By Richard Sale
UPI Intelligence Correspondent
Israel is embarking upon a more aggressive approach to the war on terror that will include staging targeted killings in the United States and other friendly countries, former Israeli intelligence officials told United Press International.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has forbidden the practice until now, these sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Israeli statements were confirmed by more than a half dozen U.S. foreign policy and intelligence officials in interviews with UPI.
With the appointment of Meir Dagan, the new director Israel’s Mossad secret intelligence service, Sharon is also preparing “a huge budget” increase for the spy agency as part of “a tougher stance in fighting global jihad (or holy war),” one Israeli official said.
Since Sharon became Israeli prime minister, Tel Aviv has mainly limited its practice of targeted killings to the West Bank and Gaza because “no one wanted such operations on their territory,” a former Israeli intelligence official said.
Another former Israeli government official said that under Sharon, “diplomatic constraints have prevented the Mossad from carrying out ‘preventive operations’ (targeted killings) on the soil of friendly countries until now.”
He said Sharon is “reversing that policy, even if it risks complications to Israel’s bilateral relations.”
A former Israeli military intelligence source agreed: “What Sharon wants is a much more extensive and tough approach to global terrorism, and this includes greater operational maneuverability.”
Does this mean assassinations on the soil of allies?
“It does,” he said.