Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Oops. Mossad needs to drill, baby, drill

Espionage requires skullduggery, at least enough to avoid drawing the attention of casual passers-by. Certainly in Tel Aviv, urban pedestrians tend to be on the alert.
The BBC reports about how a blundering trainee spook managed to close down the entire port of Tel Aviv on a training day gone wrong.(This coincided with a tourist helicopter crashing downin the Med outside Netanya. What's surprising is how quickly the chaos was righted)

A trainee spy for Israel's secret service agency Mossad was arrested by Tel Aviv police while taking part in a training operation, media reports say.

The young trainee was spotted by a female passer-by as he planted a fake bomb under a vehicle in the capital.

He was only able to persuade police he was a spy after being taken in by an officer for questioning on Monday.

The authorities have refused to comment on the story although Israeli media outlets have expressed their surprise.

'Just a drill'

Mossad does not tell local uniformed police about its training exercises.

The country's commercial Channel 10 said it hoped the agent's operatives were "more effective abroad", AFP news agency reported.

Niva Ben-Harush, the woman who reported the novice's suspicious behaviour to police, told Ynet News that 15 minutes after she made the call, Tel Aviv's port was closed and people evacuated.

She said police initially asked her to come with them and identify the suspect.

"But after a few minutes, they told me it was just a drill," she said.

Up to three agency employees were believed to have been suspended following the incident, Ynet reported.

It quoted the prime minister's office as saying it did "not respond to information about such activities undertaken by security agencies or attributed to them".