The Mossad Was Shocked on 9/11
By Gad Nashon
The Mossad, Israel's superbly famous intelligence agency, was shocked on 9/11. The following information is based on the excellent professional analytical autobiography of ex-Mossad head, Efraim Halevy (1998-2002). Halevy wrote, in his book, (by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London), Man in the Shadows, "Israel, on the afternoon of September 11, 2001"
I was attending a meeting chaired by Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, in the cabinet room in Jerusalem devoted to an issue concerning the Palestinian territories. I well recall that the discussion was calm and orderly when suddenly a young female soldier entered the room and handed a piece of paper to the military secretary and to the prime minister. He read it himself and then told us all in the room that there had been an attack from the air against the Twin Towers in New York.
I immediately left the room to call my office and find out if there had been any further reporting of any kind. I was told that we knew nothing at all beyond what was in the public domain. We did not linger. Each of us rushed to his office to take up as best we could. Within a very short time it was clear to each and every one of us at the top of the intelligence community that the events of 9/11 would become turning points in the history of the world.
As the hours went by, my concern rose for my son, then living in London, who had left that very morning for New York on a British Airways aircraft. John F. Kennedy International Airport had been closed and I was anxious to learn where he had landed. It was many hours before I located him at one of the more distant airports used for planes flying to the United States. He was stranded in the States for many days until he could get back to the U.K.
Of all the events that took place during my tenure as head of the Mossad, this was the one that caught me in a feeling of almost total helplessness. The information level was at zero. The exact nature and scope of the threat were initially impossible to evaluate and their immediate derivatives for the Middle East were too vast and too serious to contemplate.
I remember saying to s close colleague, after a day or two, that the Middle East had penetrated the shores of the American continent and that the United States was now at war in the Middle East. It could not win that war on its own soil and therefore, sooner rather than later, the United States would have to come to the Middle East and engage the enemy in order to win that war. I had no idea how this would come about, but I was convinced, then and there, that this would happen - one way or another. As happens during such times, one's mind casts back to earlier times of crisis.