June 1999, page 47

Special Report

Welsh Author Gordon Thomas Calls Mossad Ability to Maintain “American Mole at Highest Level” Incredible

By Russell Warren Howe

Gordon Thomas, who has made his home in Ireland, a tax-free haven for writers, has the tortured look one associates with the intelligence community rather than those who merely write about it. Russell Warren Howe, Washington-based correspondent for the Saudi-owned Arabic-language weekly al-Wasat, spoke by telephone to Thomas at his home near Dublin.

Q:Victor Ostrovsky told us about the Mossad from the inside, but you’ve managed to write the most complete book on that agency.

A: Well, I’d noticed that therewere reams of books on the CIA and the KGB and British intelligence and so on, but that publishers in English seemed to restrict themselves from writing about the Mossad. But I got a lot of cooperation in Israel.

The most important thing my late father told me was, “Listen for the whisper—when the voice drops, you’re getting close to the truth. Never ask them to repeat—they may become hesitant.”

But I wouldn’t want to do this book again. It took three years, and I wouldn’t want to talk to those people in Israel again. Not at 66. Theyused to tell me: You could end up in serious trouble. Your body will never be found in the Negev. I wondered if I’d be arrested at the airport, when I left. I had to get people to bring some of my papers out.

You understand, this is the territory of my childhood. I grew up with my father in Egypt. He was in charge of air-sea rescue in the Mediterranean in the RAF. We moved to Palestine. I wentto school in Tel Aviv. Then we lived in South Africa under apartheid—Israel’s twin, when they said Israel and South Africa were “the outcasts’ league.” My father-in-law, as you know, was an MI-6 officer in Dresden.

Q: I’ve interviewed Ostrovsky many times. What do you think of his books?

A: They’re very interesting indeed. He’s been rubbished, attacked and vilified by Israel in the same way as Ari ben Menashe.

Q: They even had sayanim burn down his home in an Ottawa suburb.

A: I know. You wonder why they go to so much trouble. It only attracts attention and everyone learns that Ostrovsky was right.

Q: Both of you think that the Mossad is spinning out of control.

A: Yes. I absolutely think so. There is something very worrying about this: Everything goes back to Netanyahu. It’s Netanyahu who’s out of control.

Q: Madeleine Albright calls him Saddam “West.” And there’s Netanyahu’s wife, Sara.

A: Both of them are dangerously crazy.

Q: Ostrovsky seems still to have valuable contacts within the agency. Do you have the impression that there’s a reform group within the corps?

A: There is. Very much so. You have to see them [the Mossad staff] now as very much divided and driven. They had to trot out poor old Meir Amit to rebut Ostrovsky; but I was surprised at how measured were the comments to me of Uri Saguy [a major Mossad official] even when I had him on tape. Ostrovsky’s been treated so badly. Now [current director-general] Efraim Halevy is trying to repair relations with the Canadians and the Americans. Halevy’s a smoothie. He comes over as the nice old grandfather type. He’s effective. He nearly pulled the rug over that outrageous screw-up [the attempted murder of Abdullah Zein] in Switzerland. And he’s trying very cleverly to get them out of the pigsty because of theirinvolvement with the abduction of [Kurdish leader Abdullah] Ocalan. He’s a very skilled operator.

Q: You seem to have tried to avoid repeating Ostrovsky’s stories except where you can add to them, as with the Mossad’s Mafia-type murder of their top sayan in Britain, Robert Maxwell.

A: Yes. I couldn’t resist the Maxwell story. He was the most powerful sayan in the world, even more powerful than Abe Rosenthal at The New York Times, and the most crooked.

Q: You’re very thorough about Mossad relations with the Vatican.

A: I’m not a Catholic, but I think that one of the great unreported stories of our time is the story of relations between the upstart Mossad and the oldest intelligence service in the world, the Vatican’s. It’s interesting how rather well they got on, and I think it’s because the Vatican service is the alpha dog and the Mossad accepts that it’s one of the puppies.

The Lockerbie Case:

Q: Ostrovsky would give evidence if asked to at the Lockerbie trial. Will you?

A:I’d be prepared to. Yes, I would testify. How would Ostrovsky be cross-examined?

Q: By closed-circuit television. He’s afraid to go to Holland because he fears he might be Vanunued.

A: He’s right. You can give my [private Irish] number to the defense lawyers.

Q: What’s your guess as to who was and presumably still is “Mega”?

A. It could be more than one person. What’s incredible is not so much that they have an American mole at the highest level of the United States government, but how this small intelligence service of about 1,200 people is able to mobilize sayanim, and control the American media and the publishing worlds, and get people like Barbra Streisand to spout “Israel-first, America-second” propaganda to the president of the United States over the dinner table at the White House. The only good thing about it is that it’s self-defeating.