They had a
jet on July 4, group of people there with two rocket
launchers planning to actually shoot
ni for the inter- down an El Al aircraft coming from
mer colleagues, South Africa and landing in Nairobi
, along with sev- on its way to Israel.
nce types, estab- We succeeded in foiling that
ompany special- attempt with the help of the Kenyans.
.st political and At that time we apprehended some of
the Arabs, and some Germans helping
Imani sometimes them, as they were taking up positions
leagues, as more outside of the airport ....
the clandestine So the hijacking of the Air France
i on a subject or plane that came later was done with
the aim to release those guys that we
somewhat as in- managed to apprehend and had in jail
mani would con- (in Israel). We now talk about it in
ding whether he three or four sentences but at the time
information. For it was quite a dramatic affair.
about his role in Q But the terrorism and hijackings
you faced then were different from
today in many ways - beginning
with the fact that it was done mainly
by Palestinian Arabs and their allies.
But wasn't it during your tenure as
head of the Mossad that your major
opponents became Muslim funda-
A: Absolutely .... It was during our
involvement in Lebanon that Shiite
terrorism became the ma*jor prob-
lem, although it was not the task of
the Mossad to counter terrorism there
Actually, I think I witnessed the
first instance of Shiite suicide terror-
ism as long ago as 1971.
At that time we were helping the
Kurdish revolt in Iraq, and I happened
to be with the (then) chief of the
Mossad in Iraq in the camp of
(Kurdish rebel leader Masoud)
One morning (Barzani) asked us to
leave, as he had a visit from Shiite
clergymen, who were sent to him by
Saddam Hussein to discuss matters.
We left the area for several hours
and on our way we saw a little com-
motion on the road.
We asked what had happened and
we were told that one of those Shiite
clergymen had apparently some
explosives on his body and during
their meeting with Barzani, he deto-
nated that explosive and was killed
hurt. A few As pah
ing to frighten - the U.S. or the
Saudis? To what end? To have us
leave Saudi Arabia like we left Beirut
in 1983 after the suicide bombings
killed hundreds of Americans?
A: First, let me say that I don't
believe America left Lebanon just
because of terrorism. You came to the
conclusion that your presence there
would not solve anything.
And then, in addition to that, there
was terrorism. And the American
public started to ask, "What the hell
are we doing there?"
Q: You don't think the Saudis have
a legitimate reason to fear that the
American public would ask the same
question about Saudi Arabia?
A: Yes, perhaps.
Q: Do you believe these groups
A: Yes: We have to consider that
these different groups are somehow,
somewhere, helping each other.
Q: And the role of certain countries
supporting them is ...
A: Absolutely crucial. Without state
assistance, these groups would not be
able to operate.
Q: Which states? And if you could,
place them in order of the contribu-
tion they make to international terror-
A: I would say Iran, Syria, Sudan
Q: So you would say Iran is the No.
during our conversation I told him that
we always considered that the Soviet
Union and the KGB were supporting
the Palestinian terrorist organizations.
He denied this vehemently. He said,
"We never participate, never help." In
the technical sense of the word, he may
be right - because we never had any
concrete evidence that the KGB hand-
ed over explosives to the Palestinians
with the knowledge that these explo-
sives would be used in a specific ter-
But I told him, "Listen, in the pure-
ly technical sense, your denial may
be true, but who supplied them with
the money, who supplied them with
the military training, who supplied
them with the weapons?" And he
Isaid, "Well, this is something else."
Q: Some experts say, while the
Europeans may be behind the U.S. in
Mtaking punitive actions, they are well
ahead of the U.S. in taking security
A: Oh, no, I don't think they are.
They're behind America in that, too.
Q: What is your .prognosis for ter-
A: It will continue.
Q: Why America, why now?
A: Because America is the target.
But listen. Try to put it in proportion.
As painful as these events have been,
America has not suffered terribly
from terrorism, partly because you
took, in time, good measures, some
defensive. American state interests
abroad are defended.
The United States has put a lot of
intelligence efforts into preventing
attacks. And you have had success.
This is extremely important.
And don't forget the United States
has the power to retaliate in many
ways. Therefore, you are not an easy
- --- _
_-_ AL.- _
was still splat-
tered with the
but the guy
that was killed
.... Later on we
had a lot of
Q: This new
these events nave
been, America has
- Nahum Admani
Former chief of the Mossad
I state supporter
A: More than
that. Iran uses a
One, the Iranian
vice, a state
involved in ter-
which is an arm
(based in south-
kind of terrorism,
where does it come from and what are
A: The origins come from many
different elements. Some who fought
communism in Afghanistan. Some
who are fighting their own regimes,
like radical extremists in Egypt ....
And the aim of terrorism, is, of
course, to terrorize, to frighten you.
Q: Then who are the people that
have killed two dozen Americans in
separate attacks in Saudi Arabia try-
ern Lebanon). So they do it both on a
purely state level and by supporting a
Q: I assume the distinction is
A: Yes. Let me tell you that some
three years ago I had the occasion to
meet the former head of the KGB. And
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