THE operational structure of Mossad, Israel's secret intelligence service, which has always prided itself on weaving a cloak of impenetrable secrecy around its covert operations, has been disclosed by a British specialist journal.
The details of Mossad's "family tree" appear in Jane's Sentinel journal, which has published a special edition on the eastern Mediterranean. The Israeli defence establishment has already reacted with concern over revelations in the same publication about the Israeli Air Force, including the location of all its air bases.
The detailed focus on the air force and intelligence services is due to be published in Sentinel next week. Apart from studying the internal workings of Mossad, which is estimated to employ about 1,200 people, the journal looks at the rest of the Israeli intelligence community, including Shin Bet, the counter-espionage agency and internal security service.
Mossad, the Central Institute for Intelligence and Special Missions, is the equivalent of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6. Israeli newspapers and broadcasting services are prohibited from writing about Mossad.
According to the journal, Mossad's largest operational branch is the Collections Department, responsible for intelligence-gathering operations abroad. The Collections Department is split into sections and includes separate "desks" covering different regions. Branch A is said to cover Spain, Egypt, Cyprus and Algeria. Branch C is reported to cover the Mossad stations in London, Paris and Marseilles.
The journal also says that Mossad has a clandestine operations command, known within the Israeli secret service as Metsada, which runs "small units of combatants who carry out actions abroad against those considered to be a threat to Israeli security". The journal says: "These missions have included assassinations and sabotage."
The Metsada unit is said to be answerable directly to the head of Mossad, who was recently named by the Israeli Government as Major-General Danny Yatom, 51. General Yatom, said to be nicknamed "The Prussian", replaced Shabtai Shavit who resigned earlier this year after nearly seven years as Mossad's head.
Other Mossad branches are listed as the Political Action and Liaison Department which deals with friendly foreign intelligence services, including the American CIA and Britain's MI6, and a special section called LAP (Lohamah Psichlogit) which covers psychological warfare.
The journal says that one of the most important of the support departments is the Research Department, which has 15 separate desks, including ones for the United States, Canada, Western Europe, the former Soviet Union, Libya, Syria and Iran. It says there is also a nuclear desk which specialises solely in nuclear developments around the world. Israel is known to be keeping a close watch on Iran's nuclear ambitions; Iran is said to be ten to 15 years away from a nuclear bomb.
Sentinel says Mossad's Research Department produces short daily reports and longer weekly summaries on all areas of interest.
Shin Bet, the internal service, is reported to have three operational departments and five support departments. The operational sections are listed as the Arab Affairs Department, which monitors suspected Arab subversives; the Non-Arab Affairs Department, which is involved in "the penetration of foreign intelligence services and diplomatic missions" in Israel; and the Protective Security Department, responsible for protecting national representatives and assets.