Israel’s Mossad agency issued a statement Thursday morning saying that former head of Mossad, Meir Dagan, passed away. Yossi Cohen, the current head of Mossad and the agency’s employees expressed their deep sorrow and condolences to the Dagan family.
Dagan underwent a liver transplant operation in Belarus in 2012, which was initially declared a success, but was soon followed by complications, possibly because of infection. Dagan had to seek the transplant operation in a foreign country because Israel’s tough rules limit the age of liver transplants to patients younger than 65.
Dagan served as counter-terrorism adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and National Security Adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who later appointed him Director-General of Mossad in August 2002. As Mossad director, Dagan was aggressive in ordering killings of terrorists in foreign countries. By November 2004, at least four foreign terrorists had already been killed in suspected Mossad operations, and three major terrorist attacks planned against Israeli civilians abroad had been foiled. Under Dagan’s watch, Mossad tripled its recruitment efforts, and the bulk of its then annual budget of $350 million was diverted from traditional intelligence gathering and analysis to field operations and special tasks.
Following his departure, Dagan made several controversial public statements concerning the wisdom of an Israeli military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, openly contradicting the positions of Prime Minister Netanyahu. In 2011, he publicly called it a “stupid idea.” Dagan was later asked to return his diplomatic passport before its expiration date. Undeterred, Dagan repeated the “stupid” line in an interview with CBS News’ 60 Minutes, calling the notion of an Israeli attack on Iran “the stupidest idea” and saying the Iranians are “a very rational regime.”