Beleaguered Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has put in place a vital constituent for a possible eleventh-hour unilateral strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities by extending Mossad director, Meir Dagan’s tenure for another year until the end of 2009. In his six years on the job, the 61-year old has proved his covert mettle in a variety of counter-terror operations, graduating most recently to a highly successful intelligence coup leading up to the demolition of Syria’s North Korean plutonium reactor in al Kebir last September.
The pot-bellied balding Dagan is no James Bond look alike but the former General is one tough hombre leading Mossad’s fearsome counter-terror operations in Damascus, Beirut and other Arab capitals. Meir masterminded the operation against Syria’s plutonium reactor last year was one of the most complex operations ever performed by the Mossad. For the Israeli raiders to put the facility out of commission and lift out the evidence of a working nuclear collaboration between Syria, Iran and North Korea, they needed from the Mossad precise data on the facility’s inner and outer defenses. It had to include the air defense systems in place across Syria, the whereabouts of the materials and equipment the Israeli team was assigned to appropriate from the site and transfer to the United States, and the nature and numbers of the Syrian, Iranian and North Korean personnel present.
The outstanding feature of the Al Kebir operation was one that has come to be associated with the spy chief’s method of operation: No leads or clues were left for the Syrian, Iranian and North Korean investigators to find -even after the photos were published.
His spy or spies proved untraceable.
It was Dagan who eliminated one of the longest-running and most dangerous enemies of Israel and America, the head of Hizballah’s vicious special security apparatus, Imad Mughniyeh, in Damascus on February 12 with a car bomb that blew him to smithereens in the middle of Syria’s Capital city.
Planning an attack to destroy Iran nuclear weapons plants would fall to Meir Dagan, a Holocaust survivor born in the Soviet Union, to rise to the Mossad’s motto: “Where no counsel is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs XI/14)