A Hollywood Announcement: Our Article on the Nazi Colonel Who Became a Mossad Hitman … to be a Movie

[This is the announcement released in Hollywood by a public relations agency for the production company, Studio 8.]

A MOST DANGEROUS MAN

Studio 8 has finalized the deal for A MOST DANGEROUS MAN.  The film is based on the article ‘The Strange Case of a Nazi Who Became an Israeli Hitman’ written by journalists Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman for the New York based weekly Forward. Raviv and Melman also have a book proposal based on the story.

 – William Brookfield & Oded Ailam are attached to co-write the screenplay. William most notably adapted KIDNAPPING MR. HEINEKEN for Informant Media, directed by Daniel Alfredson (director of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Swedish film series) starring Anthony Hopkins and Sam Worthington.

Oded Ailam worked in the Mossad for more than 22 years. At the time of his retirement, Ailam served as the Deputy Head of Global Operations. Prior to attaining this position, he served in various other capacities in the organization such as the chief of the Counter Terrorism Center.

— William Brookfield and Oded Ailam are represented by Camille McCurry at United Agents and Echo Lake Management.

— Dan Raviv is represented by Russell Galen at Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency. Yossi Melman is represented by Asaf Carmel Associates.  Raviv and Melman’s non-fiction books include the national best seller EVERY SPY A PRINCE and the current SPIES AGAINST ARMAGEDDON.

Tanya Seghatchian is attached to produce for Studio 8, alongside John Middleton and Alex Foster at Middleton Entertainment and Amotz Zakai at Echo Lake Entertainment will executive produce.

 Jon Silk, Chris Goldberg and Rishi Rajani are overseeing for Studio 8.

  True Story, Action, Thriller genres

Logline: The true story of Otto Skorzeny, a high ranking Nazi special forces soldier and Hitler confidant who was considered by the Allies to be “the most dangerous man in Europe”.  After the war, Skorzeny was located and recruited by an intrepid Mossad agent to work with him as a double agent to eliminate Nazi rocket scientists working on a secret Egyptian rocket program.

-- Tanya Seghatchian was a co-producer and then executive producer on the first four HARRY POTTER films, and produced MY SUMMER OF LOVE. She was later appointed Head of the Development & Film Funds at the BFI/UK Film Council. During her time there, she worked on BRIGHT STAR, THE IRON LADY, SHAME, THE KING’S SPEECH and UNDER THE SKIN. After overseeing the merging of the Council with the British Film Institute, Tanya struck a first-look deal with Studio 8. She most recently executive produced Peter Morgan & Stephen Daldry’s upcoming Netflix series, The Crown, for Sony Pictures Television.

— Formed in 2016, The Middleton Media Group is the Production Company of John Powers Middleton and Alex Foster, who serves as President of Production.  In addition to partnering with Roy Lee’s Vertigo Entertainment, Middleton also recently launched The Affleck/Middleton Project (MANCHESTER BY THE SEA) with Casey Affleck.  Middleton served as an executive producer on Spike Lee’s OLDBOY, RUN ALL NIGHT, POLTERGEIST, THE BOY and the upcoming films, DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS, THE STAND and DEATH NOTE remake, as well as SLEEPLESS on which Alex Foster is also an executive producer and the TV series, BATES MOTEL.  Middleton was also a co-producer on THE LEGO MOVIE and associate producer on the upcoming film, RINGS.

— Studio 8 is a filmmaker driven company focused on building longstanding relationships with filmmakers in order to develop, produce and acquire both potential tentpoles and prestige pictures.  Studio 8 is funded in partnership with the Chinese investment management firm Fosun Group and with Sony Pictures Entertainment, which will distribute up to six films worldwide annually.  Studio 8 has secured $1 billion in financing.  The company’s initial film projects include SOLUTREAN, which is currently in post-production, WHITE BOY RICK, which is currently in pre-production with Yann Demange directing, and Ang Lee’s BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK (November 11, 2016) in partnership with Sony’s TriStar Pictures.

October 28, 2016

White House Honor for Israel’s Peres, With Critical Issues Looming

By Dan Raviv originally posted in June 2012

Here in Washington, Israel’s President Shimon Peres is enjoying the highest possible American government accolades — receiving the Medal of Freedom Award from President Barack Obama.
shimon peres, israel spy, spies against armageddon, israel covert operationsThe 88-year-old, still in good health and mentally sharp, now holds a ceremonial post; but in past decades Peres was a senior defense official, a cabinet minister in several capacities, and prime minister of Israel.   He pops up often in our book, Spies Against Armageddon, as he was entrusted by Israel’s first prime minister — David Ben-Gurion — with carrying out the fateful, secret decision to develop nuclear weapons.
Peres also has been an active peacemaker, whenever peace efforts seem possible in the Middle East, and he calls on the current coalition government in his country to make stronger efforts at re-starting peace talks with the Palestinians.
In remarks prepared for delivery on Wednesday evening at the White House, President Obama praises the newest Medal of Freedom honoree:

“The United States is fortunate to have many allies and partners around the world.  Of course, one of our strongest allies, and one of our closest friends, is the State of Israel.  And no individual has done so much over so many years to build our alliance and bring our two nations closer as the leader we honor tonight—our friend, Shimon Peres.

“…in him we see the essence of Israel itself—an indomitable spirit that will not be denied. … Shimon knows the necessity of strength.  As Ben-Gurion said, ‘an Israel capable of defending herself—which cannot be destroyed—can bring peace nearer.’

“And so he’s worked with every American President since John F. Kennedy.  And it’s why I’ve worked with Prime Minister Netanyahu to ensure that the security cooperation between the United States and Israel is closer and stronger than it has ever been.  Because the security of the State of Israel is non-negotiable.  And the bonds between us are unbreakable.

“And yet, Shimon knows that a nation’s security depends, not just on the strength of its arms, but upon the righteousness of its deeds—its moral compass.  He knows, as Scripture teaches, that we must not only seek peace, we must pursue it.  And so it has been the cause of his life—peace, security and dignity, for Israelis and Palestinians and all Israel’s Arab neighbors.”

September 27, 2016

U.S. Prepared Huge Cyber-Attack on Iran, In Case Israel Bombed Iran and a War Started

In his latest documentary, “Zero Days,” the award-winning Alex Gibney reveals that the Obama Administration believed an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities — which seemed in 2012 to be a very real prospect — would draw the United States into war.  To prepare, the NSA created a set of cyberattacks — code named “Nitro Zeus” — which could have crippled Iranian industry, transport, and other modern services.  

“Zero Days” was the opening feature of the AFI Docs festival in Washington, DC, on June 22.  Gibney was interviewed by Dan Raviv for the CBS News Weekend Roundup radio magazine; and Yossi Melman is seen in the film as an expert commenting on Israeli motivations in confronting Iran’s nuclear program.  Melman also credited in the film as a consultant.

Raviv and Melman are co-authors of five books, including the current history of Israeli intelligence — Spies Against Armageddon.

Here is part of an article Melman wrote for The Jerusalem Post in February 2016, when the documentary was first screened at the Berlin Film Festival.

Michael Hayden, former head of both the CIA and the NSA, is in the film and claims the goal of a potential Israeli strike on Iran would be to drag the U.S. into war.  The film also quotes other sources in the US intelligence community who accuse Israel of disrupting a joint covert operation to sabotage computers used in Iran’s nuclear program by acting rashly and in opposition to agreed-upon plans.  As a result, hundreds of millions of dollars that were invested in the operation went to waste.
A graphic from the documentary "Zero Days"

A graphic from the documentary “Zero Days”

The film contains testimony from NSA and CIA operatives who worked together with Israeli colleagues – from the 8200 Military Intelligence Unit and Mossad – to develop several versions of a deadly virus that penetrated computers at the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz in Iran. The testimony is delivered anonymously by an actress whose face remains hidden.

According to the claims in the film, the hasty Israeli action prevented the carrying out of a number of further planned actions that were intended to sabotage computers at a second, more fortified uranium enrichment facility at Fordow. The film also reveals another planned cyber unit covert operation code-named NZ (Nitro Zeus).

“We spent millions on this operation to sabotage all of the computers of the Iranian infrastructure in the instance of a war,” a source quoted in the film said. “We penetrated the government, electricity lines, power stations and most of the infrastructure in Iran.”

 
The deadly virus that was implanted at Natanz was named “Stuxnet” by computer security experts, but it had a different name among the Israeli and American intelligence communities: “Olympic Games” — as revealed by New York Times’ journalist David E. Sanger.
Conventional wisdom holds that the implanting of the virus marked the first time that a country, or two countries in this case (the U.S. and Israel), engaged in cyber warfare against another country (Iran). Up until then, the majority of attacks were carried out by individual hackers for their own enjoyment or for political purposes, by criminals for the purposes of fraud and thievery, or by companies engaged in industrial and commercial espionage.
Vice President Joe Biden is quoted in the film as saying in a meeting that the Israelis “changed the code” of the deadly virus’s software.  As a result, the virus spread from nuclear program computers to many other computers in Iran, and from there to computers around the world — even harming the computers of American companies.
The unplanned spread of the virus led to the exposure of the operation and enabled the Iranians, with the help of information security experts from Belarus and Russia, to invent a “vaccine” for their computers to better defend the nuclear program.

According to the film, the premature exposure of the operation caused by Israel’s action’s also caused the virus software, which was among the most classified and most advanced in the world, to leak to Russian and Iranian intelligence.

“Ironically,” it is said in the film, “the secret formula for writing the code for the virus software fell into the hands of Russia and Iran – the country against which it was developed.”

June 23, 2016

“There Was Something Sexy about How the Mossad Approached the Nazi Colonel — Like Wife Swapping or a Couples Game”

Dan Raviv, a CBS News correspondent who is co-author of Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars, was interviewed on “The World,” a radio co-production of PRI and the BBC, by host Marco Werman.

Their 5-minute chat included a retelling of the “sexy” recruitment of former Waffen-SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny by the Mossad in 1962 in Madrid.

PRI banner The WorldRaviv and Yossi Melman, in an article for Forward, revealed this week that Skorzeny became an agent — and even an assassin — for Israel’s intelligence agency.

Here is the audio, from “The World”:

March 30, 2016

Terrorism in Brussels — An Israeli Perspective

[This analysis is adapted from an article written by Yossi Melman for The Jerusalem Post.  In addition, Dan Raviv‘s 43-minute radio special on the March 22 terrorism in Brussels — and his interviews with pundits and experts on terrorism — can be heard by clicking here.]

TEL AVIV – There are eleven security and inspection points at Ben-Gurion Airport. They spread from a roadblock at the airport entrance, through the security checkpoints that all travelers expect, all the way to the gates where passengers board their flights.

That is a lot to do – involving plenty of personnel and other expense – but Israel considers it a necessary investment.  Lives must be saved, and the travel industry must not be destroyed by bloodshed.

The multi-layered security is affordable — not just because Tel Aviv’s international airport is relatively small, but also because of a holistic security doctrine engraved by nearly 50 years of experience marked by blood and tears.

Since some early tragic failures, Israel has improved and upgraded its security measures on land and in the air. For decades, security experts from international airlines, police forces and security agencies have come here to learn Israeli know-how and doctrines.
Unfortunately, the non-Israelis stand up and take notice only after spectacular terrorist attacks — such as the 1988 Pan Am bombing and 9/11.

It took Western democracies a while to reach the conclusion that human life is at least as important as human rights. Most probably it will happen this time, too.

Three Muslim Bombers at Brussels Airport: The Man in the White Jacket Fled

Three Muslim Bombers at Brussels Airport: The Man in the White Jacket Fled

Sure, there is no hermetically sealed security, and terrorists will always take advantage of gaps. But there is no need to be a genius to understand that what happened in Brussels this week was a colossal security and intelligence failure.

Belgian authorities admit that they knew there was a high probability of an “imminent terror attack.” Yet neither the country’s police nor its security forces increased their presence in the streets or by adding checkpoints at the entrances to the airport. No wonder three terrorists managed to enter with suitcases heavily laden with explosives, screws, and bolts. Two blew themselves up, within a minute of each other; and it was lucky that the third man lost his nerve and fled.

The Brussels tragedy – with more than 30 people murdered and almost 300 wounded – was the result of years of negligence.

For decades, Belgium’s police have been afraid to enter rough Muslim neighborhoods such as Molenbeek, in the capital. These areas first became havens for criminal gangs dealing in drugs, protection, and weapons. Then they turned into hotbeds of radical Muslim and anti-Western trends.

In recent decades, such neighborhoods across Europe have become fertile recruiting grounds for young Muslims attracted by the slogans of jihadist groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, or known by the Arabic acronym Da’esh).

Now, radicalized Muslims – hundreds and potentially thousands of them – are returning from the Syrian and Iraqi battlefields.

They are ideologically hardened and militarily trained. “For a terrorist,” former CIA deputy director Michael Morell says, “there is no better training than actually fighting in a war.”

To gather intelligence, security agencies need to penetrate terrorist networks, recruit agents, and intercept communications.

It seems that the Belgian police were either afraid or reluctant, or they lacked the determination to take the necessary steps. Perhaps all of these. These years of negligence resulted in a reality for which the Belgian public – and the world – pay the price.

Belgium’s security services lack necessary intelligence. The writing was on the wall for a long time. Since 9/11 – and then atrocities in Madrid, London, Turkey, Bali and more – the international community should have come to realize that it is at war.

Some measures were taken, but the leaders of major countries – and security agencies – were slow, even reluctant, to draw the necessary conclusions.

Islamic State surely puts its highest priority on maintaining and growing its “caliphate” straddling the Iraq-Syria border.  But the group also seems determined to strike cities in Western countries.  Some say that began only after the West started attacking ISIS.  But exporting terrorism – and sending Muslim extremist recruits back to their home countries – was always going to be part of the ISIS playbook.

March 23, 2016

What Does Netanyahu Really Want? AIPAC Pushes Congress to Vote “No” — See Dan Raviv

Dan Raviv, co-author of Spies Against Armageddon, a history of Israeli intelligence and security agencies, appeared on the CBS News television broadcast “Up To The Minute,” analyzing the nuclear deal with Iran — and why Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu is so vociferous in his opposition.

Also — this coming week, when Defense Secretary Ash Carter visits Israel — will significant U.S. “security compensation” be offered to Israel?

Watch the video from CBS News:

 

August 11, 2015

Some Perspective on Jonathan Pollard, the American who Spied for Israel — and, 30 Years Later, Will be Released by the United States

[A few thoughts by Dan Raviv, co-author of Every Spy a Prince and the current Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars – on the case of Jonathan Jay Pollard, the American Jew who was a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst and delivered secret documents and photos to Israeli diplomats]:

Jonathan Jay Pollard, circa 1984
Jonathan Jay Pollard, circa 1984

I have been reporting on the Pollard case since the day he was arrested in November 1985 — trying, with his then-wife, to seek shelter in the Israeli Embassy here in Washington.  The Israelis turned him away, and the FBI arrested them both.   He’s my age — both born in 1954.  He was 31 when he was arrested, and (like me) he’s 60 now.

 I immediately wondered why U.S. prosecutors were so hard on him — demanding and getting a life sentence.  After all, he was spying on behalf of an American ally.   Other Americans who sold secrets to foreign powers sometimes got lesser sentences.

But, for Pollard, it was bad luck.   The federal prosecutors wanted to make an example out of him — so that other Americans who had top-secret clearances in their government jobs would not be temped to give or sell any secrets to anyone.

Pollard campaign poster

Part of the Campaign for Pollard’s Freedom

Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger wrote to the judge in the case, reportedly declaring that Pollard had done “incalculable harm” to the U.S.   The reasoning was that in the world of espionage, you never know where the secrets might go.  Israel might conceivably give some secrets — about U.S. military capabilities — to Communist countries such as Russia.  

When I did reporting on the story inside Israel — for the books I’ve co-authored with Yossi Melman about Israeli espionage and security — I found a lot of embarrassment.  The Mossad — the famous and successful spy agency — insisted that it would never spy inside the United States.  The Pollard caper was the overly aggressive idea of one particular agency: a Science Liaison Bureau (Lakam, in Hebrew), which collected science and technology secrets all around the world.

In our research, it became clear that the Mossad and Aman — the large military intelligence agency — benefited from the huge quantity of secrets that Pollard provided.  They must have known there was a spy, working for Israel, inside America’s defense or intelligence establishment.

Because of the embarrassment, Israel was slow to offer any support for Pollard.  Finally, in recent years, Israel has repeatedly asked the U.S. to release him.   Bill Clinton considered doing it, and so did George W. Bush.   But the CIA and Pentagon officials told the Presidents not to do it — not to forgive Pollard in any way, because it would send the wrong signal to other Americans who might be thinking of doing what he did.  The FBI and Justice Department officials, too, were clearly against releasing Pollard.

Yossi Melman and I wrote about the Pollard case in our 1990 best-seller

Yossi Melman and I wrote about the Pollard case in our 1990 best-seller

What the American president — in this case, Barack Obama — needs is some kind of excuse: so he can tell the U.S. intelligence community that “for vital reasons of U.S. national interests,” he chose to release Pollard.    It has seemed in the past that for the sake of keeping the Middle East peace talks going — to get some concessions from Israel that the Obama White House thinks are vital — Obama might grant clemency to Pollard and release him.

Now, a published report suggested, Obama may free Pollard in order to show some good will toward Israel, hoping that Israeli public opposition — and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s highly vociferous opposition — to the nuclear deal with Iran might soften.

Releasing Pollard would spark celebrations in Israel, where there’s a strong tradition of “doing everything necessary to bring home any soldier who’s caught behind enemy lines.”  

But there’d also be a little bit of pain — as the world, and specifically the American people, would be reminded that there’d been an American Jew who was hired by Israel to hand over secrets.   Israelis have explained to me that they are always living with their backs against the wall — so sometimes they have to do desperate and daring things that aren’t polite and gentle.

Spy cases are often embarrassing.  Yet the U.S.-Israel relationship survived the anger caused by Pollard’s arrest in 1985.  The relationship will survive the sharp disagreement over the deal with Iran.  But clearing the decks wherever possible — eliminating the Pollard issue by freeing him — would probably help. 

July 24, 2015

Where to Buy ‘Spies Against Armageddon’: on the People, Missions and Goals of Mossad and Israeli Security from 1948 to the Headlines of Today

Click here for full details of how (and where) to buy Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars, the most complete and balanced history of the Mossad and Israel’s other security and espionage agencies.

The authors are Dan Raviv (of CBS News) and Yossi Melman (the longtime Haaretz expert on intelligence, who now is a defense, strategy, and espionage analyst for the Jerusalem Post and other Israeli media).

This is their fifth book together.  Their best seller (in 1990-91) about Israel’s intelligence community was Every Spy a Prince.  They also wrote a character-filled history of U.S.-Israel relations, Friends In Deed.

To glance at readers’ reviews posted at Amazon.com, please click here.  For example:

Despite the book being over 350 pages, it goes by very quickly (I read it in a weekend). ” –daniel michael  |  17 reviewers made a similar statement
Highly recommended read for those interested in Middle East events. ” –zedillo99  |  15 reviewers made a similar statement
“Raviv and Melman have written a wonderful history of Mossad. It reads like a thriller, but conveys a thorough history of the Israeli intelligence agency.” –Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize winner

Spies Against Armageddon, israel spy, covert operations, dan raviv, yossi melman

SPIES AGAINST ARMAGEDDON is a powerful, vivid history of Israel’s intelligence community – led by the famous and feared Mossad – from the country’s independence in 1948 right up to the crises of today. Israel’s battle plan, aimed at stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program, may drag the United States into war and soaring oil prices. The plan is based on deception, sabotage, assassination, and intimidation. The book tells the story, never told before, of Kidon – the super-secret unit that is like a Mossad within the Mossad. Kidon carries out special operations, including assassinations and sabotage. Kidon had a daring role in destroying Syria’s nuclear reactor in 2007.

Israel’s methods and motivations can be fully understood only when seeing how they developed over the decades. Bold spies have penetrated enemy capitals, and secret agencies felt a historic responsibility to protect Jews worldwide. The authors chronicle major changes in Israeli intelligence agencies’ priorities – away from Palestinian peace prospects, shifting to Iran as the main focus. The book also exposes some episodes of which Israeli spies are ashamed; scandals they would prefer remain buried. Still, in the age of the internet and spy satellites, Israel is the most innovative nation in the use of espionage as an alternative to war.

Dan Raviv

yossi melman, spies against armageddon, iran nuclear

Yossi Melman

Among the burning questions addressed and answered in SPIES AGAINST ARMAGEDDON are these: Who planted a powerful computer worm in Iran’s uranium enrichment centrifuges? Who has been motorcycling boldly through the streets of Tehran, assassinating Iranian nuclear scientists? Are Israeli spies regularly inside Iran and other enemy countries? Did the Mossad make a huge mistake when two dozen of its operatives were seen by hotel security cameras in Dubai, or was it a successful murder mission? Do the assassins, as portrayed in the movie “Munich,” really feel pangs of conscience? Have Israel’s enemies ever managed to plant agents in the Israeli government? Does the United States really trust Israeli intelligence, or is the relationship limited by mutual mistrust? Why do U.S. security agencies believe their close ally is spying on America? Is Israel trying to maneuver the U.S. into attacking Iran?

This book contains new information about the Mossad director from 2002 to 2010, Meir Dagan, and how he put “the dagger back between the teeth” of the spy agency. When he publicly declares that he opposes an Israeli military strike on Iran, what does he favor instead? The authors of this book have spoken with all the major players, and a multitude of minor players as well, to gain a balanced and deep understanding of Israeli actions at times of crisis – and Israel almost always feels it is in a crisis.  Click here for reviews and more information on Spies Against Armageddon.

 

July 11, 2015

Eavesdropping on Iran Nuclear Talks?  Parsing the Spying Report – and Israel’s Emphatic Denial

[This analysis was written by Dan Raviv, co-author of Spies Against ArmageddonInside Israel’s Secret Wars, for CBSnews.com]

WASHINGTON — Israel is emphatically denying a report in The Wall Street Journal that it spied on the Iran nuclear talks – apparently getting information that the Obama Administration did not want Israel to know – but what’s more credible?:

-That Israel would obey some unwritten code of gentlemanly behavior and not use its espionage capabilities for this?

-Or that Israeli leaders would find it vital – almost a case of national life or death – to find out if the United States and other Western countries intended to let Iran retain much of its nuclear potential?

Netanyahu

Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem said the WSJ front-page report (headlined “Israel Spied on Iran Talks – Ally’s Snooping Upset White House Because Information was Used to Lobby Congress to Try to Sink a Deal”) is “utterly false.”

The key word in the denial, however, may be the word “against.”

Here is what Netanyahu’s spokesman declared: “The State of Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel’s other allies.”

In our experience, researching and closely observing Israel’s intelligence agencies for decades, Israeli officials do not consider it a hostile act – “against” the U.S. – to try to determine, by all possible means, what the United States and other nations are doing.

The general theme of Israeli behavior is the belief that the tiny country – population 8 million – is surrounded by enemies in a volatile region.  Israeli soldiers and espionage operatives are frequently lectured that their nation’s back is against the wall.

Israel, in this mentality, often has to do things that other nations might not do.  As with covert operations by the espionage agencies of all countries – the highest concern is generally, “Don’t get caught.”

The Journal report contains a few nuggets that spotlight the twisted moral code of espionage.

The report says the White House was not very upset about discovering that Israel was scooping up secret information – whether by electronic surveillance, human assets in the negotiating teams, or private conversations with French and other participants.

“The White House has largely tolerated Israeli snooping on U.S. policy makers,” the article says, adding that Israel is tolerant about the U.S. doing the same kind of political espionage.

The Journal‘s Adam Entous writes that what upset the Obama team was “Israel’s sharing of inside information with U.S. lawmakers and others to drain support” from the nuclear negotiations.

How did the Americans find out about this “spying operation”?  Of course, it seems, by hearing from members of Congress who were concerned about where the Iran negotiations were heading – and the White House quickly determined that the version Congress was hearing was a detailed Israeli interpretation.

But don’t miss this irony: The U.S. confirmed, supposedly, that Israel was spying – by spying on the Israelis!

As the Journal puts it: “U.S. intelligence agencies monitored Israel’s communications to see if the country knew of the negotiations” – referring to America’s secret talks with Iran, before the start of formal negotiations that brought in Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China.

The article suggests that if Israel used its electronic interception abilities – which are among the best in the world, according to longtime intelligence officers – to monitor the talks with Iran, communications involving the European countries were probably more vulnerable than official U.S. e-mails, “diplomatic cables,” and phone conversations.

Israeli sources told the newspaper that much of the data being sought can be obtained “by targeting Iranians and others in the region who are communicating with countries in the talks.”

Why have these allegations – which basically seem credible – been leaked now?  The Obama Administration seems to be on a verbal warpath against the newly reelected Netanyahu.

Israel’s prime minister tried to walk back his remarks that seemed to reject a two-state solution with the Palestinians – and then he apologized for railing against Israeli Arabs voting “in droves” as a danger – but Administration officials in Washington are practically ignoring the walk-backs.

The Israeli defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, said – according to Haaretz – there is “no way” Israeli espionage agencies spied on the Americans.

He said someone is leaking this kind of story in order to do damage to the military and intelligence ties with America that continue to be strong.  “It’s a shame,” said Ya’alon, “that such winds are blowing into the clandestine channels in which we conduct this relationship.”

Dan Raviv, a Washington-based CBS News correspondent, is host of radio’s Weekend Roundup and co-author of Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars.

March 24, 2015

Netanyahu Won Big — But Angered Obama’s White House — So What’s Next?

Kerry and Netanyahu in more trusting times

Kerry and Netanyahu in more trusting times

Secretary of State John Kerry — ironically while in Switzerland, negotiating with the Iranians for the nuclear deal that Benjamin Netanyahu publicly condemns — got the job of phoning Netanyahu to congratulate him on winning the Israeli election.

The White House confirmed that President Obama did not make the call.  A spokesman, sensing there would be journalists writing about “a snub,” pointed out that even in the past American presidents telephoned Israeli election winners only when they completed the process of forming a governing coalition.

Everyone expects that the call, when made, will be cold.

Yet they have to find a way of living with each other — even cooperating — for the remaining 22 months of Barack Obama’s term in office.  That’s the theme of this 4-minute discussion on Washington’s WTOP Newsradio, which questioned Spies Against Armageddon co-author Dan Raviv — a CBS News correspondent.  Click below.

March 18, 2015

Watch: Dan Raviv Considers Ups and Downs of Netanyahu in Congress

On CBS-TV’s “Up To The Minute” news broadcast, Dan Raviv — co-author of Spies Against Armageddon — was interviewed about the visit to Washington by Benjamin Netanyahu.  Was it worth annoying President Obama?  What may happen now in the nuclear talks with Iran?

It’s a 7-minute video item. Please watch:

 

March 4, 2015

Netanyahu’s Daring Venture: Angering Obama, But Aimed at Winning Israel’s Election

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu obviously felt that his trip to Washington was worth it: to address the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC on Monday — no particular controversy there; and then to deliver an eloquent speech to a joint meeting of Congress on Tuesday.

Netanyahu Welcomed by House Speaker John Boehner (screen grab from CBSN.cbsnews.com)

Netanyahu Welcomed by House Speaker John Boehner (screen grab from CBSN.cbsnews.com)

Because that had been arranged by Republicans, with little or no consultation with the White House, the Obama Administration was clearly angered — and it remains to be seen if the U.S.-Israel relationship, such as military aid and intelligence cooperation, will be impacted.

Republicans in the Senate and the House loved the speech, and major campaign donor Sheldon Adelson and his wife looked down approvingly from the front row of the public gallery.  A few dozen Democrats refused to attend.  And others — such as Nancy Pelosi — said they were dismayed to see Netanyahu “condescend” to America.

Another key question was whether the prime minister’s message on the dangers of a nuclear deal with Iran — even as negotiations between the U.S. and Iran continue in Switzerland — changed anyone’s mind.

Clickable below is a 6-minute analysis of the visit by Dan Raviv — co-author of Spies Against Armageddon and a CBS News correspondent — speaking in the Washington studio of the national radio show hosted by Jim Bohannon:

 

March 4, 2015

“Not an Episode of ‘Homeland'” – Will Take Patience & Imaginative Espionage to Penetrate and Counter ISIS: Raviv to Potomac Institute

photo (7)Dan Raviv, CBS News correspondent (in Washington) and co-author of Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars and other books, spoke for 15 minutes about the radical group The Islamic State (ISIS) and how Western nations can develop innovative ways to confront and weaken ISIS.

Don’t expect Israel to have a major role in this, Raviv said, but larger countries can adapt — and enlarge — what Israel has done to penetrate and manipulate terrorist organizations. He pointed out that the hospital in northern Israel where selected Syrian casualties of the civil war are treated “is an intelligence bonanza opportunity.”

He told the audience of mostly diplomats and retired government officials at The Potomac Institute: “Use your imagination,” because excellent intelligence agencies do.
The 15-minute video, thanks to C-Span television, is below. Simply click to watch it.
http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4507318/potomacinstraviv28aug2014

August 30, 2014

A Weekend Ceasefire: Gives Talks on Gaza a Chance — Israel Still Gets to Destroy Tunnels

The surprise announcement by the United Nations, jointly with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, of a 72-hour ceasefire to begin on Friday morning gives an entire weekend for diplomacy to do what it can.  The talks will take place in Cairo.

Hamas is expected to be part of a single, multi-party Palestinian delegation.

Israel sent officials to Egypt’s capital, too, to engage in the talks.  The Israelis appear to have scored one victory by gaining the right to keep troops in Gaza — and they intend to keep searching for and destroying Hamas’s tunnels.

Below, click for analysis by Spies Against Armageddon co-author Dan Raviv, who is based at CBS News in Washington. These remarks were made on CBS TV, a full day before the ceasefire began.

 

August 1, 2014

‘Spies Against Armageddon’ Co-Author Dan Raviv — on C-SPAN, fielding 40 minutes of questions

If you’d like to see Dan Raviv answer questions from the C-SPAN television host and many members of the public who phoned in, please click here or watch on the video box below.  The one-hour appearance was on Tuesday morning, May 27.

It’s a 40-minute video:

On Wednesday night (May 28), the cable channel Shalom TV interviewed Spies Against Armageddon co-author Yossi Melman for a full hour.  Main subject?  The history of Israeli espionage — including the Mossad and many other secretive agencies.  The channel is also viewable at ShalomTV.org (and on Roku boxes).  (When Shalom TV repeats the interview, we’ll post the dates and times here.)

May 27, 2014

We Completed Our Three Lecture Nights in New York and Washington — Now, See Us on TV

Thanks to the hundreds of people — interested in Israel, the Middle East, and espionage — who attended our 3 lectures this month (May 13-14-15) in New York City and Washington DC.

To see the entire one-hour program, recorded at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, click here:

And on Tuesday (May 27), co-author Dan Raviv will be on C-SPAN television (and satellite radio) talking about the Middle East, spies, and more: Tuesday morning’s “Washington Journal” at 9:15 to 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

On Wednesday night (May 28), the cable channel Shalom TV’s founder Rabbi Mark Golub will interview co-author Yossi Melman for a full hour.  That’s also viewable at ShalomTV.org (and on Roku boxes).  The interview is at 9:00 p.m., repeated at midnight and the next day at 3:00 p.m.

Yossi Melman (left) and Dan Raviv sign books for lecture audiences

Yossi Melman (left) and Dan Raviv sign books for lecture audiences

May 16, 2014

A Revised & Updated Book — ‘Spies Against Armageddon’ Now Has Latest on Changed Mossad Mission in Iran, Talks with Palestinians, Syria Civil War, Egypt Upheavals, and Secret Prisoners

Seeing that much has happened in Israel and the Middle East since the original Spies Against Armageddon was published in mid-2012, there’s now an update available as a paperback or e-book.

Here’s a press release issued by Levant Books on March 2, 2014:

Levant Books letterhead

 Israel’s Mossad Spies:

 Assassinations are Over (at least for the time being),

Their Options in Iran are Limited,

     While the Rest of the Middle East Spins into Dangerous Volatility

– Updated Edition of Spies Against Armageddon Reveals Tough Times for Mossad –

The authors of a best-selling history of Israel’s intelligence community – who revealed in 2012 that the Mossad had Israeli assassins operating inside Iran – now report that the assassination campaign has stopped.

Mossad chiefs decided that it became too dangerous, as Iran’s counter-intelligence units conducted an intensive manhunt.  The Mossad could risk seeing its best combatants – Israel’s term for its most talented and experienced spies – arrested and hanged.  Another factor: strong signals to Israel by the Obama Administration that it did not want acts of violence to continue inside Iran when negotiations were starting.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the Mossad instead to focus – inside Iran – on hunting for evidence that the Iranians are cheating on their nuclear commitments to the West.

A new edition of Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars reveals that the Mossad – the lethal, feared and respected intelligence agency of Israel – is going through tough times, even as the Middle East is in turmoil: posing an unprecedented set of challenges to Israel and the United States.

"Updated - New Revelations"

“Updated – New Revelations”

In their updated book the authors – Dan Raviv of CBS News and the Israeli journalist Yossi Melman (whose Every Spy a Prince was a national best seller in 1990) – report that a four-year campaign of assassinations ended after the killings of 5 nuclear scientists in Iran.  The Associated Press and The New York Times (July 12, 2012) reported on Raviv and Melman’s original Spies Against Armageddon.

Also related to Iran, according to the updated book, the Mossad suffered unprecedented blows in 2013 when it was revealed that two of its operatives betrayed the organization and caused severe damage to its operations, morale, and omnipotent image.  In prison they were known only as X and X2 – their identities kept secret by Israeli censorship and judicial gag orders.  X turned out to be an Australian-born Mossad man whose story was unveiled after he hanged himself in his cell.  Authorities continue to block release of any details of X2’s action, except to hint that he gravely endangered former teammates.

The new Spies Against Armageddon has fresh information and perspective on huge events that have occurred since the original book came out in 2012:

The civil war in Syria has become more vicious and complex, with the death toll rising to 130,000 and the list of lethal participants broadening to include al-Qaeda groups and intervention by Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other foreigners.  Israeli spies were sent into action (crossing borders), and the air force has bombed Syrian targets – without any public confirmation.

Egypt has had two changes of leadership: first, the election of a Muslim Brotherhood president, and then the toppling of President Mohamed Morsi by the Egyptian military.  Israeli intelligence now secretly cooperates with Egypt against radicals in the Sinai – and potentially against Hamas in Gaza.

Iran reached an interim agreement with the West, agreeing to scale back nuclear activities for at least six months; and Israeli leaders are frankly alarmed by signs of a rapprochement between Iran and America.  The Mossad is scouring for evidence of cheating by Iran.

The Israelis and Palestinians are negotiating for a possible end to their historic conflict, and the intelligence community is preparing for a possible outbreak of violence if Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts collapse.

All the significant players in the Middle East seem to agree that leadership by the United States has been lacking, with Egyptians, Syrians, Iranians, Lebanese, Jordanians, and others – including America’s allies in Israel – wondering what President Barack Obama really wants.

    The newly updated Spies Against Armageddon reveals that Israel has had to rapidly adjust its response to the tragic civil war that continues in neighboring Syria.  Even as Israeli doctors treat wounded civilians, the Mossad takes the opportunity to glean intelligence – and, based on well established patterns, spies take advantage of chaos by crossing in and out of Syria.

    Iran has been the Mossad’s top focus since 2002, but the mission has changed.  As noted above, the assassination campaign has ended, due to increased dangers and opposition by the United States.  Also narrowing Israel’s options: the Obama Administration’s determination to “give the talks a chance.”  It’s clear now that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not dare to bomb Iran.  Netanyahu might saber-rattle, but there is no likely military option now

The Iranians, meantime, learned how to defend their nuclear computers and thus minimized damage from cyber-attacks – such as the Stuxnet virus, a joint U.S.-Israel creation.

    Spies Against Armageddon is published in paperback and all e-book formats by Levant Books.  Over 20,000 copies of Spies Against Armageddon have sold so far in Barnes & Noble outlets, independent bookstores, and on line. In addition to the national best seller Every Spy a Prince, other books co-authored by Raviv and Melman include Friends In Deed: Inside the U.S.-Israel Alliance and Behind the Uprising: Israelis, Palestinians and Jordanians.  Their blog is IsraelSpy.com .

Raviv (in Washington) and Melman (in Tel Aviv) are available for interviews, and they are planning a joint tour in the United States in May 2014.  Follow them on Twitter: @SpiesArmageddon.

Contact: LevantBooks@ymail.com

 

March 18, 2014

Netanyahu Had Talks with Obama, Now Abbas Had His Chance at the White House — So What’s the Chance of a Deal by End of April?

Presidents Obama and Abbas (White House photo)

Presidents Obama and Abbas (White House photo)

A peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority seems almost impossible before the deadline set by Secretary of State John Kerry when he began mediating between them last year.  But will he get them to agree on a “framework” that would lead to more negotiations?

Dan Raviv, co-author of Spies Against Armageddon, was interviewed by a very skeptical interviewer, Steve Malzberg, on the Newsmax TV website while Mahmoud Abbas — the Palestinian Authority president — was in Washington (March 17).

Abbas had talks — including lunch — with President Barack Obama.  This was precisely two weeks after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was Obama’s guest at the White House — with hardly any official information on the contents of the talks emerging afterward.

The ten-minute interview may be viewed here: CLICK HERE.

March 17, 2014

A Radio Interview: Can Syrian Peace Talks Lead Anywhere? How’re Israel-U.S. Relations?

Dan Raviv, co-author of Spies Against Armageddon and a CBS News correspondent, was a guest on Friday’s “America In the Morning” — on Westwood One radio.

Dan Raviv

Dan Raviv

The Syria peace talks in Geneva: What’s the most that might be accomplished?  Negotiators have apparently agreed to be in the same room as the U.N. mediator — and that’s something.  Local ceasefires, that might permit the entry of humanitarian aid, might be arranged.

Could an agreement be reached to remove President Bashar al-Assad?  We don’t see that on the immediate horizon.

Jim also asks Dan about Israel-U.S. relations: Is Benjamin Netanyahu waiting hopefully for 3 years from now, when Barack Obama will be out of office?

Click to hear the 6-minute interview:

January 24, 2014

Syria Talks Underway — Any High Hopes? Meanwhile, Forget About Israel Attacking Iran

Forget about the notion of Israel’s air force striking nuclear facilities in Iran.  That is off the table.

Sure, officials in Israel — similar to the verbiage of the Obama Administration — still say that “all options are on the table.”

But when balancing all the rapid developments in the Middle East recently — most notably the six months of negotiations the U.S. and its partners plan with Iran on the nuclear issue — there seems to be almost no chance that Israel will attack Iran.

That subject — and a lot more, concerning the Syria talks that are starting in Geneva, Switzerland — can be heard in the interview with Dan Raviv, co-author of Spies Against Armageddon, Thursday night on the Jim Bohannon Show on national Westwood One radio.

Click, please, to hear a 15-minute excerpt of the fast-paced, fact-based interview: Dan Raviv, questioned by Jim Bohannon.

 

January 24, 2014


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